Credit unions and other cooperatives can work together for their mutual benefit, according to panelists at a session at the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s annual meeting.
Sharing success stories and their ideas were SPIRE Federal Credit Union President/CEO Dan Stoltz, Crow Wing Power Credit Union Vice President Diane Viehauser, CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney and Lindy Bannister, general manager of The Wedge Community Co-Op.
Consultant Adam Schwartz, a former vice president of the National Cooperative Business Association, moderated the panel discussion at the April 13-14 meeting and said it’s important that credit unions stress “the cooperative essence of who they are.”
Stoltz at the $561 million SPIRE FCU in Falcon Heights, Minn., noted that his credit union offers a branded Visa card to members of four area grocery co-ops and shares the interchange income. That includes with The Wedge, called the largest single-store cooperative in the country.
“Anything we can do together – as a cross sector – is going to make us stronger together,” said Bannister, The Wedge general manager.
Viehauser of the $63 million Crow Wing Power CU in Brainerd, Minn., discussed her 13-year-old credit union’s history as a financial institution created for members of the Crow Wing Power electric cooperative, and how community members strongly support both organizations and their unique cooperative business model.
Cheney, meanwhile, encouraged attendees to build similar relationships in a state that boasts the nation’s most cooperatives.
“I can’t think of a better time to promote cooperatives – with this year being the International Year of Cooperatives,” the CUNA CEO. “I think it’s greatly important that credit unions work together with cooperatives. The bottom line is cooperatives are a better way.”
The MnCUN said it is helping to celebrate the year by coordinating media relations and consumer awareness activities about cooperatives.