HALES CORNER, Wis. – One thing credit unions in Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio should feel is wanted, by corporate credit unions that is. Their home state corporates and corporates in bordering states are following through on their words and doing all they can to win their business. This corporate competitive issue has led to some heated words from various corporate leaders, but the corporates appear more accepting of the situation and are competing with a friendlier disposition. Mid-States Corporate FCU, the primary corporate for Illinois and Indiana CUs, has just opened a new office in Ohio that will act as the regional office servicing Ohio CUs. Mid-States President/CEO Dave Preter said Mid-States has been approached by Ohio CUs looking to learn more about Mid-States’ services. The home state corporate for Ohio CUs is Corporate One FCU. Last year some tension arose between the two corporates after Corporate One held a meeting in Indiana to try and build more business with Indiana CUs (one of Mid-States’ primary states), a mission the corporate is still on. Corporate One’s interest in Indiana is what spurred Mid-States to move into Corporate One’s home state. But Corporate One FCU President/CEO Lee Butke doesn’t see what all the fuss is about corporates marketing over state lines because it ultimately benefits credit unions. Butke says Mid-States’ office in Ohio doesn’t bother him at all. “We have no problems with Mid-States opening up an office here in Ohio. Competition is healthy and is the American way. Credit unions, like other organizations, will benefit as a result of friendly competition for their business,” said Butke. “Our focus continues to be on the member, and choice is a great thing for them.” While Mid-States looks to develop business in Ohio, Corporate One is going full steam ahead in Indiana. It says it has 100 members from Indiana, adding 33 last year, of which five were partner partner members that placed capital with Corporate One. It’s worth noting that while Corporate One has 100 Indiana members, all but nine are associate members that are only required to maintain a $5 deposit. Most associate members join primarily for Corporate One’s investment products. As for another territorial issue in the region, Corporate Central Credit Union (formerly Wisconsin Corporate Central CU) is moving forward with its plans to market to Minnesota credit unions. The corporate will be holding an informational meeting at NWA FCU, Apple Valley, Minn., to talk with Minnesota CUs about offering them more services and answering their questions. Corporate Central CU President/CEO Mark Schroeder will attend the meeting and discuss the move to serve Minnesota CUs. Again, the corporates seem to be moving forward more calmly now. “I think the story is dying down a little bit as the dust settles. We’re going ahead professionally and ethically with plans to meet the needs of Minnesota credit unions,” said Schroeder. He said after the initial few weeks of strong words from both sides, they are each accepting the new environment and moving forward professionally. Schroeder and Preter are talking from time to time and have basically agreed to disagree on some of the issues, but have toned down the word play. They are even keeping each other abreast of their plans in the region. For example, Schroeder talked to Preter about the informational meeting planned in Minnesota before the meeting was publicly announced. “We’re kind of sharing with each other what we’re doing and trying to go about the competitive issues as cheerfully as we can,” said Preter. With the meeting being held at NWA FCU, Corporate Central appears to have the $1 billion NWA FCU, the state’s largest CU in its corner, though NWA FCU could not be reached at press time. What do other Minnesota CUs think? “I would be one who would not deal with Wisconsin Corporate. Way back when discussions were taking place about Minnesota Corporate consolidating, they did talk to Wisconsin and Wisconsin wanted nothing to do with them. Now they’re on the outside looking in,” said Jim Leyk, CEO of the Greater River FCU, St. Cloud, Minn. “I definitely see them as Johnny Come Lately. They weren’t willing then, and I’m not willing now.” Some Minnesota credit unions said the premise of Corporate Central CU now making itself available or being more focused on Minnesota CUs doesn’t make sense since they were always an option. “The Wisconsin corporate has always been available to us in the past. We have opted not to pursue them previously for reasons of finding very satisfactory investment options with Minnesota Corporate. At this point I still have no reason to change our investment approach,” said Delbert Danielson, CEO of United Educators CU, Woodbury, Minn. Danielson did say however he was aware of the Wisconsin corporate in the past because he knows of other CUs that do use some of their services. Pamela O’Connell, CEO of Heartland CU, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., said she’s looking forward to the Mid-States/Minnesota Corporate merger. “I’m happy with Minnesota Corporate and happy with what Mid-States is bringing. I have gotten contacted (by Corporate Central CU). You know you always look, but we’re happy where we are. I just thought their (Corporate Central CU’s) timing was odd,” said O’Connell. She said it was strange that Corporate Central CU became aggressive right around the time the merger was announced. Kathy LaFave, CEO of Brandin Area FCU, Grand Rapids, Minn., said Corporate Central’s presentation was misleading. “I wasn’t crazy about how they went about doing it. It seemed almost like they were saying they were merging with Minnesota Corporate. I didn’t care for that, like they were trying to fool us,” said LaFave of correspondence she received from Corporate Central CU. Corporate Central also sent boxes of chocolate to Minnesota CUs. She said she’s pleased that Mid-States is pledging to keep an office in Minnesota and as long as service levels don’t drop she’s staying with the corporate. “I usually don’t look at things unless I’m unhappy,” she said. Bill Raker, CEO of U S FCU, Burnsville, Minn. said his CU is content with Minnesota Corporate, but he thinks each corporate has a right to define their strategies. “Wisconsin and any corporate is free to do whatever they feel like they need to do. Minnesota. Corporate has served us well over the years. We have no complaints. I think they decided to make a strategy move by merging with Mid-States Corporate, and from what we can tell it will benefit Minnesota credit unions,” said Raker. Raker also echoed Danielson’s comments that credit unions have more choices than ever these days and could at any time look at other providers if unhappy with their corporate’s performance. Proving turnaround is fair play, Mid-States said it will open an office in the Milwaukee or Madison areas of Wisconsin and is looking for people to call on Wisconsin CUs. Schroeder said so far Wisconsin CUs have been supportive of Corporate Central CU’s plans in Minnesota. “They know that what we’re doing in Minnesota will in no way diminish the products, rates, or services they are getting.” [email protected]

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