A public bank for the common wealth

Join us to create a new driver for economic justice and opportunity across Massachusetts

Public Banking for Farming, Food and the Climate

Expanding Opportunities for Local Food

Public Banking for Small Business

Fostering Main Street Stability and Local Growth

Public Banking for Social and Economic Justice

Helping communities flourish across the Commonwealth

Public Banking for Municipalities

Investing Our Tax Dollars In Our Communities

What is a
Public Bank?

A Public Bank is a bank owned by the people through their representative government and operated in the public interest. Public banks can exist at all levels, from local to state to national. Public banks exist around the world. In the US, the Bank of North Dakota was established in 1919 to protect local farms from foreclosure. Today it helps the state’s businesses and farmers thrive.

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A public bank can help advance economic policies that promote sustainability and justice. Help build a Massachusetts movement for public banking by sharing information with legislators, municipal officials, business and economic development groups, and other potential stakeholders.

Our fact sheet explains why Massachusetts needs a public bank, summarizes our bill, and explains why the bank is a prudent financial investment. It’s a great document to share with legislators and possible endorsing organizations.

Our longer FAQ tackles more detailed questions about risk and cost-savings, the relationship between the public bank, private lenders, and quasi-publics, the advantages of establishing a state bank as opposed to a loan fund, and how current legislation differs from previous bills.

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The 2021-22 legislative session was groundbreaking for public banking in Massachusetts. 

  • We substantially rewrote our legislation to create a public bank focused on the Commonwealth’s need for sustainable and affordable small business, climate, family/small farm and municipal financing. 
  • We brought in experts from community development, finance and banking law. With their input we ensured that our bill creates a bank that is fiscally sound and responds to community need and input.
  • We ensured that our legislation help address long-term financing gaps for BIPOC and women-owned businesses, and for economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
  • We built a dynamic coalition of thirty supporting organizations from the community economic development, municipal, agriculture, and environmental/climate sectors.
  • We assembled a team of experts to testify in favor of the bill at its initial hearing before the Joint Committee on Financial Services, and to continue to advocate for the bill after the hearing.
  • Our bills gained a record 24 legislative co-sponsors.

You can read the bill here. Now we are updating this legislation for the 2023-24 session, incorporating feedback from Massachusetts financial and banking authorities and others. 

We welcome your help in establishing a Massachusetts public bank! Contact us to see how you can support this effort.

Endorsing Organizations

Join our supporters! To endorse the creation of a public bank for Massachusetts, please fill out this form.

BECMA logo  

Mothers Out Front,
Brookline

Silverbrook Farm
Dartmouth, MA

Campaign News

While this session’s work is over, we are gratified by the progress we made and grateful to everyone who supported this campaign.

Throughout the session, our coalition supporters affirmed the need for a public bank as a source of affordable, accessible, equitable and sustainable financing for small businesses, businesses, community development institutions, municipalities, land trusts and local agriculture. In outreach to legislators and bankers, our steering and advisory committee members emphasized that a public bank will work cooperatively, not competitively, with Massachusetts state-chartered  banks. 

  • In January 2022, public bank supporters called for passage of H1223/S665 at a press conference. Speakers included Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, our bill sponsors Sen. Jamie Eldridge, Reps. Nika Elugardo and Mike Connolly, BECMA‘s CEO and President Nicole Obi, Nia Evans of the Boston Ujima Project, and leaders from the state’s economic development, municipal, and environmental non-profits. You can watch a recording of the press conference here.
  • On the same day, the Metro Mayors Assocation, representing mayors and town managers in the core metropolitan Boston area, reiterated their support for public bank legislation. You can read their support letter here.
  • Also in January, 36 experts in community development, law, economics, planning, green energy and climate, small business, and democracy, submitted this letter of support. They noted the public bank’s potential for collaboration with state-chartered banks and emphasized the bank’s mandate to provide low-cost loans to benefit municipalities, women- and minority-owned businesses, and local industry.
  • Our campaign received unprecedented media coverage, including this endorsement from The Boston Globe.

We thank all our endorsing organizations, our bill presenters Rep. Mike Connolly, Rep. Nika Elugardo, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, and our advisory committee members. 

We are eager to refile our legislation and build an even broader coalition to establish a Massachusetts Public Bank.

Public Banking for Municipalities

The COVID-19 pandemic has left tax revenues down and municipal budgets stretched thin. Municipal leaderships is working 24/7 to establish new best practices to ensure that the community institutions that residents depend on, including schools, first responders, senior centers, libraries, and recreational facilities, are there to meet public needs. Cities and towns are sharing new ideas, programs, and procedures to meet the challenges of these times.

Public Banking for Small Business and Community Development

Nearly 1.5 million people—almost half of Massachusetts workers—are employed by small businesses. But small businesses are not just economically important. The presence of a diversity of service, manufacturing, construction, arts, and agricultural businesses creates a stronger community, with local businesses more likely to support local institutions. A thriving Main Street creates a sense of place and civic pride, and everyone benefits from access to services and jobs.

Public Banking for Community Banks

The mission of the Massachusetts Public Bank is to partner with and strengthen existing Massachusetts financial institutions, not to compete with them. Our bill mandates that the bank “shall seek to complement and support the operation of” Massachusetts banks and other existing institutions, a model based on the 100-year-old Bank of North Dakota’s approach to public banking.

woman-owned business

Public Banking for Social and Economic Justice

A central goal of the Massachusetts Public Bank is to address the inequities that have left many communities, small businesses, small farms and other enterprises without access to affordable financing. The Bank can expand affordable financing in traditionally underserved sectors of the state and help stabilize the economy in this era of COVID-19 by expanding the lending capacity of local financial institutions that serve those sectors.

woman-owned business

Public Banking for Farms, Food & the Climate

We don’t think of Massachusetts as being a farm state, but agriculture is an important part of the Commonwealth’s economy, its environment, and its culture. Massachusetts has more than 7,000 farms employing almost 30,000 people. Nearly 80% of the farms in the Commonwealth are either family or individually-owned. Massachusetts residents who shop at farmers markets or look for local produce in the supermarket appreciate the freshness and quality of what they buy, as well as the benefits to climate of eating local and in season.

Latest News from the Field

Public Banking is an issue in mayoral campaigns

Our Massachusetts campaign gets a nice mention in this Next City article on public banking as a mayoral campaign issue. Behind the need for public banks is the broader need for equitable lending, especially to BIPOC- and women-owned businesses. Locally, Boston...

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Connecting public banking to climate and environmental justice

Working for environmental justice? You want to add public banking to your platform. Mass Public Banking organizer Paige Curtis has detailed how public banks can offer necessary financing for community based renewable energy programs, small farms, and local food. These...

read more

Public banks can help us create the communities we want.

Parks, good roads, safe bridges, clean energy and housing we can afford. We want lower interest rates for local small business loans, local control of our tax dollars, investment in our local communities, and ethical and transparent financial institutions managing our public funds. Public banks can be the financial engine that makes this happen for our communities.

— Public Banking Institute

Public banks can help us create the communities we want.

Municipalities Pursuing Public Banks

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People Powered

States Actively Exploring Public Banking

Public Banking is taking hold across the country!

Across the nation, more than 25 initiatives for public banks are actively being pursued, by progressives and conservatives, 30 of 50 states have proposed legislation in support of publicly-owned banks, and over 50 organizations are promoting public banks.

Join the Movement!

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