WASHINGTON-Following the September 11 terrorist attacks last year, several credit union organizations were forced to cancel their conferences and other meetings. While memories of that time still seem fresh a year later, the credit union community, like the rest of America, is going to continue with its business in 2002. The grand opening of Credit Union House on Capitol Hill at 403 C St., NE, was fatefully scheduled for September 11. Many credit union and league officials were in the nation's Capitol for its official unveiling. But after two commercial jet liners crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one into a Pennsylvania field, the celebration was canceled as much of Washington, D.C. shut down. A brown bag lunch was set up for the credit union leaders stuck in town. As a security precaution, a perimeter was set up around the White House, which encompassed the then-CUNA headquarters at 805 15th Street. While CUNA was originally told they should have no trouble subletting the old office space, after nearly a year-CUNA moved in November - the organization has yet to find a taker on the rental property. The cancellation of CUNA's 2001 Annual Symposium, planned to begin September 22, resulted in a substantial financial loss for the organization. CUNA had spent $245,000 already on the conference, according to CUNA Vice President of Communications and Media Outreach Pat Keefe, of the budgeted $764,000. The Symposium was expected to bring in $866,000 in all for a net income of $103,000. CUNA's executive committee unanimously made the decision to cancel less than a week before it was to commence. Nearly all the leagues concurred. At the time, CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica commented, "It was clearly the appropriate choice." CUNA did not release a complete tally of its losses from canceling the conference, but with more than 1,000 attendees paying $695 a head in registration fees alone returned, total losses had the potential to reach great proportions depending upon what companies held CUNA to their contracts. The conference is intended to pay for itself and make some extra money for the organization. CUNA also offered its assistance in getting hotel deposits, airfare, and other funds back for those who had planned to attend the Symposium. In a major coup for CUNA and the credit union community, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is keynoting CUNA's Symposium in 2002. New York City's Municipal Credit Union CEO William Porter will introduce him. CUNA has other related activities planned but is not making them public prior to the conference. Similarly, on September 14, NAFCU's Board met by teleconference and ultimately decided to cancel the 2001 Congressional Caucus scheduled less than two weeks later. Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., near the Pentagon, was still closed, which threw travel plans up in the air and access to lawmakers, which is a main focus of the conference, was uncertain. Additionally, the credit union community understood that credit unions issue would not be the most pressing items on lawmakers' agenda. In a strong comeback, this year's Congressional Caucus kicks off September 22 through 25 with attendance above H.R. 1151-era levels. NAFCU fully refunded everyone's registration fees also and expected losses to net around $20,000. NAFCU expected more than 400 attendees at $550 a head for members and $715 for nonmembers. The conference was expected to make $60,000 for the trade organization. "The money was at the bottom of the totem pole in the decision making process," NAFCU Communications Manager John Zimmerman said. NASCUS was the first credit union organization to call off a major conference, but was able to reschedule to December of last year. According to the group, NASCUS did lose some funds in the shipping and printing costs for the programs, as well as some deposits. At the time, the state regulators' group estimated losses between $5,000 and $10,000. NACUSO was also able to postpone its CUSO 101 conference originally scheduled for September 19-21 in Honolulu. The organization decided to hold the CUSO 101 conference and its Fall Leadership conference simultaneously, but separately, at the same location in San Diego on November 4-6, 2001. The first attempt at rescheduling was for October 23-25 in Honolulu, but those plans were scrapped as well. The Federal government, however, was still forging on with credit union matters. Within two weeks of September 11, President George W. Bush designated Dennis Dollar as the chairman of the NCUA. He had served as acting chairman since February 2001. At the same time, Bush announced his intent to nominate Iowa State Senator JoAnn Johnson to replace lame duck Board Member Yolanda Wheat. NCUA also went about its business following the terrorist attacks. Just two days after the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, where Dollar said he could see smoke coming from out the large windows in his office, the agency held its monthly board meeting. To be sure, there were definite differences at the agency, aside from the somber atmosphere. On September 13, NCUA was crawling with security guards and photo identification was required at the main entrance. Additionally, then-NCUA Board Member Yolanda Wheat attended the meeting via teleconference because she was grounded in her home state of Missouri while air travel was halted after the four commercial airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the west side of the Pentagon, and rural Pennsylvania. Many believe the plane that went down in Pennsylvania was heading for the Capitol or the White House. -email@example.com
9/11 terrorist attacks had ripple effects in canceling CU conferences, but in 2002, the show must go on
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