WENATCHEE VALLEY, Wash. (10/3/11)--Turned down by several banks in pursuit of his dream, Randy Arnold turned to a credit union and then the roots of his new career path literally took hold. Arnold, a railroad worker, wanted to become an orchardist and needed a loan to help buy nine acres of what he termed a “stump ranch” in the Wenatchee Valley of Central Washington state. He was able to buy the land after procuring the $5,000 loan many years ago from King Street Terminal CU (KTSCU), now Express CU (ECU) in Seattle, Wash. His loan request had been turned down by about four banks. Today, he has grown that parcel to 50 acres where he raises Bartlett and D’Anjou pears on his orchard. He has built and owns a house on the land, which he said now is worth about $300,000. The total net worth of his orchard is roughly $1.5 million, he added. “If I hadn’t gotten that loan to begin with, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have the success I have now,” Arnold told News Now. “I didn’t have enough down payment to buy the land. With the $5,000 I got from the credit union, I was able to purchase the nine acres for $25,000. “They were great to be giving me support when I was young,” he added. “I wanted to be an orchardist and they helped me purchase an orchard. I was turned down by banks because they seldom loan to orchards. I’m still a member of ECU and do my business with them. I just brought them a box of pears yesterday.” Every year, Arnold drops off boxes of pears grown on his orchard for ECU staff as a token of his appreciation. Over the years, Arnold has taken out several more loans from the $10.2 million asset ECU to help him remodel his house and buy a couple of trucks. “KSTCU gave Randy an unsecured signature loan to purchase the property,” Norma Hernandez, Express president/chief operating office officer, told News Now. “That was our first investment in Randy. As years went on, Randy kept us as his primary financial institution because of the risk KSTCU was willing to take on him and his dream. We financed vehicles (secured) and gave him a number of other signature loans (unsecured) throughout the years as needs came up. “He has always come to us first whenever he needed a loan--which by the way, has been a while--because since KSTCU/ECU provided that first opportunity to prove himself all those years ago, Randy has become a successful and stable member of our community and membership,” she added. “And now his shares in ECU provide those exact same opportunities to our newest members who are needing that same ‘take a chance on me and I won’t let you down’ considerations,” Hernandez concluded. The orchard loan is just one example of how credit unions help members’ small businesses--often when banks refuse them loans. Many credit unions offer member business loans (MBL), but some are bumping up against a cap that limits MBLs to 12.25% of assets. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions’ MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity for credit unions 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.