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CU System Archive

CU System

SBA disaster assistance rebuilt after Katrina

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WASHINGTON (9/15/08)--The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says that reforms in its disaster assistance programs should avoid a repeat of the challenges it faced in 2005 meeting the demand for its disaster home and business loans after the Gulf Coast Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Since 2005, SBA has it has rebuilt its disaster operation, upgraded technology, reformed processes and leveraged personnel to create a better system. Specifically, it:
* Improved and streamlined its disaster application review process and approval process; * Increased its business disaster loan limits from $1.5 million to $2 million for physical damage loans and economic injury disaster loans combined. Small businesses and non-profits of all sizes can apply for working capital loans to alleviate disaster-relates economic injury. * Enhanced its internal coordination and strengthened collaboration among federal and state partners. * Completed a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan that explains how it would handle a major national disaster. * Added a disaster reserve corps of more than 2,000 individuals to quickly staff disaster field offices. * Trained nondisaster staff to process disaster loan applications and assist6 in other disaster functions. * Secured space in multiple locations across the country. * Implemented an online application for disaster loans to speed up the process and make it easier. * Expanded technology to handle 12,000 concurrent users, from 2,000 simultaneous users in Katrina. * Implemented a telecommunications system to handle 20,000 calls per day, up from 10,000.
Since the 2005 hurricanes, SBA has disbursed more than $4.9 billion in disaster loans to 102,903 homeowners and renters in the Gulf region. Businesses there received 16,828 business disaster loans with $1.5 billion in disbursements.

NCUF Texas foundation activate CUAid

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GALVESTON, Texas (9/15/08)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and the Texas Credit Union Foundation have activated the online disaster relief system, CUAid, to raise money for credit union people affected by Hurricane Ike. Credit union supporters in every state can donate through a secured website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers. While Texas credit unions can donate directly to the Texas Credit Union Foundation, individuals in Texas are encouraged to donate online via www.cuaid.coop/texas. “We are encouraging credit union leaders all across the county to use CUAid.coop as a channel to collect donations from their employees, volunteers, and members,” said NCUF Deputy Director Steve Bosack. “We plan to work with the state credit union foundation to distribute money efficiently to those who need it in the affected areas.” “We will work closely with affected credit unions and the Texas Credit Union League to assess the needs in the affected areas,” added Texas Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Jill Pharr. “We will also serve as the repository for Texas credit union disaster donations, which will then be provided in the form of emergency grants for credit union employees.” The Texas foundation has a two-phase support system, beginning with emergency grants of up to $500 to assist affected credit union employees with their immediate needs. The second phase will provide support for credit union employees with unmet needs after other relief has been exhausted. All donations via CUAid.coop will go toward grants as well. Donations are forwarded in their entirety to credit union organizations in affected areas through NCUF, which is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. “It never ceases to amaze me how willing the credit union movement is to open their hearts to one another in times of disaster,” Pharr said. “We are encouraging credit unions across the Lone Star State to make the CUAid link available on their website, so employees and members alike can contribute to disaster relief efforts.” “CUAid is one of many ways our foundation gives back to the credit union movement to thank donors for all their generosity,” Bosack concluded.

Study Many employees are one paycheck from trouble

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CHICAGO (9/15/08)--Many employees are one paycheck away from financial trouble, according to a study by a Chicago-based credit union and employee benefits specialists group. Alliant CU, a $5.693 billion asset credit union, and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists (ISCEBS) announced the results of their study on U.S. workers' personal financial situations and employers' viewpoints and involvement regarding their employees' financial lives. A white paper, "American Workers: Getting Ahead or Just Getting By," is based on two surveys conducted in March. One polled ISCEBS member benefits specialists about their employee benefits and ability to help in their employees' financial lives. The other surveyed U.S. workers about their opinions and attitudes regarding their employers as financial partners and the extent to which their employers help out. Key findings include:
* Employer benefits such as health and retirement plans are seen as important but primarily for future rather than present needs. Many employees have financial needs that require assistance "here and now." * Employees with financial concerns spend significant work time dealing with personal financial matters. * Although employees are generally pleased with their income levels, they can't seem to save enough or get ahead financially. Half describe themselves as living from paycheck to paycheck. Less than 20% considered themselves to be financially secure. * More and more workers are financially strained by increasing financial debt. * Employees generally feel they lack knowledge about handling money.
"Financial literacy and low cost, high value financial services are keys to economic health for individuals and our economy as a whole," said Alliant CU President/CEO David W. Mooney. He applauded benefits specialists' efforts to provide financial literacy and services that deliver daily, not deferred, value. Alliant is a financial benefit solutions provider to more than 140 employer groups and networks, and a national partner of Operation HOPE, a national foundation that provides financial education classes in public schools around the U.S. A full copy of the white paper is available at the credit union's website. Use the resource link.

