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CUNA announces blockbuster pro award winners

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WASHINGTON (6/24/10)--State leagues and associations were honored for excellence in public relations, marketing and advertising during the American Association of Credit Union Leagues' (AACUL) 2010 Communicators/GAPS Conference, held this week in Washington, D.C. Credit Union National Association's CUNA Blockbuster awards recognize two segments: advertising and marketing efforts for state level organizations, and advertising and marketing for credit unions. CUNA Pro awards recognize the best public relations, publications and online communication efforts. The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues took the "Best of Show" Pro award for the public relations' efforts on "CA Credit Unions Still Accepting IOUs." First place winners of CUNA Blockbuster awards include:
* Best Print Materials: Louisiana Credit Union League's 2009 Annual Convention Brochure; * Best Campaign (for a budget of $10,000 or less): Maine Credit Union League's "There's More for You"; and * Best Credit Union Ad: Georgia Credit Union Affiliates for "Atlanta City Employees CU--Vacation Loan."
2010 CUNA Pro Award first place winners include:
* Blow Your Own Horn: Pennsylvania Credit Union Association for "CU Now"; * Best Public Relations Project: California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, "CA Credit Unions Still Accepting IOU"; * Best League Piece on the Uniqueness of Credit Unions, Wisconsin Credit Union League's Wisconsin Credit Unions 2008 Annual Report; * Best Website: Louisiana Credit Union League at www.lcul.com; * Best On-line Publication: New Jersey Credit Union League, The Daily Exchange; * Best Use of Social Media: New Jersey Credit Union League, "Hip Advertising."

Estonia and Virginia form central banking system company

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (6/24/10)--The Virginia Credit Union League and the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives took historic steps Wednesday toward ensuring the long-term viability of credit cooperatives (credit unions) in the Baltic nation.
Click to view larger image Partners in the new Baltic Services Co. pose after signing an agreement forming a new corporation to establish a clearing system so credit unions in Estonia and possibly elsewhere have access to Eastern Europe's central banking system. Partners include Juri Valdov, far left, retired CEO of Northwest FCU; Andrus Ristkok, second from left, executive director of the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives; Erki Pisuke, second from right, Tartu University (Estonia) credit union board member; and Rick Pillow, far right, Virginia Credit Union League president. (Photo provided by the Virginia Credit Union League)
The two associations are working together to restore and build the non-profit cooperative financial system in Estonia. In their most significant step toward that goal, they joined with information technology company Mindware, three Estonian credit cooperatives, and two individuals to form the Baltic Services Co.(See related News Now story, "Va. league, Baltic CU Systems sign agreement.") The company's mission will be to establish a clearing system to provide credit cooperatives in Estonia, and possibly elsewhere, with access to the central banking system in Eastern Europe. With such access, credit cooperatives will be better positioned to offer checking, ATM and card services, and eventually expand into online banking, the league said. Juri Valdov, retired CEO of Herndon, Va.-based Northwest FCU was elected chairman of the new corporation. Andrus Ristkok, who currently heads the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives, was named CEO. Valdov praised the group for its vision, saying the new company will provide services essential to the growth and future viability of Estonia’s credit cooperatives. Ristkok arranged a Baltic summit held Tuesday, where leaders of credit cooperatives in Latvia and Lithuania met to discuss joining the Baltic Services Co. Estonia's small but growing credit cooperative system presented the technology plan, which led to the formation of the Baltic Services Co., during a visit to Virginia last year. Representatives of Estonian credit cooperatives noted that access to Eastern Europe's central banking system was essential if they were to compete against the Scandinavian banks that currently dominate the Estonian market. Members of the Virginia league's Partnership Committee are visiting Estonia this week for a series of meetings about the company; partnership initiatives between credit cooperatives in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; and on-site visits to four Estonian credit cooperatives. The league and the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives have been partners since 2008 through the World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships Program, which brings together credit union movements from around the world to exchange ideas and technical expertise with the goal of building stronger institutions to benefit their members. The first financial cooperatives were founded in Estonia in 1902, pre-dating the American movement. At its height in 1939, the Estonian movement boasted 184 financial cooperatives and had a 52% market share. After the Soviets occupied the nation in 1940, credit unions were abolished. During Perestroika, credit unions were again legalized, and the first new Estonian credit union was formed in 1990. At present, the nation boasts 18 credit cooperatives, which hold $16 million (U.S. dollars) in shares.

