LANSING, Mich. (5/4/10)--Small businesses in Michigan now have a new resource to help them turn their ideas and dreams into reality, and create jobs in the state, said the Michigan Credit Union League. The Michigan Credit Union Small Business Financing Alliance (CUSBFA) is open for business with a new website, www.cusbfa.com, which will help connect entrepreneurs and small businesses with training and tools to apply for credit. As an online resource, the new website provides small businesses access to the CUSBFA counseling form, information on financing from participating credit unions, and additional state and federal programs that will assist entrepreneurs in moving their business forward. There are no loan limits for CUSBFA consideration, and each participating credit union will use its own underwriting standards and policies for loan consideration and approval. Start-up and small business owners can complete the form online, which will assist the league and the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Centers (MI-SBTDC) in determining the next steps. In February Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, in her State of the State Address, announced the partnership among the league, MI-SBTDC and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to help initiate more loans to small businesses. More than 30 credit unions from the state committed an initial $43 million to benefit more than 2,000 new businesses. MCUL President/CEO David Adams observed that banks have been forced to preserve capital to survive the economic crisis, freezing credit at a critical time when it's needed most to revive Michigan's economy. "As banks have had to cut back on credit in this tough economic climate, credit unions in our state actually increased small business lending in 2009 by nearly 20%," Adams said.
MARLBORO, Mass. (5/4/10)--In Massachusetts, another credit union has saved the day for a small business turned down for a loan by a large commercial bank. But some smaller credit unions are near their member business lending (MBL) ceiling mandated by Congress. Joe Shaker wanted to buy the land he leased for his Mazda auto dealership. But after foot-dragging and "a large disconnect," his bank turned him down, he told a Massachusetts newspaper, Telegram.com (May 2). His lawyer suggested St. Mary's CU in Marlboro, which loaned him the funds to purchase 1.2 acres. The article notes banks have pulled away from business loans and that credit unions are trying to get the cap on MBLs lifted to 25% of assets from the current cap of 12.25%. It cites the Credit Union National Association's statistics that indicate lifting the MBL cap would result in $10 billion in additional loans and 100,000 jobs created. "When credit unions get near that cap, they have to stop lending or put a cap on it," said Daniel Egan, president of the Massachusetts Credit Union League as well as the New Hampshire and Rhode Island leagues. "Given this environment, where so many small businesses need credit, many small businesses are losing their current credit lines or having the notes called by the bank," Egan told the Telegram. The cap is an "arbitrary number," Egan said. "In the economic reality of the day, that cap is inhibiting credit unions from making business loans." He said that in Massachusetts, lifting the cap would mean $490 million more would be accessible for small business loans. The article also quotes John R. Caulfield, president/CEO of St. Mary's CU, which has $3.6 million in its loan portfolio and is not near the cap. Stephen Mackowitz, Digital FCU vice president of commercial lending, said his credit union isn't near its MBL cap, and he's seen "some, but not many" business owners who were turned away by banks. While Digital is a big institution, "a lot of small credit unions are bumping against their cap," he told the newspaper. "They are servicing their small business customers. It would be a shame to have to stop lending." For the full article, use the resource link.
MELBOURNE, Fla. (5/4/10)--Two Florida credit unions--Space Coast CU and Eastern Financial Florida CU (EFFCU)--this past weekend completed the largest system conversion in credit union history to ensure that EFFCU members had access to their accounts at Space Coast Monday morning as part of a merger of the two credit unions. EEFCU, which was hard hit by the real estate crisis, was acquired by Space Coast on June 30, 2009, and merged into the Space Coast. Space Coast finished installing its signage on the acquired branches this past weekend. The credit union's branches closed at 4 p.m. Friday and reopened Monday morning. Converting systems meant Space Coast's conversion team to quickly learn how to work together to accomplish the conversion in a short time. "Our industry has never undertaken a conversion of this size, so there was no model to follow," Tim Antonition, executive vice president, told Florida Today (April 30). The credit union had to verify tens of millions of records to ensure the data was converted correctly, he said. For example, each element of an account holder's address--street, city, state and ZIP code--had to be linked to the right fields from the old system to the new system. Eastern Financial's system allowed four addresses to be stored, which had to be reduced to two, Antonition said. Another challenge: fields on the different systems were different lengths on every account and every loan. "Nothing was exactly the same," he told the newspaper. The two credit unions, which had many similarities merged their online banking platforms, with the help of 120 employees, Space Coast CU told the South Florida Business Journal (April 30). Space Coast now has 61 branches and 140 ATMs in 17 counties. Its assets total $3.17 billion, nearly double the assets before the merger, and as of March 30, it had 380,911 members. EFFCU was established in 1937 with Eastern Airlines. Space Coast began in 1951 as Patrick Air Force Base CU serving employees of the space program.