CU reforms in New Brunswick expected by Oct. 31

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FREDERICTON, New Brunswick (9/15/08)--The New Brunswick credit union system expects to implement new reforms by Oct. 31. Legislative reforms brought about after the provincial government's bailout package and consequent political fallout from the Caisse Populaire de Shippagan deficit will soon be in place, Robert Penney, chairman of the New Brunswick Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corp., told a legislative committee (Canadaeast News Service Sept.11). The provincial government sued over accounting practices and loan policies by individuals at the caisse, and alleged the practices partially led to a deficit of $30 million. Taxpayers are now responsible for a bailout package valued at double that amount (eNBusiness July 17, 2007). The legislative amendments were passed in the spring. It is now up to the Liberal party cabinet to have them proclaimed formally by the lieutenant governor. Compared with two years ago, there is a lot more financial stability in the system, Penney told the paper. "We have fewer caisse populaires and credit unions under supervision, the new anglophone stabilization board is very strong, stronger than it was in the past," he said. "I think the future looks bright.” Penney is also superintendent of credit unions. After the bailout was offered, the Liberal government introduced a discussion document that led to a series of legislative reforms this spring. Justice Minister T.J. Burke brought about the first reforms to the sector in 15 years in May. The main elements of the restructuring included dropping the 100% guaranteed deposit protection to $250,000, introducing provisions to allow regulatory authorities to act quickly and not be stalled by appeal processes, and reforming the boards.

WOCCU to lobby Polish Parliament this week

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GDANSK, Poland (9/15/08)--Participants in a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) engagement program, meeting in Poland this week to study the country's cooperatives, will advocate on behalf of what has been one of the world's fastest-growing, most successful credit union systems.
A branch of Stefczyka, Poland's largest credit union, is located in the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions’ headquarters in Sopot. The acronym SKOK is the brand by which Polish credit unions are known. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
Legislation hostile to financial cooperatives recently was proposed to the Polish Parliament, putting the continued growth of the country's credit union movement at risk, say Polish credit union officials. “The National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU) has seen its members' continued success challenged by Polish banking groups’ introduction of amendments to existing credit union laws that are hostile to the movement,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and chief operating officer. Branch is leading the group of U.S. credit union and league executives. “NACSCU executives have asked us to advocate on the movement's behalf in Warsaw this week,” he added. The proposed amendments seek to change Poland's credit union law, passed in 1995 at the rebirth of the Polish credit union movement. Among other issues, the amendments would end all lifetime membership provisions, requiring members to leave their credit unions if they leave employers who belong to those credit unions' fields of membership. Also, the amendments would limit credit union access to certain funding sources and reduce credit union oversight authority for NACSCU, one of WOCCU's member organizations. "This is a key moment for the Polish movement," Branch said. "If these amendments are passed, they would damage Poland's credit union system." Polish and U.S. credit union movement executives will attempt persuade lawmakers to adapt pending amendments to make them less harsh toward Polish credit unions, said Grzegorz Bierecki, NASCU president and WOCCU treasurer. Joining Branch on the engagement tour and in advocacy efforts are:
* Joe Bergeron, president, Association of Vermont Credit Unions; * Bill Cheney, president/CEO, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; * Barry Jolette, CEO, San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif., and WOCCU first vice chairman; * Jim McCormack, president, Pennsylvania Credit Union Association; * Mike Mercer, president, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates; * John Radebaugh, president, North Carolina Credit Union League; and * Mike Schenk, vice president of economics and statistics, Credit Union National Association.
The delegation of U.S. executives will meet with Polish government officials in Warsaw on Thursday. The group will also spend time with credit union and association officials in Gdansk and Krakow.

Elections prompt N.Y. legislative voters guide

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ALBANY, N.Y. (9/15/08)--The Credit Union Association of New York released its 2008 voter’s guide, which details state legislators’ records on issues affecting credit unions statewide. “We want to make sure that our members know if their local lawmakers support credit union-friendly legislation and credit unions before they go to the polls in November so they can make informed choices when voting,” said association President/CEO William Mellin. The Voters’ Guide 2008: An Insider’s Guide to the State Legislature’s Credit Union Record provides a legislative summary of the progress made on behalf of New York credit unions this year. It has leadership profiles and reveals which state lawmakers sponsored the five top bills benefiting credit unions in 2008, including:
* Municipal Depository Choice, which would allow municipalities to make deposits in credit unions; * Excelsior Linked Deposit Program, which aims to permit credit union participation in a program that allows other financial institutions to leverage state funds to make affordable loans to small businesses; * Credit Union Development Districts, which seeks to have credit unions included in a program that provides property tax breaks to banks and thrifts that establish branches in underserved areas and allows municipalities to invest funds in those institutions at special interest rates; * Financial Education, which would require financial education instruction to be included in the school curriculum for all high school students statewide; and * Robbery Legislation, which intends to deter robbery by stiffening penalties.
The guide also provides information on which legislators have visited a credit union or attended a credit union event in 2008.

