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Following Government Shutdown, Infinity Federal Credit Union Partners With FAME

Vermette and Kinney had been waiting on a business loan to come through. They would use the money to jointly purchase the Auburn branch of Horace Mann, an Illinois-based auto, property and life insurance company that specializes in serving school administrators, teachers and staff. Independently, Vermette and Kinney operate other Horace Mann branches in Maine. Because their income would be commission-based, the longer the delay, the less money they would make in 2020.

Multiple banks had turned them down for the loan, but Infinity Federal Credit Union (FCU) agreed to grant them $300,000, provided they could get a loan guarantee, meaning if Vermette and Kinney defaulted, a third party would pick up some of the tab.

“It all looked pretty straight forward,” recalled Tim Drapeau, Infinity FCU’s business services manager. “We love supporting local businesses, and we saw we could really make a difference in the lives of these guys and those they employed.”

But with the government shuttered, he said it wasn’t possible to get the loan guarantee until March or later through the federal Small Business Association that Infinity FCU normally relies on.

That meant three months of little or no pay for Vermette, Kinney and the three employees who would be working at the new location—and reduced pay next year, due to the income structure of Horace Mann.

“We were just pulling out our hair,” Vermette said. “It seemed like a bust.” Acting quickly, Drapeau and Infinity FCU loan underwriter Andrew Furman sought help locally.

They had already been contemplating working with FAME, the Finance Authority of Maine, for loan guarantees. Expediting the process, they secured the loan guarantee in just a few days.

“As the first federal credit union in Maine, Infinity FCU is founded on the idea of providing local support through local means,” said Drapeau. “So, even though we’ll continue working with the Small Business Administration, it’s really amazing that we now have the local means to support our clients—often when other banks would turn down those clients.”

Horace Mann signed off on the transaction, the loan was granted on January 24, and Vermette and Kinney are now working from the Auburn office.

“We tried three other banks and they didn’t even come close to accommodating us like Infinity did,” Vermette says. “This is a story of local businesses and organizations coming together in the face of a national crisis. Pretty amazing.”

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