OCTOBER 7, 2016
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Microphone Taking the Credit Union Message to the Presidential Platform (Issue 1 of 5)
A new CUNA initiative is aimed at bringing the credit union message to the national election campaign, including the possibility of including a credit union-focused question in the next presidential debate.

  Building Inroads for the Future: Credit Unions Meet with Rep. Efstration (Issue 2 of 5)
Representatives of four Georgia credit unions and GCUA met with State Rep. Chuck Efstration to share industry insights and build relationships that could prove valuable as the legislator's influence grows.

  State Hearings on FinTech Industry (Issue 3 of 5)
The second hearing of the FinTech Study Committee, set up to ensure a positive environment for the payments industry to grow in Georgia, including a presentation on the NOW account, aimed at helping small businesses.

  Growing In-District Relationships with Legislators (Issue 4 of 5)
Recent in-district influence-building events have included a fund-raiser for an Augusta legislator and a softball game for a Cedartown representative who serves on three committees important to credit unions.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 5 of 5)
The credit union message continues to spread, as evidenced by coverage of the industry in a wide range of media outlets, from newspapers to magazines to the broadcast media.

Taking the Credit Union Message to the Presidential Platform (Issue 1 of 5)

CUNA has launched their latest campaign "Strong Credit Unions, Strong Middle Class" to help illustrate in this presidential election how credit unions help protect and expand America’s middle class economy. With this there is an avenue to put credit unions and that strong middle class message directly onto the presidential debate stage and in the national spotlight. Vote NowThe Open Debate Coalition launched a website to allow the public to submit questions to the presidential candidates, and one of the questions is focused on alternatives to the big banks on Wall Street: "What will you do to help credit unions and local community banks grow the middle class on Main Street?"

If this question about credit unions is in the top 30, ABC and CNN moderators will consider it for the next Presidential Debate on Sunday, October 9th. Help this question finish strong - vote here. And this question is not about supporting or endorsing any candidate, but rather, helping ensure that the next administration understands and supports the mission of credit unions and how they help people afford life daily.

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From left: Marshall Boutwell, Peach State FCU; Kabir Laiwalla, Platinum FCU; State Rep. Chuck Efstration; Tim Bridges, Associated CU; Shawn Turpin, Georgia United CU
Building Inroads for the Future: Credit Unions Meet with Rep. Efstration (Issue 2 of 5)

On Wednesday, September 28th, credit unions met with State Representative Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) to create the basis for a relationship and develop an understanding of what makes credit unions unique. Rep. Efstration began serving in the state Legislature in 2014, and has quietly been building influence in the House. While he does not serve in any leadership capacity yet, there are several chairmen in the House who will likely retire by the next term, opening up multiple positions and changing the dynamic of committee leadership. As such, a positive connection with him today will pay dividends in the future. This was an opportunity to connect to further the relationships he has with the credit unions located in his district.

Credit union leaders from Associated CUGeorgia United CU, Peach State FCU, Platinum FCU and GCUA shared their insight on industry issues, legislative topics (ranging from chip-and-PIN to power-of-attorney statutes), operational challenges for credit unions, and how credit unions serve local businesses. Thank you to the credit unions for joining and establishing positive personal relationships. Helping Rep. Efstration have a well-rounded understanding of what makes credit unions unique is beneficial to future advocacy efforts, and this meeting helped grow his personal connections.

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State Hearings on FinTech Industry (Issue 3 of 5)

FinTechOn September 29th the second "FinTech Study Committee" hearing was held, aimed at enhancing and promoting the broad financial technology sector that encompasses the payments industry in Georgia. The purpose of the study committee is to ensure a positive environment for the payments industry to grow in Georgia, and the committee will likely produce legislation that may create tax incentives and a focus on fintech education paths in colleges to keep up with the workforce needs.

GCUA has been working closely with this committee not only because it touches the payments industry, but it creates an avenue for outside industries to push legislative initiatives, some of which could impact how credit unions operate now and in the future. An example of this is during the midst of the hearing, the discussion turned towards plastic card fraud, and why the U.S. (or Georgia) does not mandate chip-and-PIN cards. This topic will continue as legislators are being pushed by the retail industry to create a mandate, something GCUA has been consistently working to counteract.

These hearings also provide credit unions the opportunity to grow their influence, at times serendipitously. One of the presenters in the hearing was Lara Hodgson who outlined the NOW Account business model to the committee and how it is poised to help grow the economy by helping small businesses. During the presentation she emphasized the strong relationship they have with credit unions in Georgia! Our thanks to all the credit unions who have created such a positive working relationship with NOW Account.

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Growing In-District Relationships with Legislators (Issue 4 of 5)

Consistently, Georgia credit union leaders spend time growing the relationships with legislators. Why? Legislators make decisions on the issues that impact the industry regularly. And if they have a connection to the credit unions in their district (on top of having an understanding of the industry in general), that helps ensure that the credit union voice on issues rises above the noise of the competing interests. When there is no relationship, it is like a football team with half the players on the field – it’s hard to be effective with your game plan!

From left: Mike Johnson, Augusta Metro FCU; Lori Prince; State Rep. Brian Prince; Sherry Saxon, Augusta Metro FCU; Joseph Williams

But unless there’s already an existing relationship, how does one go about building it? It’s part science, part organic, and part strategy, and part luck. It’s being where they are. Taking an interest in civic groups and organizations important to them in the district. It’s reaching out to them on multiple occasions throughout the year to make a connection. And, it’s supporting them through the PAC, but also visually and physically. Here are two of the most recent examples of credit unions engaging in this manner:

  • On Wednesday, September 27th Augusta Metro FCU participated at the in-district fundraiser for State Representative Brian Prince (D-Augusta). Rep. Prince serves on Augusta Metro FCU’s supervisory committee, and is one of the very select group of legislators who are a part of credit union leadership. Our thanks to Augusta Metro FCU for creating this relationship, and continuing the support to help grow the level of influence of credit unions!
  • On Friday, September 30th Coosa Valley FCU participated at the in-district softball game for State Representative Trey Kelly (R-Cedartown). Rep. Kelly serves on three committees of importance to credit unions: Banking, Judiciary, and Ways and Means making him one of the most lobbied individuals (outside of chairmen) for credit unions. And he also is one who has a strong existing relationship with credit unions through Coosa Valley FCU CEO Andy Harris – thank you for having such a positive connection!
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NewsCredit Unions in the News (Issue 5 of 5)

Credit unions continue to earn media coverage statewide and beyond. Whether it’s in a local newspaper, niche magazine or radio show, the credit union message is shared through a multitude of outlets across Georgia. Click here to see recent coverage of Georgia’s credit unions "In the News."

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