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Be prepared for continued states budget struggles

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WASHINGTON (11/13/09)--Credit unions should be prepared to help members affected by state budget problems through 2012--or longer. According to the National Governors Association, state governments likely will struggle with revenue at least until 2012. And at least one analyst says many state budgets won't recover fully from the recession until much later. That would have continuing implications for credit unions that serve state employees in their states. During this past year's budget impasses in states such as California and Pennsylvania, credit unions whose fields of membership include state employees came to the rescue, with short-term loans, 0% interest loans, deferred payments, special furlough deals, and acceptance of state warrants or IOUs. In fiscal 2009, state revenues fell 7.5%, said the National Association of State Budget Officers Thursday (The Wall Street Journal Nov. 12). The association predicts revenues will continue to decline for one or two more quarters--the worst numbers of the decade. The high unemployment rate, now officially 10.2%, is hitting state coffers where it hurts--in revenue from sales and income taxes. State governments faced $250 billion in budget gaps between fiscal years 2009 and 2011, according to a survey released by the two state associations. States have managed to close $72.7 billion of the gap in 2009 and $113 billion before enacting fiscal 2010 budgets, but that was with help from federal stimulus funds. State governments also have taken measures to cut expenses and raise taxes and fees. Like consumers, the states aren't spending. They cut expenditures by 4.8% in 2009 and are expected to cut at least 4% in 2010. That would be the first time states have cut spending in back-to-back years. According to Raymond Scheppach, executive director of the governors' association, state will struggle with obligations such as funding pension and health-care trusts, maintaining local infrastructure and rebuilding rainy-day funds that the last two years have depleted. States won't fully recover from the recession until late in the next decade, he said.

Floods slides bury El Salvador--CUs members affected

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (11/13/09)--In the wake of flooding and mudslides that are claiming lives and rendering much of El Salvador's population homeless, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) is in contact with local authorities and FEDECACES, its member organization there, to assess how to best help the thousands of people affected by the disaster.
Click to view larger image Flooding and mudslides in El Salvadore have prompted the World Council of Credit Unions to establish a fund for credit unions and members affected. (Photo provided by the SHARE Foundation, via the World Council of Credit Unions)
According to reports, three days of heavy rains have produced nationwide flooding and mudslides that already have killed an estimated 130 people. Several small towns have been all but buried, leaving thousands homeless. According to sources, the situation has the potential to worsen if displaced people, including credit union members, do not receive the assistance they need. "WOCCU has worked with FEDECACES and the country's 30-plus credit unions, which serve more than 120,000 people, for many years," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. "We are now committed to helping El Salvador's citizens who are credit union members survive this crisis. Donations to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions will help us achieve this goal." WOCCU has fostered relief and rebuilding efforts during past international disasters, including the December 2004 Asian tsunami and the February 2006 Philippine islands landslide. Following the tsunami, WOCCU led a US$1.5 million project to rebuild credit unions in Sri Lanka and revitalize the country's credit union league. After the Philippine islands landslide, WOCCU supported the local league's administration of "livelihood loans," small microloans that helped credit union members and employees rebuild their homes and businesses. To support El Salvador's credit unions and their members through the international credit union disaster relief fund, make payments via check, credit card or wire to: Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions Inc.

5710 Mineral Point Road

Madison, WI 53705 USA

Donations may be made online with a credit card at www.woccu.org /give. For wire transfer information, contact: Valerie Breunig, Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, 608-395-2055 or via e-mail at vbreunig@woccu.org. Please indicate that the donation is designated for the El Salvador Disaster Relief Fund.

UN FCU investment officer discusses stocks on IBloombergI

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NEW YORK (11/13/09)--U.S. stocks fell Thursday after six straight gains for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, and United Nations FCU, New York, was on hand to interpret the retreat for Bloomberg.com. Christopher Sullivan, chief investment officer at the $2.9 billion asset credit union based in Long Island City, told the publication: "To get further rallies from here, we'll have to see continuation of gradual improvements with respect to growth, business activity and hopefully a continuing slowdown in the pace of layoffs." The article noted that the earnings as most U.S. stocks retreated was a disappointment for investors at a number of companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to a 13-month high for the second day, said Bloomberg.com (Nov. 12) Sullivan oversees $1.4 billion in investments at the credit union.

