Hire Power

Give 'Em Credit

Long thought of primarily as a big-company benefit, credit unions are opening their doors to small businesses. Andrew Lingo of Chaco Credit Union in Hamilton, Ohio, says there are approximately 6,000 well-established state-chartered credit unions in the United States and Canada that accept new companies as members--at no charge to the businesses.

The benefit to your employees is threefold: They'll probably increase their savings rates (especially if you offer automatic payroll deduction), they'll have access to lower loan rates, and they'll typically pay lower fees--if any--for services.

Only state-chartered credit unions are able to add new companies to their memberships. (Federally chartered credit unions are restricted from accepting new companies until a legal battle between the credit unions and banks is resolved; the case will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.) To find a credit union that will accept your company, Lingo advises contacting your state's league of credit unions or simply calling a local credit union.

Once your company is approved, Lingo suggests designating one person as the primary liaison with the credit union; that individual will maintain information about membership, as well as enrollment forms and loan applications. It's also a good idea to ask a credit union representative to conduct on-site enrollment to kick off the benefit and perhaps return periodically for follow-up or new sign-ups. Finally, Lingo says, it's important that the business owner lead by example--so be the first person to sign up.

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This article was originally published in the September 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hire Power.

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