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Admin fees reduced for The 1 CU Conference attendees

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MADISON, Wis. (2/16/10)--Acknowledging that heightened homeland security regulations have made it tougher for some foreign nationals to enter the U.S., World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA) are reducing administration charges for registrants unable to obtain visas to attend The 1 Credit Union Conference, July 11-14, in Las Vegas. WOCCU and CUNA are jointly producing The 1 Credit Union Conference this year only. The conference replaces CUNA's America's Credit Union Conference and WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference, both of which will return as individual events in 2011. Registrants for The 1 Credit Union Conference from outside the U.S. will be e-mailed a letter of invitation upon request from conference registrars once they pay their registration fees in full. The letter serves as proof of their intent and must be presented with their credentials at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in their home countries. “Since the attempted terrorist airline bombing on Christmas Day, it has become much more difficult to enter the U.S.,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. “We recognize that fact and want to make it as painless as possible for potential attendees to obtain visas, as well as reduce administration charges for those who can't.” WOCCU and CUNA require payment prior to the letter being sent to ensure recipients truly intend to attend the conference and not enter the U.S. with other purposes in mind, Grace said. Attendees who register and pay their fees prior to the May 20 early bird deadline but are unable to get visas will have their full conference registration refunded minus a $100 processing fee. Attendees who register after May 20 but do not get their visa and cancel by June 11 will have their fees refunded minus a $200 processing fee. This year the refund deadline was extended to encourage attendees to register and start the visa process early. "Attendees who require a visa could be facing a lengthy process sometimes taking many months," said Grace. "We strongly suggest that those attendees begin the process as soon as possible." Attendees from many European countries, as well as those in far east Asia may be eligible for the Visa Waiver program. Residents of Canada and Bermuda require a passport, but not a visa, to enter the U.S. Residents of Mexico require a passport and a visa or a border crossing card. For more information, use the link.

CUNA Mutual sponsors GAC late night show

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MADISON, Wis. (2/16/10)--CUNA Mutual Group is sponsoring Late Night at the GAC at the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) as part of the company’s 75th anniversary serving credit unions. CUNA Mutual will kick of its celebration at GAC with several activities, including Late Night at GAC on Feb. 23 at the Rennaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Rat Pack Tribute Show re-creates the energy and music of Las Vegas Entertainer icons Fran Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. For more information, use the link.

Pelican State CU wraps up successful fin-lit year

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BATON ROUGE, La. (2/16/10)--Pelican State CU in Baton Rouge, La., conducted more than 60 Financial Literacy Workshops (FLWs) in 2009 to more than 1,000 attendees in 14 parishes (counties). FLWs are free, public presentations on topics such as budgeting, making money grow, using credit cards wisely and tips on improving credit scores. Following each presentation, attendees can receive a free copy of their credit report with the option of reviewing it with a trained credit counselor. Pelican absorbs all associated costs including salaries, materials, credit reports and mileage (eNews Feb. 10). “Pelican does not solicit business at these workshops; the primary objective is to provide financial education to those who need it most,” Jeffrey K. Conrad, Pelican CEO, told the Louisiana Credit Union League. Pelican also offers a Credit Management Program for members who are serious about achieving long-term financial success. Participants routinely meet with full-time credit counselors to evaluate credit reports, create budgets and savings plans and educate members on financial products--all at no cost to the member. “Our frontline staff has been trained to determine which members are in need of financial guidance and they make referrals to our credit counselors,” Conrad said. “Our credit counselors focus on helping one member at a time to ensure that the members take the information to heart and implement the practices daily,” he said. Pelican State CU has $167.1 million in assets.

