Utah CUs Say Olympics Worth The Security Hassles

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While all eyes are on this city during the Winter Olympic Games, the staff of one credit union here has a front-row seat to the pageantry-and the heightened security measures.

Meanwhile, numerous credit union reps are volunteering in a variety of capacities during the games, which conclude this week.

Located directly across the street from Stadium Village, where many of the Olympic hopefuls are staying, as well as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, VAMCU (the credit union serves the VA Medical Center) has had to deal with a variety of "inconveniences" during the games, according to Lowell Baggaley, CEO of the $30-million CU that serves hospital employees. But he's not complaining.

"It's all worth it," he told The Credit Union Journal. "It's a little more inconvenient, but it's well worth that inconvenience to be a small part of the Olympics."

With 24-hour guards posted all around the Olympic site-and that includes the medical center the credit union serves- things are far from "business as usual" at VAMCU.

"Security it quite tight. We have to check in every morning and use our IDs to get into work," Baggaley explained. "Traffic in our lobby is down by a good 50%."

Because most of VAMCU's membership works at the hospital and has to use an ID to get to work, most members still have relatively convenient access to the credit union.

Prepared For Slow Going

"For anyone who no longer works at the hospital but is still a member, it's a little bit tougher for them," Baggaley noted. "But we knew that was going to be the case, so we planned for it. We did a promotion leading up to the Olympics explaining the additional security measures, promoting our electronic services and the service centers in other parts of Salt Lake where they could go instead of our main branch."

Activity at those shared service centers has picked up, as has service by phone and by Internet. "We saw quite a few people sign up for Internet banking during December and January in anticipation of the Olympics," Baggaley observed.

The credit union was also given special identification passes it distributed to its membership so they would be able to make it past the check points to do business with their CU. "You can get in just using your regular ID, but it takes longer and is a bit of a hassle," he added.

During the opening ceremony and the dress rehearsal for it the day before, VAMCU had to change its hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. The same hours are planned for the day of the closing ceremony, as well.

"Sure, this has affected us quite a bit," Baggaley commented. "But we're just enjoying the Olympics. It's amazing to be here right now."

VAMCU isn't alone. University of Utah Credit Union also has facilities located near Olympic venues, while many credit unions have staff acting as volunteers. America First CU, the largest in the state, has 41 employees volunteering during the Olympic games.

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