This is a series of stories highlighting credit unions making small business loans in Missouri. Credit unions in each region are urged to call and email our U.S. Senators in support of S. 2231, sharing stories about the people who are helping small businesses grow, and the small business owners who benefit when they have more financial options. Chapters outside Kansas City and St. Louis Make Senate contacts by calling 1-877-642-4223, by using the Grassroots Action Center and/or in person, highlighting the small business lending efforts of Alliance Credit Union and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
In 1934, at the turning point of the Great Depression, a group of Springfield Utility workers came together to form a credit union that would provide themselves and their coworkers a better place to save and borrow money. They wanted a place where their money would be safe, where growth meant extra income in their pockets, and to provide a source for loans when their families needed them most.
The field of membership has grown during its more than 75 years of operation, and CU Community now serves consumers who live or work in Greene and Christian Counties. While the credit union’s name has changed and membership expanded, the desire of its member-owners to help one another has not.
Here are a few of the small business owners being helped by CU Community Credit Union:
For three generations, Kiddie Kart has provided ice cream treats to neighborhoods and businesses in the Springfield region. The company started in 1961 with three jeeps serving 10 kinds of ice cream novelties. Today, the family-owned business has a fleet of 14 jeeps and 25 employees serving cold beverages and 30 novelties. The seasonal nature of the business provides challenges.
“Our busiest times are March through October, and borrowing money from CU Community Credit Union opens up cash flow, which helps me better manage my business,” says third-generation owner Justin Hurst.
Before coming to CU Community, Kiddie Kart had used its business credit card to purchase inventory. CU Community Credit Union provided a loan to pay down that debt. Two different banks turned down the company’s request for a business loan before they learned about CU Community Credit Union.
“We are grateful that the credit union would help us when no one else would,” says Hurst.
Steve Hoots joined CU Community Credit Union more than 30 years ago as an employee of City Utilities, the credit union’s largest select employee group. Prior to the economic downturn, Hoots shifted his focus to real estate. The credit union helped fund his projects of buying, rehabbing, and selling properties.
“I ultimately chose to do all my banking through the credit union because my experience was always very good and because they know me by name—unlike the bureaucratic management of a bank,” says Hoots. “Now, I am buying investment properties and renting them. There are a lot of bargains out there for rehabbed housing, but I won’t be able to continue investing in properties if the credit union doesn’t have more money to lend to small businesses.”
Credit unions outside of Kansas City and St. Louis Chapter: Make contacts by phone, by email, and/or in person on April 26, highlighting the small business lending efforts of CU Community Credit Union and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
PLEASE NOTE: To give credit for calls and emails made outside of the Grassroots Action Center and 877 number, please share those contacts made with Amy McLard.