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CUNA on small business radio show Saturday

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NEW YORK (3/30/11)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) will be among those discussing small business lending issues in a live radio broadcast Saturday afternoon from "The Small Business Authority Studio" at 77WABC Radio in New York. Bill Hampel, CUNA senior vice president of research and policy analysis and chief economist, will participate in the program, "The Small Business Authority Hour," which airs Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, following the Monica Crowley show. The program is hosted by Barry Sloane, CEO/president/chairman of Newtek Business Services, The Small Business Authority, which sponsors the program. The company is a CUNA Strategic Services provider. Joining Hampel and Sloane will be Michael Minerva, senior vice president and Regional Market Credit Executive managing Capital One's market credit executives in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. "The credit markets are still very tight," said Sloane. "We are experiencing the deleveraging of the world and U.S. economy. Without credit expansion, the economy has headwinds that are stiff and create conditions that make it difficult to grow a small business in," he added. The show will focus on the recent history, current and future conditions of the credit market for small business, he said. Also, the panel will discuss what small businesses should do to plan for the future and address how this will affect the small business economy and government policy, Sloane added. Listeners nationwide can tune in at www.wabcradio.com and click "listen live." The panel will take questions from independent business owners during the live broadcast from 4;20 p.m. to 5 p.m. Listeners can call 800-848-9222 (WABC) to ask a question. CUNA supports bills in Congress that would raise credit unions' member business lending cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Raising the cap would create 140,000 new jobs and provide $13 billion in new small business loans, at no cost to the taxpayer.

CU System briefs (03/29/2011)

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* CONYERS, Ga. (3/30/11)--A man suspected of holding up Georgia's Own CU March 9 and tying up members and employees with duct tape in a back room before leading police on a high-speed car chase was indicted Monday in a federal district court in Atlanta. Cepeda Broughton, 40, was indicted on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in the armed robbery. He allegedly entered the credit union, ordered three employees and a member into a back room where he bound them with duct tape, and forced a fourth employee to open the vault and give him money before binding that employee with duct tape. The robber escaped with $140,000 in a stolen vehicle, but a member outside the credit union called 911. The car chase that ensued caused multiple traffic accidents before the getaway car was stopped. Broughton was arrested after a chase into an apartment complex (Rockdale Citizen March 28) … * ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (3/30/11)--PSCU Financial Services, a credit union service organization (CUSO) based in St. Petersburg, Fla., has issued a $21.3 million dividend for its member owners for 2010. It also passed along $6.5 million in savings in the form of price cuts and rebates, and saw a 6.3% increase in net income and revenue, the CUSO said. In addition, it also paid $8.9 million in revolving funds due to member-owners in December--four months early. The CUSO also saw a 6% growth in debit/credit/prepaid and online bill payment transactions; a 4.9% expansion in contact center volumes; and 1.3 billion transactions. It did so by reducing service billings, issuing an invoice rebate and trimming $10 million from operational costs, said Craig Esrael, president of First South Financial, Bartlett, Tenn., and chairman of PSCU Financial Services' board … * LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. (3/30/11)--The headquarters of United Nations FCU (UNFCU) has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification, the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR certification signifies that Court Square Place, a 16-story, 274,000-square foot facility, performs in the top 25% of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets industry standards for indoor air quality Court Square Place serves as headquarters for UNFCU on seven floors; the balance is occupied by four additional tenants, including the United Nations … * INDIANAPOLIS (3/30/11)--Financial Center, an Indiana credit union, is teaming up with local charities to sponsor ShiftIndiana.com, a website that promotes charitable giving and volunteerism in the state. Financial Center is the chief driver behind Shift Indiana and is collaborating with individuals and charitable organizations to create content on the site. Readers are also invited provide content by telling how they are changing Indiana through their volunteerism and charitable efforts …

Budget layoffs prompt AFCU site to help educators

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AUSTIN, Texas (3/30/11)--With many of the schools within its membership affected by state budget-crisis layoffs, A+FCU, Austin, Texas, has launched a website to help members ease the burden of financial difficulties. The site, mydream-job.org, offers free financial educational resources, including guidance on stretching a budget during unemployment, one-on-one financial coaching, lending assistance and advice on how to become one’s own boss. “The new website is another way of ensuring those in need have a support system in place, said Kerry A. S. Parker, CEO of A+FCU. “It allows us to give back to the community that has been integral in making us who we are today.” A+FCU was created by 50 Austin Independent School District teachers in 1949. Parker will appear on FOX-7’s “Good Day Austin” on April 12 to discuss mydreamjob.org and a workshop series, “Surviving My Layoff,” which begins April 21. To visit the website, use the link.

