MADISON, Wis. (6/26/09)--Credit unions are well-suited to provide financial services to businesses that work in the arts, design, marketing, media and performing arts fields--known as the “creative class,” according to the Ohio Credit Union League. The nation’s small business population yields marketplace niches, which present opportunities for credit unions to provide tailored products and services for the organizations and their employees, the league said (eLumination June 24). Credit unions can provide better-priced, tailored solutions than their competitors for business checking, real estate loans, employer retirement plans, revolving lines of credit and other services, the league said. The workers of the creative class have financial service needs like everyone else. They need savings, loans, checking, credit and debit card services, ATM access, online banking, bill payment and more. Credit unions also should consider the unique needs of artists, designers, actors, and musicians who may not have steady work. To customize products and services to better serve the creative class, credit unions should consider flexible loan terms, special saving programs to prepare for tighter financial times, and loan programs to weather employment droughts, the league said. Credit unions should look for niche opportunities in their local communities that they can capitalize on for future growth. It could be a sector already served that could be enhanced, or a new discovery, the league added. Often, small businesses are considered a niche market. There were an estimated 27.2 million small businesses in the U.S. that employ about half of the nation’s private workforce, as of September 2008, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. More than half of all credit union business loans were for $50,000 or less, according to a U.S. Treasury Department study.