PHOENIX (9/26/11)--Arizona’s 49 credit unions could boost the state’s small businesses if the federal government raises the member business lending (MBL) cap, the Mountain West Credit Union Association--which represents credit unions in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming--told the Arizona Business Magazine in its September issue. There were roughly 381,000 small businesses in the state in 2008, according to the Arizona Small Business Association, wrote Joy Audet, association director of corporate communications, in the article she authored for the magazine. “We hear from business owners all the time that have solid plans and want to grow, but the big banks won’t even talk to them,” Paul B. Stull, senior vice president of strategy and brand for Arizona State CU in Phoenix, said in the article. “Increasing credit unions ability to lend to these businesses is needed now more than ever. We can get the economy moving again, but the current economic gridlock is holding us back. “Local financial institutions, like credit unions, know our markets very well,” he continued. “We understand Arizona and we know how to make Arizona loans for Arizona people.” Arizona credit unions stepped up and continued lending when other lenders cut back during the financial crisis, Audet wrote. Despite the fact that credit unions are the only financial institution category saddled with a statutory MBL cap, their MBLs grew 3% during the past year. Other financial institutions in the state have decreased their business loans an average of 7%, she added. “With less than 2% of the market, it’s important to note that credit unions pose no threat to commercial banks,” Audet wrote. “Small businesses are often turned away from commercial banks because they are too small. This is where credit unions have the ability to fill in the gap.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are pressing Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.