Colo./Wyoming League Introduces New Small CU Initiative

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The Colorado Credit Union League is preparing to unveil a new initiative designed to help small-to-medium sized CUs in Colorado and Wyoming, league officials said.

The venture, known as the Credit Union Resource Group, or CURG, has been in development since May. It will be officially launched in the first quarter of 2005.

According to John Dill, president and CEO of the Colorado league, and Dan Burk, who oversees business development, CURG will focus on two areas where small- and medium-sized CUs expressed a need for assistance: HR issues, especially cost containment for healthcare, and technology.

Travel Throughout Two States

Burk said league representatives traveled throughout Colorado and Wyoming from May through August, hosting meetings and focus groups to gather information from as many CUs as possible.

"Many credit unions we talked to are $20 million in assets or under-which is pretty small," he said. "Some only have three to five employees, but they want to compete in the marketplace. They need help doing things with technology such as online banking."

The Colorado/Wyoming league is meeting with vendors to arrange group buying, and therefore lower prices, on the items the small-to-medium sized credit unions need, Burk explained.

"We are forming a credit union service organization that will serve as the operating entity for the products and services they need," he said.

Dill said when he became president of the league in early March, he identified two basic goals: unity of the movement and better service to credit unions. He said these two things fit together in a variety of ways, such as government relations and communications.

"The real challenge for small- and medium-sized credit unions is their economies of scale," he said. "They need to band together, and the Credit Union Resource Group is a way to have achievable goals and have credit unions buy into them."

While the smaller CUs in Colorado and Wyoming will be joining the CUSO, Dill said the league is talking to larger credit unions in the two states about being sponsors. "Several have stepped up already," he said.

Investigative Stage Finished

The Colorado league is through with the "investigative stage" of the initiative, Dill said.

"We didn't want to guess what was important to these credit unions, so we went out and talked to them to find out what would be useful. The next step will be in the first quarter of 2005, when we will roll it out in a public way. We're not ready yet, but there is a lot of enthusiasm for it."

Agreed Burk: "Many credit unions are really excited about this. They've had a voice in it, and they can see it coming together."

"The bankers are trying to pull us apart-to separate larger credit unions from smaller credit unions," he continued. "This approach is designed to prevent that. It will help credit unions understand the unifying message."

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