Editorial For Valentines Day break up with a bank

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MADISON, Wis. (2/16/10)--For Valentine’s Day, consumers should break up with their banks, according to the Madison, Wis.-based Center for Media and Democracy. An editorial in Saturday’s Madison, Wis.-based Capital Times said the center hosts the Bankster USA Project “which is challenging both the abuses of big banks and the bailouts of those institutions by the federal government.” Banks have hamstrung American consumers with $700 billion in credit card debt because of exorbitant interest rates charged by the big four U.S. banks that issue 90% of all credit cards: Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo, the newspaper said. On average, big-bank issued credit cards charge interest rates that are 20% higher than those charged for local bank and credit union cards, the paper added. The paper adds: “This Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to end your abusive relationship with big banks that have a stranglehold on our country,” Bankster said. “They’ve been lying, gambling, cheating and they seem to think they can just keep getting away with it forever. Now’s the time to tell them you want to bank with someone who actually cares about you and whose interest rates don’t exceed their actual interest.” To read the editorial, use the link.

Polish and Slavic FCU establishes midwest presence

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NEW YORK (2/16/10)--The Polish & Slavic FCU (PSFCU) in Brooklyn, N.Y., established its presence in the midwest by moving into the Chicago area. On Jan. 30, it opened its first two branches in the city's suburbs of Mt. Prospect and Norridge. The Chicago expansion is PSFCU’s most recent move in its development program. Of the credit union’s 14 total branches, more than one-third (five) have opened in the past three years (MarketWire Feb. 12). The new branches will serve the nearly 300,000 residents of Polish and Slavic descent living in the North-Central part of the metropolis, and it is expected that many of the 150,000 Polish-Americans from the southern Chicago area also will take advantage of the credit union’s services. “Given the state of concern surrounding many financial institutions today, it is refreshing and reassuring to see the smart and profitable growth of this dynamic credit union,” said Michael Fryzel, board member of the National Credit Union Administration, who was the guest of honor for the dual ribbon-cutting ceremonies. “I am confident that PSFCU will be as successful here as it is on the East Coast.” The $1.233 billion-asset credit union has historically serviced members throughout the metropolitan New York region with 12 branches in New York and New Jersey. Also, the largest U.S. ethnic credit union makes its services available to members nationwide through its online banking operations. “Serving the Polish and Slavic community is what we’re all about,” said Ira Brief, PSFCU interim CEO. “Therefore, it’s only natural that we finally open for business in the great Polish-American cauldron of Chicago.” Members of the PSFCU board of directors, a representative from the Polish Consulate, local politicians, ethnic media and various Polish organizations attended the ribbon-cutting. The actual grand opening ceremony took place in the Mt. Prospect branch, while the ribbon-cutting moment from Norridge was beamed in via a video connection. “It took us more than a decade to cross the Hudson with our first branch in New Jersey, but over the past few years we have shown proof that our model works and that we are highly attractive to would-be members not only in Illinois, but other states as well,” said Krystyna Myssura, the vice chairwoman of the PFSCU board of directors. “What we've accomplished on the East Coast will certainly be replicated here in the heart of the Midwest.”

Wash. biz journal CUs step into lending void

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WASHINGTON (2/16/10)--A banner headline Washington Business Journal article noted that credit unions are working to fill the lending void left by financial institutions that have cut back on loans. The article notes the lending activities of Mid-Atlantic FCU, Germantown, Md.; Apple FCU, Fairfax, Va.; Signal Financial FCU, Kensington, Md.; and Lafayette FCU, also in Kensington (Feb. 12). Apple FCU, for example, made $15 million in business loans in 2009. The credit union is working to double that to $30 million this year and plans to add a fourth employee to its business services department next month, the Journal said. Many bank lenders are “too conservative with SBA lending,” according to Frank Amantia, president of Mid-Atlantic Financial Partners, a credit union service organization affiliated with Mid-Atlantic. “Some lenders say they just won’t lend to any restaurants,” Amantia told the Journal. “Well, some restaurants have been around for 100 years. We take the time to dig down and understand the circumstances.” The newspaper also noted that credit unions are lobbying to increase their business lending cap to 25% of assets from 12.25%. Signal Financial, Mid-Atlantic and Lafayette are close to the cap.

