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Mass. CUs explore the cooperative advantage
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/16/12)--Massachusetts credit unions attending a joint Marketers Network and Business Development Network meeting March 6 in Marlborough, Mass., explored the cooperative advantage, according to the Massachusetts Credit Union League.

John Reske, vice president of marketing at the UMassFive College FCU, a $351 million asset credit union in Hadley, Mass., and Erbin Crowell, executive director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, told about their activities in the cooperative business community in Western Massachusetts and nationally (E-Weekly March 14).

One reason the United Nations has designated 2012 as International Year of the Cooperative is because cooperative businesses weathered the recent economic collapse far better than stock-owned companies, said Crowell. Cooperative ownership helped preserve billions of dollars in wealth during a period when money was disappearing from stock companies, said Crowell.

Reske told attendees how UMassFive has embraced its identity as a cooperative financial institution and how that move has benefited the credit union.  Benefits included bringing new, loyal members into the credit union through partnerships with cooperatives, successful product enhancements built around cooperative principles, and increased message and product penetration among existing members because of the credit union's cooperative "brand."

Consumers are now more than ready to hear about a financial institution that is cooperatively owned and operated for the benefit of the consumer, Reske said.

The group discussed opportunities and most participants indicated they would immediately look into identifying cooperative businesses in their area and see if they would offer credit union membership to their members, said the league.


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