COLUMBUS, Ohio (10/26/09)--The national economic downturn has allowed Ohio’s 402 credit unions to grow their memberships and make more auto and home loans, according to the Ohio Credit Union league. Credit unions in the state benefited because they continued to make loans when many banks cut back on their lending, the league said (The Columbus Dispatch Oct. 23). “Over the past 18 months, due to the economic stress, a lot of banks have had to build up liquidity and reposition their balance sheet, and this has forced them to curtail lending,” Dave Fearing, league vice president of business services, told the newspaper. “And that provided the perfect opportunity for credit unions to add that needed liquidity to the market.” Credit union membership statewide rose about 30,000 in the first half of 2009 to nearly 2.7 million members, the league added. So far this year, the market share of auto loans for Ohio’s credit unions is 18.4%--up from 12.4% in 2008 and 10.1% in 2007, the league told the paper. Mortgage originations for the first half of this year were $960.5 million--which is 50.2% higher than the 2008 total of $639.5 million. Also, market share is 3.5%--up from 2% at the end of 2007, the league added. “This is the first growth we’ve seen in five years,” Patrick Harris, league director of media relations, told the paper. To view the article, use the link.