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Vermont league CEO testifies re state-owned bank
MONTPELIER, Vt. (3/1/10)--Joe Bergeron, president/CEO of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU), recently addressed Vermont’s House Ways & Means Committee regarding legislators’ interest in exploring how a Bank of North Dakota clone might work in Vermont. Bergeron and other panelists had more questions than answers about the merits and practicality of starting a state-owned bank in Vermont, AVCU said. The Vermont legislature isn’t the only state legislature considering the only state-government-owned bank in the country. Florida, Oregon and Washington legislatures also are looking into a state-owned bank (Newslines Express Feb. 26). The Bank of North Dakota has only one office, no drive-up and no ATMs. Although it can do business with the general public by law, it rarely does. Instead, in Vermont terms, it’s an amalgamation of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Vermont Student Assistance Corp., and Vermont Economic Development Authority, with some of the corresponding services of a corporate credit union added in, said AVCU. The bank was created 95 years ago, long before the first North Dakota credit union and before most banks. The difference between those institutions and counterparts elsewhere is that they’ve worked with the Bank of North Dakota as a source of student lending, mortgages, business lending and check settlement since their inception. States like Vermont have long since created other relations to fill these needs, posing resistance to major change, AVCU said. However, the knowledge that North Dakota’s state general fund received half of the bank’s profit of $60 million last year likely drew the attention of Vermont legislators, AVCU said.


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