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CU in Oregon tells how it increased loans 18

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EUGENE, Ore. (4/30/10)--Oregon Community CU, based in Eugene, saw an 18% increase in loan results, year over year, for first quarter 2010. It booked more than $53 million in loans, compared with $44 million in first quarter 2009. "We decided early on that we were dedicated to helping the community weather the economic turbulence we feel today," said Mandy Jones, CEO. "Our members are getting a leg up on their financial lives, and we are proud to help them achieve their financial dreams, even when the economy is trying to convince them otherwise." Jones challenged her senior managers to build a comprehensive strategy--from the ground up--aimed at generating earnings, improving net worth and increasing loan volume. It includes:
* Setting aggressive--even "big, hairy, audacious"--goals for staff; * Providing comprehensive sales and product/service training so staff are knowledgeable and confident; * Measuring progress constantly and providing immediate feedback; and * Providing incentives, motivation and financially rewarding staff; * Constantly monitoring the market and pricing competitively; and * Making the strategy fun and celebrating success.
To accomplish this they developed an in-house training program to equip staff with the skills to become a member-centric sales force. "In 2010, we wanted to see what would happen if we implemented our own training program, designed by the employees for the employees," said Cheryl Collins, development manager at the credit union. A cross-functional team, called 360 Degree Training: Excelling in a Sales Culture, taught staff that the difference between good service and exceptional service is sales, but it doesn't have to feel like sales. "Our goal with sales training is to develop staff into trusted financial advisors." It set a goal to double loan growth in 2010. Each branch, the member contact center, and lending staff had specific goals. "At first, some staff wondered what we were thinking when we told them our goals," said Jerry Liudahl, vice president for retail operations and lending. "But now, the engagement and excitement throughout the organization is absolutely palpable."

Illinois league elects directors

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/30/10)--Two directors were sworn in to the Illinois Credit Union League (ICUL) board of directors Thursday at the league's annual Delegates' Meeting by Chairman John Bratsakis.
Illinois Credit Union League Chairman John Bratsakis, right, swears in two new league board directors--Alan Meyer, left, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Olin Community CU, and Dennis Schaefer, center, CEO of SIU CU--during the league's annual Delegates' Meeting Thursday. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League).
New directors elected were Alan Meyer, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Olin Community CU, Bethalto, Ill., and Dennis Schaefer, CEO of SIU CU, Carbondale. Meyer was elected at the Jan. 26 meeting of the George G. Burnett Chapter, and Schaefer was elected at the Jan. 28 meeting of the Egyptian Chapter. Their terms began immediately after the meeting. The Delegates' Meeting was one of a series of meetings and educational sessions just getting underway as part of ICUL's 80th Annual Convention, Wednesday through Saturday at the Chicago Hilton. Wednesday's agenda included an exhibit hall grand opening with more than 80 vendors attending. "Surf's Up: Catch a New Wave" is the conference theme. Nearly 690 individuals from more than 120 credit unions are attending.

