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State Employees CU offers college savings investment

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RALEIGH, N.C. (4/22/10)--North Carolina’s National College Savings Program (NC 529 Plan) has added the Federally Insured Deposit Account, which is provided by State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU), Raleigh, N.C., to the investment options it offers. Announced by College Foundation of North Carolina on April 12, the deposit account provides protection of principal and earnings, offers a competitive interest rate, and is insured by the National Credit Union Administration. The new investment option is the culmination of collaboration between SECU, College Foundation, Inc. and the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. “SECU members have expressed an interest in this type of account, and we are very pleased that credit union members and non-members interested in investing for college have this option,” said Joan McCool, senior vice president of SECU’s Individual Retirement Account & Investment Services department. A 529 Plan is a tax-advantaged education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution and is designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. Contributions by North Carolina taxpayers made to the Federally Insured Deposit Account or any of the other 13 investment options available in the NC 529 Plan may be eligible for an annual state income tax deduction. Earnings on investment options in a NC 529 account also grow free from federal and North Carolina income tax, and are not taxed by North Carolina or the federal government upon withdrawal when used for qualified higher education expenses. “This new option should be particularly appealing for conservative investors who want return without worry about investment loss, or perhaps have an older child who will soon be attending college,” said Shera Hube, vice president for marketing and savings at College Foundation, Inc., which administers the NC 529 Plan. Steve Brooks, executive director for the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, which established and maintains the NC 529 Plan, added: “We have worked with SECU on several projects that have been a real benefit to families paying for college. Making a federally insured investment option available now for all NC 529 Plan participants to consider is another good example of how our organizations collaborate to make higher education possible.”

Southeastern CU League adds members increases lending

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. and TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (4/22/10)--Consumers in Alabama and Florida were very clear in 2009--they were looking for a local financial institution with their best interest in mind. Southeastern credit unions earned consumers’ trust by adding 74,000 new members last year--the highest total in four years, according to the League of Southeastern Credit Unions. The league represents 313 credit unions in Alabama and Florida with a combined total of $54 billion in assets and more than 6.3 million members. Credit union members also saw the benefits of a local institution that would help them save money. Southeastern credit unions saw record growth in savings with members saving more in 2009 than in the past five years. Alabama credit union members’ savings was up 12%--two times the national credit union average. Florida members’ savings was 5% higher--a 100% improvement from 2008. The gauge of strength for a financial institution is its net worth ratio. A financial institution with a 7% ratio is considered well-capitalized. Collectively, Florida credit unions are at 9.5%, while Alabama credit unions are collectively at 11.2%. As the economy begins to pick up, lending remains scarce. In Alabama, credit unions are doing their part by lending to their members in the areas of new- and used-auto loans, as well as first mortgages. Alabama credit unions saw a 5% growth in lending, which is five times the national credit union average. “If you look inside the Alabama numbers, the credit unions are making high-quality loans with low delinquencies and charge offs,” said league President/CEO Patrick La Pine. “In Florida, the local economy continues to struggle, but credit unions remain on solid ground. They are working with their members to help them save, as well as continuing to meet their lending needs.” Florida credit unions maintain a 66% loans-to-assets ratio. This is higher than the national credit union average and shows credit unions aren’t pulling their money back during a tough economic stretch. In 2009, Southeastern credit unions earned their members trust, had their best interest in mind and helped them achieve a higher level of savings, the league said.

CUNA Council offers guidance on leadership training process review

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MADISON, Wis. (4/22/10)--Creating the best value for the member/consumer and streamlining employee workflow is the topic of one of two new white papers from the CUNA Human Resources/Training Development (HR/TD) Council. “Effective Credit Union Leadership Training” looks at success factors and benefits of a successful program, such as higher productivity, bottom-line savings, alignment between values and the credit union’s culture, and a way to embrace the changes and challenges that can be overwhelming in today’s workplace. Employees are a credit union’s most valued possession. They are the ones who, among other things, make member contact, and keep the credit union running efficiently. Leadership training is a powerful way to utilize and maximize the efficiencies of credit union managers and supervisors. The paper examines the successful leadership training program at GECU in El Paso, Texas, describes how it works well, and what other credit unions can take away from its example. Also released is “LEAN--A Diet Credit Unions and Members Can Benefit From,” which examines the underlying principles and discipline of LEAN process review. At LEAN’s core is the idea of re-engineering a selected task and eliminating unnecessary, outdated and redundant steps. The people most connected to a selected task are considered to be the most experienced as opposed to rank within the credit union. Frontline personnel are a key part of cross-functional teams and are engaged in deciphering root causes of waste, determining solutions, and assisting in their implementation. The paper includes a step-by-step overview of LEAN process review with real-life credit union examples and insights from experts. Additional guidance is given on project and team selection, the emotional dynamics and interactions that can occur during a LEAN review, and the boundaries of what LEAN can and cannot do. Its target audience is human resource and training development personnel, but the paper also may prove valuable to other members of senior management and board personnel. For more information, use the links.

