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PORTLAND, Ore. – Looking back, Northwest Corporate bringing corporates into the world of helping their member credit unions serve business was a good move to say the least. When Northwest started the CUSO – CU Business Group – a few years ago it was a first for corporates. The gamble that credit unions were going to view business as a growth area was right on the money and now CU Business Group has all the business it can handle. It recently completed another private placement offering that opened up membership to more corporates. Prior to the placement it had four corporate owners in Northwest, FirstCorp, Empire and Mid-States. The placement added four more corporate owners in First Carolina Corporate, Louisiana Corporate, VACORP and VolCorp. “It’s great for credit unions because they know CU Business Group is a long term player in supporting credit union business services programs,” said Northwest Corporate CEO Kathy Garner. CU Business Group President/CEO Larry Middleman wouldn’t give exact dollar amounts but said the most recent private placement helped it meet some capital goals it set last year and will allow CU Business Group to expand into new markets. “We were looking to fund ourselves for the long run and establish ourselves with other corporates who wanted to start in their markets,” said Middleman. The minimum investment was $90,000 with the maximum being $270,000. The placement was open to all corporates. Right now the CUSO is working with 71 credit unions in 17 states. It has assisted credit unions in closing some $100 million in business loans. “Our average loan size continues to be in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. It’s still driven by commercial real estate. Probably about half our loans are commercial real estate, with the other half being term financing, lines of credit and classic small business loans,” said Middleman, who said the CUSO can virtually become the back-office business lending partner for credit unions, including underwriting and risk management. CU Business Group offers services for CUs just getting into business services, as well as services for those with seasoned programs. On the lending side it offers the following: * Lines of Credit * Business Credit Cards * Term Loans * Letters of Credit * Commercial Real Estate * Participations * Ongoing Servicing and Monitoring The CUSO also has a national loan participation product in place. On the deposit side it offers merchant bankcards, ACH direct deposit and debit origination and electronic tax payments. Its most valuable service may be consulting, said Middleman. It helps credit unions price products, understand volume constraints, package business products and conduct account analysis. Interestingly, some credit unions might start turning to CU Business Group for contingency planning. “I always ask credit unions with in-house lending programs, `What would you do if your key business lending professionals are not there tomorrow, for any reason?’” asked Middleman. He said CU Business Group can be that “just in case” option. Interestingly, the asset sizes of the eight corporate owners are all over the board, ranging from as small as Louisiana Corporate with $162 million in assets to as large as Mid-States with some $4.8 billion. [email protected]

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