Montana 1st Tries Again on Horizon Merger
The $64 million Montana 1st Credit Union of Missoula is trying again to win member approval June 26 for a merger with Washington State’s Horizon Credit Union after its first attempt was rejected in a member vote.
This time, complete with TV ads, fact sheets and billboard messaging, the Missoula credit union for weeks has waged a vigorous campaign to win approval from the credit union’s 9,700 members.
In turning down the merger offer from the $452 million Spokane Valley credit union in January, some members of Montana 1st complained of losing local control to an out-of-state credit union and expressed worries over poor service.
The management and board of Montana 1st blamed poor communication and poor execution of their merger plan. They said this time around would be different.
Since last month, the Missoula credit union has held a series of public meetings as well as sessions with board members to discuss the merger plan.
Missoula 1st also reportedly revealed this week that it would retain the Montana 1st name in the consolidation and would add a board member representing the credit union
Officials of Horizon CU, which has long said it was eager to expand into Montana, were not immediately available for comment on the member vote. Ballots were distributed to Montana 1st members June 4 and were to be returned by June 18.
Following the merger, Montana 1st has said that Chris Sisco, CEO, would serve as regional vice president of corporate integration until her planned retirement in a year. Alita Billington, executive vice president, would become regional director of branches following the consolidation.
On its website this week, Montana 1st ran “I’m Voting Yes” banners as it encouraged a favorable vote “as better for you and better for Montana.” Members could print their ballots and return them online.
One quote on the website states, “Same small town feel with the backing of more services and options including more money.”