BRANSON, Mo. (9/24/09)--Missouri and Oklahoma credit unions are meeting in Branson, Mo, this week for a combined Credit Union Convention and Exposition. It is the first time the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) and the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma (CUAO) have held a conference together. MCUA President/CEO Rosie Holub and CUAO President/CEO D.J. Morrow Ingram welcomed 170 participants from 65 credit unions and nearly 40 vendors. Morrow Ingram noted that by combining the events, the states "doubled the valuable networking opportunities." The conference, which ends today, opened with a panel discussion moderated by Mark Sievewright, Fiserv senior vice president of strategic marketing. Providing perspectives on a variety of issues were National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors President Mary Martha Fortney, Missouri state Rep. Paul LeVota (D-52), and economist Dr. Christopher Thornberg. Fortney shared what she is hearing from state agencies regarding credit union examinations. "Regulators are seeing a 'back to basics' mentality," she explained. "Due diligence is very important and regulators are also very mindful of the difficult times our credit unions are in." Speakers addressed what they view as the most critical issues facing credit unions today and steps for the future. "Credit unions have taken their lumps, but they are not at the center of this economic mess," said Thornberg. "You look great in comparison, and it's an opportunity--don't squander it." LeVota said it is a "critical time in the credit union movement. It's incumbent on you to use this time to educate your members and lawmakers. Otherwise, the people with the loudest voices--which usually are those who have the most money--will be the ones who are heard." The event also included a concert with Lee Greenwood and the Bellamy Brothers to raise funds for Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds adapted homes for severely injured veterans.