During the State Capital Connections trip held earlier this week, more than a dozen credit union representatives joined the League in Raleigh to discuss with General Assembly members the benefits credit unions provide to the community. One of the key talking points during the meetings centered on how credit unions engage and educate North Carolinians of all ages, income groups and life stages, which speaks to the heart of the credit union philosophical mission of “people helping people”.
Credit unions across the state participate in a variety of financial education initiatives from offering online resources to going into the workplace and schools to offer free educational seminars. Legislators also learned about the 10 in-school credit union branches now operating around the state as well as details on in-school reality fairs.
The significant growth for credit unions of 1.3 million new members nationwide in 2011 was also a topic of discussion. Much of the 2011 growth was the result of consumer movements like Bank Transfer Day, which spurred customers to ditch their big banks and look for local alternatives like community banks and credit unions.
The role of credit unions in the economic recovery was also addressed as credit unions continue to expand their business lending programs when other financial institutions have not. In 2011 alone, the percentage of business loan growth for North Carolina credit unions outpaced that of North Carolina banks by a rate of nearly 2:1. The League shared copies of the Support Center’s recent report which examines small business lending patterns in the state by banks and credit unions.
"It is great to meet with our elected officials to gather their support for our concerns and to build relationships for opportunities or obstacles that may arise in the future," said Southern Select Community Credit Union COO Norman Whiteside (pictured, at right). "Over the years, I have found that legislators are especially welcoming to the people they recognize from their districts.” Whiteside is pictured with Lauren Whaley (NCCUL), Huyla Jackson (Southern Select CEO), and NC Representative Fred Steen (R - Rowan).
Credit union representatives had the opportunity to meet with almost 30 legislators from the Western, Piedmont, Southeast and Northeast Chapters of North Carolina. Representatives from the remaining Chapters will join the League on the June 4 – 5, 2012 State Capital Connections trip.
“You can never stress enough the impact credit unions have on the financial well-being of their members. While many of our state legislators understand and appreciate the value of credit unions, some are not too familiar with the cooperative, not-for profit structure or how credit unions impact their communities and serve their constituents,” commented Lauren Whaley, the League’s Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs. “Our message is simple; credit unions are the best financial option for consumers.”