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Ill. CUs fare well in spring assembly session

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (8/1/11)--Gov. Patrick Quinn signed two bills of importance to Illinois credit unions during Illinois General Assembly’s (IGA) 97th Spring session. Also, from the nearly 10,000 bills and amendments filed this session, Illinois Credit Union League staff developed a working list of over 100 measures on which substantial advocacy efforts were directed, due to their potential impact on credit unions and their business operations. “Despite this continued challenging environment, credit unions maintained an effective voice before the IGA in terms of passing positive legislation, as well as amending and/or helping to defeat adverse legislation,” said Stephen Olson, ICUL executive vice president, general counsel and chief operating officer. Among the two bills of importance to Illinois credit unions signed by Quinn, H.B. 3050 was an Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) initiative to amend the Illinois Credit Union Act and implement changes as a result of an executive order created the consolidated agency. Through negotiations with IDFPR, the bill was amended by ICUL to maintain key components negotiated as part of the agency consolidation in 2004, including the preservation of a Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) division with its own director performing the function of credit union regulatory supervision. The measure also made changes in the act concerning out-of-state credit union reciprocity, powers of a credit union relating to partial asset spin-offs, and vacancies in the board of directors. The league remained neutral on the bill, since it contained a civil penalties assessments provision proposed by the IDFPR. However, as a result of the negotiations with ICUL, significant due process provisions were added to the measure. The provisions included a right-to-cure period before any penalty for a violation of the act or rules could be assessed, a graduated assessment scale to protect smaller credit unions, and a right to appeal and obtain administrative review of any assessment. The authority to assess penalties against officers and directors personally was removed. The bill unanimously passed both chambers and becomes effective Jan. 1. H.B. 2101, a joint initiative of the Illinois County Treasurers Association and ICUL, clarifies the existing authority of counties to invest funds with credit credit unions. ICUL supported the bill, which passed the House on April 5 and unanimously passed the Senate on May 17 and became July 14 with Quinn’s signing. More than 50 bills relating to the mortgage foreclosure crisis were filed during the session. The league’s worked with sponsors in an attempt to “fine-tune” the mortgage foreclosure process to make it more efficient and expedient, and avoid provisions that penalize lenders--and, ultimately borrowers--through increased fines and penalties. As the end of session approached, SB16, with language from another negative bill (H.B. 1109) amended on to it, ultimately became the vehicle proposed by the City of Chicago to obtain state authorization for local governments to hold lenders responsible for maintaining and securing abandoned residential property. The measure also proposed to give municipalities a super-priority lien for fees and fines assessed against lenders. Due in large part to the grassroots lobbying efforts of Illinois credit unions, the IGA adjourned without voting on S.B. 16. “This is just one of many examples where ICUL, on behalf of and in collaboration with its member credit unions, played a very critical role in protecting a favorable operating, legislative and regulatory environment,” said Dan Plauda, ICUL president/CEO. The IGA is now in recess until October.

