A Detroit-area community bank is hoping to broaden its small-business services into the international arena.

Three months after stealing away a veteran international banker from rival First Chicago NBD Corp., Franklin Bank in Southfield is launching its own department to serve the foreign trade needs of southeastern Michigan small businesses.

Officials of the $509 million-asset bank said they could attract business from thousands of small companies because some larger local banks have been pulling back from the international market for small businesses. First Chicago, for example, is focusing instead on larger, multinational corporations and serving them out of its Chicago office.

"We think it'll be quite profitable," said Tony Howard, director of research at First of Michigan Corp., a Detroit investment bank, "though we don't think it'll be a major portion of Franklin's operations going forward. It's just an add-on to the services that they're providing now to the small businesses."

The department, headed up by former NBD banker Bruce A. Jaquish, will focus on small importers and exporters in the region, businesses with overseas operations, and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies.

Products and services are to include traditional letters of credit, bankers' acceptances, foreign exchange, export finance, and trade financing.

Officials said they expect the new department to be up and running by January.

Mr. Howard said the new department would also help Franklin counter fresh competition from large banks such as Comerica Inc. that are targeting domestic small businesses because of sluggish loan growth among larger corporations. "By having that service, Franklin can still compete with the big boys," he said.

Mr. Jaquish brings 36 years of experience in international banking to his new post at Franklin. The Detroit native has established and run trade departments for three other banks, and he was vice president of the international division at NBD in Fort Wayne, Ind., for nine years before hopping to Franklin in September.

"We're thrilled to have him," Franklin president and chief executive Read P. Dunn said in a press release. "We're excited to add international banking to the palette of services we offer small businesses."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.