MISSOULA, Mont. — In a rare do-over, members of Montana First CU are being asked again to approve the merger of the state's oldest credit union into Washington's Horizon CU in nearby Spokane Valley, a combination rejected by the membership in January.

Since then, Montana First has held several public meetings to explain the benefits of the merger and launched a marketing campaign that includes TV, billboard and newspaper ads urging members to vote for the merger.

The terms of the merger are almost identical except this time the much larger Horizon, with $452 million in assets, has promised $64 million Montana First will retain its name. Montana First, which is a healthy credit union with almost 9% net worth, would get one seat on the seven-member Horizon board.

January's rare vote to reject the merger came after a campaign waged by Montana First members who did not want to see the elimination of their credit union, chartered in 1931 to serve federal employees and now serving residents of Missoula and the surrounding areas.

Montana First has two branches in Missoula, serving about 9,700 members and would give Horizon, which has 18 branches in Washington and Idaho, a foothold in Montana.

Montana First members have until June 18 to mail in a ballot. Members can also vote at a special meeting June 26, when the results will be announced.


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