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CU extends naming rights with K.C. T-Bones

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (8/17/12)--CommunityAmerica CU and the Kansas City (Mo.) T-Bones, a minor league baseball team, have renewed their long-term agreement for the naming rights for the team's ballpark, they announced Tuesday.

The ballpark has been known as Community America Ballpark ever since the T-Bones moved to Kansas City from Duluth, Minn., 10 years ago, said Ballpark Digest.com (Aug. 15).  The  more than $1.8 billion asset credit union has been the only entity with naming rights to the stadium in the stadium's history.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"In practice, we could not have invented a better, stronger partner," said T-Bones President Adam Ehlert. CommunityAmerica CU is very well-aligned with our values and focus, and most significantly, or fans really appreciate that. "

Lisa Ginter, CommunityAmerica CU chief operating officer, said that more than being a naming rights sponsor, the ballpark "clearly demonstrates our commitment to providing our community with affordable family-friendly entertainment. We believe this sponsorship brings more awareness to Kansa Citians that they can--and should--be members of our credit union to benefit from our sincere approach to helping them succeed financially. For that reason and more, we consider this a homerun for both organizations."

The ballpark seats 6,270 baseball fans. Over the 10 years the park has existed, more than three million fans have attended events there. The ballpark is used not only for baseball games but also for professional soccer, concerts, photo and video shoots. It was the site of a June 3, 2007, world-record setting performance of the Deep Purple hit, "Smoke on the Water," by 1,683 guitarists in a publicity stunt for a radio station.

The T-Bones have the second-highest attendance in the 13-team American Association, said the park's website.

Fed Bank in NY Small biz still in credit crunch

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ALBANY, N.Y. (8/17/12)--New York's small businesses are still having trouble borrowing, indicating that banks in the area have not loosened their lending standards since the economic crisis began in 2008, according to a poll conducted  by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and reported in EmpireStateNews.Net Thursday.

Business microloans--those under $100,000--are the most in demand but are hardest to secure, the poll indicated. Most businesses that received funding indicated they did not receive approval for the full amount they needed, the article said.

Credit unions have demonstrated they can perform business lending safely and have continued to lend when other financial institutions pulled back, said the publication, which is part of the Statewide News Network Inc.

"Small businesses are the engine of growth for our economy here in New York and across the country," said William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York (CUANY) in the article. "Statistics show that credit unions have stepped up during the recent financial crisis to help fill a void in the availability of business credit."

He noted that credit unions could do more if their member business lending (MBL) cap were raised to 27.5% of total assets from the current 12.25%.  Congress is considering the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act (H.R. 1418) and a number of New York lawmakers are among those co-sponsoring the bill. 

The article quoted estimates from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) that in New York alone, credit unions could infuse $1 billion in tax-free capital to small businesses and create about 10,000 jobs. Nationally, those figures would be $13 billion in loans to small businesses and generating 140,000 new jobs, said CUNA.

"The only thing standing in the way of the bill's passage is opposition from the banks, which have reduced their lending," Mellin told the publication. "This should not be a credit unions-vs.-banks issue. The only considerations should be whether (the bill) can help address the current jobs deficit and whether it will be beneficial to our economy. The answer to both is yes," he added.

For the full article, use the link.

Free gas in 10 cities from CUs small banks

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MADISON, Wis. (8/17/12)--Thousands of consumers stood in line Wednesday and Thursday at specific gas stations nationwide, as credit unions and small banks gave away free gasoline in efforts to encourage consumers to "Take Back Your Banking" from the largest U.S. banks.

The giveaways were held in 10 U.S. cities: Baltimore; Memphis; New Orleans; New York; Portland, Ore.; St. Louis; Lake Charles, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Lima, Ohio; and Little Rock, Ark. (MarketWire Aug. 16).

Representatives from credit unions and community banks who have partnered through  Kasasa.com--a national brand of free checking and savings accounts--were present at locations in each city to pump $20 worth of gasoline to each of the first 200 consumers in line, Marketwire said.

In northwest Atlanta, the gas giveaway, sponsored by CU of Atlanta and Family Savings FCU, brought attention to consumers who are tired of mega banks' high fees and highlighted credit unions offering banking products with great service attached, said Leslie Bishop, a spokeswoman for Family Savings (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Aug. 16).  

In Memphis, a branch of Jackson, Miss.-based Hope CU teamed with Kasasa and a local bank to not only give away free gasoline, but also to educate consumers about credit unions and community banks as alternatives to megabanks (WMC-TV.com Aug. 15).

In the Jackson, Miss., area, employees of Hope CU and Magnolia FCU--in addition  to providing information about credit union services--doubled as gas station attendants during the gasoline giveaway (WLBT.com Aug. 15).

