SAN DIEGO -- Small businesses can turn to CUSOs as they find their way out of a "fog of economic uncertainty," John Wade, financial analyst with the Small Business Administration, told attendees at a NACUSO conference here.
During an Oct. 16 session held at NACUSO's 2008 Member Business Services Alliance, Wade spoke on the current condition of small business and small business lending.
"CUSOs have a pivotal role in providing their expertise in business lending to credit unions and in partnering with SBA to lead small business out of this fog of economic uncertainty. The moment has come, the time is now, and it's up to us to make sure those services can be delivered," Wade said. "CUSOs have an extraordinary opportunity, currently, to provide their expertise in lending."
Wade said SBA also offers services some individuals might be unfamiliar with that CUSOs could provide as additional lines of service, such as a secondary market and ETRAN capability, a Web-based loan application solution developed by the agency to save lenders time and resources. Wade also pointed to the www.sba.gov/banking site, which provides lenders with standard operating procedures, regulations and the opportunity to see SBA's different servicing centers, whether it's for loan processing, servicing or liquidation.
Designed by leaders from the business services sector, Member Business Services Alliance sought to provide a participatory structure for business service managers and staff at credit unions or CUSOs that are not currently offering business services. Roundtable topics included regulatory issues, training, sharing expert level expertise, building a participation network, SBA lending follow-up and leveraging NACUSO.
One roundtable focused on small dollar loans included experts such as Jean Faenza, president/CEO of Business Partners LLC; Scott Anderson, CEO of Northeast CUSO; and Bob Reck, vice president of business services/loan participations at North Island CU. The panel addressed how most CUSOs think commercial real estate first, but the ones that have the small-loan delivery figured out should have something valuable to share. The smaller loans may be an avenue to diversify away from "excessive concentrations" in commercial real estate lending and become a critical part of the small business packaging, the panel said.