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HUTCHINSON, Kan. – What’s in a name? A lot when it’s a domain, such as www.hcu.coop. That’s the Web address that Hutchinson Credit Union just scooped up when it became available again from the National Cooperative Business Association, the trade group administering .coop addresses. “The co-op addresses are not well-known yet, but we see it as a positioning statement for who we are and what we are, enough so to make it a desirable name,” says Casey Swarts, vice president of marketing for the $81 million, 13,000-member community CU in central Kansas. “People around here know us as HCU, too, so it really makes sense,” Swarts adds.HCU’s current address is www.hutchinsoncreditunion.com. “It works, of course, but it’s really way too long,” Swarts says. “And HCU.com has been taken by someone who doesn’t use it. We’ve negotiated with them but it wasn’t successful.” HCU.coop first was claimed by a Utah CU after the NCBA began offering the names in January 2002. That organization let it expire and Hutchinson CU has agreed to pay the $275 it will cost to keep it for the first three years, three times what .com names typically cost. “It’s worth it,” Swarts says. Others have done the same. For example, Boeing Employees Credit Union also scooped up its corresponding .coop name, www.becu.coop, and that address now opens the same page as www.becu.com and www.becu.org. Lots of prime names are still there for the taking, says Richard Dines, director of member services for the NCBA in Washington, D.C. They include money.coop, our.coop, cuhere.coop, Midwest.coop and a long list of acronyms such as scu.coop and pcu.coop. “This is the chance some co-ops have been waiting for,” Dines says. “Some of these newly available names will fit their needs perfectly.” That’s how they see it in Hutchinson, Swarts says. “We’ve got to get people used to calling it `co-op’ instead of `coop’, but we really think they will once they hear it a couple times,” the CU marketing vice president says. “Our CEO, Garth Strand, really thinks it will be a great name, too, and we’re getting our marketing materials ready now – statement stuffers, business cards – as well as preparing to change all those e-mail addresses hiding everywhere.” Hutchinson CU is awaiting final approval from the NCBA to use the name. “Unlike .com, which anyone can get, you truly have to be a co-op and be checked out by the people registering those names,” Swarts says. “Of course, that’s what we are, and this name switch will give us more opportunities to explain to our members and the community what co-op really means.” To check on newly expired names, go to www.nic.coop/downloads/deleteddomains.xls. -

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