Ill. commission League had critical role in student loans

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CHICAGO (11/13/09)--The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), in announcing it still had $66 million available for low-interest federally secured student loans to Illinois students, singled out the Illinois Credit Union League as playing a critical role in the student loan program. The league "played a critical role in securing $110 million for student loans, ensuring continued FFELP [Federal Family Education Loan Program] lending," said ISAC. "Thanks to the credit unions' support, we continue to provide student loans to those in need at FFELP-participating schools while serving our mission by offering Illinois students and parents college access programs, financial literacy education, and loan delinquency and default prevention," said ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis. Davis said ISAC has committed $44 million in student loans for the 2009-2010 academic year. The league helped obtain commitments from 14 credit unions in the state to invest $105 million in ISAC-issued securities to finance the loans (News Now July 16).

S. Carolina CUs agree to smaller league board

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (11/13/09)--Delegates at a special membership meeting of the South Carolina Credit Union League (SCCUL) Oct. 28 unanimously affirmed a bylaws amendment from the league's Board of Directors to reduce the number of directors to seven from 14, and to extend director terms to three years. To execute the change, each current league director will resign April 17, 2010, at the 2010 Annual Meeting business session. Those interested in continuing on the board must seek nomination and be elected by the traditional mail-in ballot process, said the league. The change also sets up future election cycles by staggering successful candidates' terms. Three seats will have three-year terms, two will have two-year terms and two will have one-year terms. SCCUL Chairman Scott Woods, who is also CEO of North Charleston-based South Carolina FCU, congratulated the sitting directors on the action. "I thank each sitting director for putting this body's efficiency and value to the league and its membership ahead of any personal objectives." He noted the action positions the league for continued success in serving member credit unions. The reorganization stems from a declining total number of credit unions in the state. SCCUL President/CEO Garry L. Parks shared the findings of a study by league executive officers of other leagues and the ratio of directors to members. Parks noted that the board makeup had remained the same since the number of credit unions eligible for league membership peaked at 202 in 1978. As of December 2008, SCCUL membership totaled 81 credit unions. The South Carolina Credit Union League is celebrating its seventy-fifth year of service to Palmetto State credit unions.

Dover FCU staffer shares expertise in IHR TimesI

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DOVER, Del. (11/13/09)--A staffer at Dover (Del.) FCU shared her expertise with human resource professionals throughout the state in an article on multigenerational training published in the third quarter issue of HR Times. Dona Palermo, training coordinator at the $281 million-plus asset credit union, wrote the article, "Training Across Generations-- Battle or Opportunity?" In it, she explained the changing demographics of today's work force, the impact of the changes on training programs and the workplace, and the opportunities created by the changes for trainers. "True learning, formal or informal, can only occur if the generations learn to understand, appreciate, and respect each other," Palermo wrote. Palermo has designed and implemented annual training strategies for more than 100 staff and works closely with department to provide customized training platforms as needed. She also administers the credit union's online learning program. Palermo "has the ability to recognize the unique capabilities of each individual and mesh them to the needs of the organization so that everyone succeeds,' said Dover FCU President/CEO David Clendaniel. The magazine is devoted to human resource issues and information. Dover FCU is the largest credit union in Delaware.

Texas CUs restoring acre of land destroyed by Ike

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GALVESTON, Texas (11/13/09)--The Texas Credit Union League’s (TCUL) 22nd Annual Credit Union Marketing & Business Development Conference allowed attendees and individuals within the Galveston area to participate in a networking/teambuilding community initiative called “Give Galveston a Hand.” Held earlier this month with sponsorships from the TCUL-affiliated Credit Union Resources Inc. (CUR), the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) and other organizations, the event surpassed the team’s goal of restoring one acre of flora and fauna to the still-recovering land ravaged by Hurricane Ike one year ago (LoneStar Leaguer Nov. 12). After weeding, seeding, watering, clearing and planting, the volunteers participated in a beach walk to clean up debris in the sand. “It was an absolutely rewarding experience that brought more than 75 people working together, laughing together and realizing the kind of positive results that are only made possible through exceptional teamwork,” noted Staci Zale, TCUF associate director. “Every person on the beach was working hard to plant grasses to stabilize the sand dunes and get one step closer to our goal of restoring one acre of land within the area,” she added. “At the end of the process, we managed to bring new life to over an acre-and-a-half of the grounds, and all because we worked cooperatively and efficiently.” TCUF provided a grant for a community sponsorship to assist in transportation for the event. Also, TCUF acted as a co-sponsor of a “Thank You Reception & Vendor Fair” after the initiative. Sponsors included:
* CUR; * CUNA Mutual Group; * Southwest Corporate FCU; * TCUF; * Texas Credit Union Marketing Council; * CU*Swag; * PTP NEW MEDIA; and * Promotions Made Easy.

