ORLANDO, Fla. – NCUA Board Chairman Dennis Dollar very gently scolded an audience of credit union directors, executives and volunteers attending CUNA's 2002 Symposium, arguing that the agency was more committed to allowing credit union make business loans to their members than most credit unions were to lending the money. After noting that the number of credit unions offering member business lending has actually decreased since 1994, including a decrease before the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act, Dollar said. "I would maintain that NCUA is more open to your going into member business lending than you are," he said. "I don't want any of you to go out and say the Chairman says every credit union ought to be doing member business lending," he said. But he added, "I would encourage you all to study the idea closely." Dollar made the push to encourage member business lending a focus of his talk, which also included information he had previously presented on credit union progress in offering services to low-income areas and defending the agency's approach to "risk based" legislation. He held up a recent story from USA Today, which illustrated the decline in capital available to small business and start-ups. He picked up on the article's point that, in previous recessions, it has been the start-up of different business in wake of layoffs from established businesses that helped draw the nation out of its economic doldrums. "In fact there have been some great start-up companies that started during recessions," Dollar noted. "Some names come to mind, Disney, Microsoft," he added. Small business lending is the next step in helping people in underserved areas, it is the logical growth from being just an institution that offers basic financial services to low-income people, he argued. He also focused on coming updates to the agency's field of membership manual. "I look forward as one of the main initiatives of the last part of this year or the early part of next year to have our review board look once again at our field or membership rules to make sure we give maximum flexibility even as we comply with the law," he said. [email protected]

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