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.
TelComm Credit Union was chartered in 1940 by a group of Southwestern Bell (SWB) Telephone Employees to serve the personal financial needs of the Springfield, Missouri area telephone company employees. The SWB employees quickly saw the inherent value of providing on-site financial services to their fellow employees (and families), while at the same time, Southwestern Bell proactively promoted the credit union’s services to their employees as a no-cost benefit.
TelComm’s membership has grown from serving telecommunication industry employees only to serving more than 16,000 credit union member/owners who live or work in three southwest Missouri counties. A $111.5 million asset-sized credit union, TelComm operates five full-service offices - and recently broke ground on a sixth branch location - in order to better serve the financial needs of Springfield residents residing in southeast Springfield.
After numerous requests by TelComm members over the years for the credit union to consider expanding their lending capabilities to include non-owner occupied rental properties, the credit union established policies to make this new member service available.
“In light of the obvious demand by our membership for this loan product, the reality of the current, depressed economy predicated TelComm’s entry into the realm of business lending must be in a very conservative manner,” says TelComm President Don Ackerman. “The ongoing need for this new member service continues to grow rapidly, and we have found the best marketing tool has been by ‘word of mouth’ of our current, satisfied members”.
The following is just one example of a recent business loan TelComm closed for a credit union member:
After being frustrated with his service from Bank of America, Clarence “Sonny” Herman began looking for a different financial institution to refinance his personal residence in 2009. A close friend and longtime TelComm Credit Union member strongly recommended that Sonny visit the credit union to see if staff could help. After experiencing the benefits of having his personal home loan financed locally and the personalized one-on-one service provided by TelComm staff, Sonny and his wife, Pat, came back to TelComm with a question. Would TelComm be able to assist them in achieving Sonny’s lifelong goal of acquiring rental properties?
A Vietnam veteran who was seriously wounded by mortar shrapnel during the war and rendered legally blind, Sonny has refused to allow his blindness affect his goals and dreams. He was confident he could – and should – be able to purchase, fix up and oversee rental properties as the opportunities arose. The bank was not receptive to his life-long dream of being a landlord. TelComm Credit Union didn’t see things that way, and agreed to help Sonny move forward on his dream.
“We now have a total of five rental properties Sonny oversees that were financed through TelComm,” states TelComm Lending Vice President Lindy Evans. “If anyone should have a reason to be unhappy or have a chip on his shoulder with the many difficult challenges life has brought him, it would be Sonny, but he is one of the most kind and caring individuals we’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to serve, and we are extremely proud to help him achieve his dream.”
Sonny took part in a small business roundtable discussion with Senator Blunt’s staff in Springfield, Missouri, and emphasized the help credit unions have provided to his business.
“I enjoy doing business with TelComm Credit Union and I trust doing business with them,” says Sonny. “I’m glad to be able to purchase and improve homes, and feel very at home with TelComm. They have always made me feel comfortable and I look forward to continue doing my business loans with them.”
Credit unions outside of the Kansas City and St. Louis Chapters: Make contacts 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