HOUSTON (10/6/14)--Manuel Gonzalez, former district director for the 32-county Houston district of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), knows a little bit about business lending. So it's worth noting that Gonzalez gives a big thumbs up to the work credit unions are doing in the Houston business lending community.
Gonzalez, who served as Houston's district director for nine years, shared his opinion in a recent interview with the Houston Business Journal (Sept. 30).
Gonzalez said Houston is one of the SBA's "bright spots" nationally, a development in part attributed to credit union participation. SBA leaders in Washington have taken notice of that credit union presence, he said. "They want to look at what we're doing and use it as a model for some of the other districts in the country to see if we can't get more credit unions involved in our programs," Gonzalez told the Business Journal.
The attrition of community banks through the "blood bath" of mergers has helped credit unions increase their presence in the Houston financial services market, Gonzalez said.
The SBA hopes to bring more credit unions into the fold, he said. "Keep in mind, credit unions are more customer driven because they're not bottom-line driven (like banks), so it allows the individual borrower not to be as intimidated when walking into a large institution with marble columns and mahogany desks and guys wearing $3,000 suits," Gonzalez said.
And, in a refrain heard throughout the country, credit unions are willing to make small business loans for amounts below $100,000 that many banks aren't interested in, he said.
"So with fewer community banks to handle this, the credit unions are stepping in to take that role," Gonzalez said.