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CU System Archive

CU System

CU finances Flagstaffs first solar housing development

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (3/5/09)--Arizona State CU has partnered with Hope Construction to build Flagstaff, Ariz.'s first solar-powered multi-family housing development. The development is described as "the green standard" for eco-friendly residential planning and construction. "The immediate benefit of building in the community is clear, but what makes this especially remarkable is that the building itself is designed to increase efficiency and sustainability, which, in turn, provides stability in the community and the natural environment," said Paul B. Stull, senior vice president of marketing at the Phoenix-based, $1.3 billion asset credit union. The credit union provides loans to community focused businesses such as Hope Construction to support a local and prosperous economy, and it also maintains a sustainable financial model in its member-owned, democratically controlled structure.

Chrysler details Invest in America CU discount

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DETROIT (3/5/09)--Chrysler announced a change to its Invest in America credit union discount, effective Tuesday. Credit union members will be able to receive a $1,000 cash allowance on any of the vehicles listed below. Discounts will also be available on previously excluded SRT models (LoneStar Leaguer March 4). Chrysler reports that 90% of the sales using the credit union discount were on vehicles that qualified for the $1,000 discount. Chrysler’s $1,000 Bonus Cash Incentive applies to these 2008 model cars: Dodge Models:
* Charger; * Magnum; * Grand Caravan; * Ram (all models); * Dakota; * Durango; and * Nitro.
Chrysler Models:
* 300/300C; * Town & Country; * Aspen; and * Pacifica.
Jeep Models:
* Wrangler; * Liberty; and * Grand Cherokee.
The incentive applies to these 2009 model cars: Dodge Models:
* Charger; * Challenger; * Grand Caravan; * Ram (all models); * Dakota; * Durango; * Nitro; and * Journey.
Chrysler Models:
* 300/300C; * Town & Country; and * Aspen.
Jeep Models:
* Wrangler; * Liberty; and * Grand Cherokee.

Vermont CUs have highest growth rate in nation

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (3/5/09)--Asset growth at all Vermont credit unions in 2008 was 17%--the highest growth rate in the nation and double the national median of 8.7%, according to a 2008 Call Report Data Summary from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). The data, summarized by CUNA’s Economics & Statistics department, also indicates Vermont credit unions were above national medians in other areas (Newslines Express Feb. 27). Vermont ranked second in the fewest net charge-offs as a percentage of average loans, third in fewest delinquent loans, ninth in loan-to-savings ratio and 15th in 12-month loan growth. The state’s rankings for fixed-rate first mortgages (No. 23) and return on assets (No. 26) fall just above and right at the national medians of 13.1% and 0.49, respectively. Although Vermont’s credit union membership grew at a rate of 1.7% in 2008, this lags slightly behind the national median of 1.9%. Given the asset growth Vermont credit unions experienced last year, the state’s net worth ratio of 9.9% was negatively influenced by large deposit numbers, the Association of Vermont Credit Unions said. However, the state’s average net worth is still nearly 3% above what the National Credit Union Administration determines as “well capitalized.”

Moodys changes long-term rating outlook for Quebecs CUs

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MONTREAL (3/5/09)--Moody's Investors Service said it has changed the long-term rating outlook for Desjardins, the Quebec-based network of caisses populaires or credit unions. The debt-rating service said the rating outlook moved to negative from stable, but it left intact the "Aa1" credit rating for the credit union network (The Canadian Press March 3). Monday Desjardins Group had announced a $476 million loss during fourth quarter 2008, compared with a surplus of $273 million in fourth quarter 2007. Moody's report acknowledged Desjardins' "sound asset statement, its excellent capitalization with capital ratios above regulatory targets and among Canada's best in the financial sector, the quality of its loan portfolio and its dominant market share in Quebec." The rating change stemmed from losses associated with asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) and their impact on the Desjardins Group's financials for 2008. ABCPs are short-term investments that were affected by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

