Michigan Story Archive

Debt Collection Lawsuits Dominate Michigan’s Civil Court Dockets

Justice for All Commission’s new report details how outdated and inconsistent court policies disproportionately affect low-income and majority Black neighborhoods

Nov. 15, 2022 — The Justice for All Commission (JFAC) today released a comprehensive report on debt collection in Michigan. The findings reveal that debt collection cases dominate Michigan’s civil court dockets, with over half of all cases filed by five large national companies that purchase credit card, medical, and utility debts for pennies on the dollar from original creditors. For example, in 2019, more than 200,000 debt collection cases were filed, representing 37 percent of all civil cases filed in district court, second only to traffic cases. Researchers also found that 60 percent of those cases were filed by third party debt collectors.

Further, half of all debt collection lawsuits in Michigan are brought against people living in low-income and majority Black neighborhoods. Of particular note: consumers in debt collection cases rarely have representation while creditors are almost always represented. When both sides have legal representation, cases are much more likely to be dismissed or to reach a settlement. READ MORE


Michigan marijuana grows ask state to slow corporate ‘green rush’

Courtesy of Gus Burns, Mlive.com

Sept. 14, 2022 — Michigan marijuana prices are plummeting, striking fear into small growers who’ve invested nearly everything to join the state’s young and volatile market that some say is being consumed by big corporate business in a “race to the bottom.”

They cited the deep-pocket capabilities of large, multi-state corporate growers to drive down prices and push out small competitors, as well as the ever-present competition from illicit marijuana sneaking into the state from without and within.

The overwhelming majority of commenters at the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) public quarterly meeting held in Lansing Wednesday, Sept. 14, identified themselves as small players in the 3-year-old recreational market and asked regulators to stop issuing new grow licenses, at least temporarily. They also want to cap the number of plants any single business can grow to 10,000. Several requested better enforcement to keep out black-market marijuana.

Kristsa Beller, who operates Real Leaf Solutions, a 2,000-plant grow in Kalkaska, said a moratorium on new grow licenses would push back against the “capitalism gone wild” that has “ravaged other states” and protect communities from the “poverty and decay that is left in the wake of speculators.”

Over the last year, recreational marijuana flower prices have sunk 47% while recreational marijuana sales are up 126%, outgoing CRA Director Andrew Brisbo said, indicating increased market saturation.

Michigan has issued marijuana grow licenses capable of producing nearly 1.7 million plants at any given time, and the supply glut is crushing small business, many complained during the quarterly meeting.

The CRA created a controversial special excess grow licenses that allows businesses to exceed a 10,000-plant limit that some argue only benefits big business. Each license allows the grower 2,000 more plants, and 128 active excess grow licenses, capable of producing a total of 256,000 plants, are held by 25 businesses.

“It’s a race to the bottom,” said George Lynch, who identified himself as the owner of Simplicity farms, a “very small” locally owned family grow. “There’s no end to it that we can see. It looks like it’s just going to get cheaper and cheaper and more and more flower every day … We are very much in support of a moratorium on new grow licenses and excess grow licenses.”

Click here to read the entire article


Advia Credit Union Names New President & CEO, Jeff Fielder, Following Retirement Announcement of Cheryl DeBoer

August 15, 2022 – Advia Credit Union’s Board of Directors has named Jeff Fielder as the next President and CEO of Advia Credit Union, following previous announcement of retirement plans for current President & CEO, Cheryl DeBoer. DeBoer has thrived as a leader within the credit union industry, spanning over 40 years, with her tenure with Advia (formerly First Community FCU) beginning in 2004. She will officially retire in early 2023, and with the Board, she is now ready to transfer leadership to Advia’s long-time and trusted Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Fielder.

Beginning his career in the industry as a financial auditor, Fielder joined First Community FCU (now Advia CU) in 2007. Throughout his time at Advia, he has advanced through roles including Manager of Finance and Accounting, Executive Vice President of Finance, and most recently Chief Financial Officer. Fielder oversees all finance and accounting, information technology, compliance, recovery, and fraud prevention for the credit union. In addition to his experience in leadership, Fielder holds his degree in Accounting from Western Michigan University and his Master’s Degree in Investment Management and Financial Analysis, and his MBA, from Creighton University. He also holds numerous certifications including CPA, CIA, CMA and CISA.

