CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn told Mills and Landrieu that credit unions want to work more with the SBA. She asked both to consider making permanent the agency's 7(a) loan 90% guarantee, which was recently approved temporarily. Dunn discussed containing all fees under all of the SBA's programs and ensuring that the agency has sufficient personnel to help review loan applications, handle problems and process guarantee payments to lenders in the case of a borrower's default.
Dunn said Mills is "very proactive" and wants the agency to run more efficiently.
"There is an SBA express program, but that doesn't work for everyone," Dunn said. "The SBA has had some reduction in staff throughout the regions. Problems arise when there are not enough people to process questions." Dunn said it was a good sign that Mills is on President Obama's economic advisory team.
"The past administration was 'cut, cut, cut,'" Dunn said of some of the SBA's programs. "President Obama, to his credit, has made Mills part of his economic advisory team. She is at the table having the discussions about problems in the economy."
NAFCU President Fred Becker and Associate Director of Regulatory Affairs Tessema Tefferi also attended the roundtable. Becker talked about the importance of extending the 90% 7(a) loan guarantee beyond Dec. 31, adding the guaranteed portion does not count against a credit union's member business loan cap. Landrieu and Mills entertained the possibility of Congress extending the cap, according to NAFCU.
Mills said she was disappointed that credit unions have not penetrated SBA's loan market and would like to see more of them involved, according to NAFCU. Becker said credit unions have been working to become more involved.
"The devil is in the details," Tefferi said on increasing the credit union industry's connections with the SBA. "We're happy about enthusiasm and commitment expressed at meeting. We've worked diligently together, and we intend to work closely with the SBA as we have in the past."
What may help is the 90% guarantee. Mills said some 600 new lenders are now participating in the 7(a) loan program since the new guarantee went into effect. Of those, 300 had not been active lenders since 2007. Over the next month, the SBA is scheduled to receive another $730 million through the American Recovery and Investment Act, Mills said.
The SBA is also working with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to expand lending to veterans, NAFCU said. Becker pointed out that there is a credit union serving each military base. Landrieu said on-base credit unions have been discussed with lawmakers on the Senate small business and veteran affair committees.