Study: Ontario's CUs Role Grows In RE, Biz Loans

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A new study indicates that Ontario's credit unions and caisses populaires are playing an increasingly large role in real estate lending and small business lending in the province.

According to a survey released by Credit Union Central of Ontario, CUs and caisses populaires:

* Provide 18% of the operating and mortgage financings for small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Ontario (39,000 businesses), and 12% of agricultural credit.

"This is a disproportionately large share of smaller commercial and agricultural credit authorizations," CU Central said.

* Invest heavily in SMBs. One in every $5 (20%) on deposit at a CU or caisse populaire is invested in SMB.

* Make a direct contribution of $375 million to the Ontario economy.

* Provide access to financial services in more than 40 communities where they are the only financial institution. "Without them, thousands of rural Ontarians would have to travel substantial distances to access financial services," CU Central said.

"Credit unions are themselves small businesses that truly understand SMB entrepreneurs' unique needs and challenges," said Howard Bogach, CEO of Credit Union Central of Ontario. "Entrepreneurs in Ontario need flexibility over formulas and long-term relationship stability in their financial service partnerships. Based on size alone, the banks can't support that kind of personal attention long term- credit union commercial groups are tailor-made for individual support and sized right to deliver."

The survey was conducted by Michael Andrews and Associates, Ltd.

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