Irelands McMahon wins WOCCU Distinguished Service Award

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GLASGOW, Scotland (8/1/11)--Social involvement advocate Jim McMahon, an Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) board member, was honored with World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Distinguished Service Award, the international credit union movement’s top honor. McMahon’s award was presented along with two WOCCU Ambassador Awards and five WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarships during the closing ceremonies of the World Credit Union Conference Wednesday.
World Council of Credit Unions Director Ron Hance (left) presents the international credit union movement's highest honor to Jim McMahon, Irish League of Credit Unions, during the closing ceremonies of the World Credit Union Conference Wednesday.
A retired educator and school administrator, McMahon joined Clones CU in 1961 and by 1968 had been elected to its board of directors. He has represented credit unions throughout Europe, working with European Union officials during the introduction of the euro currency and on issues involving consumer credit. McMahon is a former WOCCU director and also has been a consultant to the European Association of Co-operative Banks, the International Co-operative Banking Association (ICBA) and the ICBA European Regional Committee. He most recently has returned to serving as treasurer of Clones CU. “I regard this as one of the greatest honors that could be bestowed on me,” McMahon said. “I urge you all to keep the credit union flag flying wherever you go.”
Garth Warner, CEO of Servus CU, Edmonton, Alberta (right), accepts the Ambassador Award from World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President/CEO Pete Crear and WOCCU Chair Manuel Rabines on behalf of his credit union.
This year’s WOCCU Ambassador Awards recognized both a credit union from Canada and a volunteer from Scotland. Servus CU in Edmonton, Alberta, received the award for its long-standing support of WOCCU and its conference. For the past four years, Servus has included the World Credit Union Conference in its employee incentive program, sending between 50 and 75 participants to the conference each year. Servus CEO Garth Warner accepted the award.
John Cormack (center) from Capital CU, Edinburgh, Scotland, receives the Ambassador award from World Council of Credit Unions' Manuel Rabines and Pete Crear.
John Cormack, board president for Capital CU in nearby Edinburgh, Scotland, also received the Ambassador Award for his longtime support of WOCCU and the World Credit Union Conference. Both Warner and Cormack, who will soon retire, accepted the award from outgoing WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear. WOCCU also honored five young credit people with WYCUP scholarships, which will enable them to attend next year’s World Credit Union Conference in Gdañsk, Poland, at no cost. The 2011 WYCUP honorees were: Yola Charles, Trinidad & Tobago; Michelle Coelho, Australia; Marcy Lovberg, Canada; Edel McKenna, Ireland; and Tracia Pounder, Barbados. Other awards presented earlier in the week at the WOCCU annual general meeting honored outgoing WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear and WOCCU First Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki.
Manuel Rabines, Ron Hance and Pete Crear present World Council of Credit Unions' Young Credit Union People winners, from left: Edel McKenna (Ireland), Michelle Coehlo (Australia), Marcy Lovberg (Canada), Tracia Pounder (Barbados) and Yola Charles (Trinidad & Tobago). (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Neville Parsons, a former WOCCU director from Australia and a Rotary Club member, recognized Crear as a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s highest honor, named after the international organization's founder. Paul Armbruster, head of Germany's International Raiffeisen Union, also presented Crear with the Raiffeisen Medal for his years of service to the global cooperative movement. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church honored Bierecki, president/CEO of the National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU), Poland’s credit union trade association, for NACSCU’s work developing credit unions in the former Soviet satellite country. Vladimir Sidorowski presented Bierecki with a medal representing the award. “I am honored by the award and very happy to see the continued development of credit unions in Ukraine,” Bierecki said. WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference ended Wednesday with a celebration of the organization’s 40th anniversary and a farewell to Crear.

CU System Briefs (07/29/2011)

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* BALTIMORE (8/1/11)--MECU of Baltimore, Inc. paid its members a cash bonus totaling more than $2 million at the end of June. The bonus consisted of loan interest rebates and extraordinary dividends. The amount received by each member was based on the amount of interest each individually paid on loans and the amount of interest earned on deposits for the first half of the year. MECU has paid its members the cash bonus yearly since 1981. In 2008, the MECU board of directors decided to pay half the cash bonus at the end of June and the remainder at the end of December to help members dealing with financial issues during the recession. It is expected that members will receive the second half of the cash bonus in December … * MADISON, Wis. (8/1/11)--Becky Hansen of Ascentra CU was the winner of Credit Union National Association (CUNA) 2011 CUNA Branch Operations & Business Development School contest. Hansen won a free registration to the school, which will be held August 15-18 in San Diego. Contestants were asked to finish the sentence: “Branch operations and business development go together like_______ and _______.” Hansen’s winning entry, judged on creativity and originality, was “Branch operations and business development go together like Paula Deen and Butter.” The integration of the two credit union disciplines is a central theme for the CUNA Branch Operations & Business Development School. The event is designed to help credit union professionals enhance credit union membership, develop staff by building leadership skills, and discover exciting new ways to take credit union operations to the next level. CUNA’s early-bird registration discount of $100 is available to credit unions that enroll through July 29. To learn more about the conference, please visit

