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.
In 1929, BluCurrent Credit Union opened their doors to service a handful of postal employees under the name of Springfield Postal Employees Credit Union. Over the years, they have grown from that handful of employees to more than 18,000 members.
Today, BluCurrent serves a 10-county area in southwest Missouri. Membership is also open to any employee or member of a qualifying Select Employee Group, or any active or retired postal, federal or military employee living in a qualifying county.
The credit union started focusing on business lending about a year ago, and is seeing rapid demand for these services.
“We were looking at ways we could help more members of our credit union and members of the community, and also have more loans on our books,” says BluCurrent Credit Union President/CEO Steve Pierson. “When you bring deposits in, if you don’t loan them back out, you invest them. Interest rates are very low right now, so it makes it an advantage … to loan out as much as we can to increase earnings, which we give back to our members.”
It’s gratifying for credit union staff to be part of an effort to move the economy forward and help others.
“I got in to the lending profession because I wanted to help people,” notes Vice President of Business Lending Brian Roy. “Moving from the banking industry into the credit union world has given me the chance to do this much more. I love that the entire philosophy of credit unions is to help people succeed, and it’s small business owners like Shane Rudminat and Doug and Ann Dahl who define why we do what we do.”
Here are a few of the small business owners being helped by BluCurrent Credit Union:
When you need a snack, you can count on Shane Rudminat and his company to help. Shane is the owner of Grace Vending, LLC, a snack and soda vending machine company based in Republic, Missouri. Shane started the company in 2009 as a part-time venture with 26 vending machines.
In spring of 2011, Shane came to BluCurrent Credit Union for a loan to purchase an additional 54 vending machines, growing his business - both in number of machines and by adding an additional $36,000 to his bottom line. Because it was a smaller loan and the nature of his business, local banks were not interested in providing a loan to Shane. Thankfully, BluCurrent Credit Union was there to help.
Today, Grace Vending, LLC has 83 snack and beverage machines located in a wide variety of businesses, including schools, colleges, retail stores, apartment buildings, subdivision pools, and the United States Reserve Center.
Doug Dahl and his wife, Ann, had always dreamed of owning their own business. While Doug worked as a long-time employee in sales at Southwestern Bell Corporation, the couple spent years researching options and business opportunities. They decided to open a local branch of Plato’s Closet in Joplin, a resale shop that specializes in buying and selling used brand name clothing and accessories for teen and twenty-something guys and girls.
Many of the funds needed for the business were for startup costs, which can sometimes create obstacles to obtain financing. The Dahls came to BluCurrent Credit Union after a friend recommended they try the credit union. With their credit history, financial position and excellent business plan, the Dahls were able to get the loan they needed from BluCurrent Credit Union to fulfill their dream and become business owners.
TAKE ACTION for these small business owners:
Credit unions outside of Kansas City and St. Louis Chapter: Make contacts with U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt by phone, by email, and/or in person, 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.