Voting opens for next CU on the Road Star

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BISMARCK, N.D. (8/17/12)--Voting began Wednesday for the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas' (CUAD) next "CU on the Road TV Star."

CUAD has been conducting a credit union awareness campaign all summer across North and South Dakota. As part of that campaign, the "CU on the Road" tour recorded videos of members' best credit union stories last week at the Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls, S.D., in search of the next "CU on the Road TV Star."

Through Aug. 22 voters can select their favorite from 40 videos on the campaign Facebook page.

The top three vote receivers will each get a $250 prize.  Then, CUAD will choose one video from the final three. The person featured in the selected video will be the next "CU on the Road TV Star," and will be featured in a television commercial later this year.

Winners will be announced Aug. 24.

Study CUs upending less-tech-savvy stereotype

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BOSTON (8/17/12)--Credit unions are catching up to larger banks in the race for online banking convenience, according to a new study of more than 1,400 consumers by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey.

For years, large banks touted their convenience as a consumer choice, while credit unions and smaller banks were chosen for personal service (PRWeb Aug. 15).

The ease of online and mobile banking is changing this dynamic, with credit unions offering remote services and bridging the convenience gap for their members, the study found.

Additional findings include:

  • Credit unions are upending the stereotype that they are less tech-savvy than larger banks. While big banks have a reputation for offering more online and mobile services, credit union members report online banking use that is as high as large-bank customers, and members give credit unions higher marks on performance.
  • For many bank customers, online banking is a key element of banking convenience: 64% of all bank customers use online banking in some form, and a fifth have used mobile banking. While customers still value branch and ATM access, 43% agree online services are a key element of banking service.
  • Financial institutions can differentiate themselves by offering good service--including online and mobile banking: Nearly half (48%) of bank customers believe banks can differentiate themselves with good service. The definition of 'good service' is evolving; convenience is no longer just about more branches and ATMs, but also about innovative technologies and remote banking options. (Editor's note: Credit unions' members already know the value of good service, according to several customer satisfaction surveys over the years.)
"These findings suggest a new banking value proposition is emerging," says Jim Garrity, managing director of Chadwick Martin Bailey's financial services practice. "The growth of online and mobile banking services means convenience and accessibility don't belong solely to large bank customers."  Financial institutions "able to provide secure, usable, and reliable online services combined with top-notch service will be most competitive," he added.

In the study, data were collected from 1,433 U.S. residents, aged 18 to 75, through a nationally representative online survey questionnaire within the U.S. The survey was conducted by Chadwick Martin Bailey in February.

New website feature shares N.C. CU difference

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RALEIGH, N.C. (8/17/12)--The North Carolina Credit Union League (NCCUL) has added a section to its revamped website to spotlight the ways in which state credit unions remain true to their original mission.

"People Not Profit" features the state's credit union members sharing stories about how their credit unions have helped them. The segments include video clips and written testimonials.

The section also shares programs credit unions have developed to help members and their community and volunteer efforts.

The videos also are featured on YouTube. 

"The ultimate goal of People Not Profit is to collect and share these stories so that more credit union members and consumers discover the power of the credit union story," said Jeff Hardin, NCCUL's director of communications, on the league's Weekly Conversation newsletter (Aug. 9). "As cooperative organizations, credit unions are different from banks and other financial service providers. Illuminating those differences through the words and experiences of everyday people can only help to connect more people to credit unions."

Hardin travels to credit unions statewide to meet with and videotape members as they tell their stories. "While we work with credit unions to recruit members who are willing to share their stories, the video shoots are not rehearsed at all," Hardin said. "I just turn on the camera and ask people how their credit union has helped them."

To view the videos, use the link.

Missouri CUs endorse congressional candidate

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ST. LOUIS (8/17/12)--The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) announced the endorsement of Ann Wagner, Republican candidate for the District 2 U.S. congressional seat, as a credit union champion.

MCUA represents 134 credit unions and 1.37 million consumers served by credit unions. In District 2, there are more than 200,869 credit union member-owners.

Click to view larger image The Missouri Credit Union Association announced the endorsement of Ann Wagner (center), Republican candidate for the District 2 U.S. Congressional seat, as a credit union champion.  (Photo provided by the Missouri Credit Union Association)
Wagner supports the credit union tax status, which allows credit unions to return profits to the people they serve. If elected, she has pledged to work directly with credit unions on credit union issues, said MCUA.

"As the daughter of small-business owners, I understand the need for entrepreneurs to have access to capital and that government should simply get out of the way of hard-working Americans who are trying to make a living and run a business," Wagner told the association.

She supports legislation that would raise the credit union small business lending cap and allow more loan opportunities for small business owners, MCUA said. 

