LAS VEGAS (5/7/09)--Sustainability of credit unions and the credit union industry is the most critical issue facing credit unions today, and individuals must take responsibility for their credit union's growth and survival, said Thomas C. Davis, president/CEO of the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO). Davis made the comment in a speech Monday at NACUSO's Annual Conference in Las Vegas. The conference ended Wednesday. "Today's credit union industry is in the mature phase of its growth cycle and experiencing some of the most significant challenges of any time in its history," he told the conference. "We are confronted with an economic malaise unmatched since the Great Depression and an unprecedented credit union corporate bailout that will adversely impact credit union capital positions. "Coupled with these issues are the industry woes of the past several years associated with slow member growth, rapid consolidation and minimal market differentiation. When we consider the aggregate impact of all of these challenges, the most critical issue facing us today is the sustainability of credit unions and the credit union industry," Davis said. A key factor in addressing that challenge involves establishing opportunities for collaboration and getting credit unions to work together in business networks to create scale and meet shared needs, he noted. "Now is the time for credit unions to transform themselves and the industry by embracing innovation and the unique advantages of collaboration and networked business models," he added. "'Business as usual' is reaching an evolutionary dead end. When the going gets tough, the tough collaborate," Davis said. "Economic downturns provide an opportunity to create a gap between credit unions and their competitors." Collaboration, he concluded, "is the furnace that will drive credit union and industry sustainability."