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CU System briefs (11/10/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (11/11/09)--The 2010 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is set for Sunday, April 11, 2010. "This annual run has always been an important opportunity to gain recognition for our industry on Capitol Hill, but proposed financial services legislation amplifies the need to showcase the credit union difference and makes it vital for credit unions to unite in support of this important event," said David J. Serlo, president/CEO of PSCU Financial Services, lead corporate sponsor of the event. All proceeds go to Children's Miracle Network hospitals. Credit unions can contribute by donating a portion of interchange income, since the cooperative handles the processing. or by signing up as a race sponsor. Contact PSCU Financial Services for more information … * LENEXA, Kan. (11/11/09)--Two small Kansas City-based credit unions are merging into the $232.8 million asset Credit Union of Johnson County, based in Lenexa, Kan. The $2.8 million asset Leavenworth Teachers & Community CU merged into the credit union at the end of October. The $1.16 million asset Faith Financial CU plans to merge with the larger credit union at the end of November. The memberships of both smaller credit unions approved the mergers. Credit Union of Johnson County said it is retaining all employees from the smaller credit unions (Kansas City Star Nov. 9) …

DuTrac Community introduces EcoPlus relationship account

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (11/11/09)--DuTrac Community CU is providing long-term financial sustainability for its members and the communities it serves by introducing a new environmentally friendly relationship account called EcoPlus. The EcoPlus Account is a comprehensive relationship account that can be used by any DuTrac member or consumer within DuTrac’s 14-county charter area. To qualify, consumers need a direct deposit relationship with DuTrac and must subscribe to e-statements. After qualifying for the EcoPlus Account, members will receive no-charge checking that is fully automated--or “green,” meaning all transactions can be done online through DuTrac’s re-invented website and through the EcoPlus Debit Card. EcoPlus can be a paperless account. Even the switch kit, for consumers wanting to switch to DuTrac EcoPlus’ benefits, is automated, online and paperless. Benefits for qualifying EcoPlus members include:
* A 0.25% decrease in consumer secured loan rates--excluding mortgages and home equity lines of credit; * A 0.25% increase in term deposit rates; * Unlimited debit card use for both personal identification number-- or signature-based cards; * Reimbursable ATM charges; * Free BillPayer access and $10 each, up to $100, for automatic clearing house payments established; * Low-balance e-alerts; * Free early fraud detection; * Free identity theft resolution services; * Electronic promotion and rate alerts; * Free e-statements; * Free online account access 24/7; * Free access to MobileLink DuTrac’s mobile banking solution; and * One free credit report review a year.
“Sustainability means providing consumers with affordable financial services--financial services that change with their ever-changing needs,” said Andrew Hawkinson, president/CEO. “Hence, DuTrac is offering a no-cost checking solution that is not only green, but is also flexible enough to change as members’ needs change. It’s more than just a checking account, it affects members’ loan and deposit relationships with DuTrac.” “According to DuTrac’s internal analysis, a ‘typical member’ subscribing to DuTrac’s EcoPlus Account will save approximately $300 the first year,” said Jason Norton, senior vice president of marketing and business development.

ITimeI notes CUs program in Chrysler story

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NEW YORK (11/11/09)--Credit unions’ participation in “Invest in America” was noted in a Time magazine article Nov. 4. The article, “Amid tumbling sales, Chrysler looks to future,” examined Chrysler’s future amidst an economic downturn. Chrysler, which declared bankruptcy in June, reported a 30% drop in October sales on Tuesday. However, Time noted that Chrysler has been supported by the “Invest in America” program, which provides discounts to Chrysler vehicle buyers who receive financing through a credit union. More than 2,000 credit unions nationwide have promoted the “Invest in America” program and discounts on Chrysler products, the magazine said. “Invest in America” also offers discounts on General Motors vehicles. Chrysler’s financial position has improved, Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler’s CEO, told Time. Chrysler’s cash reserves increased to $5.7 billion from $4 billion since the company came out of bankruptcy, he added. To read the article, use the link.

Constitution Corporate is under normal supervision

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WALLINGFORD, Conn., and WASHINGTON (11/11/09)--Constitution Corporate FCU told its members this week that it had accumulated a deficit position of $2.4 million as of Sept. 30, which has been guaranteed by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). The communication was made "in keeping with our ongoing commitment to be candid and transparent as we attempt to manage difficult issues," said the Wallingford, Conn., corporate in a statement e-mailed to News Now. The corporate added that "we continue to provide uninterrupted service to members including the payment of all dividends on deposits. "Constitution’s board of directors and management remain in place and are committed to improving profitability. We continue to operate under tight cost controls and work in close contact with the regulators. Management continues to be dedicated to delivering a high level of service to the membership." The National Credit Union Administration confirmed the report. "NCUA is closely supervising the institution and is very aware of the difficulties it is encountering," said John McKechnie III, NCUA director of public and congressional affairs. "We are working with the board and management of Constitution in an effort to continue safe operations and uninterrupted service to its members. Constitution is under normal supervision,” McKechnie told News Now. He clarified that "NCUA did not provide cash assistance to Constitution--all liabilities have already been accounted for in the Share Guarantee Program as part of the Stabilization Fund." On Dec. 31, 2008, the corporate had membership capital shares totaling $66.8 million, and membership capital shares have been depleted as of Sept. 30, according to its unaudited financial statements for the nine months ended Sept. 30. Other than temporary impairment of investments totaled more than $79.8 million, contributing to a net income loss of $77.4 million, compared with $2.9 million on Sept. 30, 2008. In its statement, Constitution "also thanked members for their continued support and understanding during this exceptionally challenging time."

