INDIANAPOLIS (8/4/08)--Building Indiana magazine will feature in its September/October issue a column written by Indiana Credit Union League President John McKenzie promoting credit union mortgage and business lending successes. The column discusses how credit unions are expanding lending while other institutions pull back. It will be read by business owners, executives, management staff and board chairmen, and elected officials in a seven-county area of Northern Indiana. "During 2007 and into 2008, credit unions have represented a bright spot in the midst of a generally cloudy picture for the financial services industry," McKenzie wrote. He provided state statistics on the state's 208 credit unions and noted their asset growth continued at a strong pace. The article cited strong mortgage growth, with first mortgages growing 12% in 2007, as other mortgage lenders scaled back. Business lending "grew at a 17% pace last year" and surpassed $1 billion in loans outstanding" at time when credit availability for businesses has tightened, especially for small business owners, McKenzie said. As Congress considers how to stimulate the economy and create jobs, he wrote, "credit unions could do even more to make additional credit available to help businesses in their communities if Congress would pass H.R. 1537 (the Credit Union Regulatory Improvements Act)." Credit unions' services are based on the needs of their memberships, with an increasing number of credit unions offering business loans. "As locally owned financial institutions rooted in their communities, many credit unions are finding increased interest in being a source of borrowing for businesses for a number of reasons," McKenzie wrote. He also explained that credit unions have "steered clear of the subprime mortgage mess" by operating more conservatively and holding most mortgage loans in their portfolios, instead of selling them on the secondary market. He added that "credit unions focus on serving the consumers and business owners who are the members/owners of their credit unions. There is no separate group of stockholders with lofty profit expectations, which contributed to problems" at other types of financial institutions. The economy and financial environment had consumers considering whom they can trust, and this has "resulted in more people and business owners looking to credit unions as an attractive, safe option for financial services, especially during challenging economic times," he concluded.