WASHINGTON (5/4/10)--The District of Columbia's Bank on DC program, in which six credit unions have played key roles, grabbed the attention of The Washington Post Monday. In "D.C. program offers fee-free bank accounts to the 'underbanked,'" the Post described how banks and credit unions are helping users avoid an average of $800 a year in check-cashing fees." The program aims to open 10,000 new accounts and establish 10,000 direct deposit accounts for D.C. residents by the end of the year. Credit Union National Association President/CEO Dan Mica and Mike Beall, president/CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association, helped unveil the "Bank on DC" program at Credit Union House last week. Participating in the program are Agriculture FCU, District Government Employees FCU, Signal Financial FCU, Treasury FCU, DVA FCU, and HEW FCU. Credit unions were mentioned as a group several times in the article.
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (5/4/10)--U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) promoted increasing access to credit union loans by promoting the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act during an appearance with credit unions Sunday at Cheektowaga (N.Y.) Community FCU. The bipartisan legislation would spur small business growth and create jobs by increasing access to loans from credit unions, she said (BIGNEWS.BIZ May 2). The bill would raise credit unions' member business lending cap to 25% from 12.25%. "This commonsense legislation would free up lending at not-for-profit credit unions in every corner of America to small businesses," said Gillibrand in a press release. Also speaking at the event was Michael S. Vadala, president/CEO of The Summit CU, Rochester, N.Y. "Here in upstate New York, many of the large businesses that used to fuel our economy are gone, and it will be the success of the small business that determines our future," Vadala said. "Adding credit unions as a funding source is critically important to those businesses that are too small to be considered for loans from larger commercial banks." The press released noted the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) reported the legislation would create more than 7,000 jobs in New York without government expenditures and repeated CUNA's estimates that raising the limit would increase small business lending by $10 billion in the first year of enactment and generate more than 100,000 new jobs nationwide. For the full story, use the link.
* BILOXI, Miss. (5/4/10)--Keesler FCU, Biloxi, Miss., contacted the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to report that counterfeit checks with the credit union's name are circulating. The counterfeit items display the routing number 265577585, which is assigned to Keesler. The items are printed on blue, green or tan paper. The word “Reference” appears directly below the word “Date” on the right side of the items. A “Memo” line appears in the lower left corner. Keesler’s authentic checks are blue and white with grey borders. The words “CASHIERS CHECK” and a box for the “DATE” are in the top center. A security feature statement, “NOTICE TO CASHIER: BE SURE WATERMARK IS ON REVERSE SIDE BEFORE CASHING,” is embedded within the top border. The words “Authorized Signature” appear below the signature line in the lower-right corner. Keesler FCU has $1.8 billion in assets ...
KINSTON, N.C. (5/4/10)--The membership and managers of Kinston, N.C.-based Carolina Family FCU (CFFCU) agreed to merge with Durham-based Self-Help CU in North Carolina. The official merger date was Saturday. The merger makes CFFCU a division of Self-Help, and brings it into a statewide network of credit unions operating across North Carolina as divisions of Self-Help. Carolina Family joins Cape Fear CU, Scotland Community CU, Wilson Community CU, Carolina Mountains CU, and Choice Community CU as the newest division of Self-Help. “Our mission has been to provide our members with a financially sound organization with quality financial products and services,” said CFFCU branch manager/CEO Brinda Turnage. “We believe that by merging with Self-Help CU, we are reinforcing that mission.” Regionally, CFFCU connects with Self-Help’s full-service Wilson (N.C.) Community CU branch and a mortgage and small-business lending office Self-Help has in downtown Greenville. “The proximity between Kinston and two of our other credit union locations will offer more access and convenience to the members of Carolina Family and the people of the down-east region of North Carolina,” said Self-Help Executive Vice President Romy Parzick.
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (5/4/10)--The Illinois Credit Union League’s (ICUL) 80th Annual Convention last week in Chicago honored numerous individuals and credit unions. Desjardins first-place winners were:
* Prairie Trail CU, Joliet, in the $35 million-$75 million in assets category; * Financial Plus, Ottawa, $75 million-$250 million; and * Scott CU, Collinsville, more than $250 million.
Dora Maxwell first-place winner were:
* Streator Onized CU, Streator, $100 million-$200 million: * GCS FCU, Granite City, $200 million-$500 million: and * Great Lakes CU, North Chicago, and Consumers Cooperative CU, Waukegan, more than $500 million.
