The Nebraska Credit Union League hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with credit union leaders from the Omaha area and Congressman Don Bacon on June 23rd. Scott Sullivan, President/CEO of the League recognized the support that Congressman Bacon has shown for Nebraska’s credit unions since being sworn into office in January of 2017. Congressman Bacon acknowledged he first became a credit union member when he first entered the military. He thanked credit unions for their support and for their work to help their local communities. He discussed his support for the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as the PPP Flexibility Act. He said that Congress is working on policing reform, a possible phase 4 stimulus, and the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
President/CEO Gail DeBoer of Cobalt Credit Union spoke about what the credit union’s experience has been since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. She said that the credit union has been there for members by making available a hardship relief program including skip payments, waived fees, restructuring of loans and modifications to small business loans. She said they made 76 PPP loans to small business members and has seen their mortgage pipeline for new homes as well as mortgage refinancing expand due to the very low rates. She also noted that their indirect lending is very strong demonstrating that members are buying automobiles. The credit union is also seeing an influx in cash with stimulus payments coming in and worried investors moving money out of the stock market.
President/CEO Ann Loftis of First Nebraska Credit Union said that her credit union has had one thousand members take advantage of their skip payment program and that the credit union created an emergency loan program. The credit union has enlisted numerous safety measures to protect employees and members during the pandemic including strong sanitization practices and staff working remotely. She noted that a partial remote workforce may be ongoing into the future. She ended by saying the credit union is in a strong capital position.
Senior Vice President of Lending Kevin Svec of Centris FCU discussed their efforts to assist the hundreds of small businesses they serve at the credit union during the pandemic. Centris FCU’s small business lending team made 370 PPP loans equaling $11 million. He said the PPP program had its challenges throughout but that the program overall was very positive for small businesses who needed the assistance in an unprecedented time. He said that they are now in the “forgiveness phase” helping their members apply to have the loans forgiven. He was appreciative that Congress passed the PPP Flexibility Act but voiced his support for a “blanket forgiveness” for PPP loans below $350,000.
During the open dialogue portion, credit union advocates discussed concerns with FASB’s CECL including capital concerns, local unemployment, and the possibility of a second wave of direct stimulus payments to Americans.