ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/25/09)--Chuck Albrecht, president/CEO of Mid-Minnesota FCU, Brainerd, Minn., and a board member of the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN), highlighted credit unions' service to small businesses during a state legislators' forum Nov. 19.
Led by the Minnesota Small Business Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of state legislators, the meeting provided elected officials insight into efforts by financial institutions and community organizations to assist small businesses as they work through the recession. In his statement to the caucus, Albrecht outlined the steps his credit union took to assist small businesses in the community. Albrecht told caucus members that the credit union's role was to "provide the loans that are needed in the community. "Despite the press that you may have seen about tight credit, Minnesota credit unions have seen a 7% increase in member business lending over the past year," Albrecht said. "I would attribute that increase to credit unions being conservatively managed, which has put them in a relatively strong position to lend to businesses." Albrecht explained that one obstacle that hinders the credit union's service to small business is a federal cap that limits member business lending to 12.25% of a credit union's assets. This lending constraint restricts credit unions from fully contributing to the initiative to restore credit and nurture the economic recovery, he said. The caucus is focusing on addressing the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses in Minnesota. In forums and meetings throughout the state, the group is seeking input on how to make Minnesota a more competitive place for businesses. The discussions likely will form the basis for legislative action to assist small businesses, said MnCUN. The caucus plans to pursue a pro-business agenda that will create jobs and help expedite Minnesota's economic recovery. "Credit unions provide an essential service to their communities through member business lending," said Mara Humphrey, MnCUN vice president-governmental affairs. "Legislators' interest in hearing from credit unions on this issue indicates their recognition of the role credit unions are playing in the credit restoration and the economic recovery process."