“We’ve really chosen the right candidate to lead Advia’s continued growth”, said Nicole Kalmbach, Advia’s Board Chair. “Jeff has vast experience in leadership, finance, and our credit union industry. He is well positioned for this next step,” stated Kalmbach.

“Jeff is extremely talented, very knowledgeable and compassionate, and is going to be a great next leader for Advia,” said DeBoer. “I’m truly going to miss our team and members, but I feel confident in the next generation of leadership that will continue to grow Advia well into the future,” DeBoer further mentioned.

“I’m very lucky to have experienced years of mentorship by Cheryl (DeBoer), and it means everything to me to be part of this team, and to now serve as Advia’s President and CEO”, said Fielder. “Our team focuses on our core values, which includes building and strengthening relationships. I’m very excited about our future, and will continue to drive progress for our membership,” stated Fielder.

Read the entire article here. 


CU Voice Authentication Expands for Members in Michigan

Courtesy of Michael Ogden, Credit Union Times

Dort Financial CU and fintech CUSO Illuma Labs partner with biometric verification solution.


NASCUS Welcomes New Board Member

JULY 20, 2022 — The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) is proud to announce that Denice Schultheiss, Director of the Michigan Office of Credit Unions, has been appointed to the NASCUS Regulator Board of Directors. 

“NASCUS is dedicated to advancing a cooperative credit union system through regulator and credit union collaboration. I am honored to expand my role with NASCUS and serve on the Board alongside a group of highly respected state regulators,” commented Ms. Schultheiss. “Credit unions are very important to Michigan’s consumers and our economy, and I am happy to serve in this role for NASCUS, continuing Michigan’s long-standing participation and leadership in the state credit union system nationwide.”

In addition to her role within the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services ( DIFS ), Ms. Schultheiss is the Chair of the NASCUS Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee and has served on several national workgroups, including,

  • NASCUS Accreditation Review Team 
  • NASCUS Audit Committee
  • National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Split Dollar Task Force, 

“On behalf of the NASCUS leadership and team, we are pleased to see Denice expand her role within the organization. Denice’s vast industry expertise and insight help strengthen NASCUS’s vision and focus on priorities most important to regulators and the credit union industry,” stated Brian Knight, President and CEO of NASCUS. “Her deep experience in regulatory oversight is invaluable to our mission to forge a vibrant dual charter system by promoting a relevant, growth-oriented, and healthy state charter option.”

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Michigan CUs Announce Possible Merger as CEO Reveals Honest Struggle of Smaller CUs

Courtesy of Michael Ogden, Credit Union Times

On Friday, it was announced that Allegan Credit Union and Rivertown Community Federal Credit Union intend to pursue a merger. Oddly, a shared CEO has connected the two small credit unions located on the western edge of Michigan for the past year.

According to the announcement, the Allegan, Mich.-based Allegan ($82 million in assets, 8.769 members) and the Grandville, Mich.-based Rivertown Community ($78 million in assets, 5,341 members) have been jointly-led by President/CEO Kristopher Lewis since 2020.

“As the CEO of Allegan Credit Union for the past seven years and Rivertown for the past year, my viewpoint on mergers has evolved. Serving in this dual role, I see our similarities and I see our differences, and both should be celebrated and preserved. I have a passion for our industry and for helping the greater good of credit unions, members and the communities we serve.”

In the statement from the credit unions, they addressed those who are quick to criticize credit unions that merge. In part, it stated, “in today’s highly regulated, high-tech environment, it’s becoming more difficult for smaller credit unions to compete at the same level as the bigger players. Left on their own, it is becoming more and more challenging to offer the wide range of products and services that members (who are consumers) want.”

According to the statement, Lewis was involved in creating a start-up CUSO designed to offer CFO and accounting services to credit unions that are unable to afford those crucial resources. “Being involved in CUSOs and serving as a dual CEO, I have gained a greater perspective on what we can leverage and accomplish together as one for our members and our communities.”

He continued, “Our mission at Allegan is community over credit score, relationships over revenue and people over profit. And Rivertown was built for hard-working people who had a genuine interest in helping those that couldn’t find the financial resources from the big banks. This partnership is a perfect way to live out our mission and to go back to why we exist, creating relationships and helping those that don’t have the financial resources on their own. It doesn’t get any better than this!”

If approved, the combined credit union will have an asset size of $160 million and serve approximately 14,000 members. Upon approval from Rivertown members, the merger could be completed by late 2022 or early 2023. The combined organization will operate under a unified brand, but will keep the individual credit union names, according to the statement.

