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GAC Coverage: NC Credit Unions Conclude Successful Hill Visits

Nearly 80 NC credit union representatives converged on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to share their stories with members of Congress. Even though credit unions are holding up very well in the financial crisis, there are still some relevant issues on the table – so it was good to meet with lawmakers and relate these issues.

For lawmakers, the credit union visits were a refreshing change of pace from the daily grind of hearing about meltdowns and taxpayer bailouts. The pace up here is breakneck – even more so than normal.

The credit union groups shared their perspectives on issues such as the mortgage cramdown bill, interchange fee income, member business lending and changing the amount of time to restore the Share Insurance Fund. The tone of the meetings overall was positive, and there is a sense that credit unions are the “shining stars” right now as one credit union person put it. 

In the above video, credit union people who made those visits share the issues of importance to their credit unions and speak to the mood in Washington these days.

As part of these interviews, I had the great privilege of chatting with Greensboro Health Care Credit Union manager Genice DeCorte. DeCorte is a passionate advocate for the credit union movement, and cares deeply about people. This truth shines through in the below video, which shares how DeCorte and the credit union are helping people in the current economy.

As we head back to NC there’s a great sense that credit unions, despite all that has happened in the last several weeks, are doing great things in the eyes of our elected leaders.


GAC Coverage: NC Gears Up for Hill Visits

Day two of the GAC agenda is winding down in Washington, DC. While talk still centers on the NCUA Corporate Stabilization Plan and the financial crisis, the official reason for our trip lies just ahead – taking our message to NC’s elected leaders in Washington, DC.

This trip will not only represent a change in location (from the Convention Center to the Legislative Office buildings), but a very important and palpable shift in topic for the group. Despite the gravity of the moment with the Corporate Stabilization Plan and its implications for credit unions, plus the current TARP discussions, the credit union group must focus instead on the legislative agenda with our elected leaders.

As we approach what promises to be a full day of meetings with members of Congress, it’s a good news-bad news situation for credit unions when it comes to that legislative agenda and the health of the credit union system …

The good news is – the house isn’t on fire.

The bad news is – the house isn’t on fire.

As parts of the banking system creep closer to nationalization and the economy falls off a cliff, Congress has a bevy of urgent issues to tackle — fires to put out, if you will. So for credit unions, which are in much better shape than banks, the challenge essentially lies in getting traction on issues of importance in the current Washington climate.

Dan Schline, NCCUL’s SVP of Association Services, discusses the strategy to deal with this reality and the messages credit union representatives from NC will share with members of Congress tomorrow.

One of the messages we’ll be underscoring tomorrow relates to lifting the credit union business lending cap. As you know, the League has been using the video medium in its overall communications strategy for about a year now. And beginning with this GAC, we have videotaped accounts of credit union members who have gotten business loans from a NC credit union. These video messages will be delivered to each member of the NC Congressional Delegation tomorrow as part of our Real People series.

These member messages communicate the strength of the credit union argument on business lending – credit unions have the money and willingness to lend in this environment, and lifting the cap is a way to get needed capital into the hands of people who are creating jobs in the economy. And lifting the cap won’t cost the taxpayers a dime!

One such video is below, and you will find the complete set of business loan testimonials for Congress on the League’s Real People Channel on Vimeo.

We’ll record more testimonials for Congress in the future to show the great work NC credit unions are doing — in the words of their members.   

GAC Coverage: Stabilization Plan, Financial Crisis Take Center Stage in DC

The CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference is underway in Washington, DC! Nearly 80 people from NC have made the trek to participate in CUNA’s flagship political event.

The big topic of discussion is of course the NCUA Corporate Stabilization Plan. CUNA held a special session early this morning to update the attendees about the plan and the work that CUNA’s special committee has been doing to help soften the economic blow for credit unions.

The plan has of course generated a lot of concern and questions among credit unions. But it’s clear that NC folks are resolved to work together toward a solution, and committed to solving the problem using credit union system resources.

The stabilization plan and the ongoing financial crisis will likely be key topics of discussion on Wednesday, as the folks who have come here from NC will converge on the Capitol to meet with their elected leaders. Gregory Jenkins, a volunteer with Greensboro Municipal Credit Union, is one of the people who will head to the Hill to speak with his elected leaders.

This is Gregory’s first GAC – and he’s only been on the GMCU board for two years now. But it’s clear in speaking with him that he has a passion for serving the members of the credit union – especially now that the economy is in recession and so many are struggling. 

Gregory came to the GAC with fellow board member Matt Holmen to learn more about the stabilization plan. Like many here, he isn’t happy at the income hit the credit union will take. But like many others in attendance, he is committed to looking within the system for the solution to the problem. 

Gregory spent a few minutes with me on camera discussing how the credit union is helping members deal with the recession, his thoughts about the stabilization plan, and the message he will take to members of Congress on Wednesday.

Giving the Gift of Savings – to Ourselves and Others

America Saves Week begins Sunday, February 22, and the event comes this year as consumers all across the country rededicate themselves to the principle of saving to buy later instead of charging to buy now. With this in mind, here are two credit union savings programs that crossed my desk this week that I thought I would share with you.

The Rainy Day Savings Account – Truliant FCU

Truliant’s Rainy Day Savings Account is based on the idea that pennies add up over time. On a daily basis, the credit union sweeps the change in member checking accounts to this special savings account. For new savers,  this product will teach both the power of compounding and persistence when it comes to saving money – and hopefully open the door to a new awareness of how people can take charge of their lives by paying themselves first.

The Match Savings Program – The World Council of Credit Unions

WOCCU’s recently-announced Match Savings Program allows credit union people worldwide to promote savings among impoverished  people living in rural Mexico. People who need to pay for basic things such as shoes and school gear for kids — or even a trip to the dentist — open savings accounts. As these new savers contribute to their credit union  accounts, they are matched by your contributions to the program.

All contributions are tax deductible, but the real value lies in helping people empower themselves. Times are tough and extra money is hard to find these days, but I hope you’ll give thought to supporting this wonderful program.

There’s also a Social Networking component to the Match Savings Program, so even if you can’t contribute directly to the program – you can still contribute.

The economic crisis has reminded everyone of the basic value of pay-as-you-go. Kudos to both Truliant and WOCCU for their work, and to all credit unions that are continuing to promote thrift to their membership.