Despite the highs and lows within the business lending sector over the past decade, credit unions have still managed to show solid member business lending growth.

Larry Middleman, president/CEO of CU Business Group LLC in Portland, Ore., said credit union MBLs have increased by 34% since 2008 while commercial loans at banks have declined by 10%.

Commercial loans at smaller community banks declined by more than $100 billion or 25% since 2008, he added.

“This has been one of the most amazing 10-year cycles in history,” Middleman said. “This positive trend for credit unions truly shows their desire to lend to their members and fuel small business growth.”

Middleman also noted declining trends in problem business loans at credit unions.

“The peak was in 2011, but over the last few years, credit unions have significantly cleaned up their MBL portfolios,” he said. “The attention to portfolio management and proper risk monitoring is paying off.”

Middleman said there are also more opportunities for credit unions to gather an abundance of low- or no-cost deposits through improved business cash management services.

“Low-cost deposits are one of the foundations of the credit union balance sheet, and there has never been a better time to stockpile those,” he said.

“If packaged properly with cash management services, those core business deposits will fuel fee income and lending opportunities as businesses emerge from the recession,” Middleman added.

He shared his remarks at CUBG’s National Business Conference, which took place in Portland the week of Aug. 12.

Founded in 2002, CUBG said it now serves more than 430 credit unions in 44 states.