Members debt is deep Schenk tells CU Reality Check

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (3/30/11)--Although the U.S. economy is improving, credit unions must confront the reality that their members’ debt is deep, and will keep credit union lending spotty, a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) economist told an event sponsored by the New Jersey Credit Union League and affiliated partners. Also, the housing market will take a long time to recover, Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of research and statistics, told more than 194 credit union leaders from six states at the league’s 2011 Credit Union Reality Check held last week in Atlantic City, N.J. (The Weekly Exchange March 21). Despite the down economy, the credit union model still functions properly, Schenk said, providing data that indicate in 2010 credit unions collectively saved their members roughly $6.6 billion--compared with banks--by offering better interest rates and lower fees. “We have seen credit unions can endure lower earnings for short periods, but still serve their members,” Schenk told the gathering. Schenk also presented corporate credit union loss data, indicating that losses from mortgage-backed securities totaled $10 billion to $16 billion. Of that amount, $7 billion has been paid through previous assessments, leaving $3 billion to $9 billion to be paid by credit unions, he added. Also discussed at the 2011 Credit Union Reality Check were the future of the corporate credit union network, the importance of non-interest income, credit union mergers, marketing ideas for 2011, public relations strategies for credit unions, and how the National Credit Union Administration’s recent regulation on financial education requirements impact directors and volunteers.

Visterra CU establishes fund for member slain at ATM

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MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (3/30/11)--Visterra CU in Moreno Valley, Calif., has established a memorial fund for a member slain at one of its branches during a robbery. On Sunday evening, 23-year-old member Carrie Thomas, the apparent victim of a robbery, was killed while using the drive-thru ATM at the Moreno Valley location. “Visterra CU takes every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of our members and guests while operating our ATMs,” said Janet DuHaime, senior vice president/chief operating officer. “We are truly sorry for the Thomas family’s tragic loss and are working closely with Moreno Valley Police to provide whatever evidence we can supply from our security footage in hopes of finding the person responsible for this horrific crime.” In honor of Thomas, the credit union has established a memorial fund for her family. Donations can be dropped off at any Visterra CU location, mailed to Visterra CU, PO Box 9500, Moreno Valley, CA 92552-9500, Attn C. Thomas Memorial Fund, or a check-by-phone can be taken directly at 951-656-4411. Visterra CU has $350 million in assets.

Autoland gives to Japan relief monitors impact on industry

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CHATSWORTH, Calif. (3/30/11)--Autoland Inc. will donate a portion of the proceeds of each vehicle purchased through its car buying service to the American Red Cross to aid relief efforts in Japan. On March 11, an earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, causing a tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country. Recorded as 9.0 on the Richter scale, it was the largest quake ever to hit the country. As the nation struggles with a rescue effort, it also faces the worst nuclear emergency since Chernobyl. As of March 29, the official death toll was raised to more than 11,000, with more than 17,000 people listed as missing, although there may be some overlap between the two groups (New York Times March 29). The final toll is expected to reach nearly 20,000. More than 190,000 survivors remain housed in temporary shelters. “This is a devastating disaster in human terms that’s magnified by the unstable nuclear situation in Japan,” said Marcia Francisco, Autoland’s senior vice president of marketing and business development. “The credit union movement is based on the idea of ‘people helping people.’ That concept goes beyond borders, and we want to do what we can to help the Japanese people as part of the global community.” Beyond the human tragedy, the disaster has also disrupted the Japanese auto industry, said Autoland. Toyota has told its workers to brace for plant shutdowns around the U.S. as inventories run out, though the company has a strong record of keeping employees on payroll through training and other duties if manufacturing is halted (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s Life is a Highway March 24). General Motors is the only auto maker that has announced plant shutdowns in the U.S. due to a shortage of Japanese parts. It is idling production at a plant that makes small Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups in Shreveport, La., and laying off more than 50 workers at a New York plant that makes engines for the pickups. “We’re watching that situation closely to see how it might impact members of our partner credit unions who are trying to purchase cars, and how we might be able to help,” Francisco said of the conditions in the auto industry.

