What is a
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.
A public bank can help advance economic policies that promote sustainability and economic justice, and the Massachusetts public bank bill makes this a priority.
You can 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.
We welcome your help in establishing a Massachusetts public bank. You can support the campaign by…
- Having your organization endorse the public bank bill
- Hosting a representative from our group speak at a meeting
- Passing a city or town resolution in support of the public bank
- Asking your state Representative and Senator to co-sponsor the public bank bill
- Making a donation to the campaign
Contact us to learn more.
Join our supporters! To endorse S.665/H.1223 and the creation of a public bank for Massachusetts, please fill out this form.
- Black Economic Council of Massachusetts
- Boston Ujima Project
- 350.org Massachusetts
- Alternatives for Community and Environment
- The Boston Foundation
- Boston Workers Circle
- Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee
- Community Economic Development Center of Southeast Massachusetts
- CommonWealth Kitchens
- Cooperative Fund of the Northeast
- Democracy Collaborative
- Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
- Environmental League of Massachusetts
- Families for Justice as Healing
- King Boston
- LEAF: Local Enterprise Assistance Fund
- Mass Peace Action
- Metropolitan Mayors Coalition
- Mothers Out Front, Brookline
- North American Indian Center of Boston
- Neighbor to Neighbor
- Progressive Mass
- Schumacher Center for a New Economics
- Massachusetts Sierra Club
- Silverbrook Farm, Dartmouth MA
Our work in the 2023-24 legislative session is off to a great start.
“An Act to Establish a Massachusetts Public Bank” has been filed in the House by Representatives Mike Connolly and Antonio F.D. Cabral, and in the Senate by Sen. Jamie Eldridge.
The substance of the bill is the same: to establish a public bank that will be a steady source of affordable, accessible, equitable and sustainable financing for small businesses, community development institutions, municipalities, land trusts and local agriculture, and will work cooperatively, not competitively, with Massachusetts state-chartered banks.
In the prior session we built a broad coalition in support of our bill, and we are looking to expand that coalition across the Commonwealth. If your organization is interested in finding out more about how a public bank can help build strong and just local economies, please contact us.
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.
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.
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
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...
Our Massachusetts campaign got a mention in this look at how the US public banking movement continues to grow through its commitment to responding to the needs of neighborhoods, cities and towns, and small business. Reporter Carey L. Biron, writing for the Thomson...
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...
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