Triangle Bancorp of Raleigh is the most active lender to small businesses in the state, according to a recent survey by Entrepreneur magazine.

The April edition of the business magazine recognized the top banks in each state - 294 in all - for their commitment to small business lending.

The five leading small business lenders in North Carolina are all under $250 million in assets, except Triangle, which more than doubled last year to $639 million.

"What the data reveal," the article said, "is that smaller banks tend to lend a greater portion of their assets and deposits to small businesses than larger banks."

The intent of the survey is to induce larger banks to do more than just pay lip service to small business lending, the organizers of the survey, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, said in the article.

The rankings were based on five criteria: number of loans issued under $250,000, small business loans as a percentage of total loans, loans as a percentage of total assets, total deposits, and the total value of small business loans.

The data were compiled from statistics reported annually to federal and state regulators, the article said. The survey also included input from economists, small business organizations, regulators, and others.

"We've said for some time that our bank is more focused than larger banks on the needs of small business," said Triangle's president and chief executive, Michael S. Patterson. "We have the desire to lend to small businesses and our bankers are experienced in building these relationships. That's our niche."

The bank that tied for fourth place among North Carolina banks, $88 million-asset Standard Bank and Trust Co. of Dunn, was merged with Triangle just last week. Triangle completed another merger last week, with Atlantic Community Bancorp in Rocky Mount, which makes Triangle the ninth-largest bank holding company in the state.

The other North Carolina banks recognized were First Commercial Bank of Asheville, Yadkin Valey Bank and Trust Co. of Elkin, and Randolph Bank and Trust Co., in that order.

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