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Wis. CU Shared Service Centers chair Braam resigns

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GREENFIELD, Wis. (8/20/12)--The Wisconsin Credit Union Shared Service Centers  (WCUSSC) Friday announced changes on the shared branching organization's board of directors, including the resignation of its board chairman, Quirin E. Braam.

Braam, former Journal CU president, retired on June 20 and has resigned from WCUSSC's board. Braam was instrumental in the development of the service organization and had been chairman and a board member since its inception in 1995.

"Quirin was the engine that made shared branching run in Wisconsin," said WCUSSC President Rick Hagopian. "We are fortunate to carry on with a devoted and experienced group of credit union professionals who embrace the collaborative credit union values Quirin established."

Kimberly Youngblood, senior vice president/chief operating officer of Focus CU, Wauwatosa, has been named as the new chair.  Sam Sauer, president of Gundersen Lutheran CU, La Crosse, will fill the director seat left vacant by Braam's retirement.

Jennifer Schilling, president of Empower CU, West Allis, replaces Youngblood as board secretary. Other officers are Vice Chair David Stark, president of Bull's Eye CU, Wisconsin Rapids, and Treasurer Alan Zierler, president of Capital CU, Kimberly.

Earlier this year, another retirement vacancy on the board was filled by Wisconsin Credit Union League President Brett Thompson.  Jon Lowrey, president of Dane County CU, Madison, rounds out the seven-member board.

WCUSSC offers mobile banking, remote deposit, disaster recovery and call center services in addition to shared branching.  Recently it and the league partnered with CO-OP Financial Services to offer CO-OP's surcharge-free ATM network and electronic funds processing for Wisconsin credit unions.  It operates 46 Credit Union Shared Service Centers.

Northwest CUs spread small biz financing in region

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BEAVERTON, Ore., and FEDERAL WAY, Wash. (8/20/12)--Northwest credit unions have outpaced the credit unions' national growth in small-business financing by 3%, according to the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA).

From March 2011 to March 2012, Oregon and Washington credit unions increased the value of business lending by 9% to $2.498 billion with $957 million in Oregon and $1.54 billion in Washington. Nationally, credit unions increased their member business lending (MBL) by 6% to more than $41 billion in the same 12-month period, said NWCUA.

The growth has come despite increasing regulatory pressure and attacks by banks on credit unions' efforts to lift the MBL cap to 27.5% of total assets from 12.25%, the association said.

"Northwest credit unions anticipated the increased regional need for business lending in 2009 and stepped up to the regulatory requirements through education and expertise to guarantee that this type of lending is done in a safe and sound manner that is also friendly to small-business-owning members," said NWCUA CEO John Annaloro.

"When Congress finds the courage to bring this issue of lifting the MBL cap to a vote and it passes, Northwest credit unions will be in a position to inject capital into a floundering economy whose small-business engine has sputtered at the closed hand of traditional sources of financing," he added.

While credit union MBLs rose 6% from March 2011 to March 2012, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.  reported that community banks' business lending decreased by 4%. That highlights "a stark difference" in how they address the recession and need for small business financing, said NWCUA.

Moving the cap to 27.5% of assets will produce an additional $13 billion available for small business lending and help create 140,000 new jobs, according to the Credit Union National Association. 

In the Northwest, lifting the cap would make more than $848 million in loans and 9,400 jobs available, said NWCUA. The average size of a credit union MBL in the Northwest is $264,000. However, MBLs as small as $5,000 or less are available at 99 Oregon and Washington credit unions with MBL programs.

S.C. plant lays off 200 CU offering help

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ABBEVILLE, S.C. (8/20/12)--A South Carolina credit union is offering financial assistance to its members affected by a layoff of roughly 200 employees at a flooring manufacturer.

Greater Abbeville (S.C.) FCU expects about 60 members will be among the 200 employees at Mohawk Industries plant in Calhoun Falls affected when the plant shutters its facility at the end of September, said Faye Crocker, CEO of the credit union (Anderson Independent-Mail Aug. 16). 

The credit union said it will:

  • Refinance loans to lower monthly payments, with 60 days of no payments upon refinancing;
  • Help members who are seeking new jobs to find other loan options; and
  • Offer free financial counseling to take members through the process of creating a budget and managing expenses on a reduced income while looking for new employment.

MnCUN Banks use media to renew CU tax challenge

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (8/20/12)--The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) says banks are stepping up their challenges to credit unions' tax-exempt status, using state newspapers as a forum. MnCUN has been actively participating in an exchange of letters to the editor to counter banks' claims about credit unions' tax-exempt status.

