PORTLAND, Ore. – In a span of a week Northwest Corporate CU’s new business CUSO has done its first deal and has netted its first corporate CU partner. That may speak to just how in demand business services are among CUs. Over the last year, the rallying cry in the industry for CUs to get more involved in serving business has been loud. Corporates throughout the nation are reporting that their members are asking what they can do to help. Northwest Corporate was the first to jump into the space by forming its own business services CUSO, CU Business Group LLC. The CUSO has an array of front and back-end products planned, such as underwriting, credit analysis, monitoring of collateral and credit, and others. It announced last week that the $1.2 billion FirstCorp, Phoenix, is its first corporate CU partner in CU Business Group. “We’re looking to have a material interest of ownership,” said FirstCorp President/CEO Pete Pritts. “We haven’t decided the exact percentage yet. We’re very excited about this. I’ve known Kathy (Garner) for years and I am thrilled to be able to work with her,” said Pritts. Pritts said he has a lot of trust in Garner, Northwest Corporate CU’s CEO, and the corporate, and hopes other corporates will have faith in each other to partner on initiatives important to CUs. “We could use a little bit more of that in the corporate network,” said Pritts. “This is a volume business and developing partnerships is important to ensure efficient delivery of services,” said Garner. Pritts said Arizona CUs are looking high and low for help with serving business members. “Consumer loan demand is down relative to the last few years. Another way for credit unions to serve members is to make loans for these business accounts. It helps with ROI and success of credit unions in general. This is not intended to serve the Fortune 500 companies. We want to help with true small businesses, people starting out of their houses,” said Pritts. CU Business Group has brought in professionals with significant business experience to handle the new line of products. It has two staffers who together have approximately 60 years of experience working with business accounts. That experience helped it close its first loan deal ahead of schedule. Not planning to start doing business until September, Larry Middleman, President/CEO of CU Business Group, said the CUSO had a great deal staring in its face, and was able to get it done even though all its systems are not yet in place. “When you have someone with 34 years experience, you’re able to get this type of thing done,” said Middleman, referring to one of the CUSO’s employees, specializing in lending. It was a $1 million business loan securitized by real estate and business assets. Middleman said the corporate’s products are such that they can be delivered nationally. He said the CUSO is planning on using CU employees to handle the face-to-face interaction with members. “Our plan is to use the credit union in almost every situation as the front line. We’ll provide the direction to the credit union for talking to the members and getting the required information. From a credit union’s standpoint, if they’re going to get into this, they should designate one of their employees as their business member champion,” said Middleman. [email protected]

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