WASHINGTON — In an effort to generate more momentum for legislation to let credit unions make more business loans, the industry’s lobbyists brought in business owners to tell their stories on Wednesday.
“If it weren’t for a credit union, I might be out of business,’’ said interior contracting company owner Jim Dobbins from Winston-Salem, N.C. “They helped me when my bank decided my company was too small to lend to.’’
Dobbins credited Allegacy FCU with helping his firm grow from 32 employees to 50 in the past two years. He added that the legislation would enable more credit unions to do the same thing for other companies.
Dobbins spoke to Credit Union Times following a news conference held by the legislation’s two main sponsors.
Wendell Wakefield, who owns a gas and oil company in Roswell, N.M., said he has had trouble getting additional credit to keep his business running and if the cap were lifted his local credit union, Roswell FCU would be able to lend him money.
“Last year was a tough year. I had to people off because of the economy. The additional capital will help me do more and hire additional people,’’ added Wakefield, who used to be on the board of the credit union.
Dobbins and Wakefield are part of a Hike the Hill that CUNA is sponsoring along with several small business advocacy organizations.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the measure’s main sponsor, said many people in the leadership are “intrigued,’’ by the bill but declined to assess its prospects for passing this year. He added that the bill, which would raise the cap from 12.25% of assets to up to 27.5% of assets, is an approach to job creation that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), the measure’s other lead sponsor, praised those who came to lobby their representatives because “if we don’t hear about people’s concerns we won’t do anything about the issue.’’
The legislation would require that credit unions must be well-capitalized, be at or above 80% of the current cap, have five or more years of member business lending experience and be able to demonstrate sound underwriting and servicing.
If a credit union’s net worth ratio falls below the well-capitalized requirement (currently 7%), it would have to stop making new business loans. It has 114 cosponsors in the House. A companion bill by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has 22 cosponsors.