The need for regulatory relief--and credit unions’ continued ability to provide local-based financial services to their communities--were the focus of a meeting with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and advocates from 4 Montana credit unions on Thursday.
Executive staff from Valley FCU of Montana, Billings FCU, Rimrock CU, and Homestead FCU, all based in Billings, spoke with about the role their credit unions have in the communities they serve, how they are improving the lives of their members, and the impact that financial regulations have on credit unions’ continuing ability to make a difference.
The meeting was held at Homestead FCU.
Tester spoke to members and heard their stories of how the credit union came through for them in difficult times. One member talked about suddenly becoming a single mom after a devastating divorce, another about recovering from a stroke in his early 30s, and the last about losing his tech job after. In each of these instances the credit union provided loans that allowed them to get back on their feet.
“As a rural Montanan and member of the Senate Banking Committee, I am working hard to cut red tape for credit unions so they can continue to power their local economies,” Tester said. “Credit unions help families purchase their first homes, entrepreneurs realize their dreams, and Main Streets in rural America thrive. By working together, we can ensure that government regulation doesn’t stifle economic growth in Big Sky Country.”
Sydney Elvbakken, manager of Homestead FCU, was inspired to invite lawmakers to visit her credit union after hearing CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle speak at the America’s Credit Unions Conference (ACUC) in June. Nussle’s call to action for credit union representatives to get involved and reach out to those who can inspire change to highlight the work they do and make them aware of the true consequences of regulation.
“I knew I had to take action,” said Elvbakken of her feelings after returning home from the ACUC. “I believe that if we see ourselves as one credit union, we are weak; but, if we see ourselves as 6,000 credit unions that work together to send the same message to our representatives in office, we are so much more powerful.”
Of credit unions’ desire for regulation relief, Elvbakken said, “our work is so important and we can’t let that go unnoticed. We care so much about our members, and the work that our delegates are doing affects them. So if we have to spend countless hours making sure we are following different or new regulations, that takes time away from members and the difference we can make in their lives.”