LANSING, Mich. (3/25/10)--While other institutions pulled back or closed their doors during 2009, credit unions in Michigan saw strong growth in members, deposits and small-business lending, reports the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). Members' savings deposits at the state's credit unions grew by 12.2% to $32.5 billion in 2009, according to year-end statistics compiled by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The best measure of industry strength--net worth-to-assets ratio--showed credit unions at 10.9%--above the 7% ratio considered well-capitalized by regulators and a percentage point higher than the 9.9% average for credit unions nationwide. Credit unions' total loans were up 4.1% while other lenders reported sharp drops in lending, said the league. New-auto loans rose 19.7%, used-auto loans 12.5%,, credit card loans 4.5% and first-mortgage loans 2.8%, despite Michigan's depressed real estate market. Michigan credit union auto lending benefited from the industry's participation in the Invest in America program, which offers member discounts on General Motors and Chrysler vehicles in return for credit unions' promotional efforts supporting domestic automakers nationwide. "Michigan's credit unions have stepped up to the plate to make small loans at a time when other institutions have cut back," said MCUL President/CEO David Adams. "As other lenders have struggled to make credit available to consumers and businesses in Michigan, or as banks have added new fees on credit cards and other products, credit unions have continued to offer consumer-friendly products and services, and continued to lend." he said. He noted that their small-business loan growth and record membership growth "particularly demonstrates that more and more people are turning to credit unions as their trusted financial institutions of choice during tough economic times." Small-business loans grew 18% to $838 million, and credit unions in the state have pledged $43 million in business loans as part of the state's entrepreneurship program, the Small Business Financing Alliance, in partnership with Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Adams pointed out that Michigan households are turning to credit unions in record numbers. Membership had flat growth since 2001 while Michigan's population shrank. In 2009, however, membership grew by more than 37,000 to more than 4.4 million members. He attributed the recent growth to "public outcry over Wall Street and big bank abuses nationally."