THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. – The Thurston Union of Low Income People Credit Union, a start-up credit union committed to working with low-income county residents, hopes that it has finally overcome its last hurdle to opening its doors. State and federal regulators recently completed the new CU's first audit and now all that remains is to obtain the necessary routing numbers before setting a formal opening date, according to Laura Lawrence, the credit union's first manager. The credit union had initially hoped to open in December of last year, but a number of things intervened, Lawrence said. "I wasn't here then so I don't know the entire history," she explained. "But I got the impression that it was just a number of little problems." Among them might have been regulators' discomfort with the credit union not having had a manager in place (Lawrence was hired in May.). Other problems might have included NCUA moving its offices and changing staff, Lawrence said. But Lawrence reported that the credit union's recent exam, which she said took three days when she had been told to expect two weeks, had reassured her that "there is no going back." "I really cannot say enough about our regulators, both from the state and the federal side," Lawrence said. "They have made me feel that they are definitely behind us and want to help us succeed." Lawrence currently serves as TULIP's manager as well as an educational coordinator for the Washington State Employees Credit Union, a $1 billion CU based in Olympia, Washington. WSECU has a contract to provide back office support to TULIP and Lawrence has worked for the credit union in different capacities for about five years. She hasn't had any other previous experience in credit union management, but said that everyone she had met so far had been very supportive and helpful. "I have management experience in other theaters," she noted. Lawrence reported that nothing significant about the credit union had changed since it planned its December opening. It will still be located in a corner of a food cooperative, space Lawrence described as "very cozy", and it still has the strong support of the community. "A lot of people came out of curiosity when we had our security cameras installed," Lawrence said, "and they were very excited and supportive the credit union was getting closer to opening." Lawrence said TULIP decided to go with the cameras even though it will not handle cash because potential thieves might not know the credit union carries no cash and some thieves might target the personal computers and other equipment. "We were advised that cameras are a good precaution," Lawrence said. [email protected]

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