Two individuals were inducted this year into the Illinois Credit Union Hall of Fame, one with a leadership award, and the other for lifetime achievement. They were Don Reedy, CEO of Olin Community CU; Bethalto, and Vic McCauley, board member of MembersAlliance CU, Rockford. The Illinois Credit Union Foundation recognized two individuals posthumously with memorial scholarships. They included Tony Pellini, collection manager, U.S. ECU, Chicago, and Richard L. Taylor, long-time board member and former chairman of H-F CU, Country Club Hills. Also, a new Perpetual Tribute in the honor of Nina Auskalinis was announced. The award was made on behalf of South Division CU, Evergreen Park. GCS FCU, Granite City, won the Louise Herring Award. Michael Murphy, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Motorola ECU, Schaumburg, received the Spirit of Service, or Employee of the Year Award.
MADISON, Wis., and WASHINGTON (5/4/10)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has launched its first organization-wide social media effort with "CUNA*verse," a blog written by CUNA staff in Madison, Wis., and Washington, D.C. covering a range of association and credit union system topics. "We wanted a new opportunity for our members to benefit from the expertise of CUNA staff in an interactive, social media setting," said Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president, communications. "CUNA staff have expertise to share, and this is a new avenue for that to shine through," added Christopher Morris, CUNA Councils manager of communications and Web resources, and a project manager for the new social media site. "We hope credit unions will visit the site and take part in the conversation." Among the varied topics CUNA staff will write about are: issues affecting credit unions, articles from CUNA archives in Madison, insights from the Washington office on governmental affairs, and more. The first few posts discuss credit union social media policies, several credit union compliance issues, observations on the dynamics of the 2010 elections, an overlooked contribution by President Herbert Hoover to credit union history, and a chance for readers to win a copy of a new book by Jim Collins, the keynote speaker at the upcoming The 1 Credit Union Conference. The blog also launched a corresponding Twitter feed that will link to blog updates as well as related information from CUNA. To access the blog and the Twitter feed, use the links.
MADISON, Wis. (5/4/10)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) will provide input to a Group of 20 (G-20) subgroup to ensure credit unions are represented in G-20’s inclusion policies. Leaders from the G-20 nations would like to see the global poor receive greater access to financial services through safe and sound modes of service delivery administered worldwide, WOCCU said. WOCCU was invited to comment on the G-20’s proposal. At its 2009 Pittsburgh Summit, the G-20 appointed the Access Through Innovation sub-group of its Financial Inclusion Expert Group to examine and recommend new methods to provide the world’s poor with financial services. The subgroup’s co-chairs asked for WOCCU’s input on the draft Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion, a plan that the organization’s members do not believe fully enables credit unions to effectively fulfill this mission, said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice president of association services. “After consulting with our members, we believe the draft principles don't go far enough to ensure that credit unions worldwide can access critical payment systems, card networks, central bank lending facilities and deposit insurance systems to offer innovative and inclusive products,” Grace said. “WOCCU’s work to expand access to financial services by providing reloadable debit cards, ATMs and mobile banking services to credit unions would be significantly streamlined if credit unions could access these core central banking services,” he added. In an April 28 letter to subgroup co-chairs Paul Flanagan, general manager of the Australian Treasury’s international finance division, and Luis Mansur, deputy head of Banco Central do Brasil's external debt and international relations department, Grace stressed several changes to the proposed nine principles. The principles focus on technology, education and responsible oversight as ways to increase consumer access to financial services. WOCCU’s recommendations better articulate the opportunity for credit unions to participate in providing the services, WOCCU said. In the letter, WOCCU recommends that principle two, which focuses on diversity of products, also contain this clarification to promote diversity of institutional types and credit union involvement (recommendation in Italics): “Implement policy approaches that provide incentives for sustainable financial access through various types of financial institutions, and usage of a broad range of services (savings, credit, payments and transfers, insurance).” WOCCU also advocates for the inclusion of a 10th principle, outlined as follows: Equality: Allow all prudentially supervised institutions to directly access payment systems, lender-of-last-resort facilities, deposit insurance and card networks, which will enable both banking and non-banking financial institutions to offer a broad set of services to the financially excluded. “The addition of this principle will ensure that non-banking financial institutions, which often are the primary providers of services to the financially excluded, can offer safe and sound services comparable to those offered by the banking sector,” the letter explained. “Today, one-third of credit unions globally have direct access to payment systems and less than half have access to deposit insurance systems. Without such access, innovations will be limited, costs will be higher and depositor security will be sub-optimal.” A WOCCU delegation put forward a similar agenda in meetings last month with the Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland. The Access Through Innovation sub-group will present the final Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion for consideration by the G-20 ministers of finance when they meet June 25-27 in Toronto.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (5/3/10)--The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) does not believe that a vote by the Missouri House changes the plight of 10 credit unions told to vacate the MoDOT offices within two years because of budgetary considerations. Missouri’s highway credit unions received a vote of support from state representatives last week. House members passed HCR 70 by a vote of 157-0 on April 26. The resolution states that 10 highway credit unions should remain in MoDOT facilities despite MoDOT’s intent to sever ties with the credit unions (The Missouri difference April 30). The bill supporting credit unions was sponsored by State Rep. Mike Cunningham (R-145), and 35 bill co-sponsors. On the Senate side, Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-18) introduced an amendment to a separate piece of legislation-- H.B. 2111--that would have allowed credit unions to remain in MoDOT facilities. However, the amendment failed by a voice vote. HCR 70 now goes to the Missouri Senate. “A resolution does not have the force of law,” Roberta Broeker, MoDOT chief financial officer, told News Now. “It’s a statement of desire or passion. It’s just the legislature telling us that they would like us to consider their thoughts and intentions. “And we did,” she continued. “We did take into consideration the input of credit unions separating from MoDOT. Originally, they were to leave on Sept. 30, and we extended that date to Dec. 31, 2012. So we took action to allow the credit unions an additional two years and three months to find a new physical space.” The credit unions were originally told Jan. 21 that they would be required to vacate their locations by Sept. 30. They would no longer be able to process payroll and benefits through MoDOT after that date. Credit union employees were on MoDOT’s salary and benefits plan but credit unions fully reimbursed MoDOT for those costs, the Missouri Credit Union Association said (News Now April 20).
