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ALBANY, N.Y. – In a move which some might consider a shift from the overly specific to the overly general, the New York State Shared Service Centers is changing its name to Universal Sharing Network in order, the organization said, to better differentiate itself in the shared service industry. The new organization will now go by UsNet. “For many years, NYSSSC operated using a product logo in lieu of a corporate one,” the organization said in materials about the name change, “which in turn blurred image and message lines between the organization and its product and service offerings.” Edward Kovalefsky CEO of UsNet, said the name change “describes the relationship we continually strive to develop with our credit unions. It conveys unity and builds upon the core values and benefits that inherently form the foundation of the network.” The name change marks the latest turn in what has been a story of continuing growth and evolution, according to Marc Inger, assistant vice president of UsNet. The organization formed in 1993 and proposed to use the model of credit unions joining together to use free-standing facilities as shared service centers. That model fell out of favor in the mid 1990s as the organization realized that more of their member credit unions sought the model of shared branching through their own branches. The four free-standing service centers were either closed or sold to credit unions which continued to operate them as service centers but under their own auspices. The new model of using existing CU branches proved popular. UsNet has 41 credit union participants in New York State which offer 47 locations for shared branching. An additional credit union is scheduled to come online with UsNet in December 2004, the organization said. That growth and the name change have led to questions about whether UsNet sees itself moving past the New York market. The organization already has two shared branch locations in New Jersey as part of its service to the greater New York City area. But Inger denied that the organization had changed its name with any specific expansion outside New York in mind. “Sure, if we get credit unions in the mid-Atlantic or New England which think a shared branching agreement with us would be good for their members, we won’t turn them away,” Inger said. “But we didn’t change the name in order to make such an expansion.” Inger acknowledged however that the name change represented a recognition that the organization had grown to a size and stature that needed a broader identity and one which reflected its core business more. “It wasn’t just that New York State Shared Service Centers was a mouthful,” Inger said. “It just didn’t speak very well to what we do now.” -

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