Oregon Story Archive

Oregon Community Credit Union’s Experiment with a Four-Day Workweek

Courtesy of Frank Gargano, American Banker

The great resignation has left banks, credit unions and other organizations struggling with employee burnout and rising turnover rates that arise from staffing challenges — and one credit union in Oregon is hoping to counter that trend by implementing a shorter workweek. Oregon Community Credit Union in Eugene began exploring a four-day workweek in January after observing significant levels of stress and employees consistently calling out sick within the call center.

The $3.5 billion-asset credit union began testing a solution to burnout on March 13, offering every call center employee a paid day off each week. Call center employees now have a 32-hour workweek, with their hourly pay adjusted to keep them earning what they had for a full 40-hour week. Executives will closely monitor factors such as time taken to answer calls, staff absence frequency, missed calls and more over the three-month trial period. Read more

Oregon Community CU Sells $275 Million in Auto Loan Securities

The sale marks the fourth automotive ABS issue for credit unions since 2019, bringing the total sold to $1.2 billion.

Oregon Community Credit Union has completed the sale of $275 million in securities backed by automotive loans it had originated, an advisor on the deal announced Wednesday.

Travis Goodman, principal of ALM First, said this is the credit union’s first asset-backed securities issuance and is only the fourth such securitization to be completed in the entire industry since the NCUA’s June 2017 Opinion Letter affirming credit unions could conduct securitizations. With the OCCU sales, total sales are now $1.2 billion since 2019. Read more

Unitus Community CU’s Transition to New Facilities Model Supports Remote, Hybrid Employees

The Portland, Ore., CU will exit its downtown office for a commuter-friendly suburban facility designed to foster creativity and collaboration.
Courtesy of Natasha Chilingerian, Credit Union Times

August 8, 2022  — An Oregon credit union has big plans to shift to a new strategic operating model that will support its mix of remote, hybrid and onsite employees.

The $1.7 billion, Portland, Ore.-based Unitus Community Credit Union announced last week that it will vacate its leased downtown Portland headquarters at 1300 SW 6th Ave., and transition staff to its first “Distributed Administrative Network” facility approximately 10 miles south in the suburban city of Tigard, Ore., in 2024. The new location, an 89,610-square-foot facility called Bridgeport Center, will be the first of multiple new locations in different geographic areas to open in the next 36 to 48 months.

Bridgeport Center is also located less than a mile from a new Unitus Community branch, scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2022 at Bridgeport Village, an upscale outdoor shopping mall. In addition, the credit union will be moving its downtown Portland Plaza Branch to another downtown location and is currently evaluating potential spaces, Unitus Community said.

According to the credit union, the decision to open the Bridgeport Center facility came after years of discussion, surveys, evaluation and planning, and that in addition to supporting employee flexibility, the move will create long-term value for the credit union’s membership by reducing overall operating costs.

“This first location in our Distributed Administrative Network is in a geographic location that will reduce commute and environmental impacts for our staff,” Unitus Community President/CEO Steven Stapp stated. “It also affords us the opportunity to offset our footprint with onsite wetlands and operational systems that are environmentally friendly and controlled onsite.”

A Unitus Community spokesperson added that one benefit of the location is its convenient access to multiple freeways and public transportation options, and that while employees live all around the Portland Metro area, Southwest Washington State and even 50 miles south in Salem, Ore., the new facility will serve as an option for all employees.

“As additional facilities open in phases, employees will be able to choose the location that works best for them when working onsite or hybrid,” according to the spokesperson, who also noted that some non-branch credit union employees have already begun working from a Unitus Community location in Vancouver, Wash., just across the state border about nine miles north of Portland.

Approximately 20% of Unitus Community’s employees work onsite full-time, 20% work remotely full-time and 60% follow a hybrid schedule, according to the spokesperson.

While the credit union did not yet have specific interior design details to share for Bridgeport Center and future Distributed Administrative Network facilities, the spokesperson said it will be spending the next few months programming the Bridgeport Center, and that its goal is to create spaces that are creative, innovative and collaborative – features that are not available at its current headquarters and that employees have requested.

Click here to read the entire article.

