Thirty-five members of the Arkansas Credit Union League voted unanimously Thursday to merge with the Texas Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma to form a new regional cooperative organization – the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
Credit union members of the Texas Credit Union League voted last week to merge with ACUL and CUAOK. Credit union members of the CUAOK are scheduled to vote on the merger proposal on May 13.
The Arkansas vote was held at the ACUL’s annual meeting in Hot Springs.
“I’m very pleased,” said ACUL President/CEO Reta Kahly. “I would like to think that our credit unions understand the value they are going to be receiving. I would like think we educated them well and that’s why I think we have a unanimous vote.”
The ACUL held town hall meetings through the state in January and February to inform the state’s 56 credit unions about the CCUL proposal.
Credit union leaders in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas have acknowledged that the consolidation of the leagues is inevitable because of the growing trend of mergers and acquisitions trends among credit unions.
With fewer dues-paying credit union members, it has become increasingly difficult for smaller leagues such as Arkansas and Oklahoma to keep up with rising costs and to deliver the products and services credit unions need.
There are approximately 130 credit unions in the two smaller states and about 535 in Texas.
Proponents of the consolidation have said it will provide the credit unions in Arkansas and the credit unions in Oklahoma with access to expanded products and services, and strengthen credit union advocacy, networking and educational opportunities.
The merger proposal formally began last year when credit unions in each state were notified at their annual league meetings that the three leagues were discussing consolidation. On Dec. 17, the boards of the three leagues announced their intention to pursue consolidation into a single regional organization.
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.
If Oklahoma credit unions approve the merger next month, credit union executives 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.