DULUTH, Ga. (5/20/13)--Georgia credit unions' stability and growth in 2013 following a five-year recession were highlighted in a feature article and sidebar in the May issue of Georgia Trend magazine.
"We have really weathered the storms well," Doug Foote, president/CEO of Georgia United CU in Duluth, Ga. told Georgia Trend. "It wasn't easy to do, but we came out the other end and still are as financially strong as we were going into it."
The credit union nearly quadrupled in size during the past 10 years--to $940 million in assets from $250 million, Foote added. Also, Georgia United saw an increase in new-auto loans of 15.4% in 2012 from 2011, and a 7.9% rise in used-vehicle loans during the same period.
"I'd say it's more the norm than an exceptional example," Mike Mercer, president/CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, told the publication. "People want to get safe with their money, and they view credit unions as safe. In the dot-com bubble and the real estate bubble eras, credit unions weren't looked at as all that cool. But when times get tough, people bring their money to credit unions, and a lot of this money is going into savings accounts."
Mercer also mentioned efforts of the Credit Union National Association and credit unions nationwide to reduce the regulatory burden and to increase credit unions' ability to make business loans to members.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall's (D-Colo.) Small Business Lending Enhancement Act (S. 968), introduced in the Senate on Thursday, would increase the credit union member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets, from the current 12.25% (News Now May 17).
The Georgia Trend article also featured a sidebar interview with consumer advocate Clark Howard, who is a member of two credit unions. Because of the spread of technology in the modern financial world, Howard believes credit unions have a bright future.
"That's the leveler for them, the thing that really helps, because most credit unions are smaller than banks, but most all banking now is electronic," he explained. "It's the great equalizer."
The article also includes comments about growth and some of the attributes of credit unions from Jerry Johnson, president/CEO of Georgia Power Valdosta FCU in Valdosta, and Janet Davis, president/CEO of TIC (The Infantry Center) FCU in Columbus.