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SALT LAKE CITY – Mountain America Federal Credit Union, one of the trio of Utah credit unions which converted to federal charters in May following last spring’s tax fight in the state legislature, is finding no shortage of select employee groups that want to join the CU’s field-of-membership. “We’ve been able to sign up about 1,000 new members a month,” boasted Fred Nydegger, senior vice president of industry and member development for the $1 billion Salt Lake CU. Prior to the conversion, Mountain America had roughly 100 SEGs. Currently the CU counts 351 SEGS in its FOM, including 344 occupational and seven association groups. “Of course, some of them are mom and pop operations, but we are happy to keep our growth steady particularly in areas outside Salt Lake City,” said Nydegger citing conditions related to the new SEG-only federal charter. Unlike Ogden-based America First and Goldenwest, which opted for community charters in new counties, Mountain America chose the SEG-only federal charter as it applied to its existing seven counties. The CU can also offer business loans that were barred under a March state law which targeted the three CUs on business credit, a provision successfully included by the banking lobby during the tax battle Though Mountain America, as the state’s second largest, has long been targeted by the Utah banking lobby as a CU which deserves to be corralled because of its statewide expansion and “illegally acting like a bank,” it has been spared some of the scrutiny in recent weeks climaxed by the American Bankers Association July 15 suit against NCUA and FOM policies in Utah. Nydegger maintains Mountain America, which received its federal charter May 1 – the same day as America First and Goldenwest won their new multi-county FOM – chose the SEG-only route because “we feel we can offer more and better products and services” as well as bigger business loans. Mountain America did have to give up non-SEG direct member solicitation and on that front “we’ve had to turn away potential members,” said Nydegger. But Mountain America maintains that in the long run, this strategy will pay off in penetrating new markets outside Salt Lake. That means, he noted, that Mountain America can solicit for SEGs in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico where the CU has existing branches, all of which are grandfathered under the May 1 NCUA order.

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