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Consumer satisfaction strong at CUs--new survey

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (2/17/10)--Credit unions just added another notch to the consumer satisfaction belt. Credit unions--again--outscored other financial institutions in customer satisfaction--this time in the just-released University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The study report, released Tuesday, found that big banks lost ground this year, while credit unions maintained a steady hold on consumers' satisfaction levels with their financial institutions. Credit unions overall received a rating of 84 on a 100-point scale. That score is the second highest score and the same rating they received last year--an accomplishment in today's credit market upheavals. Banks received a 75, also the same as last year. However, some big banks slid in the most recent survey. Customers were especially dissatisfied with Bank of America (whose score was 67--an industry low and an 8% drop from the last survey) and JPMorgan Chase ( which dropped 7% to 68.) The only other financial services category was "finance and insurance industry," which scored 77.1, an improvement over last year's 76. The high score--85--was nabbed by only two of the 44 industry categories studied: soft drinks, and personal care and cleaning products. Several industries had the same score as credit unions but none are related to the financial services. They were automobiles and light vehicles, breweries, and full service restaurants. The latest study adds to other recent surveys by Forrester, the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index (News Now Feb. 5), and the Rasmussen Index, which all showed credit unions to be more trustworthy than banks. (See RELATED STORY, "CU safety, soundness tops in CUNA nationwide poll," in News Now's Washington section).

VolCorp reports 2009 losses doesnt expect more

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (2/17/10)--Volunteer Corporate CU (VolCorp) announced its 2009 unaudited financials, saying it continues to have positive retained earnings of $2.8 million after writing off all its remaining capital at U.S. Central--$2.1 million--on Dec. 31. Losses for 2009 totaled nearly $19.4 million, compared with $6 million in losses for 2008. Retained earnings is the cushion that protects the Nashville, Tenn.-based corporate from absorbing losses, said President/CEO Rick Veach in a letter to VolCorp's members posted on the corporate's website. Unrealized securities losses, or the difference between book and market values, have declined to $2.3 million as of Dec. 31, 2009, from $10.9 million on Dec. 31, 2008. "VolCorp remains unique in that our members' capital accounts have not been depleted, thanks to our positive Retained Earnings position," Veach said in the letter. "We continue to believe that we will not have to ask members to impair their capital with us in the future," he added. He cited as reasons:
* VolCorp has no further capital exposure to U.S. Central; * Its core earnings--earnings exclusive of write-downs on VolCorp's capital accounts with U.S. Central--remain strong at $3.2 million for the 12 months ended Dec. 31; * The corporate continues to receive strong support from its member credit unions, with almost $2 billion in assets under management; * It has added to its revenue base by adding eight new credit unions; * VolCorp's unrealized securities losses have declined significantly; and * It has budgeted $2.6 million in core earnings for 2010 (or 21 basis points).
Total capital position, including the $2.8 million in retained earnings and $51.2 million in membership capital shares, was $54.1 million. Use the link to access the unaudited financials on VolCorp's website.

NACUSO announces D.C. area for first regional meeting

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WASHINGTON (2/17/10)--The National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) announced the Washington, D.C., area as the site for its first Regional Meeting Series. The theme is “Using Collaboration Strategies and Networked Business Design to Grow and Sustain Your Credit Union.” The meeting will be held in Herndon, Va., March 10. Guy Messick, NACUSO general counsel, will be the presenter. The series’ purpose is to help credit unions by initiating local area, one-day meetings nationwide to foster learning and collaboration, NACUSO said. The organization will share practical information on the collaborative model and how it is being used. The meeting is for staff of credit unions and credit union service organizations. For more information use the link, or contact Judy Sandberg judysandberg@gsgllc.com or Shawna Luna shawna@nacuso.org.

Dahlstrom is newest CUNA Board member

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (2/17/10)--Voting has concluded in the special election for the District 6, Class C seat on the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) Board of Directors. The successful candidate was Steven L. Dahlstrom, president/CEO of Spokane Teachers CU, Spokane, Wash. He ran against Dave Rhamy, president/CEO of Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas. Dahlstrom's term begins immediately and will run through CUNA's 2012 Annual General Meeting.

