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JPMorgan Chase will open a location in Omaha to expand its reach to "middle-market" companies.

The largest U.S. bank is planting a flag in Omaha, but JPMorgan Chase isn’t banking on growth here coming from checking accounts for rank-and-file depositors.

Instead, the New York-based financial institution with $2.5 trillion in assets is looking to beef up its commercial lending portfolio here by putting more so-called “middle-market” companies in Chase-backed loans, lines of credit and other financial services.

Middle-market companies make up a broad swath of industry and are defined as businesses with annual revenue between $25 million and $1 billion.

Already, Chase has “a little over $1 billion” in loans, lines of credit and other financial products and services to commercial customers in Nebraska, said Larry Guenther, who is leading the bank’s effort here.

It’s part of a strategy to break into each of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. where it doesn’t have a presence already, Guenther said. The new Omaha division is part of Chase’s Middle Market Banking and Specialized Industries business, which focuses on clients in 15 industries including insurance, agriculture and transportation.

Chase has been expanding its corresponding middle market banking operation in Overland Park, Kansas, since establishing that office in 2013, said Maura Cordova, a bank spokeswoman.

Guenther said it will be far more efficient and convenient to be able to work with clients from a local office as opposed to having to fly in from an office in an entirely different market.

“What we’ve experienced by having people on the ground is that it really sends a message to business owners that there’s a long-term commitment that the bank will be here,” he said.

Veteran commercial lender Guenther most recently led Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank’s commercial lending operation in Omaha. He has also worked for South Dakota’s Great Western Bank.

Chase’s local operation is currently housed in Aksarben Village at 2111 S. 67th St., Suite 300, but the search is on for a permanent location that officials hope will be nailed down by the end of 2017.

cole.epley@owh.com, 402-444-1534

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