The trend toward regional state leagues advanced anew this month with a proposal by the Credit Union Association of Oregon and the Washington Credit Union League to merge, effective next January.
The consolidation plan is still subject to final approval by the two boards and membership, with consideration of the pact to be aired at town hall meetings in August followed up with member feedback in September and a November vote.
Details on a name for the combined organization, its management structure and headquarters are yet to be worked out, officials said. But formation of such a regional framework fits the league pattern in various parts of the country over recent years.
Last year, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions was officially adopted by the Florida and Alabama leagues, which have offices in Tallahassee and Birmingham. Previously, the North and South Dakota leagues organized the Mid-America Credit Union Association in Bismarck.
In statements, the Washington and Oregon league boards, citing cost efficiencies and service depth as benefits, said the combination of a joint league has been under discussion going back 20 years and got serious about 11 years ago when the idea was again floated. It later, however, was rejected by members who were concerned about a loss of state identity.
Now, the CU merger trend has hastened the need for a streamlined organization, said officials, stressing, however, that lobbying activities in both state capitals of Salem and Olympia would remain intact.
It was also learned that John Annaloro, veteran president/CEO of the Washington group is planning to retire, which also apparently figures in the decision to move ahead now with a merger. Annaloro was not available to comment at press time.
The president/CEO of CUAO is Troy Stang, a well-known Washington lobbyist who took over the Oregon job two years ago. Stang, a former marketing executive at Arizona FCU, Phoenix, was once considered a candidate for the NCUA board.
In a statement announcing the letter of intent to merge, the two leagues said the consolidation "would create an organization with a strong national voice that empowers Northwest credit unions to exercise more influence within the national credit union system and among third-party product and service providers."
The new association would represent about 200 CUs in the Northwest, including 120 in Washington and 80 in Oregon.
"The executive leadership and boards of the two organizations are aligned in common purpose, vision and desired objectives," said Annaloro in the prepared press release.
And Stang offered that "the credit union movement benefits from innovation and evolution" and so a merger "provides the opportunity to share knowledge, grow networks and collaborate in ways that help our members become more competitive in the markets they serve."
Stressing the grassroots nature of league functions, Debie Keesee, chairman of the Washington League and president/CEO of Spokane Media FCU, said, "It's important to note that this proposal will not change either associations' priorities or core values in all aspects of the credit union environment. We will continue to provide effective leadership and advocacy for the credit union movement on a local level."