Business Lending Spotlight: First Community
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.
First Community Credit Union
First Community was established in 1934 as the Monsanto Credit Union to serve Monsanto employees. In the late 1970s, the credit union expanded its field of membership to serve other companies and communities. To reflect the larger community being served with the field of membership changes, it became First Community Credit Union in 1983.
The credit union now serves individuals who live or work in the Missouri communities of St. Louis County, St. Louis City, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, Warren County, and the Illinois counties of Madison, Monroe and St. Clair. With more than 77 years in business, First Community Credit Union has nearly $2 billion in assets and 36 locations including 12 inside metro-area Walmart stores.
One area of focus is providing small business loans and working with the Small Business Administration (SBA). In fact, First Community Credit Union just won the award for the SBA’s Credit Union of the Year award for St. Louis.
Here are some of the small businesses that First Community Credit Union is helping:
An Outlet for Artists
Michael Hoffman, Owner, Michael Hoffman Zoecat Studio
Michael Hoffman is an artist based in the Maplewood area who works to help others gain an audience for their work. Michael wanted to purchase the building he was currently located in, which was being foreclosed on with his current landlord. A $70,000 SBA loan through First Community Credit Union allowed Michael to purchase the building.
Today, Michael Hoffman Zoecat Studio allows Michael to promote and sell his artwork to brokers and art galleries, while also actively promoting other artists in the area through receptions and gallery events.
Bringing Style Home
Angie Nichols and Becky Stark, Owners, Apricot Lane Boutique
Angie Nichols and Becky Stark wanted to open women’s retail clothing and accessory boutique, and decided to team up with a national franchise, Apricot Lane. They started the process of obtaining a loan from a bank, but the process moved much more quickly with First Community Credit Union. The $70,000 SBA loan from First Community went towards acquisition costs, equipment, inventory and working capital.
Since opening its doors in May, 2011, the company has hired eight part-time workers.
“Working with First Community Credit Union (FFCU) has been an excellent experience,” says Angie and Becky. “FCCU made the entire small business loan process easy and painless. All the people we dealt with were friendly and very knowledgeable.”
TAKE ACTION for these small business owners:
Credit unions in the 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