U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is pushing for a vote in the lame-duck session of Congress on a bill to promote lending by credit unions to small businesses in St. Lawrence County and around the country
There are five credit unions in St. Lawrence County with 55,615 members. Her new formula would allow credit unions to lend as much as 27.5 percent of total assets for business lending, more than double the current limit of 12.25 percent.
That would make $80,000 more available for business lending in the county.
According to Gillibrand, over the past 15 years, small businesses generated nearly two-thirds of all new jobs created in the U.S. But during the economic crisis, small business owners and entrepreneurs have struggled to access credit as capital dried up at larger, traditional banks.
Credit unions, on the other hand, have capital ready to lend, but are prevented and deterred from doing so as a result of current restrictions, Gillibrand says.
According to the Credit Union National Association, the reforms in the proposed Small Business Lending Enhancement Act would increase small business lending by $10 billion within the first year of their enactment, generating more than 100,000 new jobs nationwide.
In the North Country, defined as encompassing St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton Essex and Clinton counties, there are 22 credit unions with 145,779 members and the estimated increase in lending potential is $2,170,702.