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CU System briefs (08/07/2009)

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* MERIDEN, Conn. (8/10/09)--Connecticut Credit Union League President/CEO Tony Emerson was scheduled to appear on WVIT TV’s “Connecticut Newsmakers” program Sunday alongside of State Rep. Ryan Barry (D-Manchester) to talk about a student loan program that state credit unions are participating in with the governor’s office. He was slated to discuss the benefits of credit union members and the impact credit unions have had on the state’s economy ... * MEDFORD, N.Y. (8/10/09)--A former founder and board director of Suffolk FCU in Medford, N.Y., died in a car crash Thursday. Miles Kucera was one of several county employees who founded the credit union in 1967 and served on its board until his death. He also worked full-time at Suffolk after he retired from public works. In 2007, the credit union’s Medford headquarters was dedicated in his name ... * ROCK HILL, S.C. (8/10/09)--A 70-year-old man lost $2,300 in cash after three men got into the car he was driving and took the money. He had just cashed two checks at Family Trust FCU, Rock Hill, S.C. The robbers unlocked the passenger side door of the man’s car and took the envelopes, which were sitting on the seat (The Herald Aug. 7). The robbers are still at large ... * PHOENIX (8/10/09)--Todd A. Pearson has been selected president/CEO of Arizona Central CU. He replaces Roland Livermon Jr., who retired in January. Pearson had been serving as interim CEO when Livermon retired. Prior to that, Pearson was senior vice president and chief operations officer. He also has worked for the Arizona Credit Union League. Arizona Central has $420 million in assets ...

Corporate Centrals PIC offering nets 47 million

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MUSKEGO, Wis. (8/10/09)--Corporate Central CU members have contributed more than $47 million to Paid in Capital (PIC), indicating a strong commitment of ownership, announced Corporate Central. As of July 31, the closing date, 155 members of the corporate participated in the offering, with an ending total of $47,363,996. "Corporate Central CU's members have spoken; they have determined the value of Corporate Central, and they have expressed their desire to set the course and direction for their corporate credit union," said Corporate Central's press release. The corporate had hoped to raise $60 million but still termed the PIC contributions a success. "While the goal of $60 million was not achieved during this initial PIC offering, that amount was only what we were targeting to get back to the 4.35% core capital level prior to the impairments at U.S. Central," said President/CEO Robert W. Fouch. He said the contributions put the corporate "well above the regulatory minimum of 2% core capital. Our members have demonstrated the commitment and responsibility of ownership by ensuring that Corporate Central CU stands strong." In April, the corporate sent a PIC offering with a closing date of July 31 to its Membership Capital Share Deposit members. A letter from Fouch noted they had been informed earlier that the corporate's balance sheet would reflect impairment charges as a result of U.S. Central's conservatorship. "The math is such that Corporate Central still has retained earnings and none of your Membership Capital that you have with us is impaired," Fouch's letter said. "Due to regulatory restrictions, we are now forced to get our core capital levels back above the minimums." After the offering, the corporate held discussion and question-and-answer sessions. "The response was overwhelming," said the corporate. "The overall tone was one of commitment and support as members vowed to stand behind their credit union." All of Corporate Central's board members participated in the PIC offering, said Daniel Ige, board chairman, in a letter in early July. The corporate also added a website for members with an animated wall of building blocks to show where the corporate stood in its PIC goal. As the wall got higher, momentum picked up and commitment forms starting pouring into the corporate. Members' testimonials can be found on the corporate's "Building Our Future Together" website by using the resource link.

CUs address pulling back vs. outreach to new markets

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WASHINGTON (8/10/09)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and all six CUNA Councils are inviting credit union leaders to participate in a multi-media conversation on a strategic question during this volatile economy: “Is now the time to hunker down, or is now the time to aggressively pursue market share?” Answers can be shared in writing, on video, or via audio podcast. Where credit union leaders see an online icon for “REAL Credit Union Voices,” they can prepare an “Executive Monograph” to be posted on NCUF’s REAL Solutions Impact Center and six CUNA Councils’ websites. (Use the links.) “The REAL Credit Union Voices series will feature diverse opinions about business strategies during these interesting economic times,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “Every week, in collaboration with the CUNA Councils, we hope to receive new Executive Monographs to present the latest perspectives on this timely and relevant topic. The initial comments we’ve received are very revealing. We look forward to seeing more credit union leaders’ insights as we open these conversations on impact.” Of the 58 credit unions who have responded in writing, 59% say now is an opportunity to capitalize on increasing awareness and trust that consumers are placing in credit unions. “The majority of credit unions are aggressively targeting emerging markets and increasing product offerings to grow membership and assets,” said REAL Solutions National Program Director Lois Kitsch. The fastest-growing emerging markets for credit unions include youth (ages 11-18), young adults (19-30), and recent immigrants. Credit unions providing REAL Solutions offer up to 26 innovative products to serve those consumers who are working to save and build assets (News Now, July 13). The other 41% of early respondents believe now is a prudent time to focus inwardly and reduce expenses. Many of these credit unions serve regions that have been hit hard by the recession. As their communities face severe unemployment, rising consumer loan delinquencies and unprecedented foreclosures, their credit unions are working to control asset growth. Credit unions can share their strategy and vote in the REAL Credit Union Voices survey.