CUs help Mississippi tornado victims

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JACKSON, Miss. (4/30/10)--Credit unions in Mississippi are pitching in to help communities after a tornado plowed through the state last weekend, killing 12 and damaging hundreds of homes. No credit unions have reported damages to the Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA) after the tornado hit, said Amy Manley, league corporate relations manager. BenchSmart FCU, Yazoo City--a community hit hardest by the storm--is providing care baskets with personal items to be delivered to affected individuals. Dawn Parks, BenchSmart president/CEO, used the MSCUA listserv to ask credit unions in the state to help, said Mansel Guerry, MS Employees FCU president/CEO, Jackson. Guerry said his credit union donated to the effort, and donations are still pouring in. As of press time, donations were pushing $10,000, he told News Now. “I called Dawn yesterday to check on her,” Guerry said. “She had just stepped out from buying items for people. She went out and bought items without knowing what people would donate [to cover the costs]. She took it upon herself to help.” The tornado hit Yazoo City on Saturday around noon, Guerry said. While Benchsmart was not open during the storm--the credit union is not open on Saturdays, Guerry said--and did not suffer any damages, many community members suffered damage. “It was a pretty rough hit,” he said. “The governor went up there after the storm and likened the damage to Hurricane Katrina.” Guerry said his area, which is about 45 miles from Yazoo City, was under a tornado watch for much of Saturday. “We were constantly monitoring the weather,” he said. “It was pretty touch-and-go, and everyone was on alert.” Guerry said the efforts credit unions are making to help people in the area exemplifies the philosophy of the credit union movement. Messages exchanged yesterday on the listserv questioned whether local banks would send each other messages to try and raise money to help tornado victims--but “I doubt it,” Guerry said. As for credit unions, “we are there to support each other,” he said. “That’s the real takeaway from this.” News Now contacted Parks for a comment. She was out delivering care baskets to the community.

Westerra member in Afghanistan donates 2K for scholarships

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DENVER (4/30/10)--While Westerra CU again is offering graduating high school seniors $1,000 scholarships to attend a technical school, college or university, two extra scholarships--for a total of 17--were added this year due to the generosity of Westerra member Steve Willey, who resides overseas. When he learned about the Westerra college scholarship program, Willey sent an e-mail to the credit union from his base in Afghanistan: “Is there any way I can contribute to the scholarship fund?” he wrote. “It is a bad economy now, I know. My brother lost his job, my sister’s employer is bankrupt, and my other sister is working two part-time jobs--but education for the next generation is so important that I would like to help where I can. How can I donate [$2,000] to that fund?” The 17 scholarship winners will be announced in May by the $1.18 billion asset, Denver-based credit union.

La. league Bill would repeal CU exemptions

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BATON ROUGE, La. (4/30/10)--The Louisiana Credit Union League was informed that proposed legislation targeting credit unions would be introduced in the state Senate. If Senate Bill 224 becomes law, it would repeal the credit union exemptions from the Louisiana Consumer Credit Law and the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act. However, the league and credit unions met with State Sen. Ann Duplessis (D-2) in Baton Rouge to discuss S.B. 224 and succeeded in getting her to agree not to schedule the bill for a hearing without further discussion with the league. Anne Cochran, league president/CEO; Connie Major, league executive vice president; and Jeff Conrad, president/CEO, Pelican State CU, Baton Rouge, attended the meeting to discuss how S.B. 224 would affect Louisiana credit unions (eNews April 28). The group shared information about the credit union philosophy and the unique service and programs that credit unions have to help improve the financial well-being of Louisiana consumers. Also, they discussed ways and opportunities to advance financial literacy and small-business lending in the state. The league expects to maintain regular discussions with the senator to advance topics of mutual interest. The Louisiana Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act provides for maximum interest rates, maximum fees for certain items--such as documentation, notary, tag/title convenience fees, transfer fees, and attorney’s fees--and regulates credit life and other insurance related to motor vehicle loans. The Louisiana Consumer Credit Law provides for maximum finance charges of consumer loans and credit cards, and maximum fees for certain items--such as origination, documentation, notary, delinquency charges and attorney’s fees. It also prohibits certain collections practices and limits creditor contacts after a consumer instructs the creditor to cease further contacts about indebtedness. The consumer credit law also regulates the release of consumer information by creditors and requires credit card issuers to register intent to solicit students prior to soliciting on a college campus. The two laws regulate matters that are specifically not preempted by National Credit Union Administration Regulation 701.21, said the league. Therefore, all Louisiana credit unions would have needed to perform a comprehensive review of their loan documentation to ensure compliance, and draft new documentation that complies with the new laws.