Summit CU partners in solar finance program

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MADISON, Wis. (8/1/11)--Summit CU, with $1.6 billion of assets, Madison, Wis., is partnering with the city of Milwaukee to help homeowners finance installation costs for solar panels. Summit CU will work with Milwaukee Shines, the city of Milwaukee’s solar program (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July 29). A study of solar installers found financing options to be a barrier to homeowners who wanted to install panels, according the city of Milwaukee. Solar installations, which have increased since the Milwaukee Shines program began two years ago, remain a challenge for homeowners, according to Amy Heart, who manages the Milwaukee Shines solar program, told the newspaper. Heart said she hoped that Summit CU involvement in the program will help spur a long-term change in how local lenders view investment in renewable energy. The first 20 participants in the loan program will receive $1,000 off the cost of the solar installation. The financing arrangement with Summit CU replaces an earlier version, which would have placed an assessment on property owners’ tax bills. That plan was dropped after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac objected to the programs, the paper said.

League of Southeastern CUs sees growth in assets members loans

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (8/1/11)--Credit unions in Alabama and Florida are showing growth in assets and membership while also continuing to meet the lending needs of their members, said the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU). In the first quarter of 2011, Florida credit unions added $1.1 billion in assets, or 2.6%, on par with the national credit union average, while Alabama credit unions added $763 million, or 5%, which is nearly twice the national credit union average. For Alabama, it continues an upward trend of five years of growth that has added $3.9 billion in assets to its 127 credit unions. Membership grew in Florida by 15,000 members in the first quarter, and Alabama added 6,000. In a sign the economy is improving, Southeastern credit unions are seeing a decline in provisions of loan losses, delinquent loans and net charge-offs. Alabama credit unions’ delinquent loans and net charge-offs are well below the national credit union average, while Florida credit unions are above the national credit union average, but saw a 20 basis points fall in delinquent loans in the first quarter, and a 39 basis points improvement in net charge offs. Southeastern credit unions are also working with small businesses. In the first quarter, Alabama and Florida credit unions collectively made $54.8 million dollars in member business loans. This is a 5% increase year over year from 2010. “We know the weak economy is continuing to hamper our credit union members,” said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. “However, we are encouraged by the number of quality loans our credit unions are making. Plus, credit unions are meeting the needs of their members looking for member business loans, as well as new- and used-auto loans. With our growth in assets and members, plus the amount of loans being made, it feels that the worst is behind us.” Southeastern credit unions are making new- and used-auto loans well above the national credit union average. Total auto loans to loans in Alabama and Florida are both above the national average with Alabama loans 10% above and Florida loans 2.5% above. Alabama credit unions used-auto loans are 27%, while the national average is 18%. Florida credit unions are close to the national average in used-auto loans, but above the national average in new auto loans at 14%, while the national average is just under 11%. This shows that more members are making purchases and understand their credit union has money to lend, LSCU said. Credit union members’ savings are growing at a strong pace, the league said. Southeastern credit union members saved a total of $1.8 billion in the first quarter. A further look inside the numbers show that Alabama members’ savings stayed steady at 5.5%, nearly twice the national average, while Florida members saved at a 2.8% clip. This is slightly below the national average, but an almost 4% improvement from the 2009 results.

