NCUA OK's Large Long Island FOM

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The NCUA board appeared to set a new standard for community charters last week when it approved an application from Bethpage (New York) FCU to serve virtually all of Long Island.

The three board members were unanimous in their agreement the area east of New York City, known to many as simply "the Island," qualifies as a single, well-defined community under the agency's chartering guidelines CUA Chairman Dennis Dollar pointed out that numerous entities, including the state government and the U.S. Postal Service consider Long Island and its two counties, Nassau and Suffolk, as a single community. "When you look at the number of entities that consider this as a single community it would be rather presumptuous of us to consider it as anything but," said Dollar.

Up To Four-Million People

The NCUA action, which carves out a small swath of the wealthy Hamptons and Shelter Island on the eastern tip of Long Island, amounts to one of the largest community grants ever awarded a federal credit union and encompasses three-million recorded residents of the two counties, and as many as four million people who live, work or worship on Long Island.

The Bethpage charter rivals a recent grant for Mission Federal FCU to serve more than three million people in San Diego County, Calif., as the largest ever awarded by NCUA.

The $1.6-billion CU, founded in 1941 as Grumman (Aircraft) Employees FCU, currently serves about 150 select groups on Long Island, including nine of the 10 largest employers on Long Island. The credit union plans to add two new branches by the end of the year and expand its workforce by 15% to serve the new markets.

Moments after approving the Bethpage application the board OKd a request by ABNB FCU, in Virginia Beach, to serve more than 1.1-million people in two counties and six cities surrounding the Virginia Beach area, including Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Franklin, Suffolk and Virginia Beach. The $281-million credit union was founded as Amphibious Base Naval Base FCU in 1960 and currently serves more than 50 select groups in the area.

More Than 100 Converts

The two conversions bring to more than 100 federal credit unions that have switched to community charters so far this year and make almost 600 that have converted since 1998, the year Congress moved to facilitate credit union expansions through multiple groups with the CU Membership Access Act. Since then the number of community-based federal credit unions has more than doubled to almost 900.

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