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ARVADA, Colo. – A new strategic plan for the Colorado Credit Union League, its service corporation Colleague and shared branching network CU Service Network (CUSN) calls for a reorganization of the organizations for their future growth and success, but it may not necessarily spell good news for all employees. Indeed, the reorganization will likely end up costing some employees their jobs, the league said. Stressing that the Colorado CU League is economically strong with several new ventures on the table, League President/CEO John Dill positioned the reorganization strategy as being “designed to avoid any future challenges and build on our solid foundation of growth and achievement.” He added that, “some of our programs will shrink, some will continue or grow, and new initiatives are planned or are being rolled out.” Dill told Credit Union Times, “When I took over as president/CEO in March, the board hired me to review where we had been and if necessary, set new directions for the league and its affiliated organizations. We did that by going through a strategic planning process. I had the choice between spending six to nine months learning about the league and then regrouping to assess what needed to be done, or work with the league board and senior managers in a “design/build approach” where we determine what needs to be done and fix it as we go along. The board decided on the latter approach, and the reorganization is part of that plan.” During three subsequent planning sessions, the board defined the league’s long-term goals. Then it examined three key areas – government affairs, communications, education and training – and determined what was necessary to achieve its goals in each of those areas. The board also did a full-blown economic analysis of its for-profit segments that Dill said had board members asking `does this really serve the needs and interests of our credit unions?’ “For a lot of people around the league the question has been `does it make money?’ Obviously that’s what we’ve wanted, but there’s a subtle difference in asking that and first asking does a particular for-profit serve credit unions’ needs. From that we looked at our various product lines and figured out which ones should be continued, which discontinued, and which changed. Out of that decision came the reorganization plan,” Dill said. Colorado Credit Union League and Colleague Chairman Chuck Mabrey, president/CEO, Norlarco CU, said the league typically holds strategy planning exercises and the exercise Dill completed was not indicative of any problems. “Even when Carroll Beach headed the league we had annual strategic planning sessions, but this one concentrated mostly on the credit union industry’s needs and how they’re changing, and what the league needs to do to satisfy credit unions’ product and services needs,” said Mabrey, as opposed to focusing on the league’s goals and objectives. One of the areas expected to be most affected by the reorganization includes card services and one of CUSN’s 87 shared branching and outlet offices. Dill said the operations of CUSN may be contracted “in whole or in part” to another organization. The CUSN branch that’s closed will probably be transferred to a credit union. Dill said it’s the Centennial branch that opened in 2002, and he explained that the branch “hasn’t met the expectation of the business plan.” Dill stressed that the decision to close the Centennial branch is not indicative of any systemic problem with CUSN, but rather that the branch has been under performing. In addition to the CUSN branch closing, the reorganization will result in the elimination of 11 jobs in card services and another five in the closing branch. In total, the announced changes may affect 18% of the league, Colleague and CUSN’s 113 employees. Severance packages and other assistance will be provided for the staff impacted by the reorganization. Dill emphasized the reorganization plan decisions were difficult to make, “but were necessary to insure the continued health of the league, Colleague and CUSN. “It is never pleasant to make decisions that affect the job status of people,” he said. “At the same time, we have to insure that the overall organization has the proper focus and plan for continued growth into the future, and part of that process sometimes adversely impact employees.” Staff potentially affected by the reorganization were informed of the changes on Dec. 2 to provide them with advance notice and opportunity to plan for the future and to give them sufficient notice of possible changes that either will immediately affect their status or might in the near future. But even before staff was alerted to the changes, a couple of long-time employees had either already left or given notice of their plans to do so, particularly among the communications staff. Sheila Whitman, communications, left in November, and Nancy Bunte, SVP for Communications has also stated her intention to leave her position at the end of 2004 “to pursue other opportunities,” a league release read. Dill emphasized that neither employee departure was related to the reorganization. Even as the Colorado League is making plans for cutbacks in some of its for-profit segments, it’s already exploring new ventures such as the Credit Union Resource Group (CURG) designed to assist small-to-medium sized credit unions with technology and human resource-related products and services. League Manager of Communications and Public Policy Terri Johnson said the League expects to roll CURG out in January. As for the Colorado League’s co-management agreement with the Wyoming League, Dill said the reorganization does not affect that relationship. The Colorado League is still providing services to the Wyoming League, he said, and plans to continue to do so. -

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