With high-tech businesses sprouting up around the nation's capital to pursue federal contracts, a local start-up is pinning its hopes on a uniquely Washington line of business: government contract lending.

James Monroe Bank opened across the Potomac in Arlington, Va., three months ago. Buoyed by the knowledge that the federal government buys many of its goods and services from vendors in its own backyard, the bank has launched a division that finances companies bidding for Uncle Sam's business.

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