ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA Vice Chair JoAnn Johnson participated in a roundtable discussion concerning member business lending at a low-income credit union in Manhattan earlier this month. Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union hosted the roundtable May 15 to provide Johnson an overview of the community it serves and the challenges of evolving with the growing needs of its membership. Johnson spoke of the importance of the agency's proposed member business lending regulations in empowering credit unions to provide small business financing. She pointed out that 90% of all businesses in America are considered small and that they created two out of every three new jobs. The Lower East Side of Manhattan is one of the most financially underserved areas in New York City and has a high concentration of check cashers and pawnshops. "The lower Manhattan area has a great demand for a lower-cost financial alternative and these credit unions are making a positive, real difference in the lives of their residents," Vice Chair Johnson said. LESPFCU Lending Manager Walter Merkle expressed support for NCUA's changes to the business lending regulations, which are aimed at more effectively addressing the financing needs of small businesses. "LESPFCU is well positioned to capitalize on these changes and make an even bigger contribution to the creation and expansion of small businesses in our community," Merkle said. The event was also attended by New York State Credit Union League President and CEO William Mellin; NCUA Acting Region I Director Elizabeth Whitehead; and over 20 managers and board members of area community development credit unions as well as the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and the New York City Financial Action Network Action Consortium. Since 1986, LESPFCU has served the lower east side of Manhattan in New York City and had 4,000 members and more than $11 million in assets. According to credit union officials, the institution is a certified SBA 7(a) lender.

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