Washington CUs ads provide respite from economic chaos

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (3/5/09)--A series of TV and print ads with the theme “Financial Chaos-Free Moments” is being run statewide by Washington state credit unions to emphasize credit unions’ stability in a time of economic chaos. The campaign started in February and will run through the end of March, John Annaloro, president/CEO of the Washington Credit Union League, told News Now. The ads were made by Big Bang Electrical--a Seattle-based advertising agency. “The campaign is aimed at all the members of the credit union system,” Annalaro said. “It speaks to existing members and new members while they are reconsidering their institutional relationships. This is a historic opportunity for credit unions to be heard. “This campaign is designed to accelerate growth by speaking to traditional values of credit unions, and emphasizing calm and stability amidst a massive financial crisis--that credit unions are islands of peace and happiness in all the chaos,” he added. “The continued impact of the ads is undeniable for existing members and employees of credit unions. Washington is a state that uses a lot media buying. Of all the ads, the values-based ads are the ones that are most effective in driving new relationships,” Annalaro said. Credit union growth in Washington was already accelerating when the ads began, Annaloro said. Washington ranked fifth in the nation in 2008 with 5% aggregate growth as a percentage of new assets and new members, he added. To see one of the TV ads, use the link and click on “Watch the Commercial.”

CU program helps Duluths low-incomers buy cars

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DULUTH, Minn. (3/5/09)--Northern Communities CU is helping people who are employed but struggling buy dependable used cars that won't saddle them with constant repair bills. Jump Start Duluth offers low-income families a low-interest, five-year loan for good used cars with low mileage (Duluth News Tribune Feb. 25). The $72.8 million asset credit union, based in Duluth, is working with Community Action Duluth on the program. Duluth resident Denise Lewis, who was approved for a loan in the program, told the newspaper that two years ago she scraped together $500 for a 1996 vehicle with nearly 200,000 miles on it, but shortly after she bought it, the transmission failed. Loan applicants must fill out a detailed budget to prove they can afford car payments, which typically run $100 to $200 a month. The program is for people who have jobs but need help in affording a good vehicle. The cars come from Ideal Auto, a nonprofit dealership in Glenwood City, Wis., which buys auction cars that have fewer than 55,000 miles and get at least 32 miles per gallon. The cars typically are sold for $7,000 to $8,000 to the program's participants. Participants deposit $20 a month into a savings account to cover oil changes, tires and repairs and they attend a financial education workshop and get an auto maintenance lesson from a local auto shop, said the newspaper.

Shared branching helps CU in conservatorship keep members

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. (3/5/09)--Shared branching helped Union Pacific Streamliner FCU serve its members when the credit union was placed under conservatorship in 2006. The National Credit Union Administration took control of the credit union because of financial difficulties, causing the credit union to close two of its branches. The credit union joined shared branching through CO-OP Shared Branching’s partner, Credit Union Service Network. “I truly believe shared branching has helped us retain our membership,” said Janet Anderson, Union Pacific CEO. “I don’t think we would have come out of conservatorship without the access that shared branching has given us.” With shared branching, the credit union can serve members through more locations with extended hours, including Saturdays. “Another plus for our members is the out-of-state access,” Anderson said. “Our membership travels a great deal.” Though the credit union has one branch, its members have access to 3,600 branches through CO-OP, Anderson added.

CU System briefs (03/04/2009)

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* PLANO, Texas (3/5/09)--Southwest Corporate FCU will conduct its regular monthly Financial Review Webinar today at 3 p.m. CT (eFACTS March 3). The online event will highlight its investment portfolio, credit risk management and financial results for January. Members may register for the no-cost webinar at Southwest Corporate's website … * AUGUSTA, Maine (3/5/09)--Maine State CU announced Wednesday it will donate nearly $36,000 to32 local hunger organizations in Kennebec and Somerset Counties. Today each organization will receive $406.79, with those that participated in credit unions' 2008 annual Walk to Stop Hunger receiving an additional $1,250. The credit union's annual Walk to Stop Hunger raised more than $18,000 in 2008. The fourth annual Walk to Stop Hunger will be April 25 at Capitol Park, said the credit union. "In this tough economy, we are pleased by the generosity of the people in our community," said Maine State CU President/CEO Normand Dubreuil (mainetoday.com March 5) … * BEAVERTON, Ore. (3/5/09)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announces that Kasey Rockwell has been selected for the new position of director of credit union development. Rockwell has worked with CUAO since 1999, first as director of credit union relations and most recently as director of advocacy since 2002. In the new position, Rockwell will work with credit unions in the areas of development and outreach, including small credit union development, planning sessions, assistance with education, financial literacy and chapter outreach as well as managing the Credit Unions for Kids program. The position also will be responsible for researching and implementing government programs to benefit Oregon credit unions. Rockwell will continue to support CUAO advocacy programs during the active state legislative session until a replacement is named … * ALEXANDRIA, Va. (3/5/09)--John DuPree Sr., founder and chairman of Shiloh of Alexandria FCU, Alexandria, Va., has died, according to the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. His son, John DuPree Jr., now manages the $1.3 million asset credit union, which serves 678 members. The DuPree family has managed and operated the credit union since 1993, providing financial education and service to the Parker Gray community of Alexandria, said the federation. John DuPree Sr. was a staunch community development credit union supporter and former director of the federation. Funeral services will be Friday at 11 a.m. EST, with viewing at 10 a.m. at the Shiloh Baptist Church, 1401 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Services are being handled by the Lewis Funeral Home in Alexandria, 703-549-2632 …

