MADISON, Wis. and WASHINGTON (4/4/12)--An article in Wisconsin Corporate Report and a blog in Huffington Post feature credit union leagues telling why Congress should pass the member business lending (MBL) bill to increase credit unions' MBL cap.
Wisconsin Corporate Report recently carried an article Feb. 29 on how businesses in Reedsburg, Wis., had been hurt by banks that were either pulling their lines of credit or not renewing their loans, despite good payment histories (To read the article, use the link).
That prompted Wisconsin Credit Union League President/CEO Brett Thompson to contact the publication. The result: an interview in the "The Last Word" column (March 28), the most frequently read page of the publication. The article emphasized that credit unions want to step in and help but many can't, because of the MBL cap that limits credit unions' MBLs to 12.25% of assets. Credit unions, Thompson explained, are trying to get that changed in Congress to 27.5% of assets, but banks are opposing the bills.
Thompson was asked about the bankers' argument that business loans should be left to banks and that credit unions weren't good at this kind of lending. "Nothing could be further from the truth. For many years, many (credit unions) have made loans effectively." He called banks' level-the-playing-field stance "disingenuous." "If the playing field were that uneven, you would not be in a situation where 93% of all commercial lending in Wisconsin is done by banks." He noted credit unions have done very well making MBLs. The average MBL in the state is just under $178,000--the type of loans banks aren't interested in, he said.
"We have the ability to help borrowers, many of whom are the type that banks are not interested in, and at the same time give a shot in the arm to the economy," Thompson said. "It would mean $408 million in business credit in Wisconsin and we believe that would result in 4,447 new jobs" in the state.
In a Huffington Post (April 2) blog, Dave Adams, president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates, notes banks aren't lending because of tough economic times and tough new regulations. "While many banks are not making these loans, Michigan's credit unions have once again stepped up. In 2011, credit unions' small business loans were up over 14% for the fifth year in a row during extraordinarily difficult economic circumstances when most banks were pulling back on business lending," he said.
To read all three articles, use the links. (See related story, "CUNA in Daily Caller: MBLs are all about small business," in News Now's Washington section.)