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Minn. advocacy day touts CUs as smarter choice
ST. PAUL, Minn. (2/22/12)--Credit union representatives, state leaders and legislators proclaimed credit unions as a smarter choice during the Minnesota Credit Union Network's (MnCUN's) Credit Union Day at the Capitol on Feb. 16.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie encouraged credit unions attending the Minnesota Credit Union Network's Credit Union Day at the state Capitol in St. Paul on Feb. 16 to share with the public and legislators the advantages of being a credit union member. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Network)
The event welcomed more than 125 credit union professionals and volunteers, and reminded state elected officials that Minnesota credit unions are trusted, hometown financial institutions with a stake in, and commitment to, the communities and the members they serve, MnCUN said.

With the theme "Credit Unions: A Smarter Choice," this year's Credit Union Day at the Capitol stressed to elected officials that credit unions are locally based financial institutions that provide consumers a better financial option, said MnCUN. Throughout the day, professionals and volunteers met with their elected officials to discuss how credit unions help Minnesota consumers improve their financial health and well-being.

The event offered sessions that discussed redistricting, 2012 legislative priorities, advocacy basics and how to effectively communicate with legislators.

"Credit Union Day at the Capitol provided us the opportunity to once again bring our stories to the State Capitol," said MnCUN President/CEO Mark D. Cummins. "Through this annual event, we are able to remind legislators that credit unions offer Minnesota consumers a unique financial service option--one that is focused on benefiting Minnesotans rather than profiting from them."

During the annual advocacy event, credit unions received political insight from state leaders, including Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and State Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina). They recognized credit unions for their unique cooperative structure and not-for-profit business model and praised them for their dedication to serving members.

"Credit unions know how to develop value for their membership," Rothman said. "Your structure is unique, and it is important to have [credit unions] in the financial services sector."

He commended attendees for their involvement in legislative advocacy activities and stressed the importance of maintaining open communications with both legislators and regulators. Citing his commitment to financial literacy, Rothman invited credit unions to join him in teaching the public about money management and other aspects of personal finance.

Swanson recognized the credit union industry as an "honest trade" that offers friendly service to members. She also outlined her office's initiatives to combat predatory and payday lenders, unnecessary foreclosures, and fraud, asking credit unions to join her in this fight. "You are close to your customers and know how to bring value to them," Swanson said. "The state needs more of that type of service."

Also, Ritchie, who classified himself as "a longtime credit union member, saver and borrower," distinguished credit unions as an important and "driving force" in the state economy. He also encouraged attendees to use the International Year of Cooperatives as an opportunity to educate the public about the cooperative sector.

"In this special year of the United Nations' International Year of Cooperatives, it is an ideal opportunity to tell all Minnesotans about the many advantages of being a member of credit unions," he said.

Ritchie urged credit unions to tell their stories to legislators and the public as part of their efforts to "lift credit unions into the consciousness of society."
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