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2011 World Credit Union Conference kicks off

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GLASGOW, Scotland--A nod to the past, a focus on the future and a changing of the guard among both staff and volunteer leadership set the parameters for the 2011 World Credit Union Conference, which runs July 24-27, World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) annual event.
Click to view larger image The World Council of Credit Union's 2011 World Credit Union Conference kicked off in Glasgow on Monday. Scottish rockers The Red Hot Chilli Pipers opened Sunday's ceremonies for the conference.
More than 1,700 participants from 62 countries descended on Glasgow, which has the United Kingdom’s highest concentration of credit unions, for what has become the world’s largest international credit union gathering. Flags of the 62 nations, including first-time appearances by Afghanistan and Haiti, unfurled in parade on Sunday to help open the conference, co-hosted by WOCCU member the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL) at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. Colorful costumes and lively conversations mixed with the music of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers to bring the enthusiasm and energy of the opening ceremonies to a fever pitch. “It’s great to see so many of you here,” said WOCCU Chair Barry Jolette, president and CEO of San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif., in his welcoming remarks. “World Council is a remarkable organization that does incredible things to change people’s lives. You all are a part of that effort in helping your own members.”
Click to view larger image "It's great to see so many of you here," said WOCCU Chair Barry Jolette to more than 1,700 registrants from 62 countries as part of Sunday's opening ceremonies.
Jolette, who ends his two-year term as chair, is one of two WOCCU leaders stepping down at this year’s conference. Credit union industry veteran Pete Crear, who has led WOCCU as its president/CEO since 2005, is retiring following the event. The baton will be passed to current WOCCU Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Branch in a public ceremony scheduled during Monday’s general session. Antony MacRow-Wood, board president for co-host organization ABCUL, welcomed participants with the good news that the United Kingdom’s parliament is removing the barriers to credit union service and is in the process of enacting new laws that will allow the country’s post offices to serve as credit union branches. Attendees in Glasgow this year also are helping WOCCU celebrate its 40th anniversary. The trade association opened its doors Jan. 1, 1971, and has grown to 43 organizational members representing 54 countries. The anniversary and Crear’s retirement will be celebrated during the conference's closing events Wednesday night.
Click to view larger image Scotwest CU's Charles Sim brings the British Union Jack to center stage as part of Sunday's Parade of Flags. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
The importance of credit unions and the magnitude of this year’s conference have not been lost on either the Scottish people or its government, according to Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s minister of energy, enterprise and tourism and one of two government officials who welcomed attendees Sunday. “We need credit unions now more than ever,” Ewing said. “The Scottish people have a proud tradition of credit unions, and the Scottish government will continue to support credit unions for the good work that they do on behalf of members.” Prior to Sunday’s opening, WOCCU held several other meetings with various credit union groups, including the third annual Forum sponsored by WOCCU’s Global Women’s Leadership Network. More than 60 women credit union leaders worldwide gathered to network, attend educational sessions and hear from various speakers, including radio broadcaster Liz Barclay, host of You and Yours, a program devoted to money and finance that airs on BBC4. Participants in WOCCU’s Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) program also held their networking session Sunday afternoon, the first of several sessions devoted to meeting the needs of credit union professionals and volunteers age 35 years and under. Five of the program’s participants will be chosen to receive WYCUP scholarships, winning all-expenses-paid trips to the 2012 World Credit Union Conference in Gdañsk, Poland, next July. (Photos provided by World Council of Credit Unions) WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference continues through Wednesday.

Greylock FCU and Steinerfilm Employees FCU merge

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. (7/26/11)--Two Massachusetts credit unions announced a merger Monday that is slated to take effect at the end of the month. Greylock FCU, a $1.24 billion asset credit union based in Pittsfield, Mass, and Steinerfilm Employees FCU, a $290,000 asset credit union based in Williamstown, Mass., have announced plans to merge, effective July 29. Both organizations have approved the merger, and approval from the NCUA has been granted. With the merger, Steinerfilm Employees FCU’s assets will be assumed by Greylock. As of July 29, Steinerfilm members will receive all of the benefits available to Greylock’s more than 70,000 members, including: access to all 13 branches and 18 ATM local locations; access to 28,000 nationwide Co-Op network ATMs; expanded branch and telephone center service hours; and free online services. Steinerfilm members will have access to additional services, including mortgage loans, small-business services, investments and insurance products.

CUs pledge 1 billion to higher education financing

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WASHINGTON (7/26/11)--In the face of heated debt-ceiling and budget negotiations with Washington, nearly 200 credit unions have partnered with Credit Union Student Choice, collectively pledging $1 billion to higher education financing solutions. This historic pledge comes at a critically important time for higher education, according to Jon Jeffreys, Credit Union Student Choice president. While students prepare for fall semester classes and finalize their funding needs, Congress is engaged in negotiations over the Federal budget--an impasse that could significantly impact the flow of educational funds, such as vital Pell Grants, to students, colleges and universities. "Our credit union partners have stated loud and clear that they support students and families, and in turn, the colleges and universities that are the bedrock of many communities," said Jeffreys. "While it's imperative that students first maximize scholarships, grants, and Federal Stafford loans, this pledge reaffirms our credit union partners' commitment to providing fair-value private student lending solutions." With education costs continuing to rise, millions of students rely on loans to pay for college. While federal student loans provide the best financing option, many students also rely on private student loans to fill funding gaps. Credit unions partnered with student choice provide school]certified private education loans to students in need of additional financing options, while also providing information to help families make responsible decisions on the best ways to pay for college. While the pledge refers mainly to the private student lending solution, Jeffreys adds that many credit unions also can serve as a resource for colleges and universities that may need financial contingency plans in case of any disruption of funds is caused by ongoing Federal budget negotiations. "Colleges and universities are keeping a close eye on budget negotiations, as that could potentially have a direct impact on Federal funding that is vital for higher education programs," said Jeffreys. "While some believe the likelihood of a major disruption is low, it's important to note that credit unions stand ready to assist with contingency plans. The credit union commitment to America's families and their education aspirations remains unchanged regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C."