CU System briefs (11/12/2009)

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* HARRISBURG (11/13/09)--Representatives of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) and the $306.8 million asset, Harrisburg-based Belco Community CU attended a reception Wednesday night hosted Gov. Ed Rendell and the first lady at the governor's mansion to thank volunteers of the Get Help Now PA program (Life is a Highway Nov. 12). Twelve credit unions participated in the program from July through Sept. 11, providing free legal and financial advice to the state's consumers. Valerie Jarret, special assistant to President Barack Obama, offered thanks to participants via a conference call. During the reception, the governor publicly recognized Belco's Tricia Heisey and her husband on their 20th wedding anniversary. The governor's comments drew applause and cheers for the couple. At the reception are, from left, PCUA Senior Vice President Mike Wishnow, Heisey and Laura Huggins of Belco Community CU, and Gov. Ed Rendell. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association) … * BREA, Calif. (11/13/09)--A faith-based credit union has filed a $9.45 million foreclosure against the 17-acre Summit Christian School of Palm Beach County, Calif. Evangelical Christian CU, a $1.2 billion asset credit union, made the loan in January 2008. The loan has been in default since August 2009. The credit union told the Palm Beach Daily Business Review (Nov. 11) it had no foreclosures on any properties until 2007, when the economy began declining. "If it comes to foreclosure, it's because we tried to work with the borrower and weren't able to reach an agreement," said Jac La Tour. "But like we always do, we will continue to try to work with the organization even after the foreclosure is filed," he told the publication … * KENNESAW, Ga. (11/13/09)--Credit Union of Georgia signed an agreement with Kennesaw State University (KSU) as title sponsor of the university's new Owl Nation Rewards Program, an incentive program to create interest in the university's athletic program among the student body. The Woodstock, Ga.-based credit union's sponsorship includes the purchase and setup of all equipment and software necessary for program operations. Students will receive points for attending sports events and can redeem points on the Owl Nation website for prizes such as certificates for local restaurants and KSU logo gear. At the program's donation acceptance are from left: Dr. Dave Waples, KSU director of athletics; Kathy Bouyett, business development representative at Credit Union of Georgia; and Lauren Katovsky, KSU director of marketing and sponsorship. (Photo provided by the Credit Union of Georgia) … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (11/13/09)--Mark Chatfield has been named chief operating officer of CO-OP Member Call Center, a subsidiary of CO-OP Financial Services in Fort Worth, Texas. The center, formerly The LoanLink Center, provides member and loan services via telephone and Internet to members of nearly 350 credit unions. Chatfield, with 20 years experience in the credit union industry, will be responsible for expanding the front-line credit union member service and providing additional ways to ensure credit unions can offer services to members. Chatfield had served as vice president, sales with CUNA Mutual Group since February 2006. CO-OP acquired The Loan Link Center on Oct. 31 from CUNA Mutual. Chatfield also served several years as senior vice president, chief business officer of Credit Union Resources Inc., affiliated with Texas Credit Union League, and as owner of Professional Alternatives of Dallas, LLC, a professional services placement company ... * HARTFORD, Conn. (11/13/09)--A Hartford (Conn.) Healthcare FCU employee has won the Innovation--Individual award category of the Hartford Business Journal's Diversity and Inclusion Conference Awards. Brian Czaja, a full-time employee for 12 years who is legally blind and mentally challenged, was selected for his outstanding performance in managing file room responsibilities, said the credit union. Czaja was hired to scan 12,000 membership cards into computer files. With equipment adjustments, he not only met the challenge but exceeded expectations, prompting the credit union to keep him on staff permanently, said Carol Bayreuther, credit union president/CEO. Also, the credit union was presented the Outstanding Business Award by the West Indian Foundation of Hartford for its role in the expansion of the Healthcare CU in Trinidad and Tobago, and for its commitment to the West Indian community in greater Hartford …

