Credit Union News


LIVE OAK, Texas – Mark Sekula, senior vice president of business services at Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union testified on behalf of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions before the House Small Business Committee, chaired by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), on increasing capital for small businesses.

Sekula, whose credit union was recognized as the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 2009 Credit Union Lender of the Year, provided valuable insight on the critical role credit unions play in addressing the financial needs of small business in today's challenging economic climate.

"It is widely recognized that credit unions did not cause the current economic downturn. However, we believe we can be an important part of the solution. Credit unions have fared well in the current environment and, as a result, many have capital available," said Sekula. "A number of small businesses that have lost important lines of credit from other lenders are turning to credit unions for the capital that they need."

Sekula pointed out that RBFCU started its business program only five years ago and today boasts more than 16,000 business accounts. RBFCU started SBA lending about two and a half years ago, at the request of its members. Currently, the credit union holds 414 loans for $20 million. Sekula said RBFCU grew $13 million of that from 2008 to 2009 as businesses turned to them for credit after losing other sources. Through fiscal year 2009, Sekula stated that RBFCU generated 153 loans for $8.9 million and helped create 396 jobs and retain 799 employees.

He referenced the challenges credit unions face to better assist small businesses. Specifically, Sekula noted the member business lending cap. He hailed proposed legislation (H.R. 3380) by Reps. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.) that would raise the current statutory member business lending cap of 12.25 percent to 25 percent of assets. Sekula also called for the reintroduction of Chairwoman Velázquez's previously proposed legislation, Credit Union Small Business Lending Act, to exempt credit union participation in SBA lending from member business lending.

"The current economic crisis is having an impact on America's credit unions, but they continue to provide excellent services to their members," Sekula said. "Credit unions stand ready to help our nation and our nation's small businesses recover from the current economic downturn."

RBFCU ranks as the fifth largest SBA Patriot Express Lender in the United States, year-to-date for 2009, with 133 loans for approximately $8 million. Randolph-Brooks is also ranked as the number one SBA lender in the 55 counties in its SBA district for 2009.

In addition to the House Small Business Committee, Sekula was also invited to participate in the Small Business Financing Forum held by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills. The President called for this event as part of a larger effort to help small businesses grow, create new jobs, and contribute to our economic recovery and to challenge the private sector to increase lending to small businesses. Only 100 presenters were invited to the event and RBFCU, the only credit union in attendance, was invited based on its success with small business lending.

Randolph-Brooks FCU is a member of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. NAFCU is the only national organization that focuses exclusively on federal issues affecting credit unions, representing its members before the federal government and the public.