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Small Business Owner Takes Credit Union Message to Capitol Hill

When Bob Becker went to his bank to ask for a reduction in his loan rate, he was turned down flat.  “They had everything – all my business accounts and my personal accounts.  They knew everything about my financial situation, and wouldn’t work with me on one loan.”

A few days later, a West Community Credit Union representative walked through the door of Becker Contracting Company, an interior demolition firm, asking if there was anything they could do for the 35-year member of the credit union.  Becker asked for a better rate, the credit union said yes, and he promptly moved all of his accounts.

“As a small business owner, every dollar counts.  The credit union was willing to work with me and lower the rates of my loan, which meant more money I could put into my business,” explained Becker.  “Having access to funds means I can take advantage of opportunities.  Without that access, those opportunities would be shut off, and that means less money put back into the community.”

Becker, known as “Becker the Wrecker,” took his story to Congress on February 8 as part of National Small Business Hike the Hill.  Seventy-five small business owners from 15 states across the country visited members of Congress, asking them to move forward on the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act (H.R. 1418 and S. 509).  Becker was joined by West Community Credit Union President/CEO Gary Hinrichs and Amy McLard with the Missouri Credit Union Association.

“This isn’t about credit unions.  This isn’t about banks.  This is about Bob,” pointed out Hinrichs when talking to lawmakers and their staff.  “I’m asking you to sign onto this bill and help small business owners like Bob.”

The Missouri credit union representatives visited with legislators and staff members from the following offices:

• U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R)
• U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-District 1), H.R. 1418 cosponsor and member of the House Financial Services Committee
• U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-District 2), H.R. 1418 cosponsor
• U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-District 3), H.R. 1418 cosponsor
• U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-District 5), member of the House Financial Services Committee
• U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-District 6), chair of the Small Business Committee

“Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to come here and talk with me,” said Congressman Carnahan.  “It really makes a difference when we hear from the people who are directly affected by the decisions we make here in Washington.”

Representatives from each legislative office agreed that hearing from a small business owner made a big impact.  “I truly appreciate your thoughts and concerns,” said Congressman Cleaver.  “Thank you.”

“I think the lawmakers were receptive, and I appreciated it very much that they thanked me for coming to Washington, D.C.” said Becker.  “It was definitely worth my time, and it’s nice to know that people here are listening.”