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Hession--in 100M T-shirt--hits home run with anthem rendition

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (9/16/14)--Clad in a "100 Million Memberships" T-shirt, Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) President/CEO Sean Hession delivered a stirring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Sunday's game between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins.
Nearly 900 credit union advocates celebrated the movement's 100 million memberships milestone during Illinois Credit Union Day at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

"This was a great day for Illinois credit unions and the national credit union movement," said Hession, who also happens to be a former principal first tenor and tenor soloist for the National Men's Chorus in Washington, D.C.
"With 100 million members, credit unions are a very big deal, and we will continue telling our story about how credit unions make a difference every day in the lives of their members and consumers," he said.
Credit unions hit more than 100.1 million memberships, a number equating to one-third of the U.S. population, according to the Credit Union National Association's June survey of monthly credit union estimates.
Prior to the game, the Chicago White Sox paid tribute to longtime ICUL lobbyist Dick Lockhart as a "Hero of the Game" for his service in World War II in the U.S. Army, and for his experience as a prisoner of war. The 90-year-old Lockhart is still active lobbying Illinois state lawmakers. He has spent 38 years supporting the interests of Illinois credit unions.
He was instrumental in the formation of the Credit Union Political Action Council in 1976 and structuring the grassroots lobbying system for Illinois credit unions. Lockhart also assisted with the re-codification of the Illinois Credit Union Act in 1979 and field of membership expansion legislation for community-chartered credit unions in 1985.

Metro CU mortgage program provides hope for neglected housing segment

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CHELSEA, Mass. (9/16/14)--A new mortgage program from $1.3 billion-asset Metro CU, Chelsea, Mass., is offered with the hope of revitalizing a city faced with housing challenges.

The city of Lawrence, near Chelsea, has been hit with a wave of foreclosures and blighted by fire in recent years ( Eagle Tribune Sept. 15.)

The "At Home in Lawrence" program, offered by Metro CU in conjunction with MassHousing and the city of Lawrence, is aimed at making it easier for city residents to obtain mortgages and avoid foreclosure. At the same time, the cost of renovations and repairs can be covered within the mortgage.

Insured by MassHousing and financed by Metro CU, the program offers expanded loan-to-value ratios and less restrictive reserve and credit requirements for low- and moderate-income borrowers.

"Our relationship with MassHousing shares many common goals. One of the strongest is to give affordable lending options to residents in our communities and help them achieve their own financial goals," said Robert Cashman, Metro CU president/CEO. "The At Home in Lawrence Program further enables Metro to expand efforts regarding property revitalization and home ownership growth in the city of Lawrence."

"Lower- and moderate-income borrowers now have one combined resource for city programs, homebuyer education and mortgage financing to help qualified homebuyers purchase homes and help homeowners renovate their homes and revitalize their neighborhoods," said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason.

Member growth continues despite mill closure

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EVERETT, Wash. (9/16/14)--For the last 75 years, even in the most difficult of times, Mill Town CU has been there for the community it serves.

Julie Benson, treasurer-manager of what was then called the Scott Employees CU, assists a member in 1974. Now called Mill Town CU, the Everett, Wash.-based financial institution celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. (Mill Town CU Photo)
That included when the Kimberly-Clark mill, which employed many of the Everett, Wash.-based credit union's members, closed in 2012, impacting the town far and wide. 

"The closing of the (mill) was hard on our membership, but we worked with anyone that needed help," Laura Leuze, president/CEO of the $47 million-asset credit union, told The Herald Business Journal this week (Sept. 15).

Mill Town granted extensions, reduced payments and shifted to interest-only payments to aid former mill employees until they gained solid financial footing, according to The Herald Business Journal.

It's that type of commitment and service by credit unions that has helped fuel membership increases across the country, as the credit union movement recently surpassed 100 million memberships nationwide.

In Everett, even after those who had lost their jobs moved away, they still came back to the credit union to do their banking. The credit union still serves more than 2,800 members.

