93 FCUs Made Switch To Community Charter In '02

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NCUA said it approved 93 more conversions to community charter last year, bringing to almost 500 the number of federally chartered credit unions that have opted for community fields of membership (FOM) since passage of HR 1151, the landmark credit union law that was supposed to make it easier to expand through select group additions.

And at least as many state-chartered credit unions are believed to have made the switch to community base since that time, too. Many more have moved to community bases by adding one or more low-income communities to their FOMs.

It's pretty clear that credit unions have become the community banking option in many towns and cities throughout the country during this period, a kind of coming out, of sorts, for the credit union movement.

Still, last year's conversions, at least on the federal level, was down from a high of 104 in 2001 and about 100 the year before, indicating a slowing of the trend. Or perhaps, we've just seen most of the credit unions that see a community FOM in the future make their move.

NCUA approved 10 conversions to community charters in December, including two credit unions in mid-state New York-TEG FCU and Hudson Valley FCU-to serve 800,000 residents in three local counties. Hudson Valley FCU, in Poughkeepsie, is the second former IBM employees credit union to win that same community FOM, following Mid- Hudson Valley FCU last year, and the seventh IBM employees credit union to opt for a community charter in recent years. It was just three years ago that all three credit unions were rejected in their separate bids for the same FOM they have since been granted.

Also expanding its community reach last month was Xerox FCU, which continued to diversify from employees of its troubled corporate sponsor, with a grant to serve 350,000 residents of two underserved Texas areas.

Among the other large community FOMs approved last month were for: ORNL FCU, Oak Ridge, Tenn., to serve 1.1 million residents in 16 Tennessee counties; Dort FCU, Flint, Mich., to serve 600,000 residents of three Michigan counties, and Security 1st FCU, McAllen, Texas, to serve one-million residents in four Texas counties along the Mexican border;

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