Oregon House passes public funds bill

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SALEM, Ore. (2/17/10)--The Oregon House passed legislation Monday allowing the state treasurer, school districts and local governments to invest more funds in local credit unions. House Bill 3700, which for the first time allows the investment of more than $250,000 in a local credit union, passed the Oregon House on a 44-13 vote, reported the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO). The bill should spur investment in local communities, helping to relieve a severe shortage of capital that can be loaned to local businesses ready to expand, said House speaker Dave Hunt (D-Gladstone). “Let’s keep these dollars here at home, working in our local communities, rather than send those dollars into a deep dark hole in some other state,” Hunt said. “The issue of local investments in local businesses has been identified by small business owners as the greatest impediment to expansion in Oregon.” Investments in local community banks is still allowed and encouraged under HB 3700. “Keeping funds here at home, whether it is in a credit union or a community bank, is a huge benefit to Oregon at a time when we need to create jobs,” said State Rep. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay). “These local banks and credit unions will be anxious to invest in their local communities. And that’s a positive step forward for Oregon.” State Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) agreed. “I support this bill because I want my local governments to have the greatest scope of safe choices possible when it comes to investing taxpayer dollars,” he said. “This bill expands safe choices for investment of public monies.” “Since 2003, we have learned from many of the public entities that the current $250,000 limit is a great impediment and limits their ability to choose credit unions as an option for their deposits,” CUAO said. “The purpose of the bill is to simply provide for an open marketplace where all public agencies will be able to secure the most advantageous depository arrangements for the public’s dollars. Many credit unions in Oregon have the staff, the facilities, the security, the assets, and the expertise to service public agencies, just as they do individual members. “The ability to accept public funds has been on credit unions’ legislative agenda for the past decade,” CUAO added. The bill will go to the Oregon Senate for consideration.

CU System briefs (02/16/2010)

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* NEWARK, Del. (2/17/10)--Louviers FCU has been approved to participate in the Delaware Economic Development Authority (DEDO) Small Business LIFT Program. LIFT, which stands for Limited Investment for Financial Traction, is a loan program to help fledging small businesses improve their cash flow. It was developed by DEDO with several state commercial banks. The credit union requested to be included in the program to make the funding available to its small business members, said the Delaware Credit Union League (Together Feb. 15). Businesses eligible must have three to 50 employees, be in business at least three years, and have an existing line of credit with and be sponsored by their financial institution. Total funding per business is a maximum of $25,000 for a seven-year term loan. There are no payments for the first two years, and the business makes principal-only payments over the next five years. DEDO makes the interest payments directly to the financial institution on the borrower's behalf ... * NAPERVILLE, Ill. (2/17/10)--Rockford, Ill.-based Generations CU, working with Goodwill of Northern Illinois and the Center for Economic Progress, has opened a free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in Rockford at the Goodwill location. The site is open Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Saturdays through April 15. The Internal Revenue Service's(IRS) VITA program offers free tax-filing help to low-to-moderate income tax filers. The site will encourage taxfilers to file returns early and apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit. In the photo, Denise Leonard, Generations CU member relations manager, announces at a press conference the credit union's role as the sole financial partner for the VITA site, saying it is a great opportunity to serve the unbanked in the community. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League) ... * MADISON, Wis. (2/17/10)--For the second consecutive year, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's Council on Financial Literacy has selected Madison-based UW CU to receive the Governor's Financial Literacy Award. The award recognizes individuals and organizations for excellence in promoting financial literacy among Wisconsin residents. UW CU's selection was based on its Financial Education Program, which includes seminars hosted by the credit union. Jaimes Johnson, director of community and campus relations at UW CU, noted the program offers timely seminars on a broad range of topics tailored to the audience. Last year it added "Managing Your Finances During Difficult Economic Times" and "Credit Repair." In 2009, UW CU provided 260 seminars reaching more than 7,700 people--a 57% increase over the number reached in 2008. "We continually strive to reach as many people as possible, especially need-based groups," said Paul Kundert, president/CEO of UW CU ... * MT. PLEASANT, Mich. (2/17/10)--Isabella Community CU (ICCU), based in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., raised more than $24,000, which it donated to 21 local organizations in 2009. Shown are, from left, ICCU's Sue Curtiss, Red Cross Executive Director Deb Birkam and ICCU's Jessica Tice during the presentation of $1,730 in proceeds from the credit union's annual Thanksgiving Pie Sale to the Isabella County Red Cross Food Pantry. Employees and members also raised $1,569 for "Into the Life Cancer Walk," participated in a fall yard cleanup effort, and tripled their United Way giving for 2010 with more than $7,730. "Being active in this community, and supporting community giving efforts are important to ICCU because 'community' is our middle name," said President/CEO Jay Anders. (Photo provided by Isabella Community CU) ... * COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (2/17/10)--Ent FCU, based in Colorado Springs, Colo.,
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concluded another Care and Share campaign, which involved monetary donations, an internal turkey drive and collection barrels at all its service centers throughout Colorado Springs, Denver and Pueblo. Ent provided 3,538 pounds of food plus $893 in monetary donations to the Colorado Care and Share and Food Bank of the Rockies programs. Ent employees brought in more than 128 frozen turkeys to add to the collection efforts. Here, Willard Taylor, Ent FCU's supply and mailroom coordinator, loads up donated canned goods to deliver to participating food banks. (Photo provided by Ent FCU) ...

