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ATLANTA – Delta Community Credit Union knew the demand for business services was there. In addition to numerous requests from members over the years to offer business loans and deposit services, the $2.5 billion CU did its own research and found that there were at least a couple thousand members who, based on the increase in the number of transactions they had done per month, might be operating small businesses, said Todd Marksberry, senior vice president of operations. The timing could not have been more ideal given Delta Community’s name change last October and its recent expansion into two counties, which included a new branch opening with three more scheduled to open this year. Last year, the credit union took another bold step and partnered with Member Business Solutions, LLC to start an in-house business services division. Tallahassee, Fla.-based Member Business Solutions, LLC is jointly owned by Georgia Central Credit Union and Southeast Corporate Federal Credit Union. “We openly acknowledged that we were not experts on the commercial side,” Marksberry said. “This is brand new for us. We knew right away that we wanted to build a program over time because the demand has been there from members.” Through Member Business Solutions, members will soon have access to a plethora of services including business loans, deposit services, payroll services and merchant services. The credit union is planning a soft rollout in April to a select number of members to test the waters of the new venture, Marksberry said. Depending on how that goes, a full launch is scheduled for sometime in the third quarter. “People have been chomping at the bit for a good bit of time,” Marksberry said. “We have people in the pipeline who have said `let me know when you will start offering business loans.’ ” That heads-up is critical because what Delta Community and other credit unions have found is that members who have small businesses will move on to find a financial institution to handle their business accounts. Unfortunately, what ends up happening is they will eventually set up their consumer accounts there too, Marksberry said. “ We’ve had more members come to us to handle their business accounts, not necessarily loans,” he pointed out. Delta Airlines has had its share of financial woes over the years including its current Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection status, news that it may have to cut up to 9,000 jobs and reduce employee pay and stalled pilot contract negotiations. In the midst of it all, the credit union has continued to reassure members that it is well capitalized and is financially separate and independent from the nation’s third largest carrier. Delta Community also continues to assist employees who have been impacted by the airline’s troubles through a number of programs. Marksberry said it’s hard to track any increase in the number of Delta employees that have started their own business, be it a second business or as a result of being laid off. The credit union did track transactions during a certain period and found that some accounts had gone from 60 transactions per month to more than 100. “That tells us that there might be some type of business on the side,” Marksberry said. Over a five-month period, Delta Community looked at four major vendors on the lending side before selecting Member Business Solutions. What sold the credit union was the array of services available and a reduction in time-to-market. Delta Community’s strong relationship with Georgia Central CU and knowing that Jim Gallagher, the CUSO’s senior vice president of business services, who has 20 years of commercial lending experience, was at the helm, helped close the deal. “We knew we would have to build on the deposit side but we wanted to partner very quickly,” Marksberry said. “We found that very few have a turnkey deposit program.” For now, the credit union is gearing up for that April rollout and the necessary adjustments that are likely to come with it, Marksberry said. “We’ve had members who have been with us for years on the consumer side and now they’re looking to us for business services,” Marksberry said. “They say `you’ve helped me grow my family’ and now they want us to help them grow their business.” -

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