Joe Witt, president/CEO of the Minnesota Bankers Association, wrote an Aug. 1 letter to the Brainerd Dispatch calling for a re-examination of Minnesota credit unions' tax-exempt status.

In essence, Witt claims credit unions no longer are honoring their mission of serving "people of modest means," which garnered them an income-tax exemption back in the 1930s.  Rather, credit unions now are abandoning that mission and focusing on wealthy customers, and placing branches in middle and upper income areas, he wrote.

MnCUN president/CEO Mark D. Cummins countered with an Aug. 6 letter to the editor of the Dispatch.

"In 1937, Congress exempted credit unions from federal income taxes because they are non-profit, democratically controlled cooperatives that return earnings to the people they serve," Cummins wrote. "In fact, Congress encouraged the success of credit unions to, among other things, foster the development of a system of financial cooperatives that would serve as a valuable alternative to the for-profit banking system.

"Credit unions' tax exemption was deliberated, reviewed and reaffirmed by Congress in 1951 and again in 1998. Since credit unions' structure has not changed, the reasons for the affirmation of credit unions' tax-exempt status are as valid, if not more valid, today," Cummins said.

Cummins went on to mention how credit unions' tax exemption benefits consumers.

"As organizations owned by members, any benefits credit unions receive from their tax-exemption status are passed onto those they serve," Cummins wrote. "These benefits are given in the form of fewer fees, lower rates on loans and higher savings rates. Therefore, a tax on credit unions would reduce the financial savings they can pass onto everyday consumers. In reality, this tax would be a tax on consumers.

"The substantial savings Minnesota credit unions provide to consumers far outweighs any revenue that would be raised by taxing credit unions," he added.

Cummins' letter prompted an Aug. 8 letter to the Dispatch from Mike Riley, CEO of Bremer Bank in Brainerd. Riley argued that although credit unions' assertion that they pass savings accrued from their tax-exempt status on to members may be true, that model doesn't hold up and isn't relevant if it were applied on a large scale to all deserving businesses--and the negative impact that would have on government programs.

"But there's a problem with that model. If businesses no longer paid taxes, who would pay for the government programs we all use and need?" Riley wrote.

Chuck Albrecht, president/CEO of Mid-Minnesota FCU in Baxter, responded to Riley regarding credit unions' relevancy with an Aug. 14 letter to the Dispatch.

" … There are more than a few reasons that support the relevancy of credit unions," Albrecht wrote. "If every teacher, waitress, firefighter, [and] everyday consumer joined a credit union, they could save, on average, more than $100 per household annually. They would also be offered financial counseling and other financial aid and education programs at no cost.

"Credit unions' not-for-profit model benefits all consumers in that it helps to keep the financial marketplace in check. Imagine how high banking rates and fees could climb if turning a profit, rather than serving consumers, became the bottom line?" Albrecht concluded.

To read the letters, use the links.

CUs MBL to Culvers gains media notice

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JACKSON, Mich. (8/20/12)--A member business loan (MBL) from Jackson, Mich.-based EECU helped finance the construction of a fast-food restaurant in the Ann Arbor, Mich.-area and captured the attention of two media outlets.

EECU partnered with the Michigan Certified Development Corp. and the Small Business Administration 504 loan program to help Culver's restaurant franchisee Karen Richard open a new location.

In interviews with The Jackson Citizen Patriot ( and WLNS-TV6 News, Steve Cobb, EECU president/CEO, stressed that while EECU would like to make more MBLs, it is limited because of the current cap of 12.25% of assets.

The credit union is at about 7% to 8% percent of its MBL, Cobb said. "It kind of puts us in a tough spot," Cobb told

Cobb's credit union has partnered with other Michigan credit unions to help find business loans. "For the state of Michigan, it's been a great benefit," Cobb told Mlive.

Speaking with WLNS-TV6, Cobb described legislation before Congress designed to raise the MBL cap and the impact it could have on the economic recovery.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions' MBL cap to 27.5% of assets. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

On, reporter Tarryl Jackson solicited feedback, asking readers "Do you think legislation should allow credit unions to loan more to small businesses?"

This an opportune moment for credit unions to engage the public in conversation about MBLs, CUSG Marketing Consultant Jonathan Fuhrman, who specializes in the use of social media, told the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Aug. 17)

"Newspapers and other content published online are no longer about one-way communication," Fuhrman said. "The comment section of a story is where readers have the chance to have their say, and in this case, it is a prime opportunity to provide pro-credit union feedback."

Fuhrman encouraged credit union supporters to log onto the comments section and post their opinion, and to monitor ongoing dialogue.

To view the WLNS-TV6 report, use the link.

