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Altura CU to merge Hemet Calif. branches

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IVERSIDE, Calif. (11/4/10)--Riverside, Calif.-based Altura CU will close a branch office in Hemet, Calif., on Jan. 12 and merge it with a second Hemet branch, said Mark Hawkins, the credit union's president/CEO. After Jan. 12, Altura will have 13 branch locations throughout Riverside County: four in the city of Riverside, two in Moreno Valley, two--including one that is all electronic--in Corona, and one each in Hemet, Indio, Murrieta, Rancho Mirage and Temecula. "The 'great recession' continues to linger in the Inland Empire, and although we are beginning to see signs of improvement, some challenges remain," said Hawkins. "We continue to look for ways to reduce our costs of operation, while causing the least amount of disruption to our members." Building leases will expire on three branch office locations in the next 90 days.. "An expiring lease is an easier way to reduce our expenses compared to some other options," he said. Hemet was chosen for closure because two branches were within three miles of each other. "This was a painful choice, but merging the Hemet branches is the least objectionable option for cutting our operating costs," he said. Staff from the two branches will be merged. However, five employees have been offered severance packages, outplacement services and Altura loan modification packages to assist them in the transition.

Southeastern CUs to debut 2011 image campaign

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (11/4/10)--The League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) will debut a statewide image campaign for credit unions in Alabama and Florida in the spring of 2011. Using a new credit union logo and tagline, “Credit Unions, We’re Giving Banking a Better Name,” the campaign will encompass a variety of media platforms including TV, radio, billboard, online ads, and public relations. There will be a landing website that will use social media to engage the member and incorporate peer-to-peer multimedia. The website will also include a credit union finder and financial literacy links. The campaign will focus on reaching Gen. X. Research shows that Gen X is smart, tech savvy and wants to control their money, not have someone else control it for them. The campaign message will show Gen. X that putting their money in a credit union will provide them with a better banking experience. To kick off fundraising for the $2.1 million campaign, the LSCU, through its League Service Corp. LEVERAGE, has contributed the first $100,000. The money will be used to develop the campaign's creative look. This will help ensure that the maximum amount raised from credit unions stays in their respective media markets for advertising. "Over the past year, many credit unions have told me that we need a cooperative message," said LSCU President/CEO Patrick La Pine. "The time has never been better to let potential members know the credit union difference. Our research shows that the credit union message is only reaching 50% of people in Alabama and Florida," he said, noting the campaign will grow membership for LSCU's member credit unions. Scout Branding Company from Birmingham, Ala., will handle the campaign's creative look. The LSCU has a Statewide Image Campaign Task Force made up of credit unions from the two states to help drive the creative look and the media buy. The campaign plans to debut in the spring 2011 across 14 media markets in Alabama and Florida.

NYC business loans up 45 in 2010

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NEW YORK (11/4/10)--A new study has found that small business loans in New York City are up 45% over last year, with more than $262 million in loans distributed during 2010. The study, released by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), indicates the number of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in the city grew 44%, from 655 loans in 2009 to 940 this year. The total amount provided by the SBA loans to small businesses in the city rose to more than $262 million from more than $180 million in 2009--about a 45% increase (Federal Information & News Dispatch Oct. 31). Every borough except Staten Island saw gains in small business lending. Lending in the Bronx increased the most--at 62%, with $9.9 million in additional funds in 2010. Manhattan businesses saw a 57% hike in number of loans received to 376 loans from last year's 239 loans. Weiner called the increase in loans to small businesses "extremely encouraging, because access to credit is vital to helping these businesses get back on their feet and putting Americans to work." Weiner's news release noted three measures in Congress involving small business legislation: The Recovery Act, which makes it easier for credit unions and banks to offer SBA loans to small businesses by increasing the loan guarantee amount to 90% from 75%; the Small Business Jobs Act, which reauthorized the Recovery Act's loan guarantee increase and freed up $30 billion for community banks to lend; and the HIRE Act, which provides a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers. When Congress returns from the elections recess, the Credit Union National Association and credit unions will again pursue measures to raise credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25% to enable them to make more MBLs.

