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CU System

Biz Kid among the best in books TV says IUSA TODAYI

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NEW YORK (1/7/09)--For the second time in just over six months, USA Today has spotlighted “Biz Kid$,” a television program underwritten by America’s Credit Unions and aimed at teaching youths about money. This time, “Biz Kid$” is named among the “best in books, TV.” The article appeared in the national newspaper’s Money section (Jan. 5), and included a photo that was the dominant element on the page. The photo is of Kailyn Cage, who runs a mini vending empire in Washington D.C. One of the 12 episodes this season focuses on the importance of good credit and features Cage, a Bowie, Md., teen who secured credit through the financing arm of the vending machines manufacturer. In June, USA Today also featured the program and a photo in its Money Section (News Now June 4).

Kansas CUs plan expansion under new FOM law

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WICHITA, Kan. (1/7/09)--A new Kansas state law that places geographic field of membership restrictions on areas that credit unions can serve went into effect Thursday, and has caused credit unions to adjust their growth plans accordingly. The first stage of the law went into effect July 1, and the grandfathering portion recently went into effect Thursday. The law grandfathers existing credit union members and their immediate family members, all existing occupational and associational groups, current geographic fields of membership up to one million in population and all current branch counties (News Now July 1). It also outlines geographic limitations of up to 500,000 in population, using multiple contiguous political jurisdictions for credit unions not headquartered in a metropolitan statistical area (News Now April 15). “So far, the transition of Kansas credit unions--particularly the nine that had to reconfigure their field of memberships by Jan. 1--has gone smoothly,” Haley DaVee, Kansas Credit Union Association political and public affairs specialist, told News Now. “Kansas credit unions have used the opportunity under the law to continue their plans for growth and expansion. “Some of these opportunities include the ability to continue serving multiple common bonds, in addition to serving large geographic areas of up to one million in population,” she continued. “So what we’re finding so far is the law really does provide Kansas state-chartered credit unions with the flexibility they need to continue to grow and to serve the needs of Kansas consumers.” Mid American CU, a $133 million asset, Wichita-based credit union, selected 18 counties for its field of membership under the new law in its plan that it submitted to the state, which is currently pending approval, Jim Holt, Mid-American CEO, told News Now. “We decided to pick counties that are growing at least 5%, based on the 2000 census” he said. “But the counties have to be contiguous--to achieve that we had to pick a couple that were not at 5% growth. So we have 16 contiguous counties and two other counties that we already have offices in. The existing counties that we already have offices in don’t count toward the one million total population that we are allowed to serve under the new law.” Boeing Wichita CU (BWCU), a $597.4 million asset credit union in Wichita, had to eliminate 28 counties from its original field of membership under the new law, Bob Corwin, BWCU CEO, told News Now. “With the new plan we submitted to the state, we were able to configure 17 counties to involve our primary market areas, including all counties in which we had a physical presence,” Corwin said. BWCU has 15 branches. In order to keep the counties that BWCU serves and also have the 17 counties be contiguous and within the one-million-population limit, the credit union had to eliminate some counties with smaller populations from its new field of membership, Corwin explained.

MSN Money blog outlines 10 reasons why CUs rule

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NEW YORK (1/7/09)--Credit unions rule, according to a Tuesday blog post on MSNMoney.com. The blog posting, “10 reasons why credit unions rule,” by Karen Datko, encouraged consumers to join a credit union to receive better interest rates on loans and deposits, better prospects of receiving personal loans, and lower fees. Credit unions exist to serve their members, while banks exist to serve their shareholders. Members are also more important at credit unions, where “at a huge bank, you’re an account number,” she said. “(Banks) see so many customers throughout the day that there’s no opportunity to build relationships,” Datko added. Members of credit unions also aren’t pressured to take on risks they can’t afford. “Credit unions aren’t immune to loan defaults, but when you don’t feel the constant pressure to generate a profit, you don’t take on those riskier loans,” she said. For the full post, use the link.

