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20 CUs top best CU brands lists

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (7/9/08)--Twenty credit unions are standouts because of powerful brands that help differentiate them from others, according to Bancography, a Birmingham, Ala.-based organization that ranks financial institution brands. Leading the list of best brands among the nation's largest credit unions, with assets of at least $1 billion, are:
* Mountain America CU, West Jordan, Utah; * Arrowhead CU, San Bernardino, Calif.; * JSC CU, Houston; * University of Wisconsin CU, Madison, Wis.; * Police & Fire FCU, Philadelphia; * GECU, El Paso, Texas; * Chevron FCU, Oakland, Calif.; * Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City; * MidFlorida FCU, Lakeland, Fla.; and * Onpoint Community CU, Portland, Ore.
For credit unions with assets less than $1 billion, top ranking brands are:
* ASI FCU, Harahan, La.; * Trona Valley Community FCU, Green River, Wyo.; * First Community CU of Houston, Texas; * White Sands FCU, Las Cruces, N.M.; * Pelican State CU, Baton Rouge, La.; * Utah Central CU, Salt Lake City; * Water & Power Community CU, Los Angeles; * Golden Plains CU, Garden City, Kan.; * Midland (Texas) Community FCU; and * Complex Community FCU, Odessa, Texas.
In calculating brand value, Bancography quantifies the proportion of each institution's long-term value attributable to intangible factors that constitute a brand--including reputation, service quality, image and market awareness. The brand value index identifies institutions that produce financial results beyond what their capital base, market conditions and competitive environments would predict. The leading brands show consistently strong earnings performance and the ability to grow deposits without paying above-market rates, said Bancography. "In the banking industry, product offerings are often very similar among competitors, so it is paramount for financial institutions to build differentiating brands," said John Mathes, Bancography director of brand strategy.

Haiti mob kills two suspects in CU robbery

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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (7/9/08)--A Haitian mob killed two journalists in what was believed to be retaliation for robbing a local credit union, the United Nations said Sunday. A member of the mob also died (British Broadcasting Corp. and Caribbean Media Corp. July 8). Georges Honourat, assistant secretary-general of the leftist National Popular Party, identified the two men as Prad Jean Vernet and Adrien Michel, journalists with a newspaper run by a small Haiti Progress Party. They were campaigning for a seat in the Haitian Senate, he said. A UN police spokesman said the mob suspected the men of helping steal more than US$1,800 from the credit union, near the northern port of Cap-Haitien. The credit union was not identified in the report.

Regulator California CUs grew in first quarter

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (7/9/08)--California credit unions experienced slight growth in combined assets, total loans, shares and capital for the 12-month period ended March 31, according to the California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). The DFI released its First Quarter 2008 report on Monday. At $73.6 billion, credit unions’ assets rose 4% from $70.8 billion reported at the end of the first quarter 2007. Loans increased 3.4% to $51.7 billion from $50 billion, while shares rose 2.3% to $61.7 billion from $60.3 billion. Members’ equity rose to $7.6 billion from $7.5 billion--a 2.3% rise. The allowance for loan losses went up 82.6% to $537.9 million from $294.5 million. Seven fewer credit unions existed in the state at the end of the quarter. The number of credit unions decreased 2.5% to 196 from 203. For the same period, the number of state-chartered banks increased by 6.4% to 215 from 202. Bank’s assets rose 7.1% to 226.7 billion during the quarter. Their deposit growth increased 3% to $156.3 billion.

Iowa CUSO sues real estate developer in default

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DES MOINES, Iowa (7/9/08)--An Iowa credit union service organization (CUSO) is the eighth lender to file suit against a residential development project that is in default. Community Business Lenders, based in West Des Moines, filed the lawsuit late last week in Dallas County District Court against Regency Cos., developers of Michael's Landing. The suit says Regency's executives defaulted on nearly $12 million in loans for the project. The CUSO is owned by the Iowa Credit Union League and two credit unions--Community Choice CU of Johnston and MEMBERS lst Community CU, based in Marshalltown. The lawsuit names as defendants Regency executives Jamie Myers, Richard Moffitt and John Gamble, as well as partners Michael Medved, Josh Reel and Darryl High and says they defaulted on two notes for $9.5 million and $2.4 million. The CUSO's lawsuit is the largest filed so far by eight lenders accusing Regency officials of defaulting on more than $56.76 million in loans. The group says the company owes them $51.7 million. Regency ceased operations in April, citing the troubled housing market and tightened financing.

Washington CUs kick off viral marketing campaign

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (7/9/08)--The Washington Credit Union League has kicked off a viral marketing campaign, “Change is Beautiful,” featuring webisodes with a well-known actor. Carl Weathers, who has appeared in “Rocky,” “Predator” and “Happy Gilmore,” plays a philosopher who travels from spot to spot, dropping Confucius-like affirmations on unsuspecting humans (Focus Newsletter June 16). The webisodes with Weathers are available at The site allows people to sign up and receive a weekly message from Weathers, the league said. Since April 14, commercials from the campaign have appeared on channels in Washington during programs such as “American Idol,” “Ghost Whisperer,” “Survivor,” “Law and Order,” and “Biggest Loser.” The current commercial features a 20-something woman driving with three others through a four-way intersection. The Cooperative Advertising Committee and Big Bang advertising agency developed “Change is Beautiful”. The effort is supplemented by This year’s campaign is similar to last year’s, but the viral portion is new. Bill Grant, Big Bang representative, said the viral content has more entertainment value. “The single most important insight about this campaign is that young bank customers are an apathetic lot,” Grant. “Engaging them creatively will help result in them rewarding us with a little more active thought about an alternative banking experience.” The Credit Unions of Washington Cooperative Advertising Committee funded the campaign through commitments from credit unions. “The more support this effort gets, the better off all of the credit unions in Washington will be,” said Kristina Walters, committee treasurer and vice president of marketing and business development for Washington State Employees CU, Olympia.

