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GAC grassroots advocacy gets results
WASHINGTON (3/1/10)--Activists from North Carolina credit unions and the North Carolina Credit Union League (NCCUL) were among the legions of credit union representatives making Hill visits as part of last week's Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental
Click to view larger image (From Left) Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), head of the House Small Business Committee, spoke with representatives from New York credit unions Wednesday afternoon. Pictured with Velazquez are Mira Ness, CEO, New York University FCU, and John Gibardi, president/CEO of Entertainment Industries FCU, New York City. (CUNA photo)
Affairs Conference (GAC), and the visits by the N.C.-based group garnered great results, getting two legislators to sign on to support member business lending (MBL) legislation. One new supporter of the MBL legislation is Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who told the group that he was concerned about small businesses in his district that were in good shape financially, but were still having trouble obtaining loans. H.R. 3380, the Promoting Lending for America's Small Business Act, would raise the amount of money a credit union can devote to business lending. The legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) late last year, would provide up to $10 billion in capital to credit union member-owned small businesses, and could create as many as 108,000 new jobs, according to CUNA estimates. Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) also signed his intentions to support H.R. 3380 during an earlier visit. NCCUL Director of Political Affairs Mickey Fanney told News Now that gaining this kind of support is important for credit unions, especially in North Carolina, where it can be difficult to get credit union views through the clutter caused by the large banks that also reside in the state. "But many congressmen are starting to realize that small businesses need the funding, and credit unions are here to help," he added. Representatives from New York-based credit unions were also on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Melrose CU's Robert Nemeroff also sought congressional support for the member business lending legislation, telling Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) that the level of business that his credit union works with is "the level of business that both President Obama and his administration are looking to stimulate." "Since the banks have shown that they aren't going to lend to them, let credit unions do it," he said, adding that there is "no systemic risk" in increasing lending to credit union members. "We know these people." The Wisconsin Credit Union League and representatives from Wisconsin credit unions met with Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, both Democrats, to encourage their delegates to support raising caps on member business lending and to oppose legislation that would regulate interchange fees. They also touched on the need for secondary capital for credit unions. “I have strong sympathy for the role you play in your communities,” Feingold told credit union representatives. He also noted that the Wisconsin credit union representatives presented him with some solid arguments for raising the cap on member business lending. Kohl also commended credit unions for their work, especially efforts to improve financial literacy in schools. “All areas of Wisconsin appreciate the service that you provide,” Kohl said. “I am very proud of what you do. Our relationship has been strong, and it will continue to be strong.” More than 4,000 credit union employees and activists from across the country have attended CUNA's GAC, which ended late last week.


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