This is part of 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. St. Louis Chapter: Make Senate contacts by calling 1-877-642-4223, by using the Grassroots Action Center and/or visiting in person, highlighting the small business lending efforts of Neighbors Credit Union and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
Neighbors Credit Union started as St. Louis Postal Credit Union on March 16, 1928, with the idea that every postal worker deserved a helping hand to get more out of life. Today, the credit union serves people who live or work in St. Louis City and the Missouri counties of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson.
As the credit union has grown to serve people in its surrounding communities – it owes its continued success to the principles on which the credit union was built. Neighbors Credit Union takes pride that it’s more about common sense than dollars and cents, and that starts by helping members—including businesses—make the right financial decisions and doing what’s best for them.
“Restricting credit unions and their ability to serve businesses in the communities they serve makes no sense,” says John Servos, Neighbors Credit Union President/CEO. “Credit unions are well managed, risk averse and have the capacity to lend. Under the current duress our economy is experiencing, credit unions can help businesses expand and prosper, create jobs and help the U.S. economy move forward in a positive manner if Senate Bill 2231 is passed.”
Here are two examples of business owners helped by Neighbors Credit Union:
When companies have excess inventory they need to get rid of, World Wide Inventory Network (WIN) is there to help. Travis Laws and his dad Clinton operate the registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation, which connects non-profit corporations with corporate excess inventory. WIN accepts donations of overstock from U.S. corporations and makes these products available to other non-profit organizations for a small handling charge – offering a substantial savings over typical resources. WIN donors include manufacturers and distributors of a wide variety of products, with offerings ranging from microscopes and cheerleading outfits for schools to floor buffers and moveable ladders for churches.
The business was outgrowing its rented warehouse space in late 2009, and WIN had an opportunity to buy the entire 150,000 square foot warehouse where it was located. The property had been taken over by the landlord’s bank. However, there was a problem. The Laws’ couldn’t find financing from banks for a healthy, nonprofit organization in the midst of a credit freeze unlike anything seen since the 1930’s.
Neighbors Credit Union stepped in to provide the loan and WIN purchased the warehouse. Operations continue to grow and WIN has hired more employees.
“This opportunity would have passed us by if not for the access to capital our credit union supplied,” says Travis Laws. “We think our credit union, and others like it, serve American small businesses in a way that banks are unable or unwilling to do. As a result, we are big supporters of expanding the credit unions’ capacity to continue to provide capital for small business in America.”
Here are two small business owners helped by Neighbors Credit Union:
Bob Richard owns and runs Fenton Self Storage, a 400+ storage facility with inside and outside storage and climate controlled buildings. A member of Neighbors Credit Union, Richard kept his business account at a local bank. In 2009, the bank told Richard and other business owners to look for loans elsewhere. He immediately turned to Neighbors Credit Union, which offered secured financing for five years and a line of credit for the business. Two years later, Richard decided to install solar panels to make his facility more energy efficient. Instead of tapping into his business line to make these improvements as he had originally planned, the credit union staff suggested a lower interest loan from the home equity department.
“I would like to know how often you see that dedication to serving the customer in any line of business, much less banking?” asks Richard. “I am sold on what my credit union provides to my small business in both access to capital and advice that serves my needs, not those of Wall Street or a faceless owner. As a member, I am also an owner, and I feel the service and business advice I receive are good for all small business in America.”
St. Louis Chapter credit unions: Make contacts by phone, by email, and/or in person today, highlighting the small business lending efforts and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.