MIAMI LAKES, Fla. (10/3/14)--Jeanne Kucey, president/CEO of $163 million-asset JetStream FCU, Miami Lakes, Fla., says she has a firm belief in the aspirations of her members, about 75% of which are low-income and Latino.
This year's $1.2 million Community Development Financial Institution grant from the U.S. Treasury will allow JetStream FCU to help those members achieve their dreams. The credit union plans to use the funds to assist local small businesses start and expand operations.
"There's a lot of people who come to us, and they want small-dollar amount loans," Kucey told News Now. "They're startups, and they might only have two years of tax returns when we ask for three. But we feel good about them. We've given them a secured car loan, but we just can't give them an unsecured business loan. We just didn't have the resources to extend that next level of risk."
Perhaps just as importantly, the lending needs of the JetStream FCU members are not being met elsewhere. "Not only were we not fulfilling their needs, but nobody was," Kucey said. "Banks just aren't willing to make less-than $50,000 unsecured loans."
With the grant, now the credit union can come through for its members.
Not only is JetStream willing to lend to its members, the credit union takes a personal interest in its members' businesses. Assistant Vice President of Lending Leo Navarro assists many applicants with their business plans and makes personal visits to see the businesses in operation.
Most of the businesses are established--Kucey cites a CPA's office, a car wash and a bakery as examples--and need a financial leg up to expand operations.
"We believe in these members, but sometimes they don't have the credit history or the track record we would like to see," Kucey told News Now. "Now we're able follow through on that belief a little more fully."