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Northwest CUs spread small biz financing in region
BEAVERTON, Ore., and FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (8/20/12)--Northwest credit unions have outpaced the credit unions' national growth in small-business financing by 3%, according to the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).

From March 2011 to March 2012, Oregon and Washington credit unions increased the value of business lending by 9% to $2.498 billion with $957 million in Oregon and $1.54 billion in Washington. Nationally, credit unions increased their member business lending (MBL) by 6% to more than $41 billion in the same 12-month period, said NWCUA.

The growth has come despite increasing regulatory pressure and attacks by banks on credit unions' efforts to lift the MBL cap to 27.5% of total assets from 12.25%, the association said.

"Northwest credit unions anticipated the increased regional need for business lending in 2009 and stepped up to the regulatory requirements through education and expertise to guarantee that this type of lending is done in a safe and sound manner that is also friendly to small-business-owning members," said NWCUA CEO John Annaloro.

"When Congress finds the courage to bring this issue of lifting the MBL cap to a vote and it passes, Northwest credit unions will be in a position to inject capital into a floundering economy whose small-business engine has sputtered at the closed hand of traditional sources of financing," he added.

While credit union MBLs rose 6% from March 2011 to March 2012, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.  reported that community banks' business lending decreased by 4%. That highlights "a stark difference" in how they address the recession and need for small business financing, said NWCUA.

Moving the cap to 27.5% of assets will produce an additional $13 billion available for small business lending and help create 140,000 new jobs, according to the Credit Union National Association. 

In the Northwest, lifting the cap would make more than $848 million in loans and 9,400 jobs available, said NWCUA. The average size of a credit union MBL in the Northwest is $264,000. However, MBLs as small as $5,000 or less are available at 99 Oregon and Washington credit unions with MBL programs.


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