MADISON, Wis. (5/17/11)--Maurice Smith, president/CEO of Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., has been voted Credit Union Magazine’s
Credit Union Hero of the Year.
Smith is helping his members confront a difficult economy by providing alternatives to subprime debt, mortgage loan modifications and unemployment protection options. Much of North Carolina is rural. Often local banks aren’t interested in making small loans to the inhabitants. And that reluctance extends to small loans for critically needed equipment, such as fire trucks, Smith told Credit Union Magazine
. While the credit union serves the employees of local government units, it formed a credit union service organization (CUSO), LGFCU Financial Partners, in 2006, to meet the needs of the state’s local municipalities. “In North Carolina, local government units can only deposit funds in banks, savings and loans, and trust companies because of state investment laws for units,” Smith told the publication. “The CUSO was a perfect match for us. It made sense for us to provide services to the towns. They came to us.” LGFCU Financial Partners is a wholly owned subsidiary with separate governance from the credit union’s board, to provide limited liability. About 76% of its lending is to fire departments, 22% to emergency medical services, and 2% to city/county units. In the four years since it launched, 139 borrowers from 53 counties have borrowed roughly $38 million. The CUSO has had no losses. Smith will be honored at the Credit Union National Association’s America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo in San Antonio, June 19-22. Credit Union Magazine
also honored three other credit union leaders this year:
* Ron Amstutz, executive vice president, Desert Schools CU, Phoenix. He faced a personal challenge when his son was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. His son recovered and Amstutz paid it forward; helping Desert Schools become the No. 1 U.S. credit union for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fund raising. * Michael Bittle, CEO, Vanderbilt University Employees’ CU, Nashville, Tenn. When his neighbors and members sustained damage from the May 2010 Nashville floods, he created a suite of flood-relief loan products to help victims through the ordeal. * Carol Schillios, founder of Schillios Consulting Group, Seattle. A microfinance entrepreneur, she has helped establish cooperative programs in countries worldwide. Her peers refer to her as “Ms. Credit Union.”