CUNA CUNA Mutual staffers create training buzz via YouTube

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MADISON, Wis. (11/13/09)--Staffers at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and CUNA Mutual Group created a brief video skit on YouTube that CUNA Mutual Group is using for employee training. The two-minute skit features a man personifying CUNA talking to a woman personifying CUNA Mutual. The characters discuss the differences and similarities between the two organizations and how people often confuse the companies. The tag line for the video is “Same industry--different roles.” In the skit, Christopher Morris, web manager for CUNA Councils, represents CUNA, and Jennifer Kuhn, CUNA Mutual senior manager of leadership and performance management, represents CUNA Mutual. The idea for the video originated a few months ago at the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Educator training, Morris said. To view the video, use the link.

BayPort sponsors 24 teachers to national fin lit conference

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (11/13/09)--BayPort CU, Newport News, Va., sponsored 24 teachers to attend the first National Financial Literacy for Educators Conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 6-8.
Click to view larger image BayPort CU, Newport News, Va., recently sponsored 24 local teachers, including these, to attend a national personal financial literacy conference in Washington, D.C. (Photo provided by BayPort CU)
The conference, targeting those who teach kindergarten through 12th grade, was presented by the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. BayPort paid $175 per teacher, which covered hotel accommodations and participation. The credit union also gave each teacher $125 to cover travel expenses, said Marilyn Bennett, BayPort creative services administrator. BayPort decided to sponsor the teachers after receiving an e-mail from the CUNA Personal Finance Initiative's CUNAPFInteractive, suggesting that each credit union sponsor a teacher to a national conference, Bennett told News Now. “This got me thinking that we could do that and more--with 12 branches in the greater Hampton Roads area, why not sponsor 24 teachers?” she said. Each BayPort branch manager works with a local school. The credit union worked with the schools to select the teachers, and with the City of Newport News School Superintendent’s Office, which sent 12 teachers. This is the first time BayPort has sponsored teachers’ attendance at a conference, and the teachers who attended the event hope it will become an annual event. “From the e-mails I have gotten back from the teachers, they are hoping BayPort will make it an annual event so that other local teachers can benefit the way they have,” Bennett said. “They have come away from the experience feeling very special and many of them have already started using materials they received when they were in Washington last week.” Next year, the state of Virginia will require financial literacy as a component of its Standards of Learning testing, Bennett said. “We knew how important this topic would be for our local schools this year,” she said. “And most of the schools used this conference as an opportunity to send the teachers who were going to be working directly with the financial literacy training,” she added. BayPort became a community chartered credit union two years ago. Last year, Bennett was charged with creating a financial literacy program. “We’ve done seminars, classroom presentations, and financial counseling, but hadn't really created a solid all-encompassing program,” she said. “So to position ourselves as a community resource for financial literacy we thought sponsoring teachers from our local area to attend this conference would be a great beginning with the school systems. We wanted to emphasize that we were serious about our support and available as a resource to our community.” BayPort has $1.10 billion in assets.

CUNA announces 2009 national Desjardins awards

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MADISON, Wis. (11/13/09)--The number of states entered in this year’s national Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award competition, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), grew to 27 compared with 25 last year. “The steady expansion of the Desjardins recognition program reflects credit unions’ national leadership in financial literacy,” said CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. “Of course, the need for financial education is widely appreciated during hard economic times. But credit unions were active agents for financial literacy long before the most recent recession and will continue to be active long after the economy improves and employment rebounds,” Mica said. Fifty-two entries were received this year. Winners include:
* Arapahoe CU, Centennial, Colo.; * Beach Municipal FCU Partnership, Virginia Beach, Va.; * Indianhead CU, Spooner, Wis.; * The Maine Credit Union League; * Rogue FCU, Medford, Ore.; and * Unison CU, Kaukauna, Wis.
Honorable mentions were presented to:
* American Partners FCU, Reidsville, N.C.; * The Credit Union Association of Oregon; * Dakota Plains CU, Edgeley, N.D.; * DuPont Community CU, Waynesboro, Va.; * Greater Minnesota CU, Mora, Minn.; * Ohio University CU, Athens, Ohio; * Sunflower U.P. FCU, Marysville, Kan.; and * Virginia Educators CU, Newport News, Va.
The Desjardins awards will be presented at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in February in Washington, D.C. The award was named for Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement. It honors credit unions for their commitment to youth financial literacy.