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In an effort to battle big banks and bring personal service back to Thurston County, Washington State, 10 business owners have pledged to put up $1 million of the $5 million needed to open their own bank.

Ernest L. Grubb, a veterinarian in Olympia, Wash., will serve as chairman of the Washington Business Bank, which the group says will serve the 9,000 or so small businesses in the county and its three major cities, Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater.

FILLING A GAP. "Putting our personal money on the line is evidence of our strong commitment and the bank's viability," Grubb says. The group filed applications early in January with the state's Financial Institutions Dept. and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It hopes to come up with the additional money from a public offering.

Grubb said the group decided to form the bank because consolidation of regional and large banks has created a "gigantic niche" for independent banks with community ties and local decision making. Community banks tend to specialize in serving small local businesses, which also means they tend to reinvest in the community. By Robin J. Phillips in New York

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