Silver State Schools CU to close five branches

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LAS VEGAS (4/30/10)--Silver State Schools CU, Las Vegas, will close five of its branches effective June 4, the credit union announced on its website. The branches will be closed as part of the credit union’s plan to save money. Affected branches include:
* Mae Anne, Reno; * Damonte, Reno; * Clayton, North Las Vegas; * Desert Foothills, Las Vegas; and *Anthem, Henderson.
The credit union also said it has implemented a new e-Checking program that encourages members to “go green” while saving costs for the credit union. Silver State Schools CU also plans to implement a new credit card program. The credit union is operating and working with the Nevada Financial Institutions Division under a consent order and following a plan that has been developed and put in place to benefit the credit union’s financial health. In 2008, the credit union reported a record $10 million net income from operations but set aside $10 million in reserves for potential loan losses. During 2009, as property values continued to decline and record numbers of members experienced reduced income, the credit union recorded $8.1 million net income from operations. However, it set aside $59 million to cover current and potential future loan losses (News Now Feb. 22). In February, the credit union received a capital infusion to bolster its general reserves from its private share insurer, American Share Insurance.

N.Y.s IMore ReportI outlines CUs outreach efforts

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/30/10)--The Credit Union Association of New York has released its 2009 More Report, an annual compilation of New York credit unions’ outreach efforts. The report, which stands for Member Outreach and Reinvestment Endeavor, is shared with lawmakers to offer evidence of how the state’s credit unions are fulfilling their mission. Stories in this year’s report note:
* Genesee Co-op FCU’s Family Aid loan program for members whose relatives are overseas or living as refugees. Members use the loans to assist their families with medical expenses, education costs and transportation out of refugee camps. Genesee, Rochester, N.Y., provided more than 100 loans totaling $267,000. * Jamestown (N.Y.) Area Community FCU’s New York Gear Up program, which helps at-risk students in junior high and high school attend college. Credit union employees mentor the students and encourage them to stay in school and pursue a college education. * ServU FCU’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, which the credit union has offered for six years. Employees volunteered their time to provide free tax preparation to the public. The Painted Post, N.Y.-based credit union completed 315 filings with combined state and federal returns totaling more than $560,000 in 2009.
For more information, use the link.

Flight to safety results in growth for Ohio CUs

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/30/10)--Consumers' flight to safety shows up in the 2009 statistics for Ohio's credit unions. The state's credit unions are well-capitalized at 11.7% of assets--higher than banks and thrifts around the state and nationally, said the Ohio Credit Union Quarterly Performance Summary. Nearly all the economic indicators for financial institutions saw growth. Loans and deposits increased more than $600 million and $1.8 billion respectively from Dec. 31, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2009. Membership increased nearly 30,000 for that time. "2009 was a banner year for our credit unions, and every indication is that this growth will continue," said Paul Mercer, president of the Ohio Credit Union League. "Many factors contributed to our success, but the anti-banking sentiment among consumers and their eagerness to invest in a community-based financial institution were important drivers," he said. "Our credit unions also impressed upon new and existing members the empowerment that comes with becoming an owner of your institution, not just a customer," Mercer added. Credit unions in the state totaled $12.4 billion in loans at year-end 2009. Auto lending continued to be a driving force behind loan growth, with market share growing from 12.4% in December. 2008 to 17.1% in December 2009. The credit unions also saw an 11.2% increase in member business lending for that period. A number of credit union members took advantage of historic low 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates to refinance their homes. First mortgage originations in 2009 in Ohio totaled $1.66 billion versus $1.1 billion in 2008--an increase of 51.3%. First mortgages outstanding grew 4.2% to $23.95 billion, all despite a continued weaker than usual housing market, said the league. Total delinquency rose to 1.42% in December, up 0.10% during the 12-month period. However, Ohio credit unions remain below the Ohio bank delinquency average of 3.26%, the league noted. The average Ohio credit union has 6,748 members, $51.82 million in assets, and $31.73 million in loans. Ohio credit unions employ more than 6,800 Ohioans and contribute nearly $140 million in compensation to employees annually, according to the most recent quarterly financial report.

