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BOISE, Idaho – Two small Idaho credit unions, the $29 million Les Bois FCU in Boise and the $38 million Potelco United CU of Pocatello, are winning the praises of lawmakers and civic leaders following the separate opening of two branches in communities abandoned by commercial banks. “It is heartening to learn of activities by credit unions to seek out unmet financial needs,” declared U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), a member of the Senate Banking Committee adding that CU offices in very small communities is an important way “that financial needs are being met in rural states like Idaho.” Potelco with offices in Pocatello and Idaho Falls opened its branch in Firth, a hamlet of 400 without a financial institution since 1927 but in a growing area of metropolitan Boise. Area banks had been expected to come into Firth after a trucking executive built the community’s first business park, but banks “apparently decided the town was too small and they instead preferred other areas closer to Boise,” explained Brian Osberg, president of Potelco. But Potelco, he said, felt the area around Firth had enough potential to warrant a branch “and so we decided to open there,” said Osberg. Similarly, Les Bois said community banks had decided “the bar was too high in terms of loans and deposits” for a branch in Crouch, also a tiny mountain community and a 90-minute drive from Boise. “We’re more than happy we opened there and now have 400 consumer and 75 business accounts,” said Kenneth Clifford, president/CEO of Les Bois. Sen. Crapo, in a statement issued in Washington, said “The credit union that just opened in Crouch will fill a community need that was not met by any other financial institution. Until the credit union opened, most financial services needs had to be taken care of in Boise.” Also praising Potelco and Les Bois was U.S. Republican Congressman Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho), who toured the Firth branch. “I know Rep. Simpson has some good things to say about what has been done,” said a CU spokesman. The Idaho Credit Union League which had arranged the lawmaker tours noted that Gregg Richard, staff representative for U.S. Sen. Crapo was on hand for the Crouch visit. He was joined by Alan Cameron, president and CEO of the League and Val Brooks, regulatory and government specialist. -

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