Only three credit unions were recipients of Excellence in Lending awards this year in large part because of a rough lending atmosphere.
At the CUNA Lending Council's Oct. 18 annual conference in Las Vegas, both the Oregon Community Credit Union in Eugene, Ore., and the Erie Federal Credit Union in Erie, Pa., won consumer lending awards in the more than $250 million in assets category. NorthCountry Federal Credit Union in South Burlington, Vt. took home an award for serving persons of low and modest means.
"An extremely difficult lending environment and the Excellence in Lending Awards' demanding standards resulted in only three winners this year, but these three credit unions are truly deserving of the award," said Dan Kaiser, CUNA Mutual vice president.
There were no business lending award winners this year, said Rick Uhlmann, senior manager, media relations at CUNA Mutual. A consumer lending award was also not given to a credit union in the $250 million or less category.
The $919 million Oregon Community's improved HELOC and direct lending programs enhanced relationships with area car dealers. It also established a loan-phone branch that channeled all incoming calls from members seeking loans to a loan expert. In the first half of 2010, the CU's loan branch stood at 137% of its annualized goal.
In 2009, the $320 million Erie FCU provided 3,400 car loans totaling $49 million and maintained its standing as the No. 1 vehicle lender in Erie County, according to CUNA Mutual. Its merchant direct loan program expanded to 18 merchants and aided its loan portfolio growth by 22.7%.
The $270 million NorthCountry FCU's Employer Sponsored Income Advance program provides up to $1,500 in funds through the members' employers. Since July 2007, NorthCountry has made 389 loans totaling $400,000 and has written off $8,500, CUNA Mutual said. Thirty-five percent of borrowers continue the payroll deduction to savings after the loan is repaid.