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AUGUSTA, Maine — As a new state legislature takes office, Maine credit unions are optimistic about developing relationships with lawmakers, including contacts with the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee, which has been looking at the issue of credit availability.Quincy Hentzel Germann, the Maine Credit Union League’s director of governmental affairs, testified before BRED Committee hearings held as the 2008 legislature wound down its session. Her message stressed the state’s credit unions are in good shape and have money to lend.The committee was charged with issuing a report on the results of the hearing and passing it along for consideration by the new legislature and a new BRED committee which will be named.“The committee wanted to gain a sense of the availability of credit, specifically for business. They also wanted to know how financial institutions have perceived the economic crisis and whether their lending standards have changed,” Germann said.“I served on a panel with two other lobbyists, one representing the Maine Bankers Association and the other the Maine Association of Community Banks.”Germann testified that Maine credit unions have weathered the economic storm quite well and are very liquid. Credit unions have not seen a significant difference in the amount of credit requested or extended. While lending standards generally haven’t changed, the number of credit union members has grown.Did the message seem to register with the legislators?“I think they believed us,” Germann answered. “I think the committee members learned a lot about our industry and how different our industry is from a lot of the other financial institutions out there.”Although there will be six or seven new faces on the 13-member Insurance and Financial Services Committee, German notes the state-level election was good for credit unions.In addition, although the BRED committee report hasn’t been issued yet, “I do think there will be a recommendation that over the next few years there continues to be an open dialogue between financial institutions and the business community,” Germann predicted.“I think both sides really learned a lot, and I think the business community learned not all financial institutions are the same.”–[email protected]

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