Oregon, Washington Merger Would Create Regional System of 200 Credit Unions

The Credit Union Association of Oregon and the Washington Credit Union League announced last week that their Boards of Directors have signed a letter of intent to merge after more than 20 years of on-again, off-again discussion. Pending independent votes of the two states’ memberships and their boards’ joint approval of the final business plan, the regional, northwest-focused credit union trade association will begin operations in January 2011.

Senior teams from both organizations together are developing the regional operations plan that will be discussed with credit unions at town hall meetings across Oregon and Washington this August. Joint board meetings to consider member feedback are planned for September. A simultaneous, multi-state membership vote on the final plan is slated for November.

In a statement last Thursday, the Washington League President & CEO John Annaloro said the proposal creates an organization with a strong national voice that empowers northwest credit unions to exercise more influence within the national credit union system and among third-party product and service providers.

“The executive leadership and boards of the two organizations are aligned in common purpose, vision and desired objectives,” Annaloro says. “We feel strongly that the opportunity is now to create a combined organization that will strategically build a sustainable model to serve the needs of credit unions into the future.”

Respectively, the Washington Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Oregon have been serving members for 76 and 74 years. The states’ 200 credit unions serve more than 4 million members.  

“It’s important to note that this proposal will not change either associations’ priorities or core values in all aspects of the credit union environment,” says Washington League Board Chairman Debie Keesee, President & CEO of Spokane Media FCU. “We will continue to provide effective leadership and advocacy for the credit union movement on a local level.”

According to the Credit Union Association of Oregon’s President & CEO Troy Stang, in addition to creating greater depth of service to member credit unions, a regional model gives staff the ability to concentrate on their areas of expertise.

“The credit union movement benefits from innovation and evolution,” he says. “The proposed merger provides the opportunity to share knowledge, grow networks and collaborate in ways that help our members become more competitive in the markets they serve.”

“Both boards feel strongly that now is the time for a combined organization to build a sustainable association model to serve their needs into the future,” says Oregon Association Board Chairman Gene Pelham, President & CEO of Rogue FCU. “However, as democratically run associations the approval of the merger, ultimately, is in the hands of our member credit unions.”

A schedule of town hall meeting events will be sent credit unions as dates are finalized.

Anticipated Timeline

  • May 2010 – Letter of intent to merge approved by both CUAO and WCUL Boards.
  • June/July 2010 – Senior teams begin merger plan development and complete Board directed due diligence
  • August 2010 – Town hall meetings held across OR and WA to present merger plan and seek feedback.
  • September 2010– Joint CUAO/WCUL board meetings held to refine merger plan, taking into considering member credit union input.
  • September/October – Forums held at respective annual meetings to provide merger plan updates and continue to gather credit union feedback
  • November 2010 – OR and WA membership votes to be held simultaneously.
  • January 2011 – Pending approval, combined organization will begin operations.

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