TULSA, Okla. (1/19/16)--Jean Baptiste Saint Amon, a French immigrant with a passion for baking, had no luck finding a financial institution willing to offer him a loan to open up his own bakery, until he walked into a credit union.
Saint Amon tried several banks to no avail before calling on Tulsa (Okla.) FCU (TFCU). The credit union’s small business development officer and chief lending officer understood the Frenchman’s dream, and recently loaned him $60,000 to open an authentic French bakery (Tulsa Business Jan. 15).
The shop is currently under construction.
“TFCU was our last chance,” Saint Amon told Tulsa Business. “They were the only bank that believed in us and listened to our story, and they said, ‘Yes, we think you could be successful,’ and they loaned us the money.”
To Glen Ogden, Tulsa FCU’s chief lending officer, helping first-time businesses owners get on their feet is a critical role of the credit union in the community.
“We are partners with our businesses,” Ogden told Tulsa Business. “Whereas, with larger banks, a project under $2 million may not be worth their time.”
“We want to help somebody who wants to buy a route for a delivery service that needs a $200,000 loan, or someone who wants to create equipment for the oil fields in a shop at their house and they only need $25,000 in supplies,” Ogden added. “We are here to partner with that small business and make sure they are here to benefit the community of Tulsa.”
The credit union uses a Small Business Administration (SBA) line of credit to help business owners in the community, Andrew Winslow, the credit union’s small business development officer, told Tulsa Business. SBA loans can be guaranteed for up to 85% of the loan amount, and are an important tool for credit unions because the guaranteed portion of the loan does not count against the statutory 12.25% member business lending cap.
The Credit Union National Association, meanwhile, continues to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would raise the cap on member business lending--a move, the trade association has said, that would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy.