MADISON, Wis. (10/17/11)--Publications in West Virginia, Vermont and New Jersey recently shared credit union member business lending (MBL) story with their readers. In West Virginia, an article on the WBOY website described how Star USA FCU, Charleston; First Choice American Community FCU, Weirton; and Universal FCU, Huntington; are working to increase their presence in the small business market. Daniel Smithson, president of Star USA FCU, told the station that the 12.25%-of-assets cap on credit union MBL activity limits his credit union’s opportunities to lend. “We are at or near our business lending capacity,” Smithson said. “Our ability to make loans to small business is pretty much limited. We’ve helped out a lot of small businesses.” As Congress and President Barack Obama battle over ways to create jobs, credit unions have money to lend to small businesses, Stephen Hewitt, vice president of business development at Star USA, told WBOY. First Choice American Community FCU has been offering commercial lending for 20 years, said Scott Winwood, president/CEO. “We would welcome any regulatory relief that would allow our credit union to increase the availability of our financial products and services to more people,” Winwood said. “We see this as a ‘win-win’ situation for the consumer and us.” An article in the October issue of the Champlain Business Journal described how New England FCU, Williston, Vt.; Heritage Family FCU, Rutland, Vt.; and Vermont State Employees CU (VSECU), Montpelier, Vt.; are ready to loan to small businesses, according the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (Newslines Express Oct. 14). Representatives from the credit unions network with and help small-business owners who are looking for capital to expand their growing companies, the article said. It described how credit unions offer services beyond personal checking, savings and loan products, such as merchant credit card services, to serve their business members. To reach members with information about merchant services, small-business loans and other business products, Heritage Family FCU’s Marleen Cenate told the Journal that the credit union finds networking opportunities through its membership. “We get a lot of referrals from members who refer their colleagues,” Cenate said. VSECU’s Scott Nichols described his credit union’s marketing campaign, which claims the “E” in the credit union’s acronym means “Everyone,” since it was recently granted a statewide field of membership. He explained that in addition to radio and television ads that focus on that message, VSECU also works to reach potential members through business networking, personal contacts and referrals. A Oct. 14 article in the Bergen Record titled “N.J. Credit Unions Campaigning to Raise Business Lending Limit,” highlights the New Jersey Credit Union League’s (NJCUL) radio and Web ad campaign promoting support of legislation to raise the MBL cap (The Daily Exchange Oct. 14)). The campaign, which officially launched Thursday, includes radio ads running on nine New Jersey radio stations and Web ads appearing on the 101.5 FM and PolitickerNJ Websites. “We are hoping New Jersey lawmakers wake up to the reality that small businesses need help," NJCUL President Paul Gentile said in the article. “We have a number of credit unions that cannot lend anymore.” On Wednesday, credit union representatives testified before a House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit hearing on H.R. 1418, the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act, which would increase the MBL cap to 27.5% of assets. CUNA has estimated that lifting the MBL cap would have a number of beneficial effects on the ailing economy, including infusing $13 billion in new credit for small businesses and adding 140,000 new jobs within the first year of enactment--at no cost to the American taxpayer.