ARLINGTON, Va. – A preliminary examination of the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations shows that far more credit unions may actually benefit from instillations in their fields of membership gaining personnel than those who may be hurt by the loss of personnel, according to NAFCU. According to data supplied by the DOD and after a survey conducted by NAFCU, 24 credit unions reported that they expected to see parts of their field of membership swell if the recommendations are followed and two, the $31 million Cannon FCU, headquartered in Clovis, New Mexico and the $22 million Fort Monroe Credit Union headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, may face a very hard time. Both bases have close relationships with the facilities which may be closed. The other credit unions with nearby bases on the list have moved to community charters which may enable them to bear the closings more successfully, NAFCU said. NAFCU also estimated the BRAC recommendations will also have an impact on the large Defense Credit Unions such as the $7.4 billion Pentagon FCU and the $24 billion Navy Federal because the shifting personnel may mean having to shift resources. In South Dakota, CU executives in Rapid City, home of Ellsworth Air Force Base, were grappling with the economic impact of a future closing of that facility while also still rallying with civic groups and the Congressional delegation to lobby BRAC against shutting the facility down. The possible closing of Ellsworth Air Force Base, “is by no means a done deal” observed Roger Heacock, president/CEO of the $529 million Black Hills FCU, the state’s largest. “I was certainly very surprised at the recommended closing since the Pentagon over the last several years has put in $150 million worth of improvements,” said Heacock. He said the loss to his own 47,500 member CU would be minimal-”less than 5%”- but the overall effect on the Rapid City economy could be considerable, noting his own CU includes Ellsworth civil service and Air Force personnel. The CU most vulnerable to the closure is the $41 million Sentinel FCU which previously changed its name from Ellsworth. Officials of that CU were not immediately available for comment. Floyd Rummel III, chairman of the South Dakota Credit Union League and president of Dakota FCU in Deadwood-about 45 miles from Ellsworth -said he also thought the base, the largest employer in western South Dakota, would be safe since it had the B-1 bomber. Business leaders joined by CU executives had privately expected Ellsworth would be spared following comments made during the November election by U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D) that he had the “ear” of President Bush to save Ellsworth. Thune defeated former Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) In New Mexico, Diane Antill, president of the $31 million Cannon Federal Credit Union. Clovis, said the proposed closure announcement on Cannon Air Force base “was like a punch in the jaw.” Antill said she and her CEO, Betty Turnbough, spent all morning on May 16 at a town hall rally with Governor Richardson as a featured speaker telling the crowd in the eastern New Mexico community he was “hopeful” about avoiding a base shutdown. “We came away pretty pumped up to believe that Cannon can be removed from the list,” said Antill maintaining supporting data on base operations failed to make it to Pentagon officials. The Cannon FCU Board was to meet last week to review options which could include applying for a community charter. Roughly half of the CU’s 6,700 members are active military, families or retirees.
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