COLUMBUS, Ohio (10/7/10)--The Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL) and several Ohio credit unions recently hosted Florin Simion, CEO of the Federation of Romanian Credit Unions (FEDCAR), to discuss a partnership to help stimulate credit union growth in Romania, and further develop the federation into an all-encompassing credit union support organization. Simion began his Ohio agenda with a dialogue at OCUL’s office in Columbus. Discussion focused on the types of services the league provides to its members and its role in developing credit unions. “Though we are separated by thousands of miles, our goals and obstacles are very similar,” said Paul Mercer, league president. “Our league definitely has a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by credit unions under a different government structure, and I hope in return we presented ideas and strategies that will strengthen the credit union movement in Romania.” Simion also visited three Ohio credit unions: CES CU in Mount Vernon, Healthcare FCU in Columbus, and Cincinnati Central CU. Each provided knowledge of U.S. credit union operations and the issues they face. To learn more about the corporate credit union structure, Simion visited Corporate One FCU in Columbus. The league’s partnership with Romania is part of the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) International Partnerships Program. “These partnerships are essential to our mission as credit unions, and are a key factor in the credit union difference,” said Bill Herring, CEO of Cincinnati Central. “Ohio credit unions have a long-standing record of cooperation among cooperatives, and this is a great way to continue that tradition.” FEDCAR was formed in 2004, two years after WOCCU’s project to strengthen Romanian credit unions ended. The federation began with seven credit unions totaling 8,000 members and has since grown to 17 credit unions with 72,000 members. Credit unions in Romania operate solely as basic savings and loan institutions, which limits their growth opportunities. FEDCAR approached WOCCU for assistance in finding an international partner to help create new opportunities for its credit unions. WOCCU recommended the Ohio league and affiliated credit unions because of their past partnerships with credit unions in Bulgaria and Bolivia. “This partnership is important for FEDCAR and Romanian credit unions as it represents our cooperative roots and our future,” Simion said. “This is what we need to push our credit unions ahead to give them a viable future and make them better financial institutions for the benefit of the members.” FEDCAR and the league agreed to continue the partnership. They discussed a trip to Romania by an Ohio delegation in 2011.