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BATON ROUGE, La. – According to some community bankers in Louisiana, the squeeze is on from credit unions as both compete for the same business lending niche. The concern, which has been repeated before, is not really about competition but a “level playing field,” said Ed Middleton, president of Citizens Bank & Trust, interviewed in an April 25 article in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. “If I were in charge of a credit union, I’d be out there taking advantage of it,” said Don Ayers, president/CEO, American Gateway Bank. “I don’t fault them for that. I fault the government for allowing it.” The article said “credit union heads argue member business loans are a part of the standard services they offer and, at least in Louisiana, they are not involved with what the large commercial loans banks are worried about losing.” La Capitol Federal Credit Union President/CEO Susan Parry Leake supported that premise saying the tax-exempt status “is based entirely on the idea of credit unions as a nonprofit, cooperative institution and has nothing to do with member groups or services offered.” Louisiana Bankers Association CEO Peter Gwaltney told the publication bankers don’t feel small credit unions that “have remained true to the original mission” should be taxed.

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