Read the entire article here. 


Michigan Officially Becomes 14th State to Mandate Personal Finance Education Before High School Graduation

Courtesy of Carmen Reinicke, CNBC

June 16, 2022 —Michigan is now officially the 14th state in the U.S. to guarantee that its students have access to a personal finance education course before high school graduation. On Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 5190, a bill mandating personal finance classes. The legislation previously passed the state’s House of Representatives and Senate with bipartisan support.

“As a mom, I want every kid who graduates in Michigan to enter the world with a diverse set of skills and knowledge, and that must include financial literacy,” said Whitmer in a Thursday statement. “I am proud to sign this bipartisan bill requiring all public school students to take a personal finance course,” she added. “Every young Michigander deserves to know how to budget, save, and invest their money wisely so they can get off a great start after high school, whether they go to college, start working or open a small business.”

Having this course requirement will help set up Michigan students for success in adulthood, according to Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica, a sponsor of the bill. “Establishing a core class dedicated to financial literacy has been a years-long labor of love for me, and I’m truly excited for the students who will fly to new heights through a fuller, richer education,” she said in a statement.

Michigan’s new law requires a half-credit course.

Michigan’s legislation requires that all high school students take a half-credit course in personal finance before they graduate. That course can count as a math, arts, language or language other than English requirement at the discretion of local school boards. The law will go into effect for students starting eighth grade in the 2023-24 school year.

Michigan’s House first passed the legislation in December with a 57-43 vote. It was amended and sent to the Senate, where it passed in May. Because the bill was amended, the House had to vote on it again before it could be sent to the governor. The legislation was supported by the Michigan Bankers Association, Michigan Credit Union League and the Michigan Council for Economic Education. In addition, two of the largest school districts in the state, Oakland Schools and the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency, supported the bill.

Personal finance education ‘something all can agree on’

The legislation is the latest to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support. Earlier this year, both Florida and Georgia passed similar laws guaranteeing access to a personal finance course for all students. “In an era of polarization, this seems to be something all can agree on,” said Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance.

Read the entire article here. 


Michigan’s Third Largest Credit Union Appoints New CEO
Ryan Goldberg takes over the helm at DFCU Financial following the retirement of Mark Shobe.
Courtesy of Credit Union Times

Former longtime bank executive Ryan Goldberg has been appointed president/CEO of DFCU Financial, the Dearborn, Michigan-based financial cooperative said this week.

He succeeds Mark Shobe, who retired last month after 22 years of service at Michigan’s third largest credit union.

During Shobe’s CEO tenure, DFCU Financial grew assets and members from $66.3 million and 15,123 members at the end of 2000 to $6.4 billion in assets and 232,424 members at the end of 2021, according to NCUA Call Reports.

Read More Here


DIFS, Industry Leaders Launch Michigan Open Account Coalition
Effort will increase access to low-cost accounts at Michigan banks and credit unions

March 18, 2022 —The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), Michigan Bankers Association, and Michigan Credit Union League announced the creation of a new coalition aimed to help more Michiganders establish a relationship with a bank or credit union. The Michigan Open Account Coalition’s mission is to encourage relationships between financial institutions and historically underserved communities, educate consumers about the importance of having a relationship with a financial institution, and promote the availability of, and access to, consumer financial accounts.

“There are many benefits to having a relationship with a financial institution, including added security and access to home loans and other important financial services. This coalition will work to clear barriers for Michiganders who currently do not have an account with a bank or credit union and help more Michiganders build greater financial security,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “We are pleased to join our industry partners on this effort, and we look forward to working with Michigan’s banks and credit unions as well as community organizations to improve financial services access to all Michigan residents.”

A primary focus of the Coalition will be to work with financial institutions to ensure that consumers have access to low- and no-cost accounts. This will be accomplished through the certification of accounts by the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund’s (CFE) Bank On program, which sets standards for acceptable fees and costs for customer accounts. The coalition will also work with financial institutions, community organizations, and trade associations to educate the public and support them as they build greater financial security.

Read More Here


Dort Financial Credit Union Announces Retirement of President/CEO Vicki Hawkins

After 36 years of dedication to the members and employees of Dort Financial Credit Union, Vicki Hawkins, president and CEO, will retire on March 18th.

