North, South Dakota Leagues Plan To Merge

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The North Dakota and South Dakota credit union leagues will consolidate to form Mid America Credit Union League as soon as a new CEO can be hired.

The two leagues are leaving the door open for other state leagues to join them in the new organization.

Tim Brown, president of Dakota Plains Credit Union in Edgeley, N.D., and chairman of the North Dakota CU League told The Credit Union Journal, "It appears to both states that it's the right time. We have shared educational products and publications for a number of years and we're similar in size and needs."

Merger discussions between the two leagues have been on again, off again over the past few years, noted Floyd Rummel, president of Dakota Territory FCU in Deadwood, S.D, and chairman of the South Dakota CU League. "We just feel that with the decreasing number of credit unions in both states, to have decent economies of scale it makes sense for the two leagues to consolidate," he said.

There are 57 credit unions in North Dakota; 54 in South Dakota.

Rummel said he's looking forward to the union. "We've actually been working on this for many years," Rummel said. "We thought we had it put together in 2004 but, for various reasons, it didn't happen."

Brown said that a six-member search committee made up of equal members from each league's board has contracted with HR Value Group, a CUNA affiliate, to aid in the hiring process.

"We're all excited about it," Brown said. "We are very united and no one is trying to lead the other. This is not a merger. This is a consolidation."

Rummel said he hopes the search team will have a list of candidates ready for committee review within three months. "We have a pretty aggressive timetable," he said. Both board members agreed, however, that having the right candidate is the top priority.

"Like any business, like any league, the right management team is what's going to make this work," Brown said.

Kermit Larson, CEO of the North Dakota Credit Union League, said he would not be among the candidates for the job.

"I'm pretty close to retirement age," he said, adding that he will likely "semi-retire" when the consolidation takes place. "But I will work hard to support the changes here."

Larson said he is "pleased" with the decision to merge.

"It's going to be good for credit unions in both states," he said. "I certainly have no objections to it."

The South Dakota Credit Union League's interim CEO Leon Swenson, is also nearing retirement age, Rummel said, and has plans to work part time as a field consultant.

Once the new CEO is hired, he or she will join the new board of directors in planning the operation and developing the goals and structure of the new organization.

Rummel said the door would also be open for other CU leagues in similar situations.

"We chose the name Mid America because we think this is probably not the last consolidation or merger," he said, making it clear that there have been no discussions with other leagues thus far. We just think with the way things are going, there is a possibility that in the future, more leagues might want to join us."

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