TwinStar Credit Union Announces Plan to Merge With Oregon-Based Credit Union

Courtesy of Rolf Boone, The Olympian

July 19, 2022 — TwinStar Credit Union, which is headquartered in Lacey, announced Thursday a plan to merge with an Oregon-based credit union.

The planned merger is subject to regulatory approval and a vote of the members at Eugene-based Northwest Community Credit Union. It is expected to be finalized in 2023.

“People have asked, and are going to continue to ask us, why merge?” said Jeff Kennedy, chief executive of TwinStar, in a statement. “To be frank, it goes beyond just one reason. It’s because we would gain economies of scale; it’s because we’d grow to 36 branches across two states; it’s because with that growth comes more opportunity.

“Ultimately, however, we are pursuing this merger because we believe we can provide more member, employee, and community value together and we’ve found a great partnership.”

Kennedy could not be reached Thursday.

If the merger is approved, the credit union’s combined assets would be about $4 billion, with more than 245,000 members throughout Oregon and Washington, and 700 employees. Also if approved, Kennedy would be CEO of the new organization and John Iglesias, the current CEO of Northwest Community Credit Union, would be president.

In the interim, the two credit unions would operate under their existing names until a new name is determined. TwinStar has provided some answers to frequently asked questions about the proposed merger on its website.

Welcome to GoWest Credit Union Association: CU Industry’s First Six-State Trade Group Announces New Name & Brand

Courtesy of Peter Strozniak, Credit Union Times

GoWest Credit Union Association logo.

After officially merging on June 30, the Mountain West and Northwest credit union associations announced Tuesday its new name and brand – GoWest Credit Union Association.

“The GoWest brand is a true representation of the collaboration, commitment and innovative nature of the credit unions we serve,” GoWest President/CEO Troy Stang said in a prepared statement. “They are steadfast in their passion to serve the evolving needs of their members, and GoWest embodies that mindset.”

GoWest is the industry’s first six-state trade group that represents more than 300 credit unions, 33,000 employees and their 16.5 million consumer members across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

When developing the new brand, extensive research was conducted and included gathering feedback and insights from credit union leaders in all six states, policymakers, regulators and staff into the association’s value proposition, according to the trade association.

“Our new logo connects us to our western heritage by forming an abstract mountain and sun while the clean, fluid lines indicate a path, which speaks to the journey our member credit unions take with us,” GoWest SVP of Marketing, Communications and Events Danielle Sittu said in a prepared statement. “The tagline – Go Forward. Go Together. – is very powerful, clean and simple. We are an association of cooperatives, and this is how we roll.”

The newly combined organizations also said they will launch a new website in January 2023 at gowestassociation.org.

Portland, Oregon’s Unitus Community Credit Union Enters Formal Partnership with the Consulate of Mexico and their very own SVP/Chief Human Resources Officer, Gayle Evans is Honored as a 2022 “Woman of Influence”

Formal Partnership with the Consulate of Mexico in Portland
This unique partnership allows Unitus to create an inclusion and financial education program at the Consulate for the Mexican community in the metro area.

Unitus Community Credit Union just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Consulate of Mexico to establish a partnership to provide education and services to members of the Mexican community in Portland. Unitus is just one of two credit unions in Oregon to set up this partnership with the Consulate of Mexico, and only one of a few in the United States.

As part of the partnership, Unitus will create an inclusion and financial education program at the Consulate. In addition, Unitus has committed to accepting the Matricula Consular ID Card as a form of acceptable identification to open new member accounts. The credit union will also participate in the Consulate’s Consulados Moviles (mobile consulate) program, reaching rural areas with financial education and resource information.

2022 “Women of Influence” Award Winner
The Portland Business Journal’s annual awards ceremony recognizes Evans as an established business leader with a strong record of innovation in her field

The Portland Business Journal has recognized Unitus Community Credit Union’s Gayle Evans as a 2022 Women of Influence Award winner. Ms. Evans serves as Unitus’ SVP/Chief Human Resources Officer. She joined Unitus in 2007.

The annual Women of Influence Awards honor the region’s most influential businesswomen, according to the Portland Business Journal. The awards’ call for nominations sought women who have made a difference in their communities and blazed a trail, leaving a mark on the