Early Briefing: The Pope, Local Banks and Hemp

It's Monday, which means we turn the Business section over to local news. A sampling of what's in the section:

*There's Pope on a Rope soap, a bobblehead and cologne, as well as T-shirts, commemorative coins and miniature papal flags. These are just some of the souvenirs available in the Washington area and elsewhere in preparation for the pope's visit to the United States. He comes to Washington on April 16.

The Catholic Information Center, a bookstore on K Street NW, began carrying mugs, framed prints and baseball caps with images of the pope last week, said employee Scott Johnston.

*The struggles of big banks and Wall Street firms have been in the news a lot, but what about the smaller, local banks? They're definitely feeling the squeeze.

These banks tend to rely on small-business and real estate development loans, whose rates adjust almost immediately after the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates. They also rely more heavily on certificate of deposit accounts, which pay out fixed interest rates regardless of interest-rate changes. And there are worries that developers could default on loans if the housing-market troubles continue.

Among other banks, we look at Virginia Commerce Bancorp, Millennium Bankshares, Sandy Spring Bancorp and Cardinal Financial.

*Stephen Barr's Federal Diary column takes a look at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency<, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. The small, secretive agency was born after the Soviet Union beat the United States into space and has helped create the blueprint for the Internet, the Saturn rocket engine program and technologies for stealth fighters and Predator planes.

*Activist Adam Eidinger said Washington was the last major U.S. metropolitan area without a hemp store, and that bothered him. So he decided to open his own: Capitol Hemp, which plans to sell hemp clothing, food and shoes, is set to open in Adams Morgan.

*Microfinance International of the District is merging with San Diego-based El Camino Transferencias, a remittance company with distribution in 22 countries and state money-transfer licenses in California, Texas, Washington and Oregon. The company hopes to expand its offerings as well as open more financial service centers.

*Linda C. Crompton, the new president and chief executive of BoardSource, which works to strengthen nonprofit boards of directors, talks about her upbringing and involvement in finance and social issues.

By Terri Rupar  |  April 7, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
Previous: Early Briefing: Bookstore Troubles | Next: Up and Down: USEC, TNS, JER Investors Trust, Harman

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