Hernandez named Texas league marketer of year

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (11/11/09)--Eve Marie Hernandez, vice president of marketing at Generations FCU in San Antonio, was chosen as the 2009 Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) Marketer of the Year. She earned near-perfect scores in all categories from the judges (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 10). Hernandez led several award-winning efforts to provide traditional financial services in untraditional ways to the underserved and unbanked in the community, TCUL said. They include:
* Spearheading the credit union’s efforts with local government and non-profit agencies to combat predatory tax refund anticipation lenders; * Writing a proposal and business plan for a partnership between Generations and a local Goodwill agency to offer branch services to the underserved inside Goodwill retail stores; * Working with her team to develop an alternative payday loan and second-chance checking account that, along with financial education and budgeting classes, gives the underbanked opportunities to successfully manage their personal finances while keeping much of their income; * Serving on the Texas Credit Union Marketing Council Executive Committee for three years, including chair for one year; and * Driving the credit union’s name change and rebranding effort.

IN.Y. TimesI Lieber You can get better cards at CUs

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NEW YORK (11/11/09)--Consumers looking to get the best deal on credit cards will pay lower rates and receive better treatment from credit unions, The New York Times financial columnist Ron Lieber wrote Tuesday. Although big card companies have the edge when it comes to racking up frequent flier miles and other rewards, consumers who carry a large balance over months or years will do better at credit unions, Lieber wrote. “Credit unions are nonprofit entities and are controlled by their members, which gives them a big advantage on pricing,” he wrote. “Having a credit union’s credit card in your wallet is a good option for the fed up and indebted, or for anyone who worries about needing a card to borrow someday,” Lieber added. The column also pointed consumers to CUNA's online CU locator at www.creditunion.coop to help them find a credit union they can join. To view the column, use the link.

Iowa foundation tops 1 million for IDAs

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DES MOINES, Iowa (11/11/09)--The Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) has received a grant from the Assets for Independence (AFI) Individual Development Account (IDA) Program for $257,920, bringing the total funds raised for the ICUF’s Credit Union Family Partnership IDA program to $1.2 million. IDAs are matched savings accounts in which a participant’s savings is matched by a grant from another organization. Individuals use the funds to purchase an asset, such as a home; start or expand a business; pay for education or training; or purchase a vehicle to get to work. Participants must meet income guidelines to qualify. The additional funds have allowed ICUF to expand its program to nine more Iowa credit unions. Eighteen credit unions participate in the program, reaching 91 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The IDA program has helped more than 33 Iowa residents save for assets. In July, the program’s first saver, Christy Mart, purchased her first home in Wallingford, Iowa, with $6,000 from the program. ICUF hopes to connect 500 Iowans to an IDA account during the next five years. IDA program partners include Coopera Consulting and the Iowa Credit Union League.

Forty video entries tell REAL-life member stories

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WASHINGTON (11/11/09)--Credit unions and state leagues participating in the National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) REAL Solutions program produced 40 videos and entered them into the foundation’s REAL Solutions video contest. The contest aims to encourage credit unions to gather video testimonials of credit union members to promote the value of credit union membership and products featured in the REAL Solutions program. “A visual statement from actual credit union members is such a powerful tool,” said REAL Solutions National Program Director Lois Kitsch. “State leagues can use these video testimonials to promote the value of credit unions and to differentiate credit unions in the marketplace when working on state and national legislative agendas. We didn’t have any expectations in terms of how many states or credit unions would participate this first year, but we have 40 entries from eight states.” The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues submitted 17 entries. “These videos are a great idea,” said Carol Payne, league vice president of communications and marketing, adding that “they tell the credit union story for us. We have shown a few of them to all staff here at the league and when one in particular was shown, there was not a dry eye in the group. Win or not, these videos have already made their mark on our staff and soon hopefully our members.” The Wisconsin Credit Union League submitted 12 entries documenting the impact REAL Solutions participating credit unions are having in their communities. The member stories reveal how credit unions work with their members to make their lives better, according to Wisconsin League CEO, Brett Thompson. NCUF will choose 15 videos, which will then be narrowed to five finalists by a video advisory committee. The five videos will be posted to the REAL Solutions Impact Center, where visitors to the site can pick their favorite. The winning entry will receive free trips to Washington, D.C., for the winning league, credit union and member. The winners will share the stage at an event held prior to the Wegner Awards dinner during the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference, Feb. 21-25.

Michigan county adds CUs to investment options

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LANSING, Mich. (11/11/09)--The board of commissioners in Oakland County, Mich., has amended the county investment policy to allow county funds to be deposited into credit unions, according to the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). The commissioners approved the amendment unanimously on Oct. 29 (Michigan Monitor Nov. 9). The county treasurer already had the authority to deposit funds into banks accounts, but the policy's original language did not mention credit unions, said the league. Oakland County is one of three metro Detroit counties and the second most populous county in the state. MCUL had encouraged credit unions there to contact members of the county's finance committee about the proposal. Since Michigan law allows credit unions to accept public funds and public fund managers continuously seek ways to diversify their investments in a struggling economy, the efforts were met with a positive response from county board members, said the league. "Credit union leaders did great work reaching out to the Oakland County finance committee on this matter, and now that the county treasurer has the authority to deposit money into credit unions, the county can diversify its investments in a way that is beneficial to local communities," said MCUL President/CEO David Adams. He added that the deposits are good for the local economy and a safe federally insured investment.