RAPID CITY, S.D. – Being consistent as well as persistent in product advertising all year round has been a major factor in helping boost loan growth-up 14% from a year ago-for the $353 million Black Hills Federal Credit Union here, according to the CU’s president, Roger Heacock. The boost in loans particularly on auto credits and mortgage refinancing is one of the best in the state and in the Upper Midwest, and comes at a time when CUs in other areas have shown declines in loan volume. “I’m not sure why we’ve been able to grow so well, but one reason is that our local economy has remained pretty steady without any significant downturns,” explained Heacock. He noted also that western South Dakota does not rely heavily on manufacturing sector or on service industries, two areas impacted elsewhere. When it comes to advertising, Black Hills Federal “doesn’t just go in and out of the market,” he said “but seeks to stay in the media promoting ourselves as the area’s loan leader.” CU ads appear in all media, ranging from TV to newspaper and radio. “We advertise in senior citizens magazines and even high school yearbooks,” Heacock said. While 0% financing has indeed “hurt our new car business,” the used car section has been “simply terrific for us,” he said. Total loans including auto and mortgage refinance are at $253 million giving the CU a 80% loan to share ratio. Last year was also good for loans jumping 15% from the prior year. Heacock said Black Hills Federal also does its part to keep a positive high profile image by contributing to community service projects and getting involved in the schools. Another bright spot for Black Hills Federal, which has 40,500 members and seven offices, is its debit/ATM card, which has been growing at a 30-40% transaction rate over the last year. “We were one of the first to introduce a debit card back in 1984 and five years ago we tied it to the ATM card and then business really took off,” said Heacock. “Consumers have simply embraced the idea.” In November, sales drafts totaled 89,000 or $2.8 million, a jump from the 63,000 and $2 million in volume a year ago. -

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