Va. league Baltic CU systems sign agreement

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (6/24/10)--The Virginia Credit Union League has signed an agreement that encourages information sharing between the league and the credit unions serving the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Click to view larger image Representatives of the Virginia Credit Union League's Partnership Committee celebrate the signing of the league international agreement to encourage information sharing between the league and the credit union systems in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. From left are Joe Thomas, CEO, Fairfax County FCU; Alison DeTuncq, CEO of the UVA Community CU; Juri Valdov, retired CEO of Northwest FCU and chairman of the committee; and Rick Pillow, league president. (Photo provided by the Virginia Credit Union League)
The first Baltic Summit, held June 22, brought together credit union leaders from all three Baltic nations for a series of presentations on growing the credit union movement in the region and how best to share resources and information to better penetrate each market. Topics discussed included the newly formed Baltic Services Co., a venture spearheaded by the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives, three of its member institutions, the Virginia league and others to provide Estonian credit unions with access to the central banking system for Eastern Europe. The company could serve credit unions in Latvia and Lithuania. (See related News Now story "Estonia, Virginia form central banking system company.") "This agreement better positions our partner credit unions in Estonia for success, ensuring they're able to learn from the successes of credit unions in Latvia and Lithuania, while also being able to cooperative work toward solutions to shared challenges," said league President Rick Pillow. The league and the Estonian Union of Credit Cooperatives have had a formal partnership since 2008 through the World Council of Credit Unions' International Partnerships Program. The new information-sharing agreement among the league and the three Baltic nations' credit union systems marks the first formal international agreement between such organizations signed in Eastern Europe, said the league. The league said the partners hope the agreement will lead to positive legislation and regulation for the credit unions in the three nations, training for credit union staff, new marketing opportunities, and more efficient operations.

Utah CU regulator re-accredited by NASCUS

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ARLINGTON, Va. (6/24/10)--The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) recently re-accredited the Utah Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). This is the fourth consecutive re-accreditation for Utah. It was first accredited in 1995. The Utah agency is responsible for the examination and supervision of 52 natural person credit unions with combined assets of more than $1.8 billion. NASCUS’ 28 accredited states supervise more than 85% of the nation’s state-chartered credit union assets. The accreditation is valid for five years subject to annual review. The annual review process enables the accredited agency and the NASCUS Performance Standards Committee to measure progress and improvement. To earn NASCUS accreditation, a state supervisory agency must demonstrate that it meets accreditation standards in department administration and finance, personnel, training, examination, supervision and legislative powers.

IHuff PostI CUs hang tough see deposits surge

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MADISON, Wis. (6/24/10)--U.S. credit unions are outperforming big banks and are quickly gaining market share, said a Huffington Post blogger Tuesday. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is featured prominently in the article. “In the perilous aftermath of one of the worst financial disasters in U.S. history, one might expect credit unions--which, after all, are mostly tiny by the standards of the banking industry and operated on a cooperative, not-for-profit basis--to be struggling,” wrote Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher, News Rules Project’s Community Banking Initiative. “But data from the last 18 months show that the country’s 7,600 credit unions are, in fact, outperforming big banks and rapidly expanding their market share,” she added. Credit unions have added more than 1.5 million new members since the start of 2009, and credit union deposits grew by 10% and are on course to grow even more this year, Mitchell noted. “Most remarkable, while big banks slashed lending in 2009, credit unions actually made more loans, particularly to small businesses,” she added. “As giant banks shut off the flow of credit to small business, shrinking their overall business lending by 22%, credit unions expanded lending to small businesses by 10%.” However, challenges do exist for credit unions, especially with the recession impacting low-income neighborhoods and severely affecting some states in the housing market,” Mitchell noted. “We were not involved in the creation of the subprime mess, but we have been collateral damage in some respects,” Mike Schenk, senior economist with CUNA, told Mitchell. “Our asset quality has declined somewhat and our earnings have declined markedly.” Mitchell noted that bankers posit that credit unions enjoy an unfair advantage because they don’t pay federal income taxes. However, credit unions are subject to several restrictions that do not apply to banks: they cannot trade in exotic derivatives, and cannot devote more than about 12% of their lending to business loans. Most notable, they cannot raise capital from investors--or generate profits for them, Mitchell added. “We’ve said to banks: if you think it’s so advantageous, join us and become credit unions,” Mark Wolff, CUNA senior vice president of communications, told Mitchell. “No bank has ever taken us up on the offer.” Mitchell also mentioned Hughes FCU, Tucson, Ariz., and Westerra CU, Denver, in the blog. To read the blog, use the link.

