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The Cornerstone League and Heartland Credit Union Association (HCUA) are exploring the possibility of a merger. Both league boards approved moving forward with the due diligence process, and a letter of intent has been signed by both organizations. A merger between the two would create a five-state league serving up to 718 credit unions and 14 million members, led by Cornerstone League President/CEO Caroline Willard.
“We believe that the infrastructure supporting our credit unions must evolve to keep pace with the way credit unions and consumers have changed,” said Willard. “Partnering with Heartland can help both organizations do that.”
“Joining HCUA and Cornerstone together provides a unique opportunity for our leagues to maximize efforts in compliance and advocacy,” said Lisa Simmons, interim CEO at the Heartland Credit Union Association. “This partnership will provide all credit unions access to more options to better serve their members and communities.”
Willard said that in combining their shared strengths, Cornerstone and HCUA can help to preserve the unique role of financial cooperatives in the marketplace.
“By removing barriers on the federal, state, and local level, we can fight regulatory burdens more effectively and strengthen our influence as a larger regional league,” she said.
Cornerstone League Board Chairman James Boyd said that Cornerstone’s proven multi-state association model can be applied to create additional value in the Heartland region.
“We at Cornerstone are excited at the possibility of expanding our model—centralized professional staffing combined with boots on the ground in each state capital—into Kansas and Missouri,” said Boyd, who is also president/CEO of Abilene Teachers Federal Credit Union in Abilene, Texas. “Given the political and cultural similarities amongst our five states, we believe the combination can be smooth and productive.”
James Nastars, board chairman of the Heartland Credit Union Association and president/CEO of Meritrust Credit Union in Wichita, Kan., said the time is right to consider a merger.
“Our two associations complement each other in so many ways, and our focus and commitment to credit unions align very well,” he said. “By working together while still maintaining our individual state identities, it will create an even stronger league and provide our credit unions of all sizes with more opportunities to grow.”
Upon consolidation, both organizations would operate under the Cornerstone League brand, serving credit unions in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Following the due diligence process, the boards of both associations would need to vote on the approval of a merger agreement, and a vote of the members of both organizations would be required as well. In the meantime, members of both leagues will be invited to one of many townhall meetings to learn more about the consolidation, provide feedback, and ask questions. If the merger is approved, the tentative timeline for the merger to become official is Jan. 1, 2023.