This is a series of stories highlighting credit unions making small business loans in Missouri and the need for S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
When a small group of people at the A.P. Green Fire Brick Company in Mexico, Missouri put up $2,296 to form a credit union that was state chartered on May 2, 1935, they had no idea they were starting a multimillion-dollar financial institution that would one day serve more than 18,000 members. Walter G. Staley, who was in charge of company personnel matters, urged the board of directors to provide employees with an opportunity to develop savings and that a credit union would protect the employees from high interest rates charged by local loan companies.
And so, Greenco Credit Union began with a $25 loan to serve company employees. In 1983, Greenco Credit Union expanded membership to anyone residing in Audrain County or any of the seven adjoining counties. The credit union became United Credit Union (UCU) in 1985.
A focus on the needs of the community is important to UCU, both on the individual and credit union level. UCU employees volunteer for organizations like Next Step Tutoring and VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). The credit union provides free financial material to all the area schools, and staff members make countless presentations to local organizations.
Based on demand, United Credit Union began offering member business loans in 2006 to fill a need in their community. The credit union supports S. 2231, which expands the limits on business lending from 12.25 to 27.5% of assets, in order to help even more members who have dreams of small business success.
“S.2231 will create jobs in the state of Missouri and across the country. This bill really is about giving the consumers a ‘choice’ of where they want to conduct their small business lending,” points out United Credit Union President/CEO Brent Sadler. “Credit unions have proven they are a viable option and have the ability to help the small business owners. The bankers want to continue to keep the strangle hold on the near monopoly of this type of lending, leaving many with nowhere to turn unless this bill is passed. I strongly encourage our legislators to stand up and do the right thing by co-sponsoring and voting yes on S.2231 thus putting Missourians and others back to work. “
Businesses and individuals in the Jefferson City area can count on Albus Express, Inc.to pick up and deliver packages locally. And owner Chris Albus counts on United Credit Union to help with his small business needs.
Chris started the business in 2005 as Albus Transportation LLC., and then changed the name to Albus Express Inc. in 2011. He was using a bank, but the fees kept getting higher – just as fuel prices were also increasing. “This had an effect on my business,” explains Chris, “and when I would call the bank to ask about the fees, no one could explain them to me.”
Chris contacted United Credit Union, which was able to help with all of his business needs, including a larger line of credit.
“As a small business owner it is very important that we have many options available for us,” says Chris. “I am very pleased that I now have a place for my business accounts where I feel welcome.”
He supports S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act, and hopes Congress takes action soon. “As a small business owner I feel that I should be able to make my own financial decisions,” says Chris. “And my credit union should be able to help support me and my community with all our lending needs.”
Francis Bagby, Jr. buys, rehabs, maintains, rents and sells properties in the Mexico, Missouri area. Three years ago, Francis had an opportunity to expand his business and offer a wider variety of affordable housing to local residents – and went to the local banks first.
“When our search revealed these banks were unwilling to loan our small business the required funds, I contacted our local credit union, United, to discuss our needs,” explains Bagby. “As I finished my business proposal, I realized I had found a financial partner who understood both our business model and the positive impact our small business would make in the local community.”
As a result of the financial help from United Credit Union, Bagby has hired three full time and four part time employees and spent nearly $100,000 using local contractors – creating jobs and putting money back into the local economy. He is frustrated by the limits on credit union business lending.
“If our credit union were not restricted from providing additional funding, we would continue to expand our business, create jobs and make additional contributions to our community,” says Bagby.
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 and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
• Grassroots Action Center (please be sure to register BEFORE writing your email)
• Credit union presidents and small business owners are encouraged to make contacts directly to McCaskill and Blunt key staff members