Missouri CUs landscape HFOT home

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (6/24/10)--More than 40 credit union employees rolled sod, and planted shrubs, trees and flowers to make Staff Sgt. (SSG) Robert Canine’s house look more like a home as part of the Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) project in Missouri.
Click to view larger image Credit union volunteers plant flowers and shrubs at Staff Sgt. Robert Canine’s house as part of a Home for Our Troops Project in Missouri. (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
Missouri credit union representatives’ families and friends met last Saturday to landscape Canine’s yard in Columbia, Mo., before the key ceremony occurs Saturday (The Missouri difference June 23). Credit union representatives from Anheuser-Busch Employees’ CU, St. Louis; Employment Security CU, Jefferson City; River Region CU, Jefferson City; Rolla (Mo.) FCU; United CU, Mexico; and the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) took part in the event. “My wife likes to garden and her brother is serving in Afghanistan, so this hits close to home,” Bill Mustain, Employment Security president, told the MCUA. “We’re happy to support this cause.” “The soldiers give a lot for us and our freedom, so this landscaping day seems like nothing,” said Susan Schmitz, Anheuser-Busch Employees’ CU accounting manager. “This shows what credit unions can do when they pull together in the community.” The Canine family, lawmakers and media will be present when Missouri credit unions and HFOT hand over the keys to the first specially adapted HFOT home in Missouri on Saturday. Credit unions in several states have worked with HFOT, which builds specially adapted houses for severely wounded soldiers.

Maine congressional members tout MBL at league annual meetings

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PORTLAND, Maine (6/24/10)--More than 600 representatives from 53 of Maine’s 65-member credit unions attended the Maine Credit Union League’s 72nd annual meeting and convention June 18-19 in Portland, Maine, where congressional representatives touted the benefits of raising the cap on member business lending.
Click to view larger image Attendees at the Maine Credit Union League’s annual meeting and convention include (from left) Leon Laffley, board member at Atlantic Regional FCU, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), and John Murphy, league president. (Photos provided by the Maine Credit Union League)
Click to view larger image U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) addressed attendees at the Maine Credit Union League Annual Meeting and Convention.
Speakers at the event included Brian Branch, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the World Council of Credit Unions; and U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine). U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) sent a video message and a staffer from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) office spoke at the event. Pingree advocated for raising the cap on member business lending (MBL) and praised Maine’s credit unions for being involved and engaged in helping members. Snowe and Collins also said they favor raising the MBL cap to 25% from 12.25% of credit unions’ assets and recognized “the great service and value credit unions provide to nearly half of Maine’s entire population.” Michaud, who said he opposed having an interchange provision in the financial reform bill without a formal hearing, received a standing ovation from attendees. He thanked Maine’s credit unions “for having a vital role in serving your communities and members.” The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and many credit unions oppose the interchange provision because it would make it more difficult for credit unions to offer card products and services, CUNA has said. Mark Sievewright, senior vice president at Fiserv, outlined the changes occurring in the financial services industry and called the next decade “unprecedented.” Credit unions must continue to be proactive and adapt to the changing landscape of financial services to remain relevant, vibrant and strong in the next 10 years. The needs of consumers demand that credit unions implemented new delivery channels and technology, he said. John Murphy, league president, said: “Despite all of the challenges of the past two years, credit unions have thrived and grown because we have not turned our backs on consumers as so many other financial institutions opted to do. That philosophy continues to give us many opportunities for continued success in the future.”

Mid-Atlantic Corporate board election held

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (6/24/10)--Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU announced the results of its board election during its 34th annual meeting June 18 in Harrisburg, Pa. These incumbents were re-elected to serve three-year terms:
* Brian J. Vittek, Destinations CU, Baltimore; * David B. Whitehead, Merck Sharp & Dohme FCU, Chalfont, Pa.; and * Virginia F. Williams, Jersey Shore FCU, Northfield, N.J.
At Mid-Atlantic Corporate’s board reorganization meeting, table officers were elected:
* Chair--Richard C. Burtnett, Pennsylvania Grange FCU, Camp Hill, Pa.; * Vice Chair--Michael P. Pastirik, United Community FCU, West Mifflin, Pa.; * Treasurer--Joan M. Moran, Department of Labor FCU, Washington, D.C.; and * Secretary--Vittek.
Appointed to the Supervisory Committee were: Dennis Flickinger, First Capital FCU, York, Pa.; Jerry King, DEXSTA FCU, Wilmington, Del.; and James F. McCaw, Viriva Community CU, Warminster, Pa.