N.C. regulator still independent takes budget hit

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (8/10/09)--The North Carolina state budget has been announced and indicates that the state Credit Union Division will remain independent, according to the North Carolina Credit Union League. The Credit Union Division was removed from the state’s general fund. However, the division’s reserves of $760,411 will be transferred to the General Fund. “We consider the removal of the Credit Union Division’s budget from the General Fund a win for state-chartered credit unions,” said Lauren Whaley, league director of state legislative affairs. “The division has escaped the budget cuts and political influence it would have been subjected to under control of the legislature. Allowing the division to maintain its autonomy is vitally important with the current conditions of the financial industry and economy.” Whaley also noted that no furloughs or layoffs of examiners in the division are planned.

BECU consolidates branches in Seattle

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SEATTLE (8/10/09)--Boeing Employees CU (BECU) in Seattle is no longer operating branches in Safeway stores in Thurston County. Instead, the credit union has consolidated those operations into a new stand-alone branch that opened Aug. 1. The Safeway branches were closed in west Olympia and in Lacey at the end of July. The stores still have BECU ATMs, BECU spokesman Todd Pietzsch told the newspaper (The Olympian Aug. 7). He said that credit union members can access their accounts through a shared branching network. Closing the former Safeway branches that were small made sense because the new branch is larger and is in a high-growth area, Pietzsch said. Some BECU members told the newspaper that they were happy about the new branch because it was nicer than previous locations. One member also said he didn’t mind driving the extra distance to get to the new branch. BECU is still operating some locations in Safeway stores in other parts of the state, including Tacoma, Puyallup and Bonney Lake.

Texas teller saves member held hostage

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas (8/10/09)--A teller with Security Service FCU in San Antonio helped a member avoid a potentially dangerous situation after receiving a withdrawal slip from the member asking for help because she was being held against her will. The teller was working at the credit union’s drive-through window July 29 when a female member drove up to conduct a transaction (San Antonio News-Express July 29). She gave the teller a withdrawal slip that said, “Don’t give me any money. Help.” The teller alerted her supervisors, who called the police. She also stalled the member until police arrived 10 minutes later. Police surrounded the vehicle. Hiding in the backseat of the woman’s car was a man who had approached her earlier. The man had taken the woman’s car keys and forced her to drive to the credit union.

Oregon CUs testify on MBL

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (8/10/09)--Rick Hein, president/CEO of OSU FCU in Corvallis, Ore., testified Aug. 4 on member business loans (MBLs) before a congressional subcommittee at the invitation of U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). Hein testified at a field hearing in Salem of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Finance and Tax about how credit unions can help small businesses access capital. Hein said the 12.25% cap on MBLs needs to be removed because it has no economic, safety and soundness, or historical rationale. Credit unions could make up to an additional $10 billion in business loans in the first year if there were no lending cap, Hein said, citing Credit Union National Association statistics. “Removal of the cap on member business lending could be a significant step toward getting capital flowing again in our region,” Hein said. H.R. 3380, the Promoting Lending to America’s Small Businesses Act, was recently introduced in Congress. The bill would raise the MBL cap to 25%. The bill also would raise the “de minimus” threshold for a loan to be considered an MBL and exempt loans made to non profit religious organizations and in qualified underserved areas.

Rev up thumbs for fastest texting contest

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HONOLULU (8/10/09)--Tech-savvy consumers in Hawaii are revving up those thumbs. To highlight the launch of its new brand, Honolulu-based Hawaii Central CU is conducting Hawaii's first Fastest Texting Contest with two events. On Aug. 29, about 200 people will compete in the preliminary texting rounds at HCCU's South King Street branch. Texting finals will be held Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. at Kahala Mall. The winner receives $1,000 plus other prizes. The new branding campaign centers around a new tagline: "Connect. Inform. Belong." "Connect" refers to how the credit union links business partners to others looking for services or assistance. "Inform" refers to a series of forthcoming seminars by local community experts and management staff on topics such as building credit, ID theft, basic budgeting and financial literacy. "Belong" points to the array of benefits the credit union's members can enjoy. Applications are due Aug. 21. Participants are asked to donate non-perishable items to benefit Catholic Charities Hawaii.

CUNA celebrates 75th anniversary today

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (8/10/09)--Today the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is blowing out 75 birthday candles. It was Aug. 10, 1934, when CUNA's Constitution and Bylaws were signed in Estes Park, Colo., less than two months after the Federal Credit Union Act was signed and 25 years after the nation's first credit union was established.
Click for slide show These pioneers of the U.S. credit union movement met at Estes Park, Colo., Aug. 8 -10, 1934 to form a national association--today's Credit Union National Association. Its constitution and bylaws were signed on Aug. 10. (Photos provided by CUNA)
"Seventy-five years ago, an extraordinary group of credit union pioneers held a 'meeting of the minds' in Estes Park, Colo., about a national association that would enhance the movement throughout the land and help it become self-reliant," said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. "Ultimately, 52 delegates from 21 states and the District of Columbia exchanged views in a 'constitutional convention' of sorts. Over four full days, the delegates debated (sometimes in heated terms), cooled off in the mountain air, and debated again," Mica said. Mica noted that historians wrote years later: "Most of those present felt a deep sense of satisfaction at having at last developed the organizational framework for an association which hopefully would advance the credit union movement to new heights of usefulness and service. "Today, it is an honor for all of us at CUNA to continue the work set out by those leaders three-quarters of a century ago. Our focus is completely on advancing this great movement to new heights--through leadership, advocacy and services," Mica said. "Next month, when the CUNA Board meets in Estes Park as a tribute to our organization's founders, all will have 75 years of credit union progress on our minds--and a determination to ensure the next 75 years of progress and prosperity for credit unions," Mica concluded. For a highlighted history of the movement's progress, use the link.