WASHINGTON (5/29/14)--The Credit Union National Association was featured front-and-center recently in an Entrepreneur Magazine article describing how credit unions are "the perfect partners for entrepreneurs and small businesses."
Member business lending, up 9.2% in the first three quarters of 2013, is the fastest-growing segment of the credit union industry, Patrick Keefe, CUNA senior vice president/chief communications officer, told Entrepreneur.
The May 27 article "Credit Unions Are Increasingly Business Friendly" goes on to describe a constellation of ways in which credit unions have immersed themselves in the member business lending industry.
Entrepreneur first notes the example set by Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, with $5.4 billion in assets, which has opened up a new division that works with local businesses, and now boasts more than 5,000 accounts and $230 million in deposits in its business lending portfolio.
The piece also reports how credit unions in Wisconsin have ramped up business lending by 73% since the Great Recession, while business lending at banks has only edged up 1.5%, according to numbers from the Wisconsin Credit Union League.
Keefe further illustrates in the article how credit unions support entrepreneurs with the example of a freelance photographer from New York who, in need of an infusion of cash to upgrade his equipment, chose a credit union over a bank to lock down a loan.
The member-owned institution helped the business owner secure a $25,000 loan to modernize and expand his online video services.
"While banks may seem like an obvious choice, credit unions are an increasingly important funding source for small businesses," wrote Daniel Carlsson, the article's author.
Cash mobs also have become popular with credit unions, Carlsson noted, especially in Ohio and in Michigan, where more than 50 credit unions have employed the practice to support small businesses.
Cash mobs are coordinated shopping sprees where a large group of community members assemble and buy products from local businesses en masse.
Credit unions also support local businesses, the article said, through initiatives such as "Shop Main Street," a rewards program that incentivizes consumers to shop locally.
"The Shop Main Street rewards program is a winner in every respect," said Stan Hollen, president/CEO of the credit union service organization CO-OP Financial Services. "It all adds up to creating a sense of community, with a program that keeps local dollars in the local economy."