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Credit union SBA participation on agenda
WASHINGTON (2/12/08)—Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica is scheduled to meet today with the administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to explore greater credit union involvement in SBA programs. CUNA has been in regular contact in recent years with the SBA urging the agency to remove structural roadblocks to programs like its 7 (a) guaranteed lending program to enable more credit unions to participate. Bucking a general trend of decline in 7 (a) participation, the SBA reports that 386 credit unions are currently in the 7a program—up from 315 a year ago. However, CUNA has told the SBA and testified on Capitol Hill that more credit unions want to use the program but are kept out because of costs and complex paperwork. Credit unions represent only about one percent of SBA lending, CUNA says. Last month, SBA Administrator Steven Preston said that loan volume for its signature 7 (a) program has decreased overall, and that originations dropped to 20,000 in the fourth quarter. He said his agency is attempting to expand participation, but acknowledged that such things as slow loan turnaround times, a lack of support services for lenders, and complex rules and paperwork can be roadblocks to participation. Because of these roadblocks, the SBA has lost 368 financial institutions in the past two years--a 7% decline, Preston said. (American Banker, Jan. 23) In November, the agency started a program to speed up payments of loan guarantees, but it faces challenges such as inefficient workflows and information technology systems. It could take until April or May to streamline the program, according to Preston.

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