Northwest Credit Unions Push to Deliver Final Funds of Paycheck Protection Program to Main Street

Homegrown Oregon Foods in Albany received a $31,000 PPP loan from Central Willamette Credit Union. The loan will help keep five employees on the payroll and Albany residents coming back for the healthy food the restaurant is famous for. Look for a story, coming soon, about the restaurant’s SBA loan.


Financial institutions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington provided $17 billion in Paycheck Protection Program Loans to Main Street since early April when Congress approved $659 billion in funding. And as of Saturday, May 16, there was still $115 billion on the table.

Credit unions provided much of the heavy lift serving small businesses, including locally owned barber and beauty shops, construction companies, restaurants, and medical offices — the very businesses the program is intended for.

Nationally, the average loan amount was $70,798. In conversations with members of the Northwest Credit Union Association, the smallest loan we learned of was $627.50, made by Portland-based Point West Credit Union to an artist whose sales dried up amid uncertainty in the COVID-19 economy.

Point West’s focus on micro loans and underserved communities may be music to the ears of Governor Kate Brown. She issued a news release Friday in collaboration with the Northwest Credit Union Association and the Oregon Bankers Association, urging small businesses to apply while money was still available.

“Many small businesses, especially those owned by people from communities of color, immigrant communities, and historically underserved communities have faced hurdles in receiving the fund for which they are eligible,” Brown said.

Brown joined OnPoint Community Credit Union CEO Rob Stuart and Umpqua Bank spokeswoman Eve Callahan in a joint interview with the Portland Business Journal to discuss the PPP process.

Stuart said in the interview that when the program ends, “We’re all going to say to ourselves, we rose to the occasion.”

Indeed. The credit union had approved 1,759 applications as of the time the interview took place late last week. The average amount was $40,000, indicating, the Business Journal reported, that credit unions are serving “smaller and more vulnerable businesses.”

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