Vicki’s career at Dort Financial began in 1986 when she joined the credit union as an accountant. Since then, she has served many roles at the credit union, including as the controller, the CFO, the VP of finance, and, since 2009, the president and CEO of the credit union.

During her 13-year leadership tenure, the credit union’s asset size has grown from 350 million to 1.3 billion dollars while membership has more than doubled from 50,000 to over 109,000 members. The organization also increased the number of branches from seven to 10 and expanded to a statewide charter in 2020.


Michigan-based ELGA Credit Union’s 2022 Transformation

ELGAFebruary 24, 2022 In addition to making news this month with member-focused operational changes, ELGA’s longtime President and CEO, Karen Church is retiring this week. Church, who has been with the credit union since 1974 and CEO since 1993, will be succeeded by executive vice president Terry Katzur, effective as of Feb. 26, 2022

“I am fortunate to have this opportunity to lead Elga Credit Union into the future, while continuing the legacy and culture that has made this organization a special place for our members and associates,” Katzur said in a press release Tuesday.

Under Church’s tenure as CEO, Elga grew from 18 employees and $32 million of assets to more than 250 employees and $1.2 billion of assets.

Changes in Member Services

Recently, ELGA Credit Union reduced its non-sufficient funds (NSF) and courtesy pay service charges to $15 from $25, with an expected annual savings of $4 million in members. This change went into effect in January and has already saved members $348,980 in January alone.

“Our purpose is people helping people, and we continuously look to improve the service our members receive,” said CFO David Brandt. “This change reduces the cost of a service a large number of our members use by 40%.”

ELGA CU said the change is part of the credit union’s menu of affordable money management tools, which include,

  • Free balance notifications through mobile banking alerts, texts, or email
  • Overdraft transfer from linked savings accounts
  • Affordable small-dollar loans
  • Free online budgeting and money management video tutorials

Polish American Credit Union Support Fund: a Path to Economic Stability For Millions of Ukrainian Refugees in Poland Update

PictureThe war continues next door, much too close. As of the end of April, over 3 million Ukrainian refugees are here with us in Poland. In cities such as Warsaw, Krakow and Lublin, city populations have increased by 20%.

After the Russian withdrawal from Kiev, numbers of refugees arriving decreased. But as we saw the revelations of killing of civilians and renewed attacks on Eastern Ukraine, new waves arrive. Many arrive traumatized after losing everything including family members. Most are women with children. Husbands, fathers and sons remain in Ukraine to fight the invaders.

Polish credit unions will be at the center of this conflict for a while. We have been warned of donor exhaustion and refugee fatigue. But our hearts are big and we all commit to welcoming and hosting refugees from Ukraine into our homes and into our hearts. These people are now part of our community. They fight in Ukraine for all our freedom.

​Grants from the Polish American Credit Union Support fund supports credit unions helping refugees move into stable housing. This family from Mariupol lost their husband and father in the fighting. Credit union Ziemi Rybnickiej, in the south of Poland, assisted them in renting a flat and acquiring a washing machine.
– Rafal Matsuiak, President of NACSCU

Click here to read the full report


Michigan’s Dort Financial Announce New CEO Brian Waldron

February 15, 2022 —  Dort Financial Credit Union announces the appointment of Brian Waldron as their next Chief Executive Officer. Waldron will assume the responsibilities on March 18, 2022, and will succeed Vicki Hawkins, who is retiring in April.

“I grew up in Northwest Ohio but have always rooted for Michigan (you can thank my grandma). I attended Miami University in Oxford, OH, and began my credit union journey in Dayton, OH,” said Waldron, who looks forward to moving to the Grand Blanc area with his wife of 20 years, Alicia, and their three boys. “Coming back to Michigan after more than a decade away is like coming home.”

“I am honored to be joining Dort Financial Credit Union, and I am thankful for the Board of Directors for allowing me the opportunity,” he continued. “I look forward to working with the board to meet the opportunities and face the challenges ahead. I have always believed in the mission of credit unions and the idea of ‘people helping people’ and making a difference in the lives of their members. I am excited to begin working with the staff at Dort Financial in making a difference in the lives of its current and future members.”

Waldron has served in multiple executive roles. Most recently, he served as SVP of Lending/Chief Lending Officer at Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union ($6.4B assets) in Poughkeepsie, NY. Previously held positions include AVP at Universal 1 Credit Union and Chief Lending Officer at Scott Credit Union.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we welcome Brian Waldron to Dort Financial Credit Union and look forward to a collaborative partnership in maintaining our current success and taking advantage of the market and community opportunities,” said Board Chair Wayne Natzke.


