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Minnesota CUs showcase cooperative spirit
ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/27/12)--Credit unions in Minnesota are not only creating awareness that they're a smarter financial choice but also furthering the mission of cooperatives and the People Helping People philosophy this year as part of the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC), said the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN).

Postal CU is a member of the Cooperative Network, which serves more than 600 member cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin Postal President/CEO Russ Plunkett also serves as a board member of the Credit Union National Association's Cooperative Alliance Committee.  The network provides a powerful business and political resource, said the credit union. It also sponsors students' attendance at an annual Co-op Youth Leadership Conference, encouraging the younger generation to learn more about the cooperative model.

At SPIRE FCU, President/CEO Dan Stoltz said his credit union is an "involved supporter" of the cooperative sector. He pointed to his affiliation with several cooperative organizations, including the Cooperative Network Board and Cooperative Foundation Board. He served as chairman of the latter board.  SPIRE also offers a Visa card program through a partnership with four area grocery co-ops. The program offers special benefits to members and shares a portion of the proceeds with the participating co-ops. The card is co-branded with the grocer's logo.

Minnesota has roughly 1,000 cooperatives, including energy and agricultural co-ops.  As the IYC celebration continues, these organizations can explore more ways to create partnerships and share resources, said MnCUN.

At its Annual Meeting & Convention April 13-14, MnCUN will host a panel discussion featuring representatives from co-ops around the state who will address ways to get involved in the cooperative movement.

"Minnesota's cooperatives, including its many credit unions, offer a vast array of products, services and programs that help build the well-being of their members," said MnCUN President/CEO Mark Cummins. "Through their cooperative structure, credit unions and all cooperatives give consumers a better chance."

The United Nations designated 2012 as IYC. Cooperatives have more than one billion members across 96 countries, reports the Worldwatch Institute in its Vital Signs Online publication. In 2008, the world's 300 largest co-ops generated revenues of more than $1.6 trillion. In the financial sector, a World Bank report found that credit union branches account for 23% of bank branches worldwide and serve 870 million people, making them the second-largest financial services network in the world (CPI Financial Feb. 23).
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