Valley National Bancorp, Wayne, N.J., got permission from the Small Business Administration to operate as a preferred lender in four more areas.

The banking company plans to hire five lenders this spring to staff offices in northern New York, western Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia, a bank spokeswoman said. Preferred-lender status lets the bank make SBA loans without prior agency approval.

The $5.1 billion-asset company is one of a handful that makes SBA loans where it has no branches.

Valley made 187 SBA loans, totaling $45.4 million, in the year ended Sept. 30.

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