LAS VEGAS — Nevada State Bank, a $2.3 billion-asset subsidiary of Zions Bancorp, is opening a Small Business Administration and rural lending department.

William Martin, head of Nevada State Bank, said last week that a sister bank, California Bank and Trust, which has a strong SBA lending function, helped it find experienced bankers to run the office. It has hired two banking officers who worked in Las Vegas for Bank of America Corp. Nevada State will also offer loans in the SBA 504 program — typically used for real estate purchases — and loans under a U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantee program. Zions, of Salt Lake City, was the seventh-largest provider of SBA-backed 7(a) loans in fiscal 2000.

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