Business lending a bonus for both

Helping small businesses helps CUs

Consolidation in the community bank sector has created an opening for credit unions to step in and serve the needs of small businesses, suggests Ed Sahakian, VP/business and home loan services with $830 million/79,000-member Ventura County Credit Union.

The last remaining community bank of the 20 that once served Ventura County, Calif., was acquired by a big bank in 2017. “We want to work with small business owners who had been community banking customers and appreciate that personal relationship,” Sahakian says. Toward that end, Ventura County CU has become the highest volume U.S. Small Business Administration program lender in its market and has grown its commercial loan portfolio to more than $45 million from $1.8 million in 2014.

Sahakian joined the credit union in February 2015 and hired another local commercial lender to help ramp up business lending by building on their familiarity with and reputation in the local market. Their strategy has been to bring in big commercial real estate loans to offset lower-yield loans to small businesses.

The credit union has made loans up to $7 million and was working on a couple $10 million projects late last year. Those big loans are typically shared in participations with other credit unions. At the same time, Ventura County CU has made small business loans in the range of $5,000 and $10,000.

 

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