Missouri Story Archive

Better together: Survival, collaboration, and consolidation

Collaboration consolidation Cornerstone/Heartland Merger

By Caroline Willard, President/CEO, Cornerstone League

Sept. 7, 2022 — Here’s a thought experiment for you. If Louise Herring were to somehow time travel to 2022, would she be proud of the legacy she built? What would she think of bankers’ attacks on credit unions, the interchange debate, or the hold financial technology has on consumers?

What would she do to ensure credit unions’ sustainability in today’s environment?

I believe the Mother of Credit Unions would draw from her famous quote, which encapsulates her resolve: “… the purpose of the credit union is to reform the financial system so that everyone can have his place in the sun.”

She would tackle the issue of ensuring credit unions’ sustainability by leveraging the gumption she displayed at 24 years old when she rode the bus to Estes Park, Colo., for the 1934 meeting that would establish the Credit Union National Association. She would tighten her focus, keeping her eye on the prize like she did when she ignored unfriendly comments and stares from her colleagues in those fateful days nearly 100 years ago.

Her resolve prevailed as she signed the original constitution for the national association that became CUNA, later co-founded the Ohio Credit Union League, and organized more than 500 credit unions.

And while in 2022 we find ourselves in a vastly different world, obstacles not unlike those Herring experienced still threaten our efforts to keep the credit union movement alive.

Which brings me back to her quote, “… the purpose of the credit union is to reform the financial system…”

Like Herring, I believe it’s time to reform the infrastructure that surrounds, supports, and advances our credit unions.

As certain forces seek to take us down, dismantle, and discredit the movement, we can mobilize our credit unions to do what we’re meant to do: provide unbridled access to affordable financial products and create financial well-being for all, but in a transformative way. As I’ve challenged my colleagues in the last year to ponder the question “Will credit unions be around in 100 years?” I can’t help but draw a direct line between survival, collaboration, and consolidation.


Legal Missouri Campaign Delivers Enough Signatures to Put Cannabis Legalization on the Ballot

Courtesy of Dave Kovaleski, Financial Regulation News

An initiative to legalize cannabis in Missouri got one step closer to reality as the Legal Missouri 2022 campaign delivered a petition to state lawmakers that would put it on the ballot this November.

The campaign gathered more than 385,000 signatures on its petition to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults – which is roughly twice the required amount to get an issue on the ballot. On May 8, the group delivered the truckloads of petitions to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, which will now review and certify the voter signatures.

“As we submit more than 385,000 petition signatures to the state today, the message from voters is clear: it’s past time to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana,” John Payne, LegalMo22 campaign manager, said. “This widespread and enthusiastic show of support from the people of Missouri exceeds our expectations.”

The signature total exceeded the amount collected during the 2018 campaign that led to voter approval of medical marijuana.

The proposed constitutional amendment would allow Missourians ages 21 and older to possess, consume, purchase, and cultivate marijuana. Also, hundreds of thousands of Missourians charged with nonviolent marijuana offenses would have their records automatically expunged. If this passes, Missouri would be the first step to expunge past charges.

“It’s time to stop treating adults who use marijuana responsibly like criminals,” Dan Viets, a Columbia attorney, LegalMo22 advisory board chairman and Missouri coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said. “It’s also time to repair the damage marijuana prohibition has done to hundreds of thousands of Missourians’ lives by automatically expunging their criminal records.”

A 6 percent retail sales tax on marijuana would generate an estimated annual revenue of at least $40.8 million and additional local government revenues of at least $13.8 million, the advocates said. Already, Missouri’s medical marijuana market is on track to exceed $300 million in sales this year. The public dollars would cover implementation costs, including expungement, with remaining funds allocated to veterans’ services, drug addiction treatment, and the state’s severely underfunded public defender system.

Read the entire article here. 


Community Celebrates 20,000th college savings account with the successful College Kids Program for students thanks to Alltru Credit Union and the City of St. Louis Office of the Treasurer

February 14, 2022 – For seven years, the College Kids Program has been automatically opening savings accounts for every incoming kindergartner in the St. Louis City Public and charter school district. Each year, new incoming students are told they have been given access to a college savings account, which when they graduate will help them toward their next step of higher education, setting an expectation from the first day of school that college is within reach. Alltru Credit Union, a founding partner with the College Kids program and the City of St. Louis Office of the Treasurer, has just successfully opened the 20,000th account for the program, which studies have shown, can help build expectations for higher education and positive, lifelong financial habits.

“Alltru works every day to strategically break down barriers to banking so that more families can build sustainable, generational wealth” said Tracy Verner, Community Development Manager at Alltru Credit Union. “From the day we learned about this program in 2014, it was clear to see that College Kids was in alignment with our core values and our mission to create wealth and credit building opportunities in the communities we serve. This program was strategically and thoughtfully designed to elevate the trajectory of all who attend St. Louis Public Schools, and we are dedicated to making sure it will create a path towards financial security for every family in the district. As a St. Louis Public School alum, I am extremely proud of this work and I don’t love any part of my job more than when I am teaching our College Kids about how to save money or helping a parent access a credit building loan.”

