A huge sum of money is being made available for Missouri business owners to tap in hopes that they will create jobs.

State Treasurer Clint Zweifel has announced that Commerce Bank, Missouri’s largest bank, has committed itself to a goal of lending $100 millions in low-interest loans to small businesses through the Missouri Linked Deposit Program. Zweifel says such an investment could help retain or create nearly 3,000 jobs.

“We have great examples in the state where this program has played a key role,” Zweifel says. “Advanced manufacturing for defense manufacturing, opened a hardware store, opened up pharmacies, opened up dry cleaners, Life Science research in St. Louis.”

Commerce will offer low-interest loans to small businesses and farmers. The $100 million will be added to the $392 million the State Treasurer’s office has approved since 2009. It will increase low-interest lending by more than 40%.

Zweifel hopes that more credit will mean more jobs.

“It’s been a very slow, slow recovery,” Zweifel says. “The key issue that I care about is jobs and economic development and opportunities for families and that’s where we have the most work to do, still. This is an attempt to get us there.”

Changes approved by the legislature last year streamlined the application process and expanded eligibility. It has $720 million in lending power. Borrowers general save 30% on the cost of a loan through the program.

Commerce has 128 branches in Missouri, covering most of the state. It has around $12 million in loans through the Missouri Linked Deposit Program currently.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:15 MP3]