Indiana CU Foundation funds Web innovation

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INDIANAPOLIS (8/1/11)--The Indiana Credit Union Foundation has awarded $5,000 in funding to a new innovation developed by the Indiana ignite initiative. The initiative is a joint venture between the Indiana Credit Union League and three Indiana credit union representatives who are alumni of the Filene Research Institute’s i3 group. It is focused on developing innovations that can help credit unions better the financial lives of their members. The “Commitment to Change” project is a Web-based community service aggregator which will allow credit unions in Indiana to track, promote and communicate the successes they experience as they give back to the communities they serve. The funding from the foundation is allowing for design, development and programming of the tool, which will eventually be housed on the league’s website. The website was introduced on July 21 at the ICUL/Hoosier CUES meeting in Indianapolis. It is temporarily located at The working group members who came up with the idea for the site explained its genesis: “We know how much effort our credit union peers put into projects that make the state of Indiana a better place to live and work. After several focus groups, we learned that the methods for measuring these efforts are as varied as the projects themselves. The value of this tool comes from organizing and sharing information about all of Indiana credit unions’ common bonds and community initiatives. We are grateful to the foundation for helping to make our vision a reality.” The tool also can have an impact on legislative conversations. Statewide data collection about financial literacy and community service efforts can reinforce the positive exchanges that are already taking place between credit union representatives and legislators. “This is exactly the kind of project the foundation seeks to support,” said foundation Chairman Karla Salisbury of KEMBA Indianapolis CU. “It will bring expanded visibility to credit union efforts throughout the state and showcase credit unions’ commitment to our founding philosophy.” As a prelude to its request for foundation funding, the ignite working group members turned to their credit union counterparts in Indiana to gauge support for the Commitment to Change project. Sixteen credit unions and chapter groups committed $4,250 to get the project started, the foundation said. “The Commitment to Change project is a great example of collaboration between credit unions driven by the forward-thinking individuals involved in ignite,” said league President John McKenzie. “The support that the foundation, credit unions and chapters have provided demonstrates the value of ignite as a resource and of this project in particular.” Fishers, Ind.-based Trabian Technology, Inc. is developing the tool, which also will allow credit unions to search and generate ideas, cooperate with one another on similar initiatives and to share their successes using social media tools. “This tool is essentially a microsite that will help credit unions track everything from dollars, to man-hours to which communities have been on the receiving end of credit union generosity,” said CEO Matt Dean. “It will feature a robust search option that can be used by legislators and media outlets in addition to members of the credit union community.” The site continues to be refined, with rollout on the league site planned for later this year.

SECU provides 1M challenge grant

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RALEIGH, N.C. (8/1/11)--State Employees’ CU (SECU) Raleigh, N.C., through its SECU Foundation, presented a $1 million challenge grant for a new North Carolina 4-H Learning and Education Center.
State Employees’ CU, Raleigh, N.C., recently presented a $1 million challenge grant for a new North Carolina 4-H Learning and Education Center. Pictured, from left, Sarah Osborne, 2010-11 State 4-H Council secretary/treasurer; Courtney Miller, 2009-10 South Central District 4-H officer; Talor Brown, 2011-12 State 4-H Council reporter; Bryan Hartman, 2011-12 State 4-H Council vice-president; Justin Simmons, 2011-12 State 4-H Council secretary/treasurer; Allyson Brake, 2011-12 State 4-H Council president; Sally Dixon, 2010-11 State 4-H Council vice-president; and LeAnthony Boone, 2010-11 State 4-H Council president. (Photo provided by State Employees’ CU)
The 8,400 square-foot facility, to be named the SECU 4-H Learning Center, will be located in Richmond County, serving as an educational destination for all North Carolinians, including school groups, 4-H members and families and the general public. With almost 500 attendees from across North Carolina, SECU Foundation Executive Director Mark Twisdale presented the challenge grant to the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service Foundation at the State 4-H Congress dinner held on July 20 in Raleigh, N.C. Aimed at making North Carolina, world and U.S. history come alive, the SECU 4-H Learning Center will provide N.C. youth with a laboratory and outdoor learning stations to provide interactive experiences that will engage fourth and eighth grade social studies students. For students who cannot make the trip, the center will provide teaching kits, exhibits and on-line curriculum experiences. An estimated 40,000 youth and adults will be served annually at the center, with additional school groups engaged through the travel program. SECU has $23 billion in assets.