Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said if elected he would set up a state-owned bank.

Michigan Senate Democrats have also proposed that the state launch its own bank by selling $150 million of bonds so it could to lend up to $1 billion.

The plan is modeled  after the Bank of North Dakota, the country’s only state-owned bank. Proponents say the bank is responsible for some of that state’s ability to weather the recent recession.

Bernero’s website calls the idea one of his top priorities to help increase the number of small-business jobs. The bank would make direct loans to businesses in “emerging, job-creating industries,” the website says. “It has worked in North Dakota and we can make it work here.”

The Bank of North Dakota contributes part of its profits to the state treasury. It has contributed $300 million to the state in the last decade.

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