Education First FCU gives 1M to sponsor LU athletics

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BEAUMONT, Texas (2/17/10)--Education First FCU signed on as a sponsor of Lamar University athletics with a $1 million contribution, university officials announced Monday. “This sponsorship will be a tremendous help in bringing back football to Lamar University,” said Lamar President James Simmons. “Education First FCU has had a long relationship with Lamar University (LU),” said Jimmy Lackey, president of the $270 million-asset, Beaumont, Texas-based Education First. The credit union has had an office at Lamar University in Beaumont since 1979, has been a corporate sponsor of LU athletics since 2004 and has endowed scholarships for students at the university since 1990. “We are committed to athletics,” Lackey said. “We’re also committed to higher education; hence our name--Education First. This gift is just another way to support what is going on at the university.” The credit union’s name will be the sole, static sponsor name on the Provost Umphrey Stadium 50-foot by 24-foot digital scoreboard. Education First’s sponsorship of LU athletics will also be acknowledged on marquees, video boards and in game-day publications.

AARP says CUs an option for small biz loans

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MADISON, Wis. (2/17/10)--Credit unions are a viable alternative to federal government assistance and commercial banks when small businesses look for additional capital, according to the AARP. “Credit unions are still actively lending today,” Mark Wolff, senior vice president of communications with the Credit Union National Association, told the AARPBulletintoday (Feb. 15). “Part of the reason is that credit unions have been careful lenders, with losses on their portfolio that are about one-fifth of what the banks are experiencing,” he added. The average size of a credit union small-business loan is about $215,000, Wolff told AARP. “We have tons of cash to loan,” Rick Baca, vice president of business services at New Mexico Educators FCU in Albuquerque, N.M., told AARP. However, borrowers still must “show good performance,” to obtain financing, he added. To read the Bulletin, use the link.

Pack a childrens book for GAC

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WASHINGTON (2/17/10)--Harland Clarke, a CUNA Strategic Service provider, is asking attendees of this year’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), hosted by the Credit Union National Association, to bring a children’s book to the event. The books will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network, which raises money to benefit seriously ill children at children’s hospitals nationwide. Attendees can drop off new books appropriate for toddlers through teens at Booth #217 in the exhibit hall at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The books will be displayed in the booth to demonstrate Harland’s support of the Children’s Miracle Network. The GAC kicks off Sunday and ends Thursday. Harland Clarke provides payment solutions to financial institutions including credit unions.

Virginia Corporate CEO resigns

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (2/17/10)--Virginia Corporate FCU’s (VACORP) president/CEO, Jim Hansen, has submitted his resignation to the board. His last day at the credit union is Friday. The board has begun a search for Hansen’s replacement, according to a letter Don Chapman, board member, sent to members. Chapman will serve as interim CEO and work with senior management to coordinate VACORP’s day-to-day operations. “Jim’s tireless efforts have been instrumental in growing the corporate and significantly improving the quality and range of services available to members,” Chapman said. “The board wholeheartedly thanks him for his exceptional leadership during the past seven years and extends their very best wishes.” VACORP, Lynchburg, Va., plans to host a town a meeting today in Richmond, Va.

Kansas legislators told CUs a smart choice

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TOPEKA, Kan. (2/17/10)--More than 175 individuals representing Kansas credit unions gathered at the Kansas Statehouse Feb. 10 to meet with legislators and discuss issues affecting credit unions.
Click to view larger image (From left) Angie Miller, manager of Emporia (Kan.) State FCU; Rick Krehbiel, manager, Mid-Kansas CU, Moundridge; and Stanley Schrag, volunteer, Mid-Kansas CU, talk with Kansas State Rep. Don Schroeder (R-74) Wednesday at the state Capitol.
Click to view larger image Marla Marsh (left), president/CEO of the Kansas Credit Union Association, and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), met at the Kansas Statehouse Wednesday during Kansas credit unions’ day at the Capitol. (Photos provided by the Kansas Credit Union Association)
The central theme was, “Credit unions--Always a Smart Choice for Consumers,” according to the Kansas Credit Union Association. Credit union leaders shared several key messages with elected officials:
* Kansas credit unions are serving their members during the economic recession, but are concerned about the impact increasing legislative and regulatory burdens might have on their ability to do so in the future; * Consolidating the Kansas Department of Credit Unions and the Bank Commissioner’s Office does not make sense for effective oversight and will not help the budget shortfall; * Kansas credit unions support efforts to increase economic development and access to lending for small businesses; and * Kansas credit unions oppose sweeping funds from 100% fee-supported agencies--such as the Kansas Department of Credit Unions--to the state’s general fund.
“We received positive feedback with legislators agreeing with our position on several issues,” said Haley DaVee, league vice president of legislative and public affairs. “The overall feeling at the capitol was one of support and encouragement for the important work we’re doing.” Kansas credit unions represent 6.3% of the state’s market share, compared with banks’ 75.2% and savings banks’ 18.5%. The state’s credit unions have experienced loan growth of 10.9% compared with 2.2% nationally. Kansas credit unions represent 600,000 members.