Maine league achieves 100 success in legislation

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PORTLAND, Maine (7/26/11)--The Maine Credit Union League had a 100% success rate on legislation on which it took a position at the conclusion of the first regular session of 125th Maine Legislature. During the session, a total of 69 bills were monitored. Of those, the league provided testimony and took a position on 14 of them (Weekly Update July 22). The league and Maine’s credit unions also were successful in defeating and/or significantly modifying several key bills, including a state interchange bill, legislation that would have required foreclosing entities to produce the original mortgage note as part of a foreclosure, and several bills that would have enabled priority liens to be placed above a financial institution’s first mortgage. The session also saw the league issue a nearly unprecedented amount of calls to action on the state level to which Maine credit unions responded in large numbers by contacting legislators on the original documents bill, state interchange bill and the bill that would have let condo associations attach a priority lien to collect six months of association fees. “The active role and involvement that credit union staff and officials took this past session made a significant difference in the outcome of certain pieces of legislation,” said league President John Murphy. “From testifying and sending e-mails, to making phone calls and attending meetings, [the] league appreciates the grassroots support of our credit unions in helping to make this a successful legislative session.”

CU employee attends 1st White House Hispanic conference

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INDIANAPOLIS (7/26/11)--Marco Dominguez, director of community sales at Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis, attended the first White House Hispanic Policy Conference held in mid-July at the White House.
Marco Dominguez, director of community sales at Finance Center FCU, Indianapolis, attended the first White House Hispanic Policy Conference held in mid-July at the White House. (Photo provided by Finance Center FCU)
Titled “Winning the Future: President Obama’s Agenda and the Hispanic Community,” the summit was attended by 160 leaders from the Hispanic community representing 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. More than 100 government officials representing the Hispanic community led discussions on President Obama’s agenda. Key speakers at the conference included Alejandra Castillo, National deputy director of the Minority Business Development Agency; Martin Castor, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Sara Manzano-Diaz, director of the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor; and Ramona Romero, general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “In terms of personal experience, it was great because I had the opportunity to meet so many people and see that concerns and initiatives here in Indianapolis are the same as those throughout the nation,” Dominguez told News Now. “We have established a Hispanic advisory board. We are listening to the community and paying attention to the growth of the community. I am so proud of that.” The conference helped bring together key administration officials with Hispanic community leaders and ensure that everyone understood the president’s agenda and its potential impact on the Hispanic community. The open space format of the conference allowed the attendees to lead conversations, ask direct questions of administration members, and express their ideas and concerns on key issues such as homeland security, immigration and civil rights. At the end of the first day of the conference, President Barack Obama surprised the attendees with a short address on his administration’s plan for the Hispanic community, including education and immigration reform. The second day of the conference allowed attendees the opportunity to present on stage their ideas regarding the Hispanic community. Dominguez spoke on concerns that immigrants to the U.S. are allowed to pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (I-TIN), but that not all those who receive an I-TIN are allowed to stay in the U.S. legally. He also presented on Finance Center FCU’s financial literacy program, with basic financial lessons available in Spanish and English; and its Latino advisory board made up of prominent Indianapolis leaders. The board addresses the financial concerns of the Hispanic community in Indianapolis. Dominguez is a trusted member of the community who participates in many organizations, including The Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Press Club Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, and the United Way of Central Indiana, His leadership in the Indianapolis community earned him an invitation to the conference, said Finance Center FCU.

iAkron Beacon-Journali CUs Growing

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AKRON, Ohio. (7/26/11)--Ohio credit unions have outpaced national averages for nine quarters, with local credit unions part of that trend, an Akron Beacon-Journal article noted Monday. The reason for that growth is a trend among consumers to move their money to community-based financial institutions, Paul Mercer, president of the Ohio Credit Union League, explained in the article, headlined “Credit Unions seeing growth; institutions no longer mom and pop shops.” Mercer said the distress caused by the financial crisis caused consumers to direct their finances to locally based financial institutions. In Ohio, credit union membership was up 1.2% in 2010, outpacing the national growth rate of 0.66%, according to the Ohio Credit Union League CSE FCU in Canton was among the credit unions cited in the article. The credit union grew membership by more than 10.69% in 2010. Among Ohio credit union with more than 100 million in assets, CSE ranked No. 1 in share or deposit growth at 16.93%, third in loan growth at 12.7% and fifth in membership growth at 6.93%. Much of that growth can be attributed to a decision six years ago to work more diligently to meet the needs of underserved members, according to Paul Snyder CSE FCU’s vice president of marketing. That decision helped the credit union grow its loan portfolio. Medina County FCU, Wadsworth, was also cited in the article. Medina has grown its assets from just under $40 million in 2007 to $58 million in May, according to Brad Riley, the credit union’s vice president of finance and administration. To read the full article, use the link.