NEW ORLEANS (11/28/07)--Credit unions “definitely have room to grow” when it comes to member business lending, said National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) President/CEO Tom Davis, during NACUSO’s third annual Business Services Collaborative Nov. 7-9 in New Orleans. Business loans grew 18.6% for all credit unions from June 2006 to June 2007, with business loans accounting for 4% of outstanding loans. Only 23% of credit unions have at least one business loan outstanding, and only 11.2% have at least 10 outstanding, Davis said. Kent Moon, president/CEO of Member Business Lending LLC in South Jordan, Utah, said member business lending “is the opportunity of the future” for credit unions. “Of the top Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in the nation, the top 100 lenders do over 80% of all SBA loans,” he said. “It’s a credit union market by its very definition. We need to address it and collaborate together now to capture this market.” Moon asked what is holding credit unions back from capturing the SBA lending market. “I honestly believe we can capture over 50% of the market, but we can’t do it by sitting on our laurels and hanging back, scratching our heads.” Credit unions provide a great advantage to business owners by not charging pre-payment penalties, according to Bill Beardsley, president of Michigan Business Connection in Ann Arbor, Mich. Banks do the opposite and hurt borrowers with penalties, he said. Training is also key, said Keith Reed, president/CEO of Cooperative Business Services LLC in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I’m asked what my credit unions are doing to get educated in business lending, so that they understand what they are looking at independently of what the credit union service organization (CUSO) is putting in front of them.” CUSOs have the ability to create a channel market, and because the percentage of credit unions involved is small, “there’s no way to go but up,” said Mike Hales, partner in The Rochdale Group in Laguna Niguel, Calif. About 71 credit union representatives and CUSO members attended the conference, which featured general sessions and roundtable discussions led by industry experts on collaboration and aggregation in member business lending and regulatory issues.