BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (2/12/10)--Alabama's credit unions are gaining new members and receiving stellar performance ratings, especially in the Birmingham area, according to The Birmingham News (Feb. 9). The article spotlighted 18 credit unions in the area that received five-star ratings from Bauer Financial, a Florida-based ratings agency. That's nearly half the credit unions with a presence in the area, and much better than local banks did--one only one bank in the area received the five-star rating. Alabama credit unions on average are performing better than banks and credit unions nationally, Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com, said in the article. And University of Alabama Birmingham finance professor noted that credit unions have been more careful with their lending. Alabama's credit unions are gaining new members as the banking industry struggles, Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, told the publication. The state's 134 credit unions added $1.1 billion in assets combined and 60,000 new members during 2009, the league said. The article attributes credit unions' performance to their local, community focus. Alabama Telco CU, one of the five-star credit unions, just opened its ninth area branch. New members have helped its assets climb by $70 million this year to more than $457 million, CEO Linda Cencula told the newspaper. "We saw people come over to us from banks in record numbers last year," she said. Use the link for the full article.