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.
CommunityAmerica Credit Union has deep roots in the Kansas City community and, based on deposits, ranks as one of the top 10 Kansas City-based financial institutions. It was founded in 1940 as TWA Club Credit Union with working capital of just $1,069. By the end of the first year, the credit union had grown to have more than $20,000 in assets and 644 members. By year end 2011, CommunityAmerica served more than 168,000 members and had more than $1.8 billion in assets, ranking it among the nation's largest credit unions.
CommunityAmerica serves residents of Missouri who live or work in Jackson, Clay, Platte and St. Charles* counties, as well as certain zip codes in the St. Louis area. In Kansas, field of membership includes residents of Douglas, Johnson, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Miami, Shawnee and Wyandotte counties and their family members, as well as associations and businesses located in Johnson and Douglas counties. Today, there are 32 CommunityAmerica branches in the Kansas City, St. Louis and Topeka areas.
As the credit union has grown, it provides expanded services addressing the needs of its members - including business lending opportunities.
“Business lending helps small businesses succeed, providing them the capital they need to execute on a solid business plan, but more importantly, to achieve their dreams,” says Dennis Pierce, CEO of CommunityAmerica Credit Union. “Small business lending helps business owners provide much needed jobs and funds the tax base, jumpstarting the local economy and helping Missouri thrive.”
LanoLip inventor Miranda Coggins suffered from chronic chapped lips. While nursing her daughter, she used lanolin-based products to ease the discomfort and soreness associated with breastfeeding. Shortly after this discovery, Miranda’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. In January 2006, she created several lip balm prototypes over her kitchen stovetop. After testing with friends and family, The Lano Company was officially born.
“Entrepreneurial spirit alone would not have led to my success,” says Coggins. “To expand beyond the kitchen stove, I needed financial backing from a financial institution who not only had money to lend, but was willing to partner in my success.”
Enter CommunityAmerica Credit Union. “CommunityAmerica stepped up when others wouldn’t to help me get the boost I needed,” adds Coggins. “Now I have a million dollar mega business that is thriving. I can’t imagine not seeing this dream come to fruition, but it simply wouldn’t have without the support of CommunityAmerica.”
Healing House provides a faith-based and stable home environment to more than 70 men and women who are separated from their families due to their addiction problems. It offers a safe, structured and loving home, and gives hope to those who once felt hopeless.
“Providing hope and solutions is integral to the mission and success of The Healing House,” says Executive Director Bobbi Jo Reed. “I understand that all too well because hope, solutions and support were critical to keep this effort alive.”
In 2007, the banks Bobbi Jo worked with to keep the Healing House in operation decided they would no longer lend her money for this important service. She was left without funding.
"I felt hopeless,” adds Bobbi, “because financial support was the only way I would be able to keep these homes operational and this dream alive. I’m so thankful for CommunityAmerica, who saw the importance of this to the community and provided us the financing needed to continue. They talked to me like a friend, not a banker, and worked with me to see this vision to fruition.”
Financial support through CommunityAmerica Credit Union has allowed the Healing House to expand to more locations - changing countless lives and transforming communities as a result.
Credit unions in the Kansas City 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