Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Credit union looks to boost minority-backed small businesses

Inside OneAZ Credit Union’s mission to help build small businesses and help them thrive long-term

PHOENIX, Ariz. (STN) – According to the Arizona Commerce Authority, more than half a million small businesses operate in the state. Numbers from the Small Business Administration show that nearly half of the state’s public workforce is employed by a small business. A recent study from WalletHub identified Arizona as one of the best places in the United States to start a small business.

“The statistic is about 97% of the companies in the state of Arizona are small businesses,” said Ken Bauer, the Executive Vice President & Chief Lending Officer at OneAZ Credit Union. “It’s something that we are 100% behind. We’re really excited to be a part of the small business community.”

But, there is another side of the small business story, the part about finding funding, that isn’t so good.

“Unfortunately, the minority-owned small business group has been a little bit underserved over the past 50 years,” Bauer said. “They are small businesses that make our economy go just like any other small business.”

That’s why Bauer’s team at OneAZ Credit Union is working hard to identify eligible, minority-run small businesses and concentrate on supporting them.

Ken Bauer talks about the OneAZ Credit Union mission to back small businesses:

That support ranges from checking and savings accounts to cash management services and long-term relationship building.

“We are there to go from A to Z with them,” Bauer said. “We’re there throughout their life cycle to be a partner with them to help them grow. [We] take the things we’ve learned over working with thousands and thousands of businesses over decades and help impart that knowledge and that experience.”

With so many Arizonans employed by small businesses, Bauer believes they play a critical role in a healthy economy.

“When you think about that and you think about the impact that they have on employment, on helping families put food on their table, on helping individuals develop something that provides them and their family with a great living, small business really is it,” he said.

Any effort to support and lift a historically underrepresented population segment is challenging, and OneAZ Credit Union is looking for partners in the community to join in their efforts.

“We really want partners who are as excited about partnering with us as we are about partnering with them,” he said. “We really see a lot of value in that. I would say we want partners who want to help us lift our communities up and use our combined resources to make lives better.”

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