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15 Detroit CUs' Rewards Program Boosts Commerce
WYANDOTTE, Mich. (8/1/13)--Fifteen Detroit credit unions Tuesday rolled out Shop Main Street, a merchant-funded rewards program, with the hope of sparking a lagging local economy.
 
 About 250,000 credit union members who have a credit or debit card tied to a loyalty program offered by one of the credit unions earn bonus rewards when they shop at local merchants participating in the program. The rewards are in addition to the rewards members already earn from their loyalty program when using their card for purchases.
 
"This year marks our 75th anniversary, and we're a community credit union now," said Jan VanWassehnova, executive vice president of NuPath Community CU, Wyandotte, Mich. "We can mark that anniversary by supporting our merchants downtown and rewarding our members for shopping locally."
 
The program offers participating merchants a suite of online marketing tools. Shop Main Street lets participating merchants choose from more than 20 different offers to address their business objectives.
 
The program also features content, including merchant news, and links to Facebook and Twitter, which bring "word-of-mouth" marketing to a wider audience.  Shop Main Street gives merchants information about their customers and their purchasing behavior.  Since Shop Main Street is integrated into local credit unions' loyalty programs, merchants benefit from increased consumer awareness and interest.
 
With her credit union entering into the business services market this month, VanWassehnova, said the Shop Main Street program came at the right time for her credit union. "We view it as a partnership with our local merchants," VanWassehnova said. "We promote for our local businesses and we drive our members to shop at their locations. And the merchants provide whatever offers they want."
 
Shop Main Street was developed by RewardsNOW and Zavee LLC. Both companies are developers of member loyalty programs.
 
Rewards programs are one way credit unions help local businesses. Credit unions also offer member business loans. The Credit Union National Association and credit unions nationwide are urging Congress to pass bi-partisan legislation to increase their member business cap to 27.5% of a well capitalized credit union's assets--up from the current 12.25% cap. CUNA estimates that lifting the MBL cap would create 140,000 jobs and inject $13 billion in new funds into the economy, at no cost to taxpayers.
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