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.

"I am grateful for the Missouri Credit Union Association naming me a credit union champion and pledge that I will continue to fight for our small businesses in Congress," Wagner said.

The purpose of endorsing candidates as credit union champions is to support and publicly recognize candidates who champion credit union issues and take action, even in the face of opposition, on behalf of credit union members, consumers who benefit from credit unions, and credit unions, MCUA said.

Wagner's "support and willingness to work with Missouri credit unions on issues of concern will help all consumers," said MCUA President/CEO Mike Beall.

Filene report High tech attracts more touches

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MADISON, Wis. (8/17/12)--Investments in high-tech service delivery were once believed to lower per-transaction costs for credit unions. Instead, members are using both technology and in-person channels, and have doubled the number of contacts with their credit unions, according to a new report from the Filene Research Institute.

Rather than benefiting from cost efficiencies of less expensive channels, credit unions are forced to adopt and pay for more ways to serve members, according to the report, "The Future of the Branch."

The paper offered the predicted compound annual growth rate for several member channels, including:

  • Branch: 1.14%;
  • ATM: 1.32%;
  • Contact center: 3.57%;
  • Mobile: 91.29%; and
  • Online: 8.58%.
The challenge for credit unions is managing their channels in a holistic manner to allow members to move from one channel to another without any thought to physical location.

The report offered eight tips for channel convergence:

  1. Start with priority interactions with members: Focus on make-or-break interactions that are critical in members maintaining their relationship with the credit union. On average, members who connect through online channels are 35% more profitable than those who only have an offline relationship.
  1. Articulate the endpoint vision and key milestones: The report suggests that credit unions avoid the lure of "cool" technology. Instead, start with the end goal and find technology that will help achieve it. For instance, videoconferencing can be a cost-effective way to bring employee resources to multiple branches, but it also can be an expensive flop if members are resistant to anything but a face-to-face interaction on certain transaction types.
  1. Pilot to prove value and get buy-in: Technology and member expectations change so quickly that it's not always possible to spend extensive time on evaluation and execution. The report recommends using the Internet when possible to cut costs and implementation time. The web typically is a faster, more efficient and less expensive way to pilot a project.
  1. Have a truly multichannel, cross-disciplinary team: Adding breadth to the team helps to ensure that the concerns of every channel are addressed and leads to a better final result.
  1. Use a multichannel member-decision engine: It's critical to create a place where data from every channel can be gathered and mobilized, but it's also important not to get bogged down in the process. Instead of worrying about how to manage every piece of data, start with priority member interactions and determine which data are needed and how to run analytics to determine what's going right or wrong.
  1. Get digital right: It's typically faster and easier to pilot programs in the digital channel.
  1. Rethink value creation and align incentives: Provide incentives that encourage employees to drive members to desired actions.
  1. Win the battle for hearts and minds: It's critical for in-branch staff to feel part of the team. They should be aware of and know how to use the tools being offered through every channel so that they can support and promote the credit union vision.
To access the complete report, use the link.

CU System briefs (08/16/2012)

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  • PROVIDENCE, R.I. (8/17/12)--A man who had served time for six bank robberies in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in 2004 and 2005 was sentenced to more than 12 years Wednesday for robbing a branch of Pawtucket (R.I.) CU in February.  Thomas Flannery, 37, of Sunnyvale, Calif., had pleaded guilty in May to one count of bank robbery. Flannery was arrested at a hotel on the same day as the credit union robbery. He was arrested in connection with another spree of holdups in Massachusetts, said U.S. Attorney's office (Associated Press Newswires Aug. 16) …
  • STANWOOD, Mich.(8/17/12)--U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) hosted a golf tournament Aug. 6 in which 10 credit union leaders from the Mid-Michigan and Moon Chapters participated, said the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) (Michigan Monitor Aug. 13). Representatives from Northland Area FCU, Besser CU, Members First CU, Members CU, Dow Chemical Employees CU, United Financial CU, Wildfire CU, and Isabella Community CU joined the MCUL & Affiliates staff Jordan Kingdon and Shawn Wolbert in filling three foursomes for the event. From left are Eric Brubaker of Members First CU, Midland; Camp; and Marc McKellar, Members CU, Traverse City. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League) …
  • HARRISBURG, Pa. (8/17/12)--Charles Sirko Jr., a founder of Hopewell Joint School Employees FCU (now Clearview FCU) in Moon Township, Pa., died Wednesday, according to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (Life is a Highway Aug. 16). He was 84. Sirko served as treasurer/manager of Hopewell Joint School Employees FCU for 52 years. The credit union merged with Clearview in 2008. He retired from the Hopewell Area School District, where he taught phys-ed and health for 33 years …