REAL Solutions plans to delve deeper in 2009

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WASHINGTON (1/7/09)--REAL Solutions, the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), plans to delve deeper rather than extend wider in 2009.
National Program Director Lois Kitsch and her team of field coaches are bringing REAL Solutions to more than 30 states. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
“While we still plan to bring REAL Solutions to more states,” said National Program Director Lois Kitsch, “we plan to delve deeper in the 30 current participating states. Participating leagues have asked us to introduce new services, pilot projects, and toolkits to help more credit unions implement REAL Solutions.” Each time a state adopts the program, an NCUF field coach and a credit union development professional from the league train credit unions to provide services that serve consumers having low wealth—people with low income or modest means and those with moderate and middle incomes who struggle to save and build assets. REAL Solutions then shares best practices to help low-wealth consumers become credit union members, grow savings, and build assets that will generate wealth. “When rolling out REAL Solutions in new states, we will follow the same format that has worked so well in other states,” Kitsch said. “By combining our resources with the league, credit unions and their members will benefit from our shared experiences across the country.” Online, a new REAL Solutions Impact Center is now available for credit unions in every state. Model service descriptions, low-wealth market trends, partnership opportunities, interactive forums and blogs are designed to appeal not only to participating credit unions, but to all credit unions. Later this year, through a grant from the Aspen Institute’s “Living Cities Mashup,” the REAL Solutions Impact Center will add a portal for community organizations. This will help credit unions address one of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Membership Growth Task Force’s top recommendations: “develop more community partnerships.” NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin served as a liaison to the CUNA Membership Growth Task Force. He said the Impact Center’s ultimate goal “is to become the ‘go-to’ site for everyone interested in helping credit unions better serve low-wealth households and emerging markets including young adults.” The Impact Center is also designed to help credit unions measure the impact of their services. Leading up to the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in February, credit unions will have an opportunity to fill out an online survey to quantify their outreach initiatives. The survey will be based on the REAL Deal, the new outreach initiative advanced by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) in partnership with CUNA and NCUF (News Now Jan.5). NCUF, state credit union foundations and leagues will continue to fund REAL Solutions through shared assets including the Community Investment Fund (CIF), which won the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Award for Fundraising Excellence. Offered through the Corporate Credit Union Network, CIF investments are structured to earn dividends for each corporate credit union member while making charitable donations to NCUF and state credit union organizations.

NFCDCU Barrier to new charters too high

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NEW YORK (1/7/09)--The newly chartered Georgia Family FCU in Atlanta is one of only a handful of credit unions chartered last year, a trend the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) says it would like to change. “During the 1980s and ’90s, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) was especially active in chartering new credit unions across the nation,” said federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. “Some of those institutions did not make it, but others have become some of the nation’s premier credit unions serving people of modest means. “In the past, communities could come together, develop a basic business plan, pool together their limited resources, and they could start a credit union,” Rosenthal said. “These days, it is virtually a requirement that organizing groups raise hundreds of thousands of dollars of start-up funds in order to satisfy NCUA requirements. We think the barrier to chartering has become too high.” Rosenthal said this is a major challenge, given the current economic downturn with a marked decrease in philanthropic activities. Georgia Family FCU was fortunate because in addition to pledged deposits from the proposed membership, it raised nearly $1 million in combined cash and in-kind donations to start up, with major funding from Atlanta-based Marcus Foundation, he added. The federation has seen an increased interest by groups seeking to organize their own community-controlled financial institutions. “Nearly 50% of our technical assistance is now being devoted to helping organizing groups across the nation, but the process is extremely difficult and time consuming,” Rosenthal said. He added that NCUA’s recent announcement that it would centralize the chartering process at its Alexandria, Va., headquarters, provides some hope. In 2008, the federation assisted these CDCU organizing groups:
* Casa de Maryland, Silver Springs, Md.; * Collaborative Support Programs, Clifton, N.J.; * East River Development Alliance (ERDA), Long Island City, Queens, N.Y.; * Express CU, Seattle; * Fondo Internacional para el Desarrollo de los Migrantes (FIDMI), Washington, D.C.; * Georgia Family FCU, Atlanta; * Haitian Evangelical CU (proposed), West Palm Beach County, Fla.; * Inspire FCU (proposed), Battle Creek, Mich.; * NCI Community CU, Houston, Texas; * Bergen County CU (proposed), Bergen County, N.J.; * Kalamzoo CDCU (proposed), Kalamazoo, Mich.; and * Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Tucson, Ariz.

