Credit union representatives from Missouri joined hundreds of credit union advocates and small business owners from across the country for National Hike the Hill on November 27-28. The nine representatives made a final in-person grassroots push for the credit union member business lending legislation at Missouri U.S. Senate and House offices.
Small business owners made a big impact during the legislative meetings, explaining the direct impact S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act and H.R. 1418, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act would have on their business and the local community.
Ike Nwabuonwu, Chairman and CEO of Alpha Energy and Electric, shared how Mazuma Credit Union helped his company when banks would not.
"I was told to come back to the banks after we had two years in business. I went back in two years, and the same banks would not give me the loan I needed. Then I walked into Mazuma Credit Union, and today, our company has 25 employees and was just named the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) 2012 Minority Small Business of the Year for the Kansas City district,” explained Nwabuonwu. “Without Mazuma Credit Union, my company would not exist. We would be able to hire another 25 people if Mazuma was not up against the business lending cap. I am here today to ask you to lift this cap, and I guarantee you that unemployment will drop.”
The holiday season is the busiest time of year for the Strawberry Hill Povitica Company, but that didn’t stop company Vice President/Executive Director Marc O’Leary from taking his message to members of Congress, too. Strawberry Hill Povitica creates Eastern European desserts that are sold across the state and country. The third-generation family business is seasonal, with a unique process.
“We have to buy ingredients when they are harvested, and then we don’t use them until we make the bulk of our sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” explained O’Leary. “Banks didn’t understand our business model and refused to make us the loan we needed. CommunityAmerica Credit Union took the time to visit our location and learn how the business works, and determined that the loan made sense.”
Credit unions participating in the meetings included Anheuser-Busch Employees' Credit Union (St. Louis), CommunityAmerica Credit Union (Kansas City), Mazuma Credit Union (Kansas City) and United Consumers Credit Union (Kansas City).
H.R. 1418 and S. 2231 would raise the cap on credit union member business lending from 12.25% to 27.5%. If the legislation is not passed before the end of the year, it must be reintroduced in 2013 when the new Congress convenes.
Photo captions, top to bottom:
1. Small business owners Ike Nwabuonwu and Marc O'Leary share their concerns with members of Congress during National Hike the Hill.
2. Missouri representatives take part in the opening reception and briefing for National Hike the Hill in Washington, D.C. on November 27.
3.. U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-District 5) meets Kansas City area business leaders Ike Nwabuonwu and Marc O'Leary.
4. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) staff member Jamie Hollenberg (center) meets with credit union representatives from Missouri.
5. U.S. Rep. Billy Long (R-District 7) and credit union representatives during National Hike the Hill.
6.U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-District 4) meets with the Missouri credit union delegation.
7. U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-District 3), a cosponsor of the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, and credit union representatives.