cfcu_120As the economy took a dive in recent years it seamed that loans had dried up.  So it may surprise some business people that CFCU Community Credit Union is looking for them to loan money to.  Business Loan Originator Jeremy Vitale has only been on the job for just over a month, but he has been busy going out into the Tompkins and Cortland County communities to find new customers to loan to.

"I go out there and try to bring in new business," he says.  "Then we put a loan proposal together and take it to the lending committee.  They consist of the CEO, the CFO, our corporate attorney.  We make a case for why we want to lend money out, and the committee makes a decision.  Then we get to go back to the member and say, 'Congratulations. Here's your money to start your business or buy your business or buy that first rental property'."

CFCU provides commercial lending and refinancing to businesses and organizations, not for profits, and real estate investors.  The credit union will loan to new businesses, but more often work with more established ones.  Vitale isn't the stereotypical loan officer who sits behind a desk while people line up to ask for loans.  He spends more time out in the community, meeting business people and letting them know what CFCU can do for them.

"I'm not a direct loan officer," Vitale explains.  "As a credit union everything goes through a loan committee.  My job is to get out in the public and meet people, talk to businesses and find out what their needs are and if a credit union might be more suited to their banking needs, to cut down their costs or just reduce their banking fees and interest rates.  I like to be out there and get the word out in the community that we have money to lend and we want your business.  I think it's quite the opposite of the 1950s stereotype of people begging for the business.  We're begging to bring in new people and lend more money."

Vitale grew up in Groton.  He studied applied economics and management at Cornell, and later earned an MBA in General Management from Syracuse University.  He moved to Hoboken for a brief period to try his hand at stocks and investment brokering, concentrating on energy trading.  The Enron scandal dried up much of that market.  But exposure to the investment community got him interested in real estate and Robert Kiyosaki's book, 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' further inspired him to try his hand at it.

"When I was working with brokers and clients everyone was investing in real estate," he says.  "Just out of school I was seeing these really successful people talking about what they were doing with their money.  They were investing in real estate in Hoboken or Jersey City and making almost more money in real estate than they were in their wall street professions."

Vitale was 21 when he bought his first rental property.  CFCU provided the loan to make that happen.  Eight years later he came back to CFCU for another loan that enabled him to purchase some bigger rental properties.  It also helped him land his current job.

"It really helped start my investing side career," he says.  "I have the familiarity with the process not only from walking people through it, but from going through it myself."

He returned and has lived in Cortland since then, buying rental properties as investments as a sideline to his 'day job'.  He and his wife Eliza have a seven year old daughter who goes to the same school in Groton that he attended.  He got a job as a business consultant at Suburban Propane in North Lansing.  That led to a full time job a year later as operations manager.  About a year after that he became a service manager at Suburban Propane in Syracuse, and then as a collection manager for Suburban Propane.  That job lasted seven years. 

Not long ago he was using his CFCU online banking account when he happened to notice a job posting for a business loan origination position.  He clicked on it and applied, more to find out more about something interesting than because he was looking for a job.  He recognized Assistant Vice President of Commercial Lending Patrick Woods as his contact from two years earlier when he had himself applied for commercial mortgages.  He interviewed with Woods, and that led to his new job.  Vitale says his CFCU job is more fun than the old one.

"That was never fun to shut them off or take their tanks away," he says.  "I can tell you it's much more rewarding to give the money out than to collect it.  It's more rewarding to give money to businesses to help them grow and thrive and create jobs for the economy.  It was that combined with my own experience with CFCU, how easy it was to work with them.  The real estate thing really wasn't a match with propane.  So now I get to be involved with something that I'm more passionate about."

Ultimately he says he would like to own his own business, something he and Eliza tried for three years when they owned a tanning business on the Ithaca Commons.  Vitale says that makes his new job an education in the different kinds of businesses and how they operate that will help him reach his eventual goal.

cfcu_vitaleJeremy Vitale

He is based in the main CFCU office on in Lansing four days a week, and in a Cortland branch one day per week.  He and Woods are the people you deal with when applying for a commercial loan, which personalizes the process.  When you come in with a large project you bring your business plan.  That might include plans for a building project.  For an existing structure the Credit Union looks at past performance, tax returns, etc.  And of course Vitale helps you fill out a credit application.  That has basic information about you, your assets and liabilities.

"It opens the dialog as far as where the business objectives and goals and financial expectations are," he says.

They work with applicants from start to finish, from filling out the loan application to the closing.

Vitale spends a lot of his time out of the office, reaching out to local businesses.  He likes learning about different businesses and meeting local business people.  Of course he loves talking to real estate investors.  He is active in Chamber of Commerce events and hopes to join a local BNI chapter as well.

"I'm attending Chamber events to let people know that I'm doing commercial lending and that CFCU has money to lend," he says.  "And we'd like your business."