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The economic downturn of the past two years has been tough on banks, but it has presented the best opportunity in decades for credit unions to grow by expanding their base of auto loans. When banks and finance companies severely curtailed their new and used car loans, vehicle shoppers rediscovered their neighborhood credit unions. Those credit unions that were prepared to shape their loan products to the local consumer’s needs and circumstances have been able to position themselves for tremendous growth.

At Michigan First Credit Union, for example, we set records for new members every month during the downturn, and over the past two years, our auto-loan business has grown 20 to 30 percent. The reason is that we worked in a flexible partnership with auto dealers to meet the requirements of the often economically beleaguered residents of metro Detroit.

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Peter Westerman

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