Mountain America SBA loan officer helps create 100 new jobs

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SALT LAKE CITY (1/7/09)--Matthew Ashton, Mountain America CU Small Business Administration (SBA) loan officer, was given the “5 Million
Matthew Ashton, Mountain America CU, was recognized by Rob Richards (left), Utah Certified Development Company president, for his work to create 100 new jobs. (Photo provided by Mountain America CU)
Dollar” award from Utah Certified Development Company (CDC) for his work to create 100 new jobs. “By participating in the SBA 504 Loan program, Ashton and Mountain America have provided more than $12 million in small business financing to area businesses throughout the state of Utah,” said Sonia Maughan, Utah CDC. “His work has assisted these businesses in creating over 100 new jobs and has added value to the local economy.” "(Ashton) has worked really hard this year and made sure our members are given the best deal with the best pricing," added Curtis Anderson, Mountain America vice president of SBA Lending. Utah CDC helps small businesses in financing up to 90% of the purchase of long-term fixed assets. Assets include land, building and equipment. Mountain America, Salt Lake City, has more than $2.8 billion in assets.

CUs without cards miss key contact in young adult market

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MADISON, Wis. (1/7/09)--Credit unions have to offer an attractive, competitive credit card product to deepen relationships with young adults. If they don’t, they will miss the chance to capture an active borrowing relationship that lasts about 15 years, according to a report by the Filene Research Institute. “A responsible, attractive credit card for young adults is one of the clearest paths to a relationship with young adults,” wrote Ben Rogers, driver of Filene’s CU Tomorrow in the report, “The First Credit Card.” The cards reach young adults “at a time when their financial needs are mostly transactional, and it can be a gateway to other loans and deposit accounts,” he added. Filene found no evidence that members of Generation Y are irresponsible borrowers. Instead, 88% of undergraduates paid their balances on time, compared with 91% of adults. Students also carry an average of $552 on their cards, which is one-third of the size of the balance of a non-student cardholder. Credit unions offering card programs should avoid charging expensive late fees and high interest rates like some card companies. Currently, student cards average 15.26% interest. A credit union can generate revenue from cards while charging lower rates, Filene said. Credit unions also can offer savings components--such as depositing a percentage of the purchases into a savings account--with the cards. For more information, use the link.

Hawaiis membership in CUs up by 30000

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HONOLULU, Hawaii (1/7/09)--Membership in Hawaii credit unions increased by 30,000 to more than 806,000 in 2008, even though there were three fewer credit unions in the state, according to the National Credit Union Administration. Hawaii’s 96 credit unions had roughly $7.1 billion in combined assets last year, up 6% from 2007 (bizjournals Jan. 5). Loans grew 9% to about $3.7 billion. The largest loans originated from Hawaii USA FCU, Honolulu, with $615.9 million; Hawaii State FCU, Honolulu, with $424.9 million; and Hawaii Community FCU, Kailua Kona, with $240.9 million. The biggest percentage increases in loans were realized at two small credit unions with two employees each:
* Word of Life FCU, Honolulu, with $1.9 million assets and 147 members, saw a 70.2% rise in loans to $1.6 million; and * Dole Wahiawa FCU, Wahiawa, with $2.2 million assets and 514 members, issued $1.7 million in loans, up 53% from the previous year.

CU System briefs (01/06/2009)

