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In The Media: MBLs, Public Deposits, Unbanked Latinos

LOS ANGELES and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (6/3/13)--Two articles in an Alabama publication and a report by Los Angeles's largest National Public Radio station provide more examples of why credit unions are of value to small business owners who can't get loans from bank, why they should be an option for public deposits in Alabama, and why one credit union offers above-and-beyond services to unbanked Latinos.

BusinessAlabama.com  posted two articles in its May issue, including one interviewing small business owners about getting member business loans (MBLs)  from credit unions when their banks let them down. The article explained that credit unions, unlike banks, didn't get caught up in making risky loans. While banks pulled back lending during the recession, credit unions didn't.

The League of Southeastern Credit Unions told the publication that business loans at Alabama credit unions rose 13% during 2012 to roughly $54 million in business loans-- twice the national average. During the past four years, they added $76 million in new MBLs and now hold $480 million in outstanding MBLs. LSCU Vice President of Communications Mike Bridges noted that credit unions work more with the business on its plan and goals, "rather than looking at it as an opportunity to make money."

The article cited information from the Credit Union National Association and noted that credit unions are urging Congress to raise their MBL cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%.

The publication's second article noted that Alabama law limits public deposits by municipal groups such as local governments, school boards, utilities and other public agencies to federally insured banks.  Credit unions are seeing an increase in requests from public entities for deposit accounts. "We hate to have to turn them away, because our mission is to serve the community," Steve Swofford, CEO of Tuscaloosa-based Alabama CU, said in the article.

Listerhill CU, Muscle Shoals, said its branch office at the University of North Alabama received  a request from the university administration about joining the credit union but the current law prevents that.  Credit unions and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions are working to amend the state law to include credit unions.  Jared Ross, vice president of government affairs at LSCU, said that 33 states allow credit unions to take public deposits and that the league is educating Alabama lawmakers on the topic.

In the third media report, CUNA and the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues helped locate a credit union for NPR affiliate KPCC to interview about serving immigrants. Communidad Latina CU in Santa Ana, which opened in 2007, has as its mission to serve the Latino population, which often doesn't use mainstream banks.

According to the segment, which aired Tuesday, that means the credit union:

  • Doesn't require a taxpayer ID number of Social Security number when the member opens a savings account--to show that everyone can have access to a credit union.
  • Expects potential members to visit the branch three times before opening an account so the members "get to know who we are, who we are as people," said CEO Terry Agius; and
  • Spends more time educating its new members about the finer points of transactions, including how to write checks and how a banking account operates.

For the full reports of these stories, use the links. 

The articles bring more awareness about credit unions and their value, which is one of the foundations of CUNA's, leagues, and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign to move toward their strategic vision where "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."  Use the link for more information.

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