First, let me express my appreciation to Slach for keying into the issue of greater cooperation among co-ops. It is certainly an important issue and one that is a definite priority for NCBA, as it is for CUNA through our involvement with NCBA and the work of our cooperative alliances committee, which seeks to foster mutually beneficial business- and advocacy-related partnerships between credit unions and other cooperatives.
Most recently, CUNA's cooperative alliances committee has been working to develop a pilot project between credit unions and food cooperatives, based on the example of SPIRE Credit Union's affinity credit card and ATM relationship with the Wedge food co-op in Minneapolis that NCBA CEO Paul Hazen highlighted in his letter to the editor last week. Paul has personally worked with CUNA's committee on this project and NCBA has been an invaluable resource.
This is just one of many examples of the support NCBA provides to CUNA and credit unions on issues ranging from passage of H.R. 1151 in 1998 right up through today's effort to enact legislation lifting the cap on CU member business loans. (NCBA and several of its members, such as the National Cooperative Grocers Association, were quick to join an MBL coalition spearheaded by CUNA). Moreover, NCBA consistently has been one of our staunchest allies in support of credit unions' tax status.
Similarly, CUNA has given our support to NCBA on such issues as the recently completed USDA study on co-ops' impact on the U.S. economy, funding for a rural cooperative development grant program and a feasibility study of a national equity fund for co-ops. Our cooperative alliances committee meets annually in conjunction with NCBA's cooperative conference, giving our committee members an opportunity to network with and learn from leaders of other co-op sectors as well participate in NCBA-organized Capitol Hill visits.
Many of these activities and interactions take place out of the limelight, and Slach makes an excellent point that more can be done to call attention to CU partnerships with the larger co-op community. I would note that NCBA does offer a free electronic newsletter, available at www.ncba.coop, that would be a great starting point for CUs that want to learn more. There is indeed terrific potential for greater collaboration and it is a potential that is well-recognized and being pursued both by CUNA and NCBA.