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Whether they call the pristine greenery of the Pacific Northwest or the rolling hills of New England home, many credit unions share a common approach when it comes to business lending: They are meeting the growing demand by staying local and continuing to take the conservative, proactive steps that have carried them through the worst of the recession.

With the exception of those cooperatives whose business lending portfolios got pummeled by speculative, often out-of-state loans, the industry continues to hold its own compared to its banking brethren. Granted, charge-offs are up, but the increase is still very low at 0.69% versus banks at 1.98%. Even though CUs have been making business loans since the movement started in 1908, they only account for 6% of all loans, with roughly one in four CUs offering them, according to CUNA research data. As of March, 59% of loans were for $50,000 or less and the average loan amount was nearly $222,084, a Treasury Department study revealed.

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