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BISMARK, N.D. -In a move underscoring the shrinking credit union population in rural America, the North Dakota and South Dakota Credit Union Leagues are finally proceeding with consolidation of the two trade groups. The consolidation could take effect this spring following the hiring of a new CEO to run the combined organization. The leagues have hired HR Value Group, a CUNA executive search affiliate to help in the recruitment process. The combined organization will be known as Mid America Credit Union League with headquarters in Bismarck but perhaps retaining a small satellite office in Sioux Falls or some other South Dakota city. In a prepared statement, Tim Brown, chairman of the North Dakota League, said the two leagues “are excited to announce that the ND/SD Credit Union Leagues are proceeding with consolidation.” Acknowledging the first attempt at consolidation failed a year ago, Brown said, “what we are doing different this time is we are first hiring a new president and CEO. At that time, the CEO, along with a new board, will work together to put a game plan in place.” The new board will be made up of 10 directors, five from each state, said Brown, who also is president of Dakota Plains FCU in Edgeley. Floyd Rummel III, chairman of the South Dakota League, said the consolidation into Mid America is being pursued for economic and demographic reasons and reflects an overall CU trend of consolidation even evident among trade groups and corporates. “We are all facing shrinking dues dollars. Just look at Empire and Mid-States and the consolidation in the District of Columbia,” said Rummel referring to recent corporate and trade group mergers. Last year the Maryland League merged the D.C. League. Rummel also pointed to the California/Nevada linkup as well as Colorado/Wyoming management pacts as underscoring the changing nature of the industry. Even after the Dakota consolidation was called off in 2004, the lines of communication between the two leagues were kept open, said Rummel, who also is president/CEO of Dakota Territory FCU, Deadwood. “It’s always been the right thing to do,” said Rummel. Once a CEO is hired, he or she will set the timetable for the merger, said the two leagues. Rummel said for most of 2006 there will be three entities – the respective leagues of North and South Dakota as well as the new Mid America Credit Union League. The North Dakota league has 44 affiliated credit unions, and 60 credit unions are affiliated with the South Dakota league The hope, Rummel said, is that a new CEO can be hired in three to four months. The South Dakota League has been operating with an interim CEO, Leon Swenson, while North Dakota has been run by Kermit Larson, a veteran staffer. [email protected]

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