Billings-based First Interstate Bank is in the process of completing its acquisition of Cascade Bank, after which small businesses will have better access to government-backed loans, according to First Interstate CEO Kevin Riley.  In an earnings call with analysts on Friday, Riley said that Bend, Oregon-based Cascade has a strong Small Business Administration lending program that will fold neatly into First Interstate’s operations.  These include loans for veterans, micro-lending and other loans designed for small business.

Riley said, in response to a question from an analyst, that First Interstate is not as strong as Cascade on small business loans, so that platform will probably be something they adopt, adding [quote] “Together, we’re stronger than we are apart.” [end quote]  Since the $589 million purchase of Cascade, publicly traded First Interstate reported a $24.8 million profit, or 56 cents per share, for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31.

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