SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Consolidation of the North and South Dakota Credit Union Leagues, discussed in earnest last summer as an economic move, is still on the drawing boards with future talks between the two trade groups slated for this August. Negotiations remain "confidential," and there is no firm timetable when agreement might be reached, according to Floyd Rummel III, chairman of the South Dakota League. But Rummel, who also is president of Dakota Territory Federal CU of Deadwood, acknowledged that a "letter of intent" has been drawn up between the two groups and that a combination "is something that makes sense." For years, the two Leagues have shared joint meetings and educational conferences and more recently printing/marketing services. Last fall, staffs of the two Leagues began joint planning of conferences to avoid duplication. Under consideration in a consolidation, sources said, would be a single headquarters office and staff to serve the two Leagues. For lobbying purposes, the two Leagues would keep separate structures, but they would hold a single annual meeting with two business sessions. Last November the 61-year-old president of the North Dakota League, Buell Reich, resigned citing the stress of the job. Since then he's become president of the $4-million Rural Electric and Telephone Credit Union of Bismarck. Serving as interim North Dakota League president has been Kermit Larson, who has been a consultant and head of field operations. Rummel said any consolidation of the Leagues reflects "a sign of the times" as CUs across the country merge and as credit union trade groups combine services and consolidate. "The shrinking margins" are to blame, said Rummel, who cited the heavy expense that CUs pay to the many trade organizations. "There remains a lot of pressure to find economies of scale," said Rummel, noting the consolidation of the large corporate CUs across many states including North Dakota. "Just take a look at the nature of corporates and you can see where we are headed," he concluded. -

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