Boomers in new reality demand new strategies

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MADISON, Wis. (11/4/10)--Baby Boomers are facing a new reality in these turbulent times, and it would behoove credit unions to address the changing needs of the nation’s largest generation, attendees of CUNA Mutual Group’s Online Discovery Conference were told Wednesday. Jeff Hunt, consumer program manager at CUNA Mutual Group, presented strategies for dealing with the new mindset so credit unions can retain boomers as members long after retirement. Online Discovery, CUNA Mutual’s Web-based equivalent of a face-to-face conference, attracted more than 1,400 national and international credit union and league staff. The conference aims to help credit unions solve problems, face challenges and address opportunities. The turbulence of the last decade means boomers are dealing with a new reality, Hunt said. “There is a new mindset, but it is still unique to boomers. They have not become cynical or negative like other generations. They are still optimistic and have dreams, but they are simpler--and maybe better--dreams.” The boomers have had it rough so far in this century. From the dot-com bust to Sept. 11 to the current economic woes, the boomers have had their usually optimistic outlook tested. Members of all generations have been affected, but the impact of these events looms larger for boomers because they are quickly approaching retirement, he said. The oldest boomers will turn 65 and be eligible for Medicare in just two months. “Credit unions must act now or they could lose over five million members and $550 billion in assets as the boomers enter retirement if they leave credit unions like previous generations of retirees have done,” Hunt said. To retain these retirees, research suggests credit unions must evolve from being mainly lending institutions for mid-life borrowers to retirement companies that offer a full range of solutions to boomer members. Hunt provided six steps to help credit unions manage this transition:
* Use the credit union advantage. Trust in credit unions is at an all-time high, especially when compared to banks. Boomers approaching and in retirement need a trus partner because with time it gets more difficult to make up for financial mistakes. * Tell them what you can do. Stop being shy talking about what you offer retirees and how you can help them. They are readjusting their dreams; tell them how you can work together to achieve them. * Provide retirement expertise. Achieving the coveted position of the member’s retirement adviser requires every credit union employee to play a role, ensuring they work as a team to be successful. The credit union itself should be seen as the advisor, not just a person with that title. * Provide retiree products. To be considered a viable financial partner in retirement, endorse a full suite of retiree products, either by offering them yourself or finding a partner who can. * Make it easy to buy. Making things easier and simpler is boomer theme and a retiree need. Boomers desire options without complexity.

Empower FCU Providers FCU to merge Jan. 1

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (11/4/10)--Empower FCU and Providers FCU, both of Syracuse, will merge effective Jan. 1. The merger will add Providers’ $10 million in assets and 2,000 members to Empower’s more than $900 million in assets and over 95,000 members. The combined organization will operate as Empower FCU after the merger, which has been approved by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Empower said the merger will provide more services for Providers' members and another location for Empower's members.

Georgia survey Fewer members saving for holidays

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DULUTH, Ga. (11/4/10)--Four out of 10 Georgia residents who responded to the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates’ (GCUA) mid-year 2010 survey plan to spend less on the holidays this year. The finding that 43.4% of Georgia residents will spend less in 2010 echoes national statistics, with a study by America’s Research Group showing that 43% of American shoppers will spend less in fourth quarter 2010 than in the previous year, said GCUA. The 2010 GCUA study results also build on a similar 2009 GCUA survey that found that 51.7% of participants would spend less for the holidays last year.. Veda Hilton, president/CEO of Etowah Valley FCU, Cartersville, said fewer members are saving ahead for holiday shopping because they need their money to pay everyday living expenses. Hilton plans to advise members to avoid using credit cards for holiday shopping if possible. She recommends reining in spending by shortening the shopping list and making deliberate choices aimed at finding a specific item. If members need extra funds for the holidays, Hilton encourages them to go to a trusted source. That will help keep members from being lured into high-interest credit card debt or other high-interest loans that could create big problems when the New Year arrives.

U.S. Marine in Afghanistan touts CU difference

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (11/4/10)--A U.S. Marine serving in Afghanistan recently sent a flag and certificate to the Deseret First CU branch in South Jordan, Utah, to thank credit union staff for their help. Spc. J.D. Nelson, 21, a Utah Marine stationed in Afghanistan, also sent a letter thanking branch employees for their “support and kindness” in helping him obtain an auto loan, according to a release from Deseret First, which is based in Salt Lake City. The certificate attests that the flag was flown over Afghanistan aboard a Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Two EA-6B Prowler in honor of Desert First's South Jordan Branch. Nelson’s letter noted that after receiving the loan, he moved all his accounts to Deseret First. That move has proved to be “the best decision for my money and me,” Nelson wrote, because the credit union is “always there when I need you.” Nelson’s mother delivered the flag to the branch.

Taylor elected chairman of CU Cooperative Branching

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HARAHAN, La. (11/4/10)--Rod Taylor, CEO of Barksdale FCU, Bossier City, La., has assumed the duties of chairman of the board of CU Cooperative Branching (CUCB) LLC, Louisiana's shared branching credit union service organization (CUSO). Taylor served as the credit union's executive vice president and chief operating officer for 16 years and was appointed its CEO in 2008, according to the Louisiana Credit Union League's eNews Nov. 3). The recent election took place due to the retirement of former chairperson Susan Leake, LaCapitol FCU, Baton Rouge. Reggie Gremillion, CEO of Wymar FCU, Geismar, has assumed the duties of board secretary, the position Taylor previously held. An election will be conducted at the next annual meeting of CUCB shareholders to fill Leake's board position. Other officers and board members include:
* Vice chairperson, Connie Kennelly, CEO, Tulane-Loyola FCU, New Orleans; * Treasurer, Darryl Long, CEO, Baton Rouge Telco FCU; * John Milazzo, CEO, Campus FCU, Baton Rouge; * Mark Rosa, CEO, Jefferson Financial CU, Metairie; * Clark Yelverton, CEO, CSE FCU, Lake Charles; and * Jeff Conrad, CEO, Pelican State CU, Baton Rouge.