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Small Business Owners Tell Senators: Pass the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act

Small Business Owners Tell Senators:  Pass the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act

“I see competition as a good thing.  Letting credit unions make more loans is not about choosing sides between banks and credit unions.  It’s about what’s best for the consumer.”  - Jay Greco, small business owner

Small business owners sent a message to Missouri’s U.S. Senators during a series of meetings across the state – more business loans need to be available, and credit unions should be able to make them.

The Missouri Credit Union Association arranged roundtable meetings with U.S. Senate staff for Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt on May 15-18, including stops in St. Louis, Kansas City, Cape Girardeau and Springfield, to highlight the need for expanded credit union lending. Credit unions are currently restricted in business loans to 12.25% of assets.   S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act, would raise that limit to 27.5% of assets.

The St. Louis meeting included Frazer Cameron and his wife, Mary, who own Frazer’s Restaurant and Lounge and have served up daily specials in the Benton Park community near the brewery for about 20 years.  The restaurant was originally called “The Traveling Brown Bag” because there was only space for 25 seats and many patrons ordered meals to go in a brown bag.  

To expand and renovate, the Camerons went to several banks - including one they had been with for many years - and were turned down by all of them.  “They were loaning money to large businesses – not smaller businesses and definitely not to restaurants,” said Frazer Cameron.

That’s when they approached Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union.  “I was incredibly surprised at how well I was treated,” said Cameron.  “They gave me the loan that I needed to do the renovations.”

Across the state in the Kansas City area, Trevor Goodwin faced the same lending problem.  He and his wife opened The Sweet Tooth Cupcakery after running a catering business for several years.  They approached multiple banks to obtain a loan, including a local bank that wanted 150% collateral.  They finally received the loan they needed from CommunityAmerica Credit Union.

“As a result, we have added four part time jobs to our community as well as additional tax revenue,” said Goodwin.  “We are still growing and so will the economic impact we are making because a credit union was able to provide us with funding. “

Goodwin is concerned that credit unions are limited in business lending to 12.25% of assets, especially when banks aren’t lending.  However, banks oppose the measure to increase credit union business lending. 

“That just doesn’t make sense,” said Goodwin.  “That’s like a big supermarket or bakery going to Congress and telling them to limit other bakeries from making cupcakes.  Banks don’t want the competition – but they aren’t making the loans.”

Both Cameron and Goodwin took part in the small business roundtables with representatives from U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt’s offices.  In total, fifteen small business owners and staff members took part in the meetings, representing businesses ranging from restaurants and ice cream trucks to insurance and real estate companies, adult day care and home health services.   

Representatives from 20 credit unions also took part, including credit unions that do not currently make business loans due to the current cap.

“Credit unions would like to offer those opportunities to our members,” pointed out Ron Miller, president/CEO of Edison Credit Union.  “We are not asking the government for anything except to let us do more of what we’re doing.  Without any cost to taxpayers.”

Other credit unions are up against the 12.25% cap, and even though they have the money available, aren’t able to make loans that people need. 

“We have to turn people away every day.  Every day,” explained Judy Hadsall, president/CEO of CU Community Credit Union.  “And these are good loans, people who we would like to help.  But because of the cap, we can’t.”

That worries business owners like Shawn Motlagh, who owns Rosati’s Pizza in Springfield.

“I couldn’t get the loan from a bank, but Assemblies of God Credit Union was there for me and I was able to open my restaurant,” said Motlagh.  “Now I’d like to expand, but because of this limit – I may not be able to.”

The message from the participating business owners was clear – Missouri’s U.S. Senators should support legislation that would raise the credit union cap and allow more small businesses access to capital.

“If the credit union has the opportunity to expand and grow their lending, I’m all for that.  Competition is good,” said Jay Greco, who owns an insurance agency in Blue Springs.  “It’s a win-win for the community.  I see competition as a good thing.  Letting credit unions make more loans is not about choosing sides between banks and credit unions.  It’s about what’s best for the consumer.”

Contact U.S. Senators in support of S. 2231

Credit union staff, volunteers, and small business owners are encouraged to contact Missouri’s U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt and ask for their support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.  Here are ways to reach the Senate offices:

Grassroots Action Center (please be sure to register BEFORE writing your email)
• 1-877-642-4223
• Credit union presidents and small business owners are encouraged to make contacts directly to McCaskill and Blunt key staff members (Contact Amy McLard with questions).

The Missouri Credit Union Association thanks Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union, BluCurrent Credit Union and CommunityAmerica Credit Union for hosting roundtable meetings.

The following credit unions took part:

1st Financial Federal Credit Union
Alliance Credit Union
Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union
Arsenal Credit Union
Assemblies of God Credit Union
BluCurrent Credit Union
Cape Regional Credit Union
Central Communications Credit Union
CommunityAmerica Credit Union
CU Community Credit Union
Edison Credit Union
First Community Credit Union
Mazuma Credit Union
Metro Credit Union
Missouri Central Credit Union
Neighbors Credit Union
Saint Luke’s Credit Union
TelComm Credit Union
United Credit Union
West Community Credit Union

Pictures, top to bottom: 
1) Small business owners and credit union representatives meet with Mattie Moore, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) staff member.
2 & 3) Trevor Goodwin owns the Sweet Tooth Cupcakery in Blue Springs, Missouri. 
4) Justin Hurst, owner of Kiddie Kart, received a credit union loan to keep his family ice cream truck business going.  He served up cool treats at the Springfield meetings.
5) Jim Cauble, president/CEO of Cape Regional Credit Union, met with Christy Mercer in Senator Claire McCaskill's Cape Girardeau office.
6)  Kansas City business owners and credit union representatives meet with staff from Senator Roy Blunt's Kansas City office.
7) Springfield credit union representatives and small business owners.