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News Now

Washington
SBA notes CUs five-year 7a participation
WASHINGTON (2/13/2008)—-Five years ago this month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) expanded its guaranteed loan program to all credit unions, regardless of charter. More than 385 credit unions now participate in the SBA 7(a) program.
Click to view larger image (CLICK TO ENLARGE) CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica (left) and SBA Administrator Steve Preston yesterday discuss credit union participation in SBA lending. (Photo provided by CUNA)
Credit unions’ increased participation in SBA programs was among the topics Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica and SBA Administrator Steve Preston discussed yesterday at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Credit unions accounted for only about 1% of such lending in 2007. While Preston noted credit unions’ greater participation in SBA lending, and said he remains focused on providing more capital to help small businesses grow. Mica praised the SBA for improved paperwork processes, but said the agency should continue to improve efforts at speeding applications, a point Preston acknowledge and pledged to improve. Mica and Preston discussed other impediments to member business lending (MBL) for credit unions--including the statutory cap on MBLs. Even though the Federal Credit Union Act’s MBL cap does not apply to SBA loans, the restriction results in credit unions’ reluctance to even initiate MBL programs, according to Mica. “Because of credit unions’ restrictions, they can’t count on partnering with the SBA on all their MBLs,” said Mica. “MBL programs are costly to set up and administer and credit unions may reach the cap fairly soon with non-SBA loans.” Preston also explained to Mica two key SBA initiatives--the Patriot Express program to meet the business lending needs of military personnel; and the Rural Advantage Program, which provides a simplified application process for loans up to $350,000 or less in rural communities. “CUNA looks forward to working closer than ever with the SBA to help credit unions meet the lending needs of small businesses in their communities, which in turn can help strengthen the economy,” Mica told Preston. CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn and SBA National Ombudsman Nick Owens also participated in the meeting.
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