CU System briefs (04/21/2010)

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* MADISON, Wis. (4/22/10)--Anne Cochran, president/CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League, has been elected treasurer of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Cochran has two decades of experience in the credit union movement, serving on various Credit Union National Association and American Association of Credit Union League committees. She also has been an avid WOCCU supporter for 10 years. Some of Cochran's accomplishments include fostering a partnership with the Louisiana league, WOCCU, the Iowa Credit Union League and its subsidiary Coopera and Mexico's Caha Morelia Valladolid credit union to launch a program to teach New Orleans' credit unions to better serve the Hispanic market. "As I continue to work in Louisiana to broaden the reach of the credit union movement, lessons and fruit of the work that is ongoing in our home state can be useful to emerging credit unions in other countries," she said. "I am honored to represent CUNA and the U.S. credit union movement at the international level. I share WOCCU's focus in attracting donor funding to implement development projects where great need for credit unions services exist." Among her other contributions, Cochran has presented educational training programs in Uganda, sponsored and hosted the chairman of the Uganda League of Credit Unions for one week in New Orleans, and was inducted into WOCCU's International Executive Volunteer Corps in 2009, which recognizes individuals for their years of valuable technical assistance and international service to support WOCCU's efforts in developing countries. "Her passion has developed from perseverance, growth under pressure, an understanding of the varying needs of credit unions worldwide and bringing financial dignity to current and potential membership in credit unions throughout the world," said the Louisiana league… * HERNDON, Va. (4/22/10)--The Northwest FCU Foundation sponsored Super Saturday at Herndon High School, presented by the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Education Council with College Access Fairfax and Fairfax County Public Schools. The free event helped Fairfax County students and parents complete and submit the electronic version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). More than 90 individuals attended the event. In addition to sponsoring Super Saturday, four $100 book scholarships were awarded to students at the event ... * SACO, Maine (4/22/10)--PeoplesChoice CU, Saco, Maine, donated
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$7,606 to 11 York County food pantries. The credit union raised the money as part of the total $375,924 raised by the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger. To raise money, the credit union held a golf tournament, bake sales and casual days. All of the funds raised will stay in-state. Since 1990, Maine’s credit unions have raised more than $3.5 million to help hunger in Maine. PeoplesChoice has $120 million in assets. (Photo provided by PeoplesChoice CU) ... * LIVINGSTON, Texas (4/22/10)--William Josef Berkley, who was convicted of killing 18-year-old Sophia Martinez in 2000, is scheduled to be executed today in Huntsville, Texas (Associated Press April 21). A man climbed into Martinez’s car while she was withdrawing money from an ATM at a Government Employees CU branch. He forced her to withdraw $200 from the ATM before the two drove off. Two days later, Martinez’s body was found in the desert. She had been shot in the head five times and there was evidence that she had been raped, the newspaper said. Attorneys had tried this week to put off Berkley’s lethal injection. Government Employees CU, El Paso, Texas, has $1.6 billion in assets ...

NY CUs make their case at state GAC

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/22/10)--Ninety New York credit union representatives attended the Credit Union Association of New York’s annual state Governmental Affairs Conference in Albany. The group discussed political issues and opportunities affecting credit unions.
Mark Pfisterer, president/CEO, Americu CU, questioned state banking examiners during a roundtable meeting at the Credit Union Association of New York’s annual governmental affairs conference in Albany. (Photo provided by the Credit Union Association of New York)
The event opened with a state-chartered credit union roundtable featuring New York State Banking Department Principal Examiner Marcel Baruth and Banking Examiner Richard Cordner, who spoke about credit unions’ strong performance in 2009. Association staff and leaders also joined a coalition of local groups and legislators at a press conference in support of municipal depository choice, which would allow government entities to deposit tax dollars in credit unions or local banks. Speakers at the press conference included: William Mellin, president/CEO, Credit Union Association of New York; Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings; Michael Breslin, Albany County executive; State Reps. Tim Gordon (I-Bethlehem), Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Island); State Sens. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) and Craig Johnson (D-Long Island); Vestal Town Supervisor Pete Andreasen; and Mike Tobler of Albany Firemen’s FCU. Credit union representatives also met with more than 100 senators and assembly members, urging lawmakers to support the municipal deposit legislation. “Municipal deposit choice puts more public dollars back on Main Street,” Mellin said. John McKechnie, National Credit Union Administration director of public and congressional affairs, discussed the political climate in Washington, D.C. and how it will affect credit unions, and Michael Hook, founding partner of Greener and Hook, discussed upcoming state and national elections.

W. Va. league elects officers

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (4/22/10)--The West Virginia Credit Union League has re-elected Tom Walker as chairman of its board. The elections were conducted during the league’s annual meeting Saturday in Charleston. Walker is a 40-year veteran of the credit union movement and a director of Universal FCU, Huntington. Other officers elected include:
* First Vice Chairman Dave Van Middlesworth, Eastern Panhandle FCU, Martinsburg; * Second Vice Chairman Donna Gordon, Mercer Co. WV FCU, Bluefield; * Treasurer Doris Cunningham, Members Choice WV FCU, Charleston; and * Secretary Mike Tucker, West Virginia Central CU, Parkersburg.
Also at the meeting, Janet Stagani, Tin Mill EFCU, Weirton, received the William Bryan Hawkins Award. The award is the league’s highest annual recognition of a credit union volunteer. Barbara Roberts, Raleigh Co. Educators FCU, Beckley, received the Pacesetter Award. The award symbolizes excellence among credit union staff in West Virginia.