November 15, 2011
Harborstone Credit Union CEO Phil Jones joined invited speakers at Rep. Adam Smith’s annual Small-Business Forum in SeaTac on Nov. 10.
Smith began the forum by reminding participants that he had grown up in the SeaTac area and that his father had actually worked at the airport. He told participants that the forum had been created to provide small-business owners with information on how to best navigate the current lending environment.
“We still have community banks and credit unions out there making capital available,” he said.
Smith, a Democrat who represents Washington’s 9th congressional district, empathized with the difficulties small-business owners are having obtaining much-needed capital, saying, “It’s a different environment right now for small businesses trying to grow or start up.”
Smith cited frozen capital as one of the largest hurdles to getting the economy jump-started.
“I am wide open to your thoughts and ideas,” he said. “You are in the field seeing what is actually happening.”
“The increased exposure credit unions have recently received from Bank Transfer Day made this the perfect opportunity to reach out to small-business owners,” Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Senior Vice President Stacy Augustine said. “Many small businesses still don’t understand that their local credit union can be a source of credit.”
Jones’ presentation aimed to demystify credit unions.
“Not many people know who we are and what we do,” he said. “According to a recent survey, forty percent of Americans either don’t know what a credit union is or don’t know they can join.”
Jones went on to debunk common myths about credit unions: that they don’t serve businesses, that they’re not as highly regulated, and that they’re new to business services.
“Credit unions have been involved in business solutions and business lending for a long time—since the beginning,” he said. “We’re still the same credit unions we’ve always been, but people are just now getting to know who we are.”
Other speakers included representatives from the Small Business Administration, Columbia Bank, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Enterprise Cascadia, and the North Central Washington Business Loan Fund.
The forum also included a mini-expo, giving NWCUA staff the ability to connect participants with credit unions they’re eligible to join using ASmarterChoice.org.
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