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NEW YORK – With nearly 15,000 members who work or are affiliated with the Broadway theatre and entertainment community, Actors FCU is accustomed to processing loans for purposes a bit off the beaten path from what most credit unions are used to handling. So when one its members who worked with the Broadway show Les Miserables came to the credit union for a business loan to open a bridal dress design business, the $73 million-plus CU didn’t hesitate. Actors FCU, located on the West side of Manhattan in the Broadway district, has been making member business loans for about a year. “It’s not unusual for someone working in the entertainment profession to have a side business or decide to pursue other venues and want to open a business,” said Steven Sobotta, director of marketing. “Many of our members approached us about business loans, so we needed to have a vehicle that allowed us to lend them money for their business needs. As they say, `necessity is the mother of invention,’ ” he said. Actors FCU member Tom Augustine, for example, received his member business loan from AFCU last year. Augustine worked for 13 years in wardrobe on the Broadway hit show Les Miserables. His idea to design bridal gowns and open a couture started as a favor for some of his co-workers. Sobotta said Actors FCU admittedly took a chance on Augustine when he came to them for a business loan, but the CU’s willingness to take that risk has paid off big time. Sobotta confirmed that Augustine’s business is “ going gangbusters.” So much so, in fact, that Southern Bride Magazine recently recognized Augustine with the Southern Bride Sophisticate Award. A member business loan from Actors FCU also allowed the owners of Push Creative TV, who are both members of AFCU, to create several spots for the New TNN network highlighting the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrating Black History Month. One of the partner/owners, Rudy Gaskins, is a member of Writers’ Guild. Another partner, Joan Baker, holds membership in AEA, AFTRA and SAG. Sobotta said AFCU’s member business loans aren’t being used by members just to open small businesses. One member, for example, a member of the cast of The Phantom of the Opera, recently signed papers on a business loan to record a CD of her singing, build a Web site, and highlight her vocal talent to promote herself. Other MBLs from Actors FCU have been used for a wide assortment of members’ businesses such as delivery trucks, video production, and bickram yoga studios. AFCU President Jeff Rodman said the credit union expects to lend $1-$2 million this year. [email protected]

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