The concept of a Credit Union House-brand was hatched in Washington during the H.R. 1151 battle with a facility to entertain lawmakers and serve as a meeting site. The building was opened in 2001.
That followed a copycat in 2004 in Jefferson City, Mo., by the Missouri Credit Union Association and another slated to open next July in Oklahoma City from the state league, and now the newest one across from the state capitol building here.
"Given our strong CU advocacy network in Wisconsin and the growing need for a bigger presence in our state's capitol, opening a CU House was a very natural and necessary step," said a league spokesperson.
The trade group is still retaining its suburban Milwaukee headquarters in Pewaukee, but the new Credit Union House, ironically in a former bank building, "will serve as a command center for grassroots efforts and a place for credit union activists to explain what credit unions are about," continued the spokesman.
Brett Thompson, league president/CEO, and other administrative staff will remain in Pewaukee, but others dedicated "specifically to advocacy, government affairs, communication and the REAL Solutions activities" will be in Credit Union House, said the league.
Gov. James Doyle Jr. along with key legislators and government dignitaries have been invited to the Jan. 5 ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.
"Our league board really spearheaded the idea and helped progress the development of our Credit Union House," said the spokesman.
In detailing the decision to buy the Madison site, the spokesman noted that the number of staff had been decreasing over the years "and we found ourselves spread out with a lot of unnecessary space."
And so a decision was made to sell the building to a Milwaukee CU design and consulting firm, LaMacchia Group, and lease a portion of it back to the league. "This was a major factor in allowing us to pursue the Credit Union House," he added.
The interior walls of the Wisconsin Credit Union House are lined with pictures showing the movement's history, including CU pioneers, former governors and presidents with CU leaders, and vintage CU advertisements.
In addition to seven offices for staff, the Credit Union House has a meeting space of 3,000 square feet available for hosting CU events, education seminars, legislative briefings and strategy sessions.