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Michigan CU league supports candidates that did well in elections

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LANSING, Mich. (11/9/10)--Candidates supported by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) fared well in both Congressional and state races, with 86% of endorsed candidates winning election. MCUL-backed candidates included Republican Gov.-elect Rick Snyder and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, (D-Bloomfield Township), who benefited from credit union radio advertisements (Michigan Monitor Nov. 8). Overall, 13 of 15 candidates for Congress supported by MCUL were successful, as were 98 of 114 endorsed candidates for state-level house and senate races. The MCUL reported that it boosted advocacy efforts in 2010 to significantly impact midterm elections and build credit union support during a “tumultuous time” at the state level.

Bayer Heritage FCU offering Black Friday sale

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PROCTOR, W. Va. (11/9/10)--Bayer Heritage FCU is opening at 5 a.m. on Nov. 26 to launch five hours of “doorbuster” special offers as part of its first Black Friday Sale. The $237 million-asset credit union wants to use the excitement surrounding the traditional “Black Friday” holiday gift-buying bonanza to get people excited about the special deals it is offering. “We want to be part of the excitement of early shopping and be there for our members at 5 a.m. when they head for stores to take advantage of special deals,” said Valerie Smith, marketing supervisor. “We want to get people talking and they have been.” The first 50 people to enter any of Bayer Heritage’s six full-time branches will get a free shopping tote bag. In addition, everyone age 18 or older who enters the branch during the five-hour special from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. will be served Christmas cookies and can enter to win a vacation package. Members can also take advantage of “five super deals” during the five-hour period, including:
* 0.5% annual percentage rate (APR) discounts on new loans, except mortgages; * $50 in cash for refinancing a loan from another financial institution; * 0.5% APR discount on the interest rate on a new Visa card; * 5% interest rate on a five-month certificate of deposit for a maximum of $500; and * $500 Visa “on-the-spot” cash advance for eligible members.
Smith said employees were eager to be part of the event despite the early start to their workday. The five-hour event includes an employee contest with prizes for wearing the “cheesiest” holiday sweater.

Filene report examines financial preferences of young adults

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MADISON, Wis. (11/9/10)--A new Filene Research Institute report examines the evolving financial preferences of online consumers and hones in on engaging and retaining young adults. Filene Researcher Ron Rubin used a 1,400-response survey to explore young consumers’ preferences for financial relationships, a Filene announcement said. The survey report emphasizes that “good service” means fully meeting young consumers’ needs online without requiring them to visit the branch or use another delivery channel. Key findings from Big, Small, or Online? Young Adults’ Evolving Financial Preferences include:
* Convenience is extremely important as a driver of financial institution choice. When paired with the difficulty of switching accounts, it keeps the majority of consumers in place. * High fees and uncompetitive interest rates turn off big bank customers, yet these factors alone are unlikely to drive many consumers away from the bank. Credit unions must learn to win over young consumers. * Gen Y will dominate the workforce by 2020, comprising 40% of the workforce. These Gen Y workers will be in an important borrowing phase of their lives.

Arizona Colorado and Wyoming CU leagues explore merger

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DENVER and PHOENIX (11/9/10)--The Arizona Credit Union League, Credit Union Association of Colorado and Credit Union Association of Wyoming have signed a letter-of-intent to merge. No timeline for the merger has been set. Each of the boards of directors agreed to pursue a three-state merger with a focus on how to best provide ongoing benefits and service to their member credit unions. The three organizations will work together and take the next few months to determine a final business plan, develop an organizational structure, and then seek approval of the three states’ memberships. “This is an exciting development that feels right for all credit unions involved,” said Mike Williams, chairman of the Credit Union Association of Colorado and president/CEO of Colorado CU in Littleton. “We believe that the strength that comes from this merger will create an organization that will be a lasting benefit to our credit unions. As we began our new CEO search, our board decided to explore all possible solutions that could be in the best interest of our credit unions. The prospects of this option are compelling.” “The need for a league is as important as ever,” said Bob Ramirez, Arizona Credit Union League chairman and president/CEO of Vantage West CU in Tucson. “The challenge is how best to achieve efficiencies and still provide what credit unions expect from their league. This merger will allow us to meet the needs of all sizes of credit unions.” Marsha Tynsky, Chairwoman of the Credit Union Association of Wyoming and President/CEO of Trona Valley Community FCU in Green River, agree. “Our members expect us to pursue ways to continue to provide them with high quality association services while looking for new ways to operate more efficiently and effectively,” she said. “The proposed merger will provide credit unions across the three states a chance to collaborate and share opportunities that ultimately help our members.” The Credit Union National Asscoation(CUNA) said it supports the intended merger. "CUNA is solidly in support of the path that the leaders of these state leagues have taken to explore this merger which will enhance efficiencies and services to member credit unions in all three states," said Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO. "Of course, this action is the first step and the final decision rests with the credit unions. CUNA strongly supports all initiatives which foster and strengthen our 3-tiered system--credit unions, leagues and CUNA." While no official timeline has been developed, a membership vote is required and could be scheduled for first quarter next year. If the merger is approved, Scott Earl, president/CEO of the Arizona league will become the CEO of the new entity. The Colorado Association has ownership of their building, therefore Denver has been selected as the location for the newly formed organization’s headquarters. Offices will continue to be staffed and maintained in Phoenix and Casper. “The work is just starting,” Earl said. “We will be forming committees to review funding and governance, and staff will be looking at how efficiencies can be achieved. However, ultimately the approval of the merger is in the hands of our member credit unions.”

