NEW YORK (11/12/08)--The Wall St. Journal Tuesday noted credit unions as an option for borrowers seeking small business loans. The Journal told the story of Amy Loera, who wanted to expand her family’s Mexican restaurant. After being turned down by nine banks for loans, Loera received a $643,000 loan from Arrowhead CU, San Bernardino, Calif. Jon Parks, Arrowhead CU vice president, said Loera’s loan was approved because the family showed it had experience managing restaurants and proved its restaurants were successful. The new location is being planned as an affordable family restaurant, which will help it succeed in today’s economy, he added. The credit union looks for strong credit scores, but cash flow often trumps that, he said. Loera’s business had a credit score of 750, was debt-free, and the restaurant was able to predict how much money it would make in the next year. These factors didn’t matter to any of the banks--but it did matter to Arrowhead, Leora told the paper. Parks said his institution looks at the outlook of the overall industry when approving loans. Some businesses may do well despite a tough economy because they offer a niche, he added. Sandy Baruah, acting administrator of the Small Business Administration, told the paper that larger financial institutions rely on credit scores. Community institutions look at the business plan and make a decision based on their comfort level with the business plan and presentation, though credit scores still matter, Baruah said.