Computer consultant sentenced stole 2M from four CUs

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PROVO, Utah (4/30/10)--A Provo, Utah, consultant who worked as a third-party consultant for a computer systems company was sentenced Tuesday to nearly five years in a federal prison for stealing nearly $2 million from four credit unions. Zeldon Thomas Morris, 42, who owned a controlling interest in Provo-based Lee & Morris, pleaded not guilty to one count of bank fraud. He was charged with the fraud based on using passwords provided to him in his computer system consultant position to access the credit unions' accounts (Daily Herald April 28 and April 8 and Deseret News April 10). The credit unions are Family First FCU and Alpine CU, both of Orem; Deseret First CU, Salt Lake City; and First CU. Morris was hired as an outside contractor by the Orem office of Open Solutions Inc. His business partner discovered discrepancies in the Lee & Morris accounts in October. 2008, said Daily Herald. Morris also will be on supervised release for five years after serving his term, and he was ordered to forfeit property and pay $1.8 million in restitution.

Bloomberg Maloney help N.Y. celebrate new CDCU

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NEW YORK (4/30/10)--The East River Development Alliance (ERDA) Monday celebrated the grand opening of the ERDA FCU, a community development credit union (CDCU) that will serve residents of New York City's Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside and Sunnyside communities.
Cliff Rosenthal, president/CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, speaks at the grand opening of East River Development Alliance FCU, New York.
The credit union will focus much of its work on the Woodside, Ravenswood, Astoria and Queensbridge Houses, which make up the primary membership of the new CDCU. The new credit union is one of only two new federal charters granted in 2009--both CDCUs. The event drew more than 500 attendees. Cliff Rosenthal, president/CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, which assisted ERDA organizers for nearly five years, joined keynote speakers including:
* U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.); * New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; * New York City Comptroller John Liu; * New York State Assembly Member Catherine Nolan; * New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; * New York City Council Members Jimmy VanBramer and Peter Vallone Jr.; and * New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John Rhea.
"The federation has been working with ERDA credit union organizers since their start, nearly five years ago," said Rosenthal. He noted
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg helped celebrate the grand opening Monday of the East River Development Alliance FCU, which will serve residents of several New York City neighborhoods.
that communities interested in organizing a CDCU "can learn a lot from ERDA's experience." In a neighborhood where three in 10 residents lack bank accounts and most residents use check cashers, the ERDA FCU seeks to revolutionize the way public housing residents manage their money, build capital and achieve their financial goals, the federation said. ERDA Founder and President Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, explained: "ERDA is dedicated to making public housing developments places of great opportunity, places which house a positive vision of the future for the people who live here. The establishment of this financial cooperative, owned by residents, makes resident empowerment and ownership real. The opening of the ERDA FCU marks the next phase of ERDA's work for change, and presents a model for every public housing neighborhood in New York City."
Carmen Simon (left), CEO of East River Development Alliance FCU, New York, and Bishop Mitchell Taylor (standing) help open a credit union account for New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea. (Photos provided by the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions)
Bloomberg echoed the need for more community-controlled financial institutions to serve the city's unbanked. "Nearly 50,000 Queens households--many in public housing--don't have bank accounts, and one of the major reasons is a lack of access to local credit unions," Bloomberg explained. "The East River Development Alliance is committed to helping public housing residents in Long Island City move up the economic ladder, and its new federal credit union is a major step forward." Maloney who represents Long Island City, said: "Opening a credit union opens the door to financial security--and financial security brings hope, stability and wealth to a community. This is great news for western Queens and the people who live and work here." The ERDA FCU has secured 1,000 pledges to open accounts from community residents, and $1.1 million in non-member deposit pledges, many from local credit unions, including United Nations FCU, the federation, Alternatives FCU, Bethex FCU, Consumers FCU, Lower East Side People's FCU and Amalgamated Bank.