Regions Financial (RF) is taking steps to spur economic development in its home state.

The Birmingham, Ala., company said Tuesday that it has earmarked $1 billion to lend this year to companies that plan to grow or expand in Alabama.

Regions, which has assets of $121 billion, said it would work with the state's Department of Commerce and the business community to identify potential borrowers.

"We are fortunate to have robust state and local incentives geared toward economic development, and this loan pool will serve as an additional resource in growing our state's economy and creating jobs," Grayson Hall, Regions' chief executive, said in a press release. "Access to capital is critical for business development, and Regions is committed to making that capital available."

"This loan pool will help us build on our job creation efforts," Gov. Robert Bentley added. "And most importantly, it will help put more people back to work."

Alabama had an unemployment rate of 7.1% in December compared with the national rate of 7.8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Regions cited as an example of the types of lending the bank envisions a recent loan of $7 million to Integrated Medical Systems International, a Birmingham manager of surgical devices. Integrated used the proceeds to renovate a 55,000 square-foot building adjacent to its headquarters. The new facility will help Integrated to expand, Regions said.