MADISON, Wis. (8/19/11)--Most big Wisconsin credit unions posted large gains in net income in the first half of 2011 because of solid loan growth despite a challenging economy, according to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). Four credit unions saw triple-digit percentage increases in earnings, led by Pioneer CU in Green Bay, which recorded a 176% gain in the January through June period (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Aug. 18). Summit CU in Madison, the largest Wisconsin credit union by assets, saw a 17% net income gain--driven primarily by an increase in loans, CEO Kim Sponem told the newspaper. Total loans at Summit increased roughly $64 million--to more than $1.1 billion for the first half of 2011, compared with the same period last year. Summit saw a substantial increase in car buying--especially for used cars--in the first half of the year, Sponem told the paper. The credit union also was bolstered by an increase in mortgage lending because it is a major home finance lender in its area, she added. Total assets at the state’s more than 200 credit unions increased 4.9% in the first half of the year to $21.6 billion, said the DFI. At the same time, savings rose 5.7% to $18.9 billion, and delinquent loans declined to 1.8% of total loans from 2% in June 2010.