MADISON, Wis, (4/13/12)--As credit unions nationwide step up their grassroots efforts to expand their ability to offer loans to small businesses, several leagues reported what their credit unions are doing to support the effort.
They are urging Congress to pass Senate Bill 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill, which would raise the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from the current 12.25%. The Credit Union National Association says that doing so would inject $13 billion into small businesses to help create 140,000 new jobs, without costing the taxpayer a dime.
In New York, credit unions are engaging their members in MBL advocacy and have reported "extremely positive results," said the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY). Corning (N.Y.) FCU, for example, obtained 2,256 signatures in two days for advocacy letters to lawmakers on the issue.
On Wednesday, New York credit union CEOs from across the state participated in two MBL conference calls hosted by CUANY. They shared advocacy strategies and discussed the importance of contacting their lawmakers in Congress and recognizing those who already support the measure in Congress.
New Jersey credit union representatives discuss member business lending with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) during a political event in New Jersey. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League) .
Some lawmakers "have been strong advocates of MBL reform, and we know they are being bombarded by banker opposition as a result," said CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin. He urged New Jersey credit unions to "flood their offices with credit union e-mails, letters and phone calls expressing our appreciation and reaffirming how essential they are to the success of this legislation--legislation that will benefit small business owners, create jobs and help stimulate the economy without any cost to taxpayers."
In Lawrenceville, N.J., credit unions took advantage of an opportunity to meet with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to make the case for MBL reform personally. They attended Rider University's Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics' financial session of its 2011-12 Governing New Jersey series, said the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) (The Daily Exchange
Credit Union of New Jersey Director Gary Chizmadia, Advanced Financial FCU CEO Alan Feigenbaum, Hamilton-Horizons CEO Cindy Rein-Zima and McGraw-Hill FCU Marketing Manager Rob Carabelli joined NJCUL Director of Government Affairs Chris Abeel urged supporting the bill comes up for a vote, expected any time after the Senate returns to session on April 16.
"This wasn't a small opportunity," said league President/CEO Paul Gentile. "We need our senators to hear a loud voice here in New Jersey. We're running radio and internet ads, generating lots of e-mails, letters and calls, and have an MBL postcard campaign in full swing. But to have people there to be able to pose the question live and in-person is incredibly valuable for our efforts as we have never before seen such a high level of anti-credit union propaganda coming from the bankers," he said.
Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), which sent out a special advocacy edition of its newsletter, Life is a Highway
Thursday, noted that representatives from Members 1st CU, Mechanicsburg, including CEO Bob Marquette, met Tuesday with a lawmaker's
regional staff in Harrisburg. They shared statistics on MBL, provided a package of information and delivered copies of letters written by several of the credit union's member businesses.
Mary Beth Wilcher, CEO, of Erie (Pa.) FCU, and Trent Mason, chief marketing officer, Erie General Electric FCU, also met with a lawmaker's regional office in Erie. They explained the credit union difference and the importance of the MBL legislation. Other meetings with regional staff are in the works with American Heritage FCU, Cross Valley FCU, First Commonwealth FCU, Freedom CU, Penn East FCU, SPE FCU, Sun East FCU, and TruMark Financial CU.
"Come Monday, we will have six of the seven regional offices covered," said a special edition of PCUA's Life is a Highway