Handheld units link Rwandas co-ops in WOCCU program

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KIGALI, Rwanda (3/5/09)--Clement Rugumiriza considers his branch of Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) as up-to-date as many credit unions around the world, now that he can offer member-clients branch-to-branch electronic transaction capabilities through the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) development program.
Clement Rugumiriza (left), aided by a teller, shows off one of the new point-of-sale devices--which offer electronic transaction capabilities--at Banque Populaire du Rwanda. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
Rugumiriza and other managers in BPR's 22-branch system--can now offer electronic services through handheld point-of-sale (POS) units housed at each of the credit union branches. The new technology has brought financial capabilities a long way in an African country ravaged by genocidal warfare barely 15 years ago, WOCCU said. Introduced in December, the technology enables BPR’s member-clients to make deposits and withdrawals in real time at any of its branch offices in Rwanda. With 140 points of service, BPR is Rwanda's largest financial network, according to Paul Graslie, WOCCU technical services manager. “This is really a form of shared branching, something BPR was not capable of offering prior to the introduction of POS,” Graslie said. “The system removes the geographic constraints that otherwise have limited member-clients when they travel in the country. Volume has risen to 100 transactions per day since the technology’s introduction.” BPR installed the handheld units inside each branch office. The transactions run through the POS units using biometrics technology that requires both thumb and index fingerprints of the member-clients. The devices may not be used either outside the branch or the BPR network due to Rwandan law. The new technology marks a major step forward in a country that lost an estimated 800,000 citizens during a genocidal civil war in 1994. Rwanda's gross domestic product fell by 50% during the war, and an estimated US$7 million was stolen from the country's financial cooperative system for use by perpetrators of the genocide, according to a WOCCU FOCUS report. Since 2000, WOCCU has been helping Rwanda’s financial cooperatives rebuild, aided by funding from donors such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. BPR recently launched a major media campaign to promote the new technology, named “BPR Mobile Counter.” While keeping costs low, the technology allows BPR to offer contemporary electronic services to its member-clients. It’s a competitive edge in the country of more than 10 million people that branch managers like Rugumiriza know will set BPR apart in its service to Rwanda’s people, WOCCU said. WOCCU launched a similar effort in Morelia, Mexico, in December to help local credit unions reach out to people living in rural, marginalized areas. Credit unions there use personal digital assistants and mobile printers to perform financial transactions during field visits to their members. The two efforts are among the first in their financial cooperative systems to use such technology, WOCCU said.

In tough economy Mica urges CUs to reassure youth

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WASHINGTON (3/5/09)--Because of the worsening economy, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President /CEO Dan Mica is urging credit unions to single out youth for special consideration during National Credit Union Youth Week, April 19-25. "By even the most optimistic estimates, combating this recession will mean passing $10 trillion in debt on to our descendants. How we as a nation mitigate the pain of that legacy will say a lot about our character," Mica said. "The bill for cleaning up this economic mess threatens to injure young people’s prospects for a financially secure life for themselves and their families. But it would be even more detrimental to sacrifice our grandchildren’s financial security by neglecting to give them the knowledge and skill to manage the debt that we will bequeath them," he said. The CUNA leader emphasized the importance of giving coming generations the tools to thrive. "Youth Week 2009 offers us a chance to reassure tomorrow’s workforce that we will not abandon them to debt. Engage in Youth Week activities as a way of telling your young members: 'We will help you reach your financial goals; we will help you build wealth, even in bad times; we will show you the credit union way to personal prosperity.'" CUNA offers a range of Youth Week resources--many at no cost, including participation in the National Youth Saving Challenge. Use the resource link.