Eastern Financial Florida CU helping Haiti

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MIRAMAR, Fla. (9/15/08)--Eastern Financial Florida CU Thursday launched “Help Haiti Again” to raise money for the many thousands of people whose lives are in danger due to recent hurricanes and devastating floods. Haiti has been hit with four hurricanes this year. Through the month of October, all of the $1.786 billion asset, Miramar, Fla.-based branches are inviting members and employees to make a monetary donation to Food For the Poor, a South Florida-based charity that delivers aid to the island. “This has been a terrible year for the Haitian people whose country is already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere,” said Mark Holmes, Eastern Financial director of marketing. “Many of our members and employees are directly touched by the current crisis because they still have friends and loved ones in the country. So we wanted to do what we could to help out.” During May, the credit union organized a month-long campaign called “Help Haiti Now” to feed starving Haitians who were victims of an island-wide food shortage. Since an average family in Haiti can be fed for $12 per month, the credit union encourages donations in increments of $12. Eastern Financial’s corporate office is collecting all of the checks and mailing them daily. Members also can donate by way of direct account transfer or by going on line to a customized site. Even people who are not members of the credit union are invited to participate by stopping at any of the branches and dropping off a check or by logging on to the website. Food For the Poor feeds destitute families in Haiti and throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America. The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) does not have affiliated credit unions in Haiti. Haitian credit unions work with Desjardins Group in one of its development programs, WOCCU said. Desjardins said that its staff and credit unions are OK, but it had no news of other credit unions, WOCCU told News Now. The Desjardins Group is the largest association of credit unions in North America located throughout four Canadian provinces, serving 5.8 million members.

CU System briefs (09/12/2008)

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* JOLIET, Ill. (9/15/08)--JT CU, the first student-run credit union in a Will County, Ill., high school, opened two branches at Joliet West High School and Joliet Central High School Sept. 3 and 5. JT CU is a collaboration among Prairie Trail CU, Joliet Township High School District 204, Will County Regional Superintendent of Education Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, and County Treasurer Pat McGuire. "Our goal is to help teach students the basics of money management and bring the value of mainstream banking to life by giving each student a solid foundation on which to make financial decisions for the future," said Prairie Trail CU President/CEO Matthew Thraen. Pictured at Joliet West's grand opening are: from left, Joliet West student Shonteese Booker; Joliet Central student Teonta Pruitt; JTCU Branch Supervisor Deanna Wolff; and Joliet West Business Management and Information Systems Coordinator Greta Lesnial.(Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League) … * ALBUQUERQUE (9/15/08)--Kirtland FCU in Albuquerque was named as the 2007 Outstanding Air Force Credit Union, by the Air Force. KFCU competed against 26 other credit unions from all over the world. According to Col. Michael Duvall, 377th Air Base Wing commander, the credit union is an "invaluable partner with Team Kirtland and is clearly committed to improving the quality of life of Kirtland personnel." KFCU offers financial education to Team Kirtland members through regular briefings, educational workshops and First Term Airman briefings. It also offers deployment loans, loan extensions and educational support programs for deployed personnel and their families … * ABERDEEN, Md.(9/15/08)--Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU (APGFCU)
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members and employees donated thousands of new school supplies during the credit union's annual Back to School Supply Drive. The supplies will be distributed this month to its partner schools in Harford and Cecil County, Md. Students will receive new backpacks, lunch bags, notebooks, crayons, pencils, rulers, protractors, glue sticks and more. Pictured with some of the supplies is APGFCU's education team. (Photo provided by Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU) … * NEW CASTLE, Dela. (9/15/08)--Elmeretta Frederick, former credit union manager and Delaware Credit Union League board chairman, died Sept. 6, the league has learned (Together> Sept. 12). She was former manager of a credit union she helped organize for Teamsters' Local 306 in 1971. Frederick stayed in that position until the credit union merged with Chryco Newark FCU (now American Spirit) in 1986. She served several positions with the league, including acting managing director in 1978. She also was a teller and later manager of DPL FCU before her retirement …

San Antonio CU places ATMs for hurricane evacuees

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SAN ANTONIO (9/15/08)--San Antonio FCU (SACU) has placed two ATMs at the Port of San Antonio to provide Hurricane Ike evacuees access to their funds. Port San Antonio is a staging area for evacuees coming into San Antonio. As a community service, the $2.6 billion asset credit union won't assess an SACU surcharge on transactions from the machine. "We are pleased that we have the capability to provide this service on short notice to help our friends who have been temporarily displaced due to Hurricane Ike," SACU Chief Financial Officer Mark Dwyer said. "The credit union invested in mobile ATM units so it could provide an additional level of service to its members and the community at large," Dwyer said, adding the ATMs "can be deployed to make the evacuees' lives a little bit more manageable." The credit union's portable ATM unit can move to a service location easily and its "ATM on wheels" can be set up for short-term use at locations such as weekend festivals and community events.