Traverse City Area Public Schools Get $9K in Support from TBACU

January 6, 2022 — TBA Credit Union recently donated $9,000 to support Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS). A portion of the donation will specifically support the district’s Learning, Enrichment and Athletic Program (LEAP).

LEAP helps increase opportunities for students, from preschool to 12th grade, to engage beyond the school day with educational and recreational activities to improve learning, health and wellness. The remaining funds will be used to purchase dry erase markers, water bottles and help provide professional development support.

“TBA Credit Union was founded by Traverse City educators back in 1955, and education is the core of our culture and mission,” said TBACU President/CEO Karen Browne. “Supporting TCAPS through the Learning, Enrichment, and Athletics Program, as well as providing essential classroom tools is a natural fit for our community-based financial institution.”

“This donation is more important than ever as so many of our students have heightened needs due to the pandemic,” said TCAPS Executive Director of Communications Ginger Smith, whose office helps coordinate community partnerships. “Through the support of partners like TBA Credit Union, we are able to continue to offer programs that enrich student’s educational experience.”


Seven Michigan Credit Unions Named Best to Work For in 2021

August 31, 2021 — American Banker (formerly Credit Union Journal) released their annual list of Best Credit Unions to Work For, featuring 55 national credit unions.

“From providing stipends for home office expenses to increased access to telehealth visits to safely bringing employees back to the office, these credit union executives placed employees’ needs first,” said W.B. King of American Banker.

Of the 55 credit unions listed, seven are based in Michigan: Consumers Credit Union, MSU Federal Credit Union, University of Michigan Credit Union, Michigan First Credit Union, Astera Credit Union, Arbor Financial Credit Union, Financial Plus Credit Union.

“I am proud to see such strong representation for Michigan credit unions on Annual Banker’s annual list of Best Credit Unions to Work For,” said MCUL CEO Patty Corkery. “Our state’s credit union movement works tirelessly to create vibrant workplace cultures where team members not only feel comfortable but are also able to grow and thrive, professionally.”

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Six Michigan Credit Unions Named Top-Performing in Country
The strength of the Michigan credit union movement represented on S&P Global’s latest ranking.

April 7, 2021 — In a recent ranking by the S&P Global Market Intelligence, six Michigan credit unions placed in the country’s top 100 performing credit unions: Genisys Credit Union, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, St. Francis X Federal Credit Union, Frankenmuth Credit Union and Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union (MSGCU).

“Despite going through a challenging year filled with economic uncertainty, we have seen community banks and credit unions play a significant role in their regional markets, providing support and essential services needed in their local communities,” said S&P Global Senior Director of Financial Institutions Jimmy Pittenger. “I’m thrilled to see these community banks and credit unions thrive in a challenging time and proud to recognize these top-performing local financial institutions in our annual rankings.”

“It’s great to see Michigan credit unions so well represented on S&P Global’s latest ranking,” said MCUL CEO Dave Adams. “That these six credit unions are of various asset sizes and operate from multiple regions within the state speaks to how strong the Michigan credit union movement is as a whole.”

Click here to access the full list of top performing U.S. community banks and credit unions for 2020.

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Credit Union Trust Receives Approval from the State of Michigan
Nov. 5, 2018 – Today, organizers of Credit Union Trust announced they have received approval from the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, Office of Banking to proceed with plans to establish the new, limited-purpose financial institution.

Credit unions apply to form limited purpose bank for investments
Aug. 1, 2018 — Earlier this week, seven Michigan credit unions applied with the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services to establish a limited-purpose financial institution that will provide trust services primarily to credit union members. While the organizers anticipate approval, regulators have 100 days to grant such authority.

MI’s Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union conserved
Jan. 13, 2016 — To protect membership and to ensure uninterrupted access to funds, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) today took action to conserve Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union (CBCCU) in Clarkston, MI.

North Farmington Senior Earns $5,000 Credit Union Scholarship
May 14, 2015 – One local high school student, as well as 19 other students from the metro Detroit area, received scholarships totaling $100,000 for dedicating their minds to improving Michigan’s future.

Kolhoff Appointed to NASCUS Performance Standards Committee
March 18, 2015 – John Kolhoff, director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Office of Credit Unions and an active member of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), has been appointed to the NASCUS Performance Standards Committee (PSC).

 


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