Hoosman wins Wegner Award for individuals

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MADISON, Wis. (8/20/12)--Hubert Hoosman Jr., president/CEO of Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., will be the recipient of the 2013 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement, announced the National Credit Union Foundation.

Hoosman's honor will be one of three Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 25, during the Credit Union National Association's 2013 Governmental Affairs Conference.

"Hubert Hoosman's dedication to moving the credit union world forward is also visible in all of the local, regional, national and international endeavors in which he has been involved," said NCUF Awards and Recognition Committee Chairman Bob Schumacher, calling Hoosman "a renaissance credit union leader."

Hoosman began his career at Educational Employees CU--the credit union changed its name to Vantage CU in 2002--as a teller in 1982. He has served as loan department manager, branch manager, vice president of operations and executive vice president. He was named president/CEO of the credit union in 1994.

When Hoosman started at the credit union in 1982, the credit union had $34 million in assets. Today, Vantage CU is the fourth-largest credit union in Missouri, with assets approaching $700 million.

Hoosman has channeled his credit union's resources to battle poverty in East St. Louis. Vantage CU has partnered with local high schools to create a work-study program in which employees of Vantage CU participate with students in mock job-interview exercises, providing interviewing skills and job leads for students seeking employment after graduation.

Vantage CU also has offered internships to University of Missouri-St. Louis students through the African American Credit Union Coalition's "Reaching Toward the Future" program. Several interns have gone on to work full-time in credit unions.

He led credit unions across the country in raising funds for a national monument in Washington D.C. to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. In 2006, Vantage CU donated $50,000 to fund the monument. Working with AACUC, Hoosman secured the support of 134 credit unions, 13 credit union leagues, three corporate credit unions, industry trade associations, and six credit union service organizations nationwide to support the effort.

Online registration for dinner tickets will be available later this year on the NCUF website. Use the link

Two Missouri CUs announce intent to merge

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (8/20/12)--Two Springfield, Mo.-credit unions--BluCurrent CU and Greater Ozarks Community CU (GOCCU)--have announced their intent to merge.

The merger, which has received approval from the Missouri Division of Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Administration, is expected to be finalized Aug. 31.

BluCurrent CU with assets of $140 million will be the continuing credit union.

The $6 million asset GOCCU's current branch in Springfield will remain open until BluCurrent CU opens a new Springfield branch in the fall.

"In recent months, it has become increasingly difficult to provide ever-changing financial products and services to our members and maintain a competitive edge within today's regulatory environment," said Al Wagner, Great Ozarks Community CU board chairman.

CU System briefs (08/17/2012)

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  • GREENSBORO, N.C. (8/20/12)--Two Republican candidates for Congress from North Carolina met last week with credit unions in the state. According to the North Carolina Credit Union League, George Holding, candidate for the 13th District, and Robert Pittenger, 9th District candidate, are likely to win the General Election in November (The Weekly Conversation Aug. 17). Holding is in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, who is not seeking re-election. "We were able to bring together credit union representatives from across the district," said Dan Schline, senior vice president of association services at the league. Holding learned that nearly 300,000 members live in his district and heard from representatives of Coastal FCU, which hosted the meeting, and from Freedom FCU and NC Community FCU.  Pittenger, a former state senator, is running for a seat vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick. Pittenger spent time Friday learning more about credit unions and their work in Charlotte. Meeting with him were representatives from Charlotte Metro CU, Carolina Postal CU and Truliant CU. "We're going to have some new faces in North Carolina's congressional delegation," said Schline, noting "the opportunity to introduce two of the folks we're likely to be working with in the coming year to local credit unions." …
  • GREENSBORO, N.C. (8/20/12)--Paulette Bowden, vice president of IRA Systems and Projects for State Employees' CU (SECU) in North Carolina, died Aug. 12. She was 63. Bowden served SECU for 32 years. She was instrumental in establishing the credit union's IRA department, which services more than 132,000 tax advantaged accounts with nearly $3 billion in assets. In 2009, she led a new Education Planning initiative, FAFSA Day, which is held annually in February in all 244 branch locations statewide. In June she accepted on behalf of the credit union's FAFSAs program the North Carolina Credit Union League's first place Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award. She is survived by one daughter, a grandson, four siblings, a foster daughter, and numerous nieces, nephews and foster children (The Weekly Conversation Aug. 17) …
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (8/20/12)--Bernette Taylor, a member of the board of directors at Philadelphia-based American Heritage FCU, died Aug. 10, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. He was 78.  Taylor had been a board member since 1987. He served as chairman of the credit union's Legislative Committee and the delinquency/Loan Review Committee, and was a member of the Budget and Personnel committees. He retired from the Budd Co.  and served on the executive board and was a trustee for UAW (Life is a Highway Aug. 17) …