"They would always run into people they had worked with and they would catch up," Cathy Vanderberg, board member for Mill Town CU, told the Business Journal. "About 50 people watched the demolition of the oldest mill building from the credit union building. It was very emotional."

Since opening in 1939, the credit union has helped residents with mortgages, college tuition and auto loans, among other services.

While the credit union's membership base was extended beyond mill workers in the early 2000s, the people who worked at the mill, the same people who founded the credit union, continue to serve as the bedrock of the membership base. 

"The credit union was started by people before we were even born," Leuze told The Herald Business Journal. "We have generations of memberships coming from just former mill employees. We have to be good at what we do and get to personally know everybody."

Festivities to celebrate Mill Town CU's 75th anniversary are scheduled for later this fall.

No stretch for CU to loan to fledging yoga studio

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (9/16/14)--Bayport CU was recently able to secure a $50,000 member business loan for members Sue and Michael Blei, helping the couple open a yoga studio after they had been turned away by local banks.
The Bleis' story and their experience with $1.3 billion-asset Bayport CU, Newport News, Va., was featured in the Sept. 14 edition of The Virginian-Pilot .
"It's the business loans like this that really makes this job enjoyable," Denise Owen, Bayport CU commercial banker, told News Now . "Fifty thousand dollars is not a huge business loan, but it really made a difference in their lives. It's always worth the effort."
The seeds of the Bleis' dream of opening a studio were planted in 2008 when Sue began practicing yoga to relieve back problems and sleep better. She enjoyed yoga so much she became an instructor and began teaching classes in the Chesapeake and Suffolk areas.
She wanted to open a studio to help people relieve their aches and pains, she told The Virginian-Pilot . But without any business experience, the Bleis' business loan applications were turned away by local banks. 
But Owen took a personal interest in the Bleis' member business loan application. She noticed that Michael had been a member of the credit union for more than 30 years, and the couple had a strong personal credit history. Owen enlisted the couple in the U.S. Small Business Administration's Express Loan program, which guarantees 50% of loans to qualified borrowers.
With a minimum amount of paperwork, the Bleis were finally on the path to serenity.

To read the full article, use the link.

Fin. lit. ideas percolate during NerdWallet TweetChat

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MADISON, Wis. (9/16/14)--In a rapid-fire discussion Monday on Twitter, credit union leaders from across the country imparted loads of advice on how to ramp up financial literacy for high school and college students.

The host of the "TweetChat," personal finance website , fired off a round of questions during the hourlong session, and a number of the most tuned-in financial literacy minds in the credit union movement were on hand to give their answers.

NerdWallet , using its Twitter handle @NW_Banking and the hashtag #CUFinLit, first asked, "How are credit unions currently working to improve the (financial literacy) of young adults in their communities?"

Among the responses, Tena Lozano, executive director of the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, tweeted: "Many CUs offer Reality Fairs--a financial simulation where teens take the role of an adult."

Later, NerdWallet asked: "How do you engage with parents and incentivize them to help educate their children or finances?"

Answered representatives from Christian Financial CU: "Parents are key decision-makers for teens. We use every opportunity to get in front of parents, like parent orientation meetings."

To read more questions and answers, search Twitter for the hashtag #CUFinLit.

Other participants included:
  • Ken Worthey, financial literacy and outreach analyst, National Credit Union Administration's Office of Consumer Protection;
  • Gigi Hyland, executive director, National Credit Union Foundation;
  • Rebekah Monroe and Shannon Bartlett, marketing manager and marketing specialist, respectively, Christian Financial CU, Roseville, Mich., with $325 million in assets;
  • Samantha Salazar and David Rodriguez, financial education instructor and financial education manager, respectively, Generations FCU, San Antonio, with $519 million in assets;
  • Jess Bedsole, social media producer, Alliant CU, Chicago, with $8.2 billion in assets;
  • Wendy Loeber, loan officer, CU Community CU, Springfield, Mo., with $94 million in assets; and
  • Alysha Klein, Young and Free Florida spokester, Tropical Financial CU, Miramar, Fla., with $566 million in assets.

