BISMARCK, N.D. – In a state that worries most about declining population, the state's new field of membership law represents a triumph of cooperation between two competing industries-banks and credit unions-according to the chief staff officer of the North Dakota Bankers Association. Providing his take on the Aug. 1 enactment of the FOM law, James C. Schlosser, executive vice president of the NDBA, acknowledged there are those in both his organization and the North Dakota Credit Union League "that are passionate" on the issue of CU expansion and still both sides have shown "they can work together." Schlosser confirmed the NDBA's threat to file suit against CU expansion in the state "if the issues had not been resolved" by passage of the statute signed by Republican Gov. John Hoeven. "Nobody wins," observed Schlosser in a bank/CU clash pointing to Utah where large sums have been spent on lobbying, "Do we want a media battle here?" he asked. Schlosser pointed out that there are five CU's in the state with over $100 million in assets "that are now larger than any community bank." With the new law restricting CU branching, big banks will have even fewer competitive issues. Banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of the West, both of San Francisco, along with U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, already dominate banking in North Dakota with extensive branch operations.

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