Business Lending Spotlight: Assemblies of God Credit Union (AGCU)
This is the first in 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. All chapters outside of Kansas City and St. Louis: Make contacts by calling 1-877-642-4223, by using the Grassroots Action Center and/or in person Tuesday, April 24, highlighting the small business lending efforts of AGCU and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
Assemblies of God Credit Union (AGCU) serves Assemblies of God (AG) ministers, employees, and churches nationwide, as well as those attending AG churches in the Springfield, Missouri area.
For many years, the credit union offered business Visa cards to member-owners. In 2006, AGCU began doing business loans. Members who had businesses requested the service from their credit union, and AGCU put the program into place.
AGCU has never advertised that it does business loans, but demand is high. AGCU hit the 12.25% cap on member business loans (MBLs) by the end of 2011, during a timeframe that AGCU itself grew more than 100%.
“AGCU has definitely provided loans to business members that would have been shunned by many banks,” explains Paul Ebisch, Assemblies of God Credit Union President/CEO. “We have a tight-knit community that enables us to know our members in such a way that it is not completely about the numbers on paper and making loans that are ‘sure things.’ Knowing the character and vision of the borrower means a lot. AGCU has definitely increased job opportunities through its lending, and enables members to create wealth within their community.”
Although it has hit the member business lending cap, AGCU remains committed to helping small businesses.
“We have a waiting list for member business loans now that we have reached our cap. As loans pay down we are able to make new loans,” says Ebisch.
Here is just one example of a small business owner helped by AGCU:
Building a Dream – Slice by Slice
Shawn Motlagh, Owner of Rosati’s Pizza
As a high school student, Shawn Motlagh managed a pizza parlor. He wasn’t just building pies, he was building a dream. Motlagh decided he would one day own his own pizza business. After serving in the Marine Corps, he came to Springfield to do just that. But he learned that dreams do not always come easily.
“My original plan was to open my own business after I got out of the Marine Corps,” Motlagh said, “but that didn’t work out.” Motlagh developed a five-year plan to save up and reach his dream. In July 2010, he left his career in construction to begin his pizza business. “The timing was right because I had the money to get things going,” Motlagh said.
Motlagh put things in motion to purchase the Rosati’s franchise in Springfield, Missouri. But he still faced a challenge. Getting a loan.
“I had saved up some money, but I still needed financing for my business. My credit is good, but no bank would loan me the money,” said Motlagh. “Nobody wants to loan money in this economy. That is sad. I think it would really help the economy if businesses could get the money they need to start or grow.”
Motlagh didn’t give up on his dream. After being turned down by several banks, he contacted Assemblies of God Credit Union.
“Not only were they able to loan me the money, they were a lot more personable. We had some conversations at the kitchen table as well as the office,” said Motlagh. “I know they care about my business because I see them in here. They patronize my business and that means a lot to me.”
Motlagh and his Rosati’s location are doing well. The business is a family affair, with his wife, a sister, and cousins working in the restaurant.
TAKE ACTION for small business owners like Shawn Motlagh:
All chapters outside of Kansas City and St. Louis: Make contacts by phone, by email, and/or in person Tuesday, April 24, highlighting the small business lending efforts of AGCU and asking for support of S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act.
• Grassroots Action Center
• Credit union presidents and small business owners are encouraged to make contacts directly to McCaskill and Blunt key staff members