<p>WASHINGTON-CUNA is making extra efforts this year to encourage credit unions to send representatives to its annual Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) February 24 through the 27 in Washington, D.C. CUNA Senior Vice President of Communications Mark Wolff, who is in charge of the conference, said that CUNA is trying some old and new tricks to boost attendance. "We are making every effort to encourage credit unions to attend.It is important that credit unions have a strong show of support for members of Congress," Wolff said. He added that it is important, particularly at this time, to tell Congress of the vital role credit unions play in the economy. As of January 22, 2,082 credit union representatives had registered for this year's event. At the same time in 2001, CUNA had 2,224 signed up for the GAC, totaling a 6.4% drop in registrations so far. Total attendance for the 2001 GAC was approximately 2,400. Wolff would not speculate on the potential funds lost from the apparent drop in attendance for the moneymaking event. At the end of last year, CUNA announced that it lost more than $600,000 from the cancellation of its annual Symposium and other events, as well as an expected deficit of $600,000 for fiscal year 2002. Travel, in general, has significantly lagged since the terrorist attacks of September 11. "We thought the terrorist attacks could have an impact, but we hope the concerns people have had diminish with time," he said. In an effort to increase attendance, CUNA has announced on its Web site that rooms are still available at the local hotels at the time of the event and extended its `early bird' registration discount for an additional week that ended January 18. However, these methods are not unusual. What CUNA has done that is new is send out a video e-mail, entitled "Stand with us for America," from CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica urging credit unions to attend. Additionally, the trade association plans to send out an audio message from former-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich shortly after deadline. Gingrich is expected to debate Political Analyst James Carville. CUNA will not be Webcasting any of the conference due to cost considerations, but audiotapes will be available afterwards. [email protected]</p>

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