CU Aid grant helped couple who lost home in wildfires

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SAN DIEGO (7/9/08)--A donation of $3,300 from CU Aid helped two members of Point Loma CU rebuild their home after it was destroyed by wildfires last year in San Diego County.
(From left) Julia and William Fernstrom received a $3,300 grant from Point Loma CU President/CEO Ted Dennis on behalf of CU Aid. The money will help the couple recover from last year’s wildfires, which destroyed their home in San Diego. (Photo provided by Point Loma CU)
“We are so thankful,” said William Fernstrom, who lost his home in the fire. He and his wife, Julia, have been members of Point Loma since 1969. “There are so many little things that insurance and the federal government don’t cover, such as landscaping. “This will help make our lives seem normal again,” he added. CU Aid is a natural disaster relief program administered by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and state credit union leagues. It raises funds through donations from the credit union community, and helps credit union employees, volunteers and members who have suffered unrecoverable losses. Over the past eight months, NCUF and the California Credit Union League have disbursed $133,000 in CU Aid grants to credit union members in Southern California whose homes burned down in October 2007, Steve Bosack, NCUF deputy director, told News Now. “In the midst of tragedy, it’s good to see that credit union members all across the country are ready and willing to help,” said Ted Dennis, Point Loma president/CEO.

CU System briefs (07/08/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/9/08)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) was expected to attend Gov. Ed Rendell's signing ceremony Tuesday for five mortgage reform bills. PCUA said Christina Mihalik, assistant vice president at the association, would attend the ceremony scheduled for noon in Reading. The bills protect homebuyers, strengthen oversight of the mortgage industry and end key lending practices that leave homeowners vulnerable to foreclosure, said the association (Life is a Highway July 8) … * HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/9/08)--The appointment of Joel S. Ario, acting Pennsylvania insurance commissioner, as Pennsylvania's new state insurance commissioner was unanimously approved Thursday by the state Senate (Life is a Highway July 8). Last year Gov. Ed. Rendell had nominated Ario, formerly chief insurance regulator of Oregon, but partisan differences over insurance delayed the confirmation. As acting commissioner, Ario was considering allowing a merger between Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia and Highmark Inc. of Pittsburgh, the state's two largest health insurers … * SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (7/9/08)--Freedom CU issued new debit cards and personal identification numbers (PINs) to members after debit card data was electronically captured by individuals for use in a counterfeit scheme (The Republican July 2). In a letter to the affected members, the $315 million asset credit union said it had been notified that the members' card numbers were obtained during the arrest and indictment of individuals in Eastern Europe and the U.S. The existing cards will be coded as stolen as of Monday and their cards and PINs will be replaced … * LAS VEGAS (7/9/08)--A U.S. District Court judge in Las Vegas sentenced former Marine Edgar Alejandro Hermosillo of El Paso, Texas, Monday to 18 months in federal prison for stealing identities and looting accounts of Marines stationed in Iraq (Associated Press Newswires July 7). He was accused of using government computers at Camp Pendleton, Calif., to access accounts at Pacific Marine CU of at least 15 enlisted Marines. He pleaded guilty on April 2 to federal conspiracy, wire fraud and ID theft charges. An unidentified co-conspirator allegedly helped Hermosillo use false IDs at Western Union outlets to collect about $39,000 from 26 accounts. Hermosillo also was sentenced to five years of supervised probation after prison and ordered to repay the funds stolen and undergo mental health counseling … * BALTIMORE (7/9/08)--MECU of Baltimore Inc. President/CEO Bert J. Hash Jr., left, discusses book choices with a student during the credit union's annual distribution of books at six partner schools. For the past seven years, employees at MECU have collected books to distribute at the schools at the end of the school year to each student. In 2008, the team collected 3,730 books. Some employees give books their children have outgrown. Others scour yard sales and flea markets, and Goodwill. To help cover the costs, employees conducted a flea market at MECU's headquarters and seven branches and raised more than $800 to purchase books. Books that are too young for elementary school age children are donated to Our Daily Bread's Family Corner. (Photo provided by MECU of Baltimore Inc.) … * MIAMI (7/9/08)--National media tuned in to a two-county police chase Monday morning of a credit union robbery suspect in Doral, Fla., near Miami. The 10-minute chase from Miami-Dade County to Broward County and back attracted media helicopters who broadcast the pursuit. A national television morning program broadcast it Tuesday. The chase ended with the arrest of Terrence Clark, 31, of Miami. Clark, wielding a large stick, allegedly entered Dade County FCU at about 9:30 a.m. and demanded money from a teller, who complied. Police recovered the all the $7,500 taken ( July 8) …

Colorado association appoints new board member

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DENVER (7/9/08)--Kristi Porter, president/CEO, Western Rockies FCU, Grand Junction, Colo., will serve on the board of directors for the Credit Union Association of Colorado (CUAC) and Credit Union Strategic Partners (CUSP), CUAC announced Monday. CUSP is the credit union service organization of CUAC. Porter serves on the CUAC governmental affairs committee and has been with Western Rockies FCU for 28 years. She also recently completed her first year in the Southeastern Regional Credit Union National Association Management School in Georgia. “Porter has been a hardworking member of the governmental affairs committee and will be a valuable addition to our association board,” said John Dill, CUAC president/CEO.