State Treasurer Eric Schmitt today announced he has approved over $41 million of new investments in Missouri-based small businesses and agricultural operations since launching his Missouri FIRST initiative in March. In the same time frame, over 70 new Missouri FIRST applications have been approved and eight new banks have applied to become participating lenders in the program.

Missouri FIRST (Financing Investment in our Rural, Small Business and Technology communities) has allowed Schmitt to invest more in Main Street Missouri by revamping the state’s linked deposit program, which partners with local lenders to provide low-interest financing to small business and agricultural operations.

“My office is working to invest more in Main Street Missouri by cutting red tape and improving access to affordable financing,” Schmitt said. “Missouri FIRST strengthens Missouri’s workforce by prioritizing investments in our small business and agriculture communities – two of the top driving forces in our state’s economy.”

State investments in linked deposits have increased by close to 29% over the past year – a sign of improving economic conditions and renewed prioritization in the investment portfolio. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses constitute over 95% of all Missouri businesses and employ almost half of the state’s working population.

Schmitt launched Missouri FIRST in March after a year of meeting with small business owners, farmers and community banks about what could be done to improve the linked deposit program. The changes implemented through Missouri FIRST focused on cutting red tape, expanding access and modernizing the application system.

The Missouri State Treasurer’s Office works with local lending institutions to facilitate Missouri FIRST loans. There are approximately 115 qualified Missouri FIRST linked deposit lenders with 350 branches throughout the state. A list of lenders and program eligibility guidelines can be found online at