Ohio league creates YouTube channel for CU news

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DUBLIN, Ohio (2/16/10)--The Ohio Credit Union League has created a YouTube channel for television news coverage of credit unions in the state. The YouTube Channel will feature past and upcoming news clips about credit unions, including consumer tips, financial education and credit union growth (eLumination Feb. 10). About 14 clips are currently posted on the site. Viewers can receive alerts about new videos by becoming a “fan” of the page. The league also will notify CEOs and marketers of new videos through its Monthly Media Talking Points.

CU System briefs (02/15/2010)

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* MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (2/16/10)--Members Source CU, Merrillville, Ind., and SMH FCU, Munster, Ind. members voted to approve a merger of the two credit unions Jan. 21 at a special meeting (NWITimes.com Feb. 13). Members Source CU was originally established as NIPSCO Industries FCU in Hammond, Ind. The credit union is now headquartered in Merrillville. The merger will offer members of the credit unions full-service office locations in Merrillville, Munster and Griffith. Limited service locations will be located in Hammond and Dyer. The combined credit union will be known as Members Source CU and have more than 9,000 members ... * POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (2/16/10)--Hudson Valley FCU, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., received the Richard K. Wagner Workplace Inclusiveness Award from the Poughkeepsie Journal (Jan. 17). The award is named after the newspaper’s former publisher and recognizes achievements in producing work forces free of bias regarding race, age and gender. The credit union has 765 employees--24% of them black, Hispanic or Asian. About 550 of the employees are female--including President/CEO Mary Madden. Five staff members are disabled. Minority-focused job search engines and veteran targeted job fairs help secure a well-rounded applicant pool, Diane Allenbaugh, vice president of human resources, told the newspaper. “We should mirror our population,” she said ... * SUITLAND, Md. (2/16/10)--Andrews FCU provided a gift basket to the last baby born at Malcolm Grow Medical Center on Joint Base in Andrews, Md. The Maternal Child Unit at the center permanently closed Jan. 31 and inpatient care was transferred to Southern Maryland Hospital in Clinton, Md. The gift basket had a baby monitor, bouncy seat, sling carrier, clothing, blankets, diapers, wipes and other items. It also contained a letter from Andrews FCU providing an opening deposit for the baby’s first savings account. From left: Lt. Col. Kathryn Tate, 779th Surgical Operations Squadron commander; Col. Rudolph Cachuela, 779th Medical Group commander; and Petty Officer Brandon, his wife Stephanie and baby girl Priseis on Feb. 2 at the medical center. (Photo provided by Andrews FCU) ...

CUSB touts CUs in radio ad campaign

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (2/16/10)--The Credit Union Shared Branch (CUSB) Network has launched a 12-month radio campaign that will highlight 17 St. Louis, Mo.-area credit unions. The campaign, which began this month, consists of two 30-second radio commercials and a traffic spot that notes St. Louis area credit unions as the sponsors. The ads explain that credit unions can use the CUSB Network to visit branches of other credit unions to conduct business, according to the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA). The ads also provide a Web address that listeners can visit for more information (The Missouri difference Feb. 12). “We hope that when a member hears the name of his or her credit union, they may find out for the first time that it participates in Shared Branching,” said Mark Hohenstein, MCUA vice president of CUSB. Credit unions featured on the traffic spots include:
* 1st Financial FCU, Wentzville; * American Eagle CU, St. Louis; * Anheuser-Busch Employees’ CU, St. Louis; * Arsenal CU, Arnold; * Century CU, St. Louis; * CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City; * County CU, Clayton; * Electro Savings CU, St. Louis; * First Missouri CU, St. Louis; * Gateway Metro FCU, St. Louis; * Gateway Regional CU, St. Louis; * Health Care Family CU, Richmond Heights; * Laclede Family Savings, St. Louis; * St. Louis Community CU; * Neighbors CU, St. Louis; * Southpointe CU, St. Louis; and * West Community CU, O’Fallon.
For more information about CUSB or to listen to the radio ads, use the links.