Microloan Fund Debuts
Small businesses based in Boston's empowerment zone will be eligible to receive up to $25,000 in loans for inventory improvements and working capital. The zone is a 5.8-square-mile area that consists of roughly 60,000 residents, or approximately 10% of the city's population. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designated the zone in 1999 to ensure responsible development and sustained community revitalization in areas that have experienced years of chronic divestment, according to a press release from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's office.
Empowerment zone businesses with annual revenues less than $500,000 are eligible to apply for financing through the program. Loans will vary from $5,000 to $25,000 and will carry a fixed rate of 9%.
"Part of our strategy for strengthening our local communities is to ensure a strong and expanding base of small businesses that provide jobs to local residents," Menino said. "This microloan pool is designed to strengthen those businesses that already support our neighborhoods, and encourage the creation of new ones. We know that public-private partnerships promote investment necessary for sustainable economic and community development."
Tech CU Adds GPS
To Mobile Services
Technology Credit Union has added GPS searches for surcharge-free ATM locations to the mobile banking services it offers its 78,000 members.
The $1.3 billion CU (www.techcu.com) in San Jose, Calif., has signed up for a download service from LocatorSearch that places a points-of-interest file on the device, providing turn-by-turn directions.
The ATM location finder is part of the credit union's mobile banking services. Tech CU is a member of the Allpoint and CO-OP ATM networks, which includes more than 60,000 locations nationwide, including Target, Costco, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid stores and Exxon and Chevron gas stations.
NAFCU Services Offers Retirement Planning
Credit union executives who want to better plan their investment strategies for an employee retirement plan can download a new podcast from NAFCU Services Corp. and Pentegra Retirement Services.
The podcast and whitepaper explores strategies to overcome the challenges of cost containment by using optimal defined benefit plan design modification and shifts in investment strategy.
The free podcast and download of the whitepaper are available online at www.nafcu.org/pentegra.
The podcast features an interview with two Pentegra retirement experts, Hod Caulkins, senior vice president and chief investment officer, and Rich Rausser, vice president of consulting services. Caulkins and Rausser discuss the recent trends in defined benefit plan asset values, the impact of the Pension Protection Act and the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act and how credit unions can better manage pension plan costs and volatility as a whole.
In the podcast, Rausser and Caulkins also discuss strategies that credit unions can employ to better mitigate current challenges such as interest rate exposure under PPA.
CUES CEO Johnson
Receives Lifetime Award
For his efforts in building the movement, Credit Union Executives Society President/CEO Fred Johnson has been named the 2009 Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement award recipient by the African-American Credit Union Coalition.
Johnson has served at CUES' helm since 1989. The organization represents 4,000 CEOs, senior managers and directors. With a budget of $13 million and 51 employees, CUES offers a range of services, programs, publications, institutes, conferences and seminars. The organization has partnerships with Wharton, Cornell, Darden, Harvard and Navarra University of Barcelona, Spain. Johnson has also served on the Filene Research Institute research council since 1991.
A former Army infantry officer, his 24 years in the military also included command of a ranger company in combat in Vietnam. The last 12 years of his military career were spent on the faculty and staff of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
CUES has been a longtime supporter of the AACUC and several of the coalition's education, fundraising and mentoring efforts.
Symitar Nixes San Diego
Meeting, Goes Virtual
Citing expected fallout from the "corporate credit union crisis," Symitar is going virtual with its big Episys users conference this year, calling off the August event in San Diego in favor of an online conference.
"We have had numerous discussions with our clients during the past few weeks, and their message is clear-this is no time for business as usual. Most of our clients are slashing if not entirely eliminating their travel budgets," said Kathy Hooker Burress, president of the 700-client credit union core processing division of Jack Henry & Associates.
"But our mandate became clear-leverage the latest technology in a way that lets us deliver the same educational benefits to our clients while minimizing the impact to their calendars and their bottom lines," Hooker Burress said.
Details of the online conference are being
worked out, said Symitar Marketing Manager John San Filippo.
"We're still hammering out the details, but felt it was important to make the announcement now so that our clients have one less line item on the budget to worry about. Even the dates are subject to change if we find that something else makes more sense for the majority of clients," San Filippo said.
The three-day meeting for users of the Episys core processing platform normally attracts about 700 attendees and 100 exhibiters. The company said it made the decision to go virtual "in response to the many unexpected challenges its credit union clients are likely to face as the result of the corporate credit union crisis."
Jack Prim, CEO of Missouri-based Jack Henry & Associates, said that "while we would like to meet personally with our credit union clients in San Diego, especially in 2009, we believe these clients will be better served this year by a virtual event."
"We also believe that by making this event virtual, we are offering credit unions who have never attended the San Diego conference the opportunity to participate."
CUNA Mutual Launches
Insurance Web site
CUNA Mutual Group has launched a new Web site that allows consumers to shop for auto and homeowners' insurance from their homes.
The site, www.membersautohome.com, was launched through CUNA Mutual's MemberCONNECT channel and is designed for members of credit unions that are part of MEMBERS auto-home program.
"Adding the convenience of the Web site to our MEMBERS auto and home product area is all about meeting the needs of credit unions and their members," said Shad McKnight, vice president and product executive at CUNA Mutual. "By linking our insurance products to the channel used most frequently by consumers, we're providing our credit union partners with a valuable tool for their members and greater awareness of the products available to them through their credit union."
When logging into the site, credit union members will provide their credit union's name that endorses the MEMBERS auto and homeowners insurance program. The credit unions are also asked to add Web links to their site for greater exposure.
"We recognize the prominent role the Internet plays for people shopping for and buying insurance, so providing an enhanced e-commerce platform to better serve credit union members is critical," McKnight said. "Rather than trying to shift member behavior,
we're shifting our approach to align with their behavior. Our commitment to credit unions demands that
we work toward meeting those needs efficiently and effectively."
Genisys Joins Up to Help
Michigan Small Business
Genisys Credit Union and several state groups are among those offering resources to keep Michigan's small businesses afloat.
The $1.2 billion credit union has teamed up with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce, Baker College and the Michigan Small Business Advocate office to co-sponsor the "Help! For Small Businesses" session on March 11.
Featured speaker Chris Holman, entrepreneur, Lansing, Mich.-area media personality and the state's small business advocate, will inform small businesses about the range of services available to them from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
"Genisys prides itself on being involved in the communities we serve," said Norm Soucy, business development manager at the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based CU. "By partnering with Baker College and the Auburn Hills Chamber to bring this valuable information
session from the MEDC office to area businesses, we want to demonstrate that same level of commitment to the business community."
The session will take place at the chamber's luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Genisys. Registration details are available at www.auburnhillschamber.com.