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DES MOINES, Iowa – Reaching out to the underserved, the Iowa Credit Union League and its foundation have created a new position – director of community development – to coordinate and develop underserved projects. “We know a lot of our credit unions are already involved in providing low-cost loans to low-income individuals and our goal now is to further develop these kind of initiatives across the state,” said Wendy Wicks, who was named to the new post two weeks ago. Wicks, who had been League public affairs coordinator, was slated to travel to Helena, Mont. last week to discuss a successful underserved program run by the Montana Credit Union Network which guides CUs in obtaining grants and funding from federal agencies. The Iowa initiative, said Wicks, will focus on helping CUs serve the growing immigrant population in the state as well as seek to bring branches into hard-hit rural communities commercial banks have abandoned. Gary Peterson, League chairman and president/CEO of Financial Plus CU of West Des Moines, said the creation of the new job is part of a two-year pilot project of the League and the foundation to work closely together “in public education and financial literacy.” The matter has become that more urgent, he said, with Congressional passage of the Bankruptcy Reform Act making it necessary that CUs learn how to deal with underserved delinquencies and with mandatory financial education and certification. The problem has also become more acute with the influx of Hispanics and Bosnians into the major cities, said Peterson citing the challenges faced by CUs in financial education.

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