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* RICHARDSON, Texas (1/7/09)--David Addison announced Tuesday his resignation as president/CEO of the $1.8 billion asset Texans CU, effective Jan. 31. He led the Richardson, Texas-based credit union and its subsidiaries for six years. Mike Sauer, a long-term board member who has held all board officer positions during his tenure, will act as interim CEO until a replacement is made by the board within the next 90 days, said the credit union in a press release. Addison said the decision to leave is a “personal one that involved much discussion and planning with my family and the board of directors. While I am saddened to depart from this wonderful institution, I have great confidence that the rich history and great success of Texans CU will continue under the leadership of the board and able management team.” Board Chairman Judith Moore said Addison’s “guiding vision and leadership will be sorely missed” … * ALBANY, N.Y. (1/7/09)--Congressman-elect Eric Massa (D-Jamestown/Buffalo) attended the Jamestown chapter of the Credit Union Association of New York’s 15th annual Toys for Kids dinner. A lifetime credit union member, Massa congratulated the chapter credit unions for making a difference for hundreds of disadvantaged children and setting an example for community service. “Credit unions are an integral part of the American economy and the American working family, and I am proud to be both a member and a supporter of these great institutions,” he said. He added he looks forward “to working in Congress to increase membership and further strengthen our nation’s credit unions.” From left are: Pastor Gail McCrory, Solomon’s Porch Ministries; Vicky Matteson, manager, Jamestown Area Community FCU; Julie Fenton, human resources coordinator, Greater Chautauqua FCU; Travis Heiser, CEO, Inner Lakes FCU; Massa; and Cheryl Frantzen, political action coordinator, and Leona Haberstro, advocacy specialist, both from Credit Union Association of New York. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York) … * ST. PAUL, Minn. (1/7/09)--A branch manager/security officer in charge of security camera videotapes at a St. Paul credit union was charged with two counts of theft after tapes, due to be recycled a few days later, showed her closing a member’s certificate of deposit account. Samantha Mae Thrond, 26, was charged with stealing more than $17,000 from accounts of members of Capital Trust FCU (St. Paul Pioneer Press Jan. 3) … * OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (1/7/09)—Donna Kay Gainer, 61, of Drummond, Okla., a former employee of Tinker FCU’s Enid branch, pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling between $30,000 and $70,000 from the credit union. She admitted to taking more than $1,000 in June 2008. Gainer faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing will be in several months (The Daily Oklahoman Jan. 5) … * ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (1/7/09)--Thomas J. Ryan, president of First Financial CU in Albuquerque, N.M., from 1958 to 1986, died Friday, according to the Credit Union Association of New Mexico. He was also president of the credit union’s subsidiary, Credit Union Services, from 1987 to 1990. Ryan was active in the credit union community, serving on boards of the New Mexico Credit Union League and National Association of Federal Credit Unions, which named him Professional of the Year. He oversaw the development of many services, including checking accounts, certificates, open-end lending, ATM services, the CU ANYTIME ATM network and investment services for the credit union. Services are scheduled for this coming Friday … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/7/09)--Anthony Alviani, CEO/treasurer of New Brighton Schools FCU in New Brighton, Pa., died Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 61. Alviani was a teacher for 35 years, including 30 years at New Brighton High School, where he taught computer science, math, business education and typing. He also taught classes at the Community College of Beaver County and the Beaver County Vocational Technical School. The credit union has $546,057 in assets (Life is a Highway Jan. 6) …

New CDCU chartered to serve Latinos in Atlanta

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ATLANTA (1/7/09)--Efforts that began in 2006 finally paid off for organizers of the newest community development credit union (CDCU), Georgia Family FCU in Atlanta. The credit union received its charter from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
Atlanta’s Georgia Family FCU CEO Paola Diaz-Torres shows off the credit union’s new charter certificate to Georgia Credit Union Affiliates CEO Mike Mercer. (Photo provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
According to the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU), which worked with the organizers and provided technical assistance, the new credit union will serve primarily the low-income, metro-Atlanta Latino community. The credit union’s goal “is to break down the cultural and functional barriers that stand between low-income immigrant residents and mainstream financial services,” said Paola Diaz-Torres, who will serve as CEO of the new CDCU. “Our project aims to serve low-income individuals from the Hispanic community who struggle to build assets due to a lack of financial sophistication or access to affordable financial products,” she said. “The organizing process is so hard and discouraging that the friendship and support from the CDCU movement was instrumental in keeping our project moving forward,” she added. Organizers are looking for additional supporters to help spread the word about their efforts and to serve as conduits to leverage additional resources for the credit union.

PCUA promotes student loans to states colleges

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (1/7/09)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) sent a letter to state colleges and universities Friday to inform them that credit unions in the state continue to offer student loans at a time when many lenders have discontinued their student loan programs. The letter sent by PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack includes a listing of more than 170 credit unions participating in the federal student loan program (FFEL) through an alliance with American Education Services/Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (Life is a Highway Jan. 6). In the letter, McCormack said, “Credit unions always have been and remain a viable option for the students you work tirelessly to assist in this very important stage in their lives ... We hope that your staff will recommend local credit unions as a viable financing option.” Participating Pennsylvania credit unions approved more than $84.5 million dollars in federal student loans in 2008. To read the letter, use the link.