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PORTLAND, Me. – Expressing new concern about the impact of base closings, the Maine Credit Union League has scheduled an “Economic Roundtable” this month to explore how to aid CUs, businesses and members in hard-hit communities. “The idea of an economic roundtable was an idea I had to discuss with what can be done to help our members,” declared Steve Obrin, president of the $196 million Atlantic Regional FCU in Brunswick, a coastal city surprised July 20 with a recommendation by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to shutter the Brunswick Air Force Base. Calling the prospect of the Brunswick closing “devastating” to his community – and unexpected – since an original plan was for realignment, Obrin said he hoped the League’s Aug. 18 “Roundtable” might shed some light on ways Maine CUs need to prepare for the closures which could start next year if approved by President Bush. If the base closings stick, Maine as well as Connecticut, said Obrin, will have suffered more than most other states with three major base closures in his state including a Navy shipyard at Kittering, and the downsizing of facilities in Limestone, located in economically depressed Aroostook County. In addition to Atlantic Regional, Obrin estimated there are 10-15 CUs in the state directly impacted by base reductions or closings as first announced in May by BRAC. Like other CU executives, he said he has been talking with the state’s Congressional delegation “who have worked with us” to convince the Defense Dept. to reverse the recommendations. Obrin said his CU in its most recent quarterly newsletter had an article counseling members about paring debt adding he is most concerned about the impact on the local housing market, consulting with real estate leaders about adjusting loan-to-value ratios. Atlantic Regional, he said, “is making adjustments in our own internal operations and preparing a strategy” in the advent of a sharp downturn in the local mortgage market. He said he has been discussing the matter for weeks with contractors as well as realtors to determine the impact. A spokesman for the League said the schedule for the Aug. 18 roundtable is being worked out with an economist to be recruited from a Maine university to provide financial backup. [email protected]

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