World Council of CUs turns 40 years old today

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MADISON, Wis. (11/9/10)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) turns 40 years old today. The global credit union trade association and development agency was formally incorporated Nov. 9, 1970, in Madison, Wis. Its articles of incorporation state, however, that WOCCU’s operations “are principally to be conducted wherever credit unions are located.”
Click to view larger image Incorporated on Nov. 9, 1970, the World Council of Credit Unions begins its 40th year of serving the global credit union movement.
“Today is a milestone, not only for World Council but for the global credit union movement,” said WOCCU Chairman Barry Jolette, president/CEO of San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif. “The organization has spent four decades seeking ways to improve people's lives through credit unions, and the number of people WOCCU has touched and the number of ways those lives have improved are immeasurable.” WOCCU evolved from Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) World Extension Department, developed in the 1950s to attack usury, one of the greatest abuses in developing countries, on a global scale. During that era, international credit union development programs emphasized community and economic development. CUNA officials believed the department could work with private and government funding agencies to help credit unions foster the creation of modern economies in less developed countries. The work of this department, in conjunction with the efforts of cooperative systems in Australia, Canada and Europe, led to the organization of credit unions worldwide over the next two decades. “World Council’s 1970 incorporation was a vote of confidence among national credit union associations worldwide,” said Pete Crear, WOCCU president/CEO. “It was a benchmark in the history of the international movement and the culmination of a dream that had stirred enthusiasm in two generations of leaders.” WOCCU has implemented more than 275 technical assistance programs in 70 countries around the world. While its programs have largely focused on credit union building and strengthening, WOCCU has worked with credit unions in recent years to employ innovative rural outreach technologies, create an Islamic finance model for cooperatives in Afghanistan and develop agricultural finance programs that connect small farmers to markets. WOCCU's latest program in Mexico worked with 54 credit unions in 22 states to bring financial access to 200,000 people living in remote, marginalized areas of the country. WOCCU developed and trained credit union staff on a new service delivery approach whereby field officers travel to outlying communities once a month to bring credit union services to people who are normally at the mercy of usurious lenders or long, expensive trips into town to access savings and loans. Some of the credit unions now use personal digital assistants (PDAs) to perform transactions in the field, and rural businesses are installing point-of-sale devices to give members an opportunity to pay bills, buy mobile phone air time and access their accounts more frequently. WOCCU has also expanded its focus to include community development programs that address the role credit unions can play in meeting the needs of people with HIV/AIDS, orphans and those living in conflict-affected or disaster areas. Earlier this year, WOCCU mobilized the international credit union system to raise more than US$1 million in relief and rebuilding funds for Haiti. WOCCU used the donations to provide immediate aid and shelter to credit unions affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake and continues to work with the institutions on stabilization and reconstruction efforts. WOCCU began formal operations January 1, 1971, and will celebrate its 40th anniversary throughout 2011 with a variety of special events culminating at the 2011 World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, U.K. For more information on the conference, use the link.

Bronx CDCU wins award for community impact

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SAN FRANCISCO (11/9/10)--Bethex FCU, a community development credit union (CDCU) and a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) serving the predominantly low-income South Bronx community in New York City, was presented with $25,000 from the Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards in recognition of its community impact. Bethex also is a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) under the U.S. Treasury Department’s CDFI Program.
Click to view larger image Lillian Bent, chairman of Bethex FCU in New York City, accepts the NEXT Award for Community Impact from a Wells Fargo representative. (Photo provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
The community-impact award was presented at a gala ceremony held Wednesday at the Opportunity Finance Network Conference in San Francisco, said the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. Launched in 2007, the Wachovia Wells Fargo NEXT Awards “provide low-interest loans and grants totaling $8.25 million each year to two premier CDFIs with a history of outstanding accomplishment, a bold and compelling vision, and extraordinary potential for growth, innovation, and impact.” Also, four $25,000 awards were given to CDFIs that demonstrate outstanding advocacy, community impact, innovation and financing. Chartered in 1970 to provide affordable credit and financial services, and financial education, to “welfare mothers,” the credit union has grown to become a nearly $16 million in assets financial institution serving over 6,000 low- and moderate-income members throughout the South Bronx, which according to the Census Bureau is the poorest Congressional District in the U.S. with more than 38% of the population and 49% of children living below the poverty line. Despite its relatively small size, Bethex FCU provides a full suite of services ranging from savings and checking accounts; debit cards and credit cards; personal, car, mortgage, and small business loans; and most recently, online banking with bill pay. “Bethex FCU is an institution that's near and dear to our hearts,” said Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO. “The federation has worked with Bethex since its earliest days and we have provided them with low-cost capital investments, technical assistance, and staff training through our CDCU Institute. Bethex has been serving residents of the South Bronx for 40 years, and remains one of the only regulated financial institutions available to its community. They are an absolutely vital financial institution, and this award recognizes their decades of service to one of most low-income communities in the nation.” Lillian Bent, chairman of Bethex's board of directors, accepted the award on behalf of the CDCU. “We recently received a $750,000 grant from the CDFI Fund and $500,000 in secondary capital from Treasury's Community Development Capital Initiative, so this really feels like icing on the cake,” Bent said. This year's $5.5 million award was given to Boston Community Capital; the $2.5 million award was presented to Enterprise Cascadia, with the three other $25,000 awards going to Forward Community Investments (Advocacy); Appalachian Community Enterprises (Innovation); and Business Carolina (Financing). Since inception, several CDCUs have received NEXT Awards including $2.75 million to Latino Community CU in Durham, N.C.; $25,000 to ASI FCU in New Orleans in 2007; and $25,000 to Cooperative FCU in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2008. Alternatives FCU in Ithaca, N.Y., was one of three finalists in this year's competition for the $5.5 million award to organizations with more than $50 million in assets. The Wells Fargo Wachovia NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance were made possible by grant support from the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, and a major program-related investment from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.