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WASHINGTON-Though credit unions, as well as the rest of America, try to bolster some semblance of business as usual, there are obvious voids. In addition to the missing twin towers in the New York skyline, credit union landmarks, like CUNA’s Annual Symposium and NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus, have also been decimated. Following the events of September 11, which is expected to claim thousands of lives and is being scaled against the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, credit union groups such as CUNA, NAFCU, the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), and the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) have either cancelled or postponed their conferences. The credit union trade association to take the largest financial hit is certainly CUNA. CUNA’s Annual Symposium was slated to begin Saturday, September 22, in San Francisco, but has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled for this year. The decision to cancel was made the Monday before the conference was to start by CUNA’s executive committee. “It very clearly was the appropriate choice,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica explained. He said that many attendees had called, concerned that they would not be able to get a flight to the conference or were simply wary of flying so soon after the attacks, which used four commercial jet liners to crash into the targets. “There were too many uncertainties, too many variables, too much of a negative tone that I think would be there,” Mica added. The decision was unanimous among the executive committee and nearly unanimous among the leagues, all of which were contacted. Time constraints, with CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference coming up in February, prevented rescheduling an event of the magnitude of the Symposium. CUNA was forced to reschedule about a dozen other meetings, Mica said, including finance and audit committee meetings. “Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to the thousands of victims of last week’s attack and their families,” Mica said in an earlier statement. The CUNA Annual General Meeting and board meeting slated for September 24 were also postponed and are tentatively rescheduled for October 30. CUNA’s financial losses are certain to be substantial with more than 1,000 expected attendees at $695 each in registration fees, which are to be fully refunded. The conference is intended to pay for itself, plus make a little money for the group. Mica said that CUNA’s total losses would depend on who holds CUNA to their contracts and what deposits were nonrefundable. CUNA does not expect to release a total tally of its final losses. CUNA also would not comment on how much money the conference was expected to make. CUNA has offered assistance to those planning to attend in dealing with travel agents and the hotels to try to get refunds. Prior to CUNA’s announcement, NAFCU announced Friday, September 14 that it would cancel its annual Congressional Caucus, scheduled for this week, in light of the tragedies. “[G]iven the circumstances at this time, it is best that we cancel this year’s Congressional Caucus as well as all NAFCU committee meetings and other ancillary events associated with it,” NAFCU President and CEO Fred Becker wrote in a letter to all NAFCU members. The board voted by voice vote with no objections. The trade association cited the limited accessibility to certain areas of Washington, including Capitol Hill; the extremely decreased flow of air traffic, particularly in the Washington-area; and Congress’ current refocusing on national security issues as leading to its decision. Additionally, flights to Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va. have been halted indefinitely. Full refunds are being made to all attendees and the Grand Hyatt Washington, where the conference was to be held, has been notified of the decision. “I hope you can appreciate that the NAFCU Board made the decision to cancel after great deliberation and with a heavy heart. We all know that NAFCU’s Congressional Caucus is one of the most popular and effective meetings within the industry and we look forward to next year’s event,” Becker’s letter read. “Support has been very strong for our board’s decision,” NAFCU Communications Manager John Zimmerman said. He explained that a flood of member responses to Becker’s e-mailed letter came back within a couple of hours. While NAFCU’s Caucus was on a smaller scale than the Symposium, NAFCU can expect a hefty loss also. With more than 400 attendees expected at $550 for members and $715 for nonmembers, NAFCU expected to take in approximately $60,000 after expenses. Instead the trade association’s losses should net about $20,000, according to Zimmerman. “The money was at the bottom of the totem pole in the decision making process,” he assured. NASCUS was the first credit union organization to reschedule a major event. NASCUS was able to reschedule its Annual Meetings and Convention the day after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. The new dates are December 14-18 at the same location, the Marriott at Laguna Cliffs in Dana Point, Calif. NASCUS CEO Doug Duerr was unavailable for comment, but he wrote an explanation for the postponement in a letter to NASCUS members, available on the NASCUS Web site. “Obviously, we are all deeply hurt by the tragedy of yesterday’s events,” he wrote. “In addition to the uncertainty about the resumption of air travel, there are times when our obligations to our families, communities and individual agencies and credit unions simply supercede our obligations to the larger credit union movement.” NASCUS Communications Manager David Morrison said that the group did lose some funds in the shipping and printing costs for the programs, as well as some deposits. So far the loss to the organization totals between $5,000 and $10,000, but there is no way of measuring future losses due to the rescheduling. He said that NASCUS generally breaks even on its conferences. Morrison added that the losses could have been much more, except for NASCUS’s 20-year relationship with Marriott, where the conference was to be held. Morrison said that NASCUS already has had some attendees cancel for the December dates, while others who could not make it in September have decided they will be available for December. Full refunds of the registration fees are available through December 1. Another victim in the wave of conference cancellations, NACUSO, which boldly announced it would continue with its Leadership Conference in Hawaii to be held this week, has postponed the fall conference twice now in the face of logistical issues related to last week’s terrorist attacks. The conference was originally scheduled for September 19-21. It was then rescheduled for October 23 through 25, but now has been postponed until at least November. The conference will remain at the same location in Honolulu, Hawaii, and NACUSO officials are working to retain the same speakers as originally scheduled. “The NACUSO Board is currently meeting to determine our final decisions regarding the Fall Leadership conference and the CUSO 101 conference already scheduled in November. The logistics as well as a review of agenda and the ability for speakers to participate are all being carefully reviewed.We want to take a hard look at all of the facts and will issue our final decisions within the next 48 hours,” NACUSO President Bob Dorsa wrote on the NACUSO Web site. He was out of the office at deadline. [email protected]

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