Empirical research from the Assets and Education Initiative has shown that children with $500 or less saved for college, are three times more likely to enroll and four times more likely to graduate. Students in the College Kids program are given an immediate $50 initial deposit from the Office of the St. Louis City Treasurer, and then have opportunities for matching funds, incentives for completing financial education and attendance provided through private fundraising efforts. Students can also make ongoing and automatic deposits into their accounts, and in fact, have saved nearly $300,000 of their own funds in these accounts.

Read more here


Credit Union News from Together and West Community

December 21, 2021 — Two St. Louis-area credit unions recently shared how they’ve empowered and given back to their communities through educational resources and volunteerism. Together Credit Union (St. Louis, MO) provided community-based financial wellness opportunities and encouraged employee volunteerism; West Community Credit Union (Brentwood, MO) collected and donated more than 1,000 children’s books to area youth.

Together Credit Union grows community outreach through education & service initiatives
To grow connections and strengthen relationships in the neighborhoods of Metropolitan St. Louis, Together Credit Union provided community-based financial wellness opportunities and encouraged employee volunteerism.

“Individuals and families continue to struggle with financial uncertainty, and we felt it was important to be present and accessible in our community to provide guidance and support,” said Larry Sewell, vice president of community outreach.

Together Credit Union’s comprehensive financial wellness efforts included online resources, in-person and virtual workshops and seminars, as well as community and school-based programs. The credit union provided 250 hours in programming in 2021, impacting 245 youth and 1,325 adults. In addition, Together Credit Union partnered with community organizations such as the St. Louis Regional Financial Empowerment Coalition, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis and Boys Hope Girls Hope of St. Louis to support financial education events and panels and promote financial education initiatives throughout the year.

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Six Missouri and Kansas credit unions recognized as 2021 state CUNA award winners

August 16, 2021 — Credit unions in Kansas and Missouri do great things for their members and communities every single day. CUNA’s national award program honors credit unions’ impact on their member and their communities. The awards highlight distinguished credit unions that demonstrate social responsibility, the credit union philosophy, and financial education. The following credit unions are recognized as this year’s CUNA winners.

Read the full list of winners here


PPP extended to May 31 with Kansas and Missouri support

April 2, 2021  Kansas and Missouri credit unions have more time to help members gain access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed legislation that extends the PPP through May 31. It was originally set to expire on March 31. The bill also addresses concerns with processing timeframes, as it gives the Small Business Administration until June 30 to address and process backlogged PPP loan applications.

H.R. 1799, the PPP Extension Act of 2021, was cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO District 3). In the House, the entire Kansas delegation and all Missouri representatives except U.S. Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO District 1) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO District 5) voted in support of the extension. In the U.S. Senate, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) voted in favor of the bill and U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) voted no.

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The Digitalization of Commercial Lending

By Kevin Polinsky, Managing Director of Financial Institution Sales, Compliance Systems

March 23, 2021 — Commercial lending is a balance of risk and reward.

When properly managed, this business line can significantly expand a credit union’s community impact. Part of that management edge is achieved by employing a digital strategy specifically tailored to match your credit union’s commercial lending vision. No doubt your institution shifted resources to more fully support digital services in 2020 — not only to benefit your members, but to address the challenges of staff operating remotely. Automation that was thought to be nice-to-have became critical infrastructure both to expedite loan origination and to efficiently manage the volume of loan servicing. The commercial loan life cycle is evolving, creating opportunities for digital improvement at all stages.

Simplifying applications. While the financial services industry lacks a standard commercial lending application, it is possible to dramatically reduce the burdensome data collection exercise that credit unions have traditionally required of their business borrowers. Technology can create significant lift during this phase. Integrating credit policy data into the digital application and automating the retrieval of public data to reduce the number of fields an applicant must complete can reduce the time required to complete an application to minutes.

The democracy of automated underwriting. Automated underwriting used to be premier software intelligence harnessed by only the most enterprising of institutions. However, as the technology has become more commonplace and pricing models have moderated, credit unions of all sizes can take advantage of efficiencies that can shave weeks off the process.

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Lee’s Summit-Based Credit Union Rolls Out Rewards, Updates

April 17, 2015 – Lee’s Summit, Mo. – Members of Missouri Central Credit Union will begin to notice some positive changes this month; most notably, a bigger balance in their savings accounts. Because of an upswing in local and national economic conditions, the Lee’s Summit-based financial cooperative was able to turn profits into a bonus dividend payout to its member-customers.

Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation Announces New Director, Officer at Annual Meeting
November 3, 2014 – Branson, Mo. – The Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation (MCUCF) Board of Directors appointed a new director and a new officer at their annual meeting on October 23 at Chateau on the Lake in Branson.

Mid Missouri Donates to Gingerbread House
August 7, 2014 – Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. – Mid Missouri Credit Union continues to help the communities they serve. In June, the credit union donated $527.93 to the Gingerbread House located in Rolla.

Credit Unions Continue Membership, Loan Growth; Missouri and Kansas Lag
June 5, 2014 – Lending is up 8.8 percent and membership reached an all-time high of 97.1 million at credit unions during the first quarter, according to the National Credit Union Association.


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