PCUA, Pittsburgh FHLB pursue cooperative benefits, Part 2

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (9/16/14)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, through recent collaborative efforts, have initiated a partnership onto which each organization hopes to build. 

( Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series on the Federal Home Loan Bank system. Part One was called "Where FHLBs can fit in CU operations" and ran Sept. 15. See resource link ).
Given the cooperative, member-owned structure of both credit unions and the Federal Home Loan Banks--and thanks to a recent pickup in credit union membership at the FHLB of Pittsburgh--the relationship that's building between the Pennsylvania league and the FHLB of Pittsburgh seems to both to be a natural fit.
Christina Mihalik, PCUA vice president of government affairs, told News Now that when the association detected growth in credit union membership in the FHLBank, it reached out to strengthen the relationship there.
"If credit unions are partnering with a third party, we figured it would benefit us to reach out and establish that relationship," especially because we have like-minded, cooperative issues we can work on with the Federal Home Loan bank, Mihalik added.
That collaborative work has ranged from general advocacy on common issues such as regulation, consumers and housing, to efforts to address specific issues such as the National Credit Union Administration's risk-based capital proposal. Very notably, the FHLB system's leaders wrote a comment letter to the NCUA earlier this year outlining its concerns over the proposal and how it might affect its credit union members.
And on the operations side, of course, the cooperative banks help their members by offering funding for liquidity for short-term needs, lower-cost funding for mortgages and asset-liability management, and funds for housing and community development ( News Now Sept. 15).
"We are really a business partner to financial institutions, and they've come to realize that's exactly what we are. It's a symbiotic relationship; it's a partnership," John Foff, FHLB of Pittsburgh's business development manager, told News Now .
The first building block of the relationship, described by both organizations now as growing, may have occurred when FHLB of Pittsburgh's CEO Winthrop Watson spoke at the league's annual conference two years ago.
"The managing officers of the local credit unions appreciated his words, and I think that that's helped us in our relationship with credit union financial institutions," Foff said. 
More recently, the cooperative bank has reached out to credit unions in Pennsylvania by coordinating efforts such as setting up a booth at the PCUA's annual fall leadership conference.
Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president of communications and public relations, says that the FHLB of Pittsburgh has been reaching out to credit unions regularly.
"The FHLB banks deserve a lot of credit because they're doing the outreach," Wishnow told News Now . They reach out by "sponsoring efforts, helping in advocacy, and keeping credit unions informed on what they're doing."
Whatever the spark, over the last few years the FHLB of Pittsburgh has witnessed credit union membership rise substantially. Just a few years ago, only four credit unions in the state utilized the cooperative bank.
That number has jumped to 37, and about a dozen credit unions are interested in becoming members as well, according to Foff. 
"As more and more (credit unions) use their services and are pleased with their services," the more the word is spread, Mihalik told News Now . "Word of mouth is everything. A credit union referral is the best way" to spread the word.

CO-OP webinar covers tokenization, Apple Pay

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 RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (9/16/14)--CO-OP Financial Services will present a free webinar on "Tokenization, NFC and Apple Pay" at 1 p.m. (ET) Sept. 24.

The webinar will explore new member engagement and revenue opportunities that tokenization and Apple Pay may offer credit unions.

"The Sept. 9 announcement on Apple Pay has generated almost unprecedented interest by consumers and institutions alike in this new mobile payment system, and on the facilitating tokenization process and [near-field communication] standard," said Stan Hollen, CO-OP Financial Services president/CEO. "We believe this important industry development means greater security for members and new revenue opportunities for credit unions."

The webinar will be presented by Michelle Thornton, CO-OP manager of core products, and Caroline Willard, executive vice president of markets and strategy.

Among the issues the webinar will address:
  • Card tokenization, NFC and Apple Pay terms and technology;
  • Questions about enrollment;
  • Benefits to members and opportunities for member engagement; and
  • Revenue and growth opportunities for credit unions.
To register, use the link.