Sioux Falls Business Owner Heading to Washington to Tell His MBL Story
by Jeff Olson, VP of Advocacy and Awareness
The gridlock in Washington has reached historic proportions. In fact, the 112th Congress stands to be the least productive Congress since World War II. Legislation that historically receives broad bi-partisan support, like the farm bill, the surface transportation Bill and the defense authorization bill, has encountered significant resistance and delay. Congress enacted none of this year’s appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year. The Senate Banking Committee has reported out only four pieces of legislation since the beginning of last year – the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization, an Iran Sanctions bill, the Flood Insurance bill and resolution establishing the committee’s budget.
This environment has made it extraordinarily challenging for credit unions – or any other group for that matter – to move its legislative agenda. Nevertheless, CUNA’s voice is being sought and heard now more than ever on Capitol Hill. Since the beginning of the year, CUNA has written to Congress over three dozen times on a broad range of legislative and regulatory issues important to credit unions. Congress has asked CUNA to provide witnesses to 19 hearings since it convened in January 2011; in fact, we’ve testified before Congress more in the last two Congresses than in the four previous. We have seen progress on a number of issues over the last year and a half, thanks to these efforts as well as our grassroots activity. This morning, CUNA is reporting that more than 500 credit union representatives and small business owners will be in Washington. For the complete story from CUNA, click here.
At stake, Credit Union Member Business Lending.
We are actively preparing for a vote on the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act. This legislation will allow business lending credit unions near the MBL cap to continue to lend to their small business-owning members. The legislation has broad bi-partisan support, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is gearing up for a vote before the Holiday Recess, perhaps even as soon as next week.
That’s why hundreds of Credit Unions advocates are heading to Washington, DC this week. This time they are coming armed with Small Business owners and investors who have benefitted from credit union lending.
Since the beginning of the year, CUAD Advocates and credit unions professionals have held several meetings with our Senators, Representatives and staff to urge support for this legislation. The overwhelming message we have received from Senators is that they would like to see a legislative package that includes provisions for credit unions and banks which could benefit small businesses. Combining the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act and the banks’ extension of the Transaction Account Guarantee Program (TAG) could produce exactly that type of package. To that end, we’ve been working closely with key leaders in Congress to ensure that TAG does not move without MBLs.
It’s not clear exactly how the vote on the MBL bill will come up, but what is clear is that if we’re not ready, we will not win. In February, we held our first small business hike-the-hill; in March and again in June. As a result of our continued effort, we have more confidence in our ability to win an up-or-down vote on the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act every day. Now is not the time to give up or rest. We have one shot at this, and the vote is coming quickly. Regardless of whether your credit union is currently participating in Member Business Lending or not, this is a credit union industry issue and we should not let banks determine or decide whether or not a (your) credit union can or cannot make business loans.
Credit unions have been making member-business loans (MBLs) since their inception in the early 1900s. In fact, in our first 90 years of existence, there was no MBL cap on credit unions. The current cap is an arbitrary limit imposed by Congress in the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998 (CUMAA).
Although it has been an extraordinarily challenging time to advance a legislative agenda here in Washington, we have nevertheless made progress on several key issues. But, our work isn’t done just yet. The lame duck session could give us an opportunity to enact the MBL bill, and we’re taking steps now to make sure that we’re ready to win the vote when it comes.
Sioux Falls Radio Station Owner Turned to a Credit Union when the Banks said “No”.
John Small is the owner of Sunny Radio in Sioux Falls, SD (Pictured below with his wife Heidi) had a dream. He wanted to own and operate a local radio station. In a time when big conglomerates and large broadcasting corporations were buying and collecting a lot of the medium size market radio stations, not to mention that banks were tightening up their loan portfolios due to the financial crisis, that dream was appearing as if it may just stay that – a dream. But for John and his wife, Heidi, dreams do come true and credit unions played a major role in making that happen.
Originally from Huron, SD, John began working in radio as a teenager. He has been a member of a credit union since he bought his first car at age 14. When the Smalls decided to start their own radio station three years ago, they worked with Sioux Falls Federal Credit Union to finance the project. John credits Gary Sieverding from SFFCU for their success in launching the radio station. "Gary spent the time to make this happen, we would not own Sunny Radio if it were not for his hard work and diligence!" Small says. They were notified that the SBA portion of the loan was approved right after Christmas in 2009 "It was the BEST Christmas gift ever!" Today, Sunny Radio employs 18 people in the Sioux Empire. Learn more about John and Heidi and Sunny Radio at www.MySunnyRadio.com. Today and tomorrow, John will travel with CUAD to Washington, DC and will tell his credit union member business lending story to Senator Johnson, Senator Thune and Congresswoman Noem.
Small will join thousands of other small business owners who are taking time out of their busy schedules to travel to Washington, DC today and tomorrow to tell similar stories to their respective congressional representatives.
Photo - John & Heidi Small at Sunny Radio in Sioux Falls, SD