MADISON, Wis. (5/4/10)--Leading April’s list of top 10 News Now
stories are articles about regulators closing seven banks and a credit union in one day and the U.S. government’s unveiling of a new $100 bill. The top 10 stories are: 10. Fed keeps same rate-policy course, good news for CUs
WASHINGTON (4/29/10)--Wednesday’s decision by the Federal Reserve’s policymakers, the Federal Open Market Committee, to continue its course with low interest rates for an extended period is good news for credit unions, according to Steve Rick, Credit Union National Association senior economist. 9. FHA changes net worth, other rules for lenders
WASHINGTON (4/7/10)--The Federal Housing Administration earlier this week announced that lenders that take part in FHA lending programs will need significantly higher net worth. 8. Another customer survey ranks CUs above banks
ANDOVER, Mass. (4/14/10)--Members/customers at credit unions and community banks continue to show much more satisfaction and better advocacy rates than customers of larger regional or national banks, according to a recent study. 7. NCUA proposes payday loan alternative for CUs
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/30/10)--The number of federal credit unions that provide payday loan alternatives to their membership may increase if the National Credit Union Administration's proposed changes to its general lending rules are adopted. 6. CUs find ways to cut health care plan costs
MADISON, Wis. (4/1/10)--Despite tight budgets from the economy and the escalating costs of providing health care coverage, credit unions continue offering this prized employee benefit. 5. CUNA: New health care extends tax incentives to small CUs
WASHINGTON (4/26/10)--Thanks to recent changes to national healthcare policy, many small credit unions should be eligible for the “Employee Health Insurance Expenses of Small Employers” tax credit for small, tax-exempt employers provided by the recently passed legislation. 4. New credit report ad requirements in effect
WASHINGTON (4/7/10)--Final rules that prevent deceptive marketing of so-called “free credit reports” by requiring credit report advertisements to contain enhanced disclosures became effective on April 2. 3. SEC v. Goldman Sachs could brush against CUs
WASHINGTON (4/20/10)--The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late last week charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and its vice president, Fabrice Tourre, with “defrauding investors by mis-stating and omitting key facts about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages as the U.S. housing market was beginning to falter.” 2. New $100 bill, with security features, unveiled
WASHINGTON (4/22/10)--Federal authorities on Wednesday joined to unveil the new hundred dollar bill, a bill that will combine the usual portrait of Ben Franklin, and some previously added security enhancements, with a pair of brand new, advanced counterfeit-deterrent security features. 1. Friday sees one CU, seven banks closed
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (4/26/10)--The National Credit Union Administration Friday assumed control of the operations of St. Paul Croatian FCU, headquartered in Eastlake, Ohio. Also on Friday, federal regulators closed seven banks, all in Illinois.
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (5/4/10)--CO-OP Financial Services elected three new directors and officers to its board during its annual meeting April 19 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Doug Allman, president/CEO of NASA FCU, Bowie, Md., was elected to a one-year term as chairman. Other officers elected include:
* Vice chair Terry Laudick, president/CEO of New Mexico Educators FCU, Albuquerque, N.M.; * Treasurer Doug Ferraro, president/CEO of Bellco CU, Denver; and * Secretary Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president/CEO of Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif.
New directors elected were:
* Ferraro; * Allan McMorris, president/CEO of Oakland County CU, Waterford, Mich.; and * Jeff Napper, president/CEO of LBS Financial CU, Long Beach, Calif.
Ferraro is a new board member.
CO-OP Financial Services is a credit union service organization that provides Shared Branching and 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs to credit unions.