Member credit unions of the Texas Credit Union League have “overwhelmingly voted” in favor of merging with the Arkansas Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma to form a new regional cooperative organization – the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
“Texas credit union delegates cast their favorable votes Wednesday during TCUL’s special member business meeting in Austin,” TCUL said in a statement. The meeting was held in conjunction with TCUL’s Texas Governmental Affairs Conference and Member Meeting & Expo that will end Friday.
TCUL did not release a vote count. There are approximately 535 credit unions in Texas, and 131 altogether in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The credit union members of the Arkansas Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma will vote on the consolidation proposal on April 11 and May 13, respectively.
“A tremendous amount of work, research, and consideration has gone into this measure,” TCUL President.CEI Dick Ensweiler said. “I applaud our member credit unions for recognizing and respecting the power of collaboration.”
The credit unions in each state were notified at their annual league meetings in 2012 that the three leagues were discussing a consolidation proposal. On Dec. 17, the boards of the three leagues announced their intention to pursue consolidation into a single regional organization. However, the state leagues initially began discussing the possibility of a merger in 2009.
“I think it is a common feeling around the credit union field that the (credit union) base is shrinking because of mergers,” Ensweiler said in a Jan. 3 Credit Union Times article. “So I don’t think credit unions are surprised that their associations also have to merge. It’s common knowledge in the credit union space that you have to change if you want to stay vital.”
The three leagues held town hall meetings in January and February to inform credit unions about the consolidation and to allow them to ask questions about it.
“The town hall meetings were well attended and were held in every area of the state,” said Reta Kahley, president/CEO of the Arkansas Credit Union League in Little Rock. “To the best of my knowledge, they were very well attended by our credit unions and the information was very well received. There didn’t seem to be a lot of opposition to it, but we’ll see next week.”
Gary Jones, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Proponents of the consolidation have said it will provide the 62 credit unions in Arkansas and the 69 credit unions in Oklahoma with access to expanded products and services, and strengthen credit union advocacy, networking and educational opportunities.
Although Cornerstone’s operations would be based in Dallas, an office will remain in each state capital to advocate and protect the interests of credit unions in their respective state legislatures.
“This is an exciting time for our movement, and the first step toward the realization of the Cornerstone Credit Union League,” said Paul Trylko, chair of TCUL’s board of directors and president/CEO of the $612 million Amplify FCU. “We have an extraordinary amount of talent and passion in all three organizations, and I’m confident in the future of the Cornerstone Credit Union League.”
If Arkansas and Oklahoma credit unions vote yes, an initial board of directors will assume positions on the Cornerstone Credit Union League board of directors with three directors from Arkansas, three directors from Oklahoma, and 12 directors from Texas.
A wave of league consolidations began in 2007 when the North and South Dakota Credit Union Leagues formed the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas. Later, the Maryland and Washington, D.C., leagues combined as did the Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming credit union leagues under the Mountain West Credit Union Association, the Alabama and Florida credit union leagues merged under the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, and the Oregon and Washington credit union leagues consolidated under the Northwest Credit Union Association.
What’s more, in December 2012, the North Carolina Credit Union League and the South Carolina Credit Union League boards of directors authorized a six-member task force to explore the consolidation of the two leagues.
Not all merger proposals went through. The Maryland and DC Credit Union Association and New Jersey Credit Union League backed off their plans to consolidate in June 2011.