Vermont CUs on display at Statehouse

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (3/30/11)--The Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) and its credit unions were on display in the Vermont Statehouse Card Room Thursday. The AVCU display featured headlines from mass media websites that showcased how frequently credit unions have been in the press the past 12 to 18 months.
Vermont's credit unions were on display in the Vermont Statehouse Card Room Thursday. The Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) display featured headlines from mass media websites that showcased credit unions in the press the past 12-18 months. (Photo provided by the Association of Vermont Credit Unions)
AVCU President Joe Bergeron and Legal Counsel Rick Brock promoted Vermont’s credit unions as state legislators moved through one of the busiest high-traffic rooms in the building (Newslines Express March 25). Print dailies included The New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer to MSN Money and The Huffington Post. The headlines covered many credit union issues, such as increased business lending, lower rates and fees on credit cards, home mortgages, car loans, and the growth of member services brought about by the consumer surge away from large banks. Legislators took handouts highlighting the name and location of all of Vermont’s credit unions and branches, enjoyed miniature chocolate bars, and entered their names into a drawing for a digital camera. Each year, the event helps set the stage for AVCU’s annual Legislator Appreciation Reception; this year it will be held April 20. Before the reception, credit union representatives will hear from several key state political leaders, including Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell and Speaker of the House Shap Smith.

Intern program kicks off second year in N.J. CUs

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HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (3/30/11)--An internship program that provides interns to credit unions in New Jersey and which will be a model for a national program, has kicked off its second year with Cycle IV internships.
Brenda Luengas works on projects at the New Jersey Credit Union League's office as an intern in the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) program, which placed 20 interns in the state's credit unions during its first year. BEST provides internship opportunities for people with disabilities. (Photo provided by the New Jersey Credit Union League)
More than 20 interns worked in credit unions during the first year of the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) internship program, said the New Jersey Credit Union League (The Daily Exchange March 25). Currently eight interns are working at the league and six credit unions: Affinity FCU, Basking Ridge; First Jersey CU, Wayne; Healthcare Employees FCU, Princeton; Member's lst of NJ FCU, Vineland; Rutgers FCU, New Brunswick; and XCEL FCU, Bloomfield. The BEST program, which provides internships for people with disabilities, aims to strengthen the connection between credit unions and the disability community, which has many underbanked and unbanked people. The program was developed by a partnership among the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the National Disability Institute, and Allies Inc., a New Jersey-based training group for people with disabilities. The Kessler Foundation is providing funding. The credit union program will serve as a national model, said the league. The partner organizations pay for and conduct the training of the BEST interns. Credit union participants have little or no cost in participating.

Ohio budget cuts affect CU regulator

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (3/30/11)--Ohio's recently unveiled budget package has reduced funding for the Department of Commerce and the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions (ODFI), which supervises state-chartered credit unions, according to the Ohio Credit Union League. The two-year package was announced by Gov. John Kasich (eLumination Newsletter March 23). It allocates $729.7 million for the Department of Commerce during fiscal year 2012--a 4.9% decrease from the department's 2011 budget. That decrease stems from plans to move the state's liquor merchandising program to JobsOhio. Funding for ODFI dropped 9.7%--to $18.99 million, said the league. The budget includes a 4.9% decrease in the credit union fund for 2012 but no decline in 2013. The ODFI's banking section declined 1.7% in 2012 and 4.1% in 2013. The ODFI's administration will also see a decrease for both years. The league said the figures will become clearer when the actual budget bill language is introduced. Overall, the state cut $2.3 billion from 250 line items, but spent more in its general revenue funds than the current package. Kasich's announcement said the biennium package closes an $8 billion gap while preserving an $800 million two-year income tax cut that went into effect Jan. 1. The budget provides $34 million in job-creating tax incentives, pursues major reforms and reduces spending, the governor said.