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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – One year after Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the state’s Credit Union Act modernization legislation into law, USA FCU has become the first Michigan federal chartered CU to convert to a state charter to be able to take advantage of some of the Act’s provisions. The credit union is now known as USA Credit Union, effective Jan. 1, 2005. Initially chartered in 1954 as a state-chartered credit union to serve the employees of Unisys Corp. and their families, the credit union converted to a federal charter in the mid-1980′s and continued to operate as Unisys FCU until 1991 when it changed its name to USA FCU. Over the years, downsizing at Unisys, has taken a toll on the credit union’s ability to grow, says President/CEO Mary McDonald, even though USA CU added 150 select employee groups to its field-of-membership. At the start of 2004, for example, USA CU had 68,000 members and $585 million in assets. By the end of the year it had 66,000 members and $580 million in assets. McDonald attributes the drop-off to the CU’s “aggressive” policy of weeding out inactive members and an uptick in the stock market that caused some members to withdraw money from their share accounts and invest in Wall Street. Still, the former USA FCU was faced with stagnant growth. Last year it opened two out-of-state branches in Roseville, Minnesota and Blue Bell, Pennsylvania – Michigan has reciprocity with the two states – to serve Unisys employees located there. About 70% of USA’s members live out-of-state, but as a federal charter the credit union couldn’t add members to those branches if it converted to a community charter. It needed to do that to be able to continue to grow, says McDonald. “Both of those are $50 million branches, and we weren’t ready to close them. As a state-charter we can keep the branches,” she says. Converting to a state-charter became a viable option because Michigan’s modernized Credit Union Act gives SCCUs greater flexibility to expand their FOMs. Michigan’s previous Credit Union Act did not allow state-chartered credit unions to mix membership fields, so an employer-based credit union that wanted to serve a community, if approved, could no longer serve new members from its previous FOM unless they had a sufficient connection with the approved community. The modernized Act allows individual CUs to define their FOMs based on their strategic goals unless the regulator objects for safety and soundness reasons. Now, in conjunction to converting to a state charter, USA CU has expanded its field of membership to anyone who lives, works or worships in Oakland County, Macomb County and some surrounding communities in Michigan, making approximately 2.1 million consumers eligible to join USA CU. It can also continue to operate and take in new members to its two out-of-state branches. USA CU also has five branches in Michigan – Auburn Hills, Troy, Plymouth, Mt. Clemens, and Marysville. Members can also receive services at 24 Michigan Credit Union Service Centers and at more than 1,300 CU National Shared Service Center locations in 33 states. USA CU belongs to the CO-OP ATM network. In the short term, McDonald says USA CU doesn’t plan to expand its products and services offerings “since we’re full service already.” Looking ahead, it will probably develop some community-based products “since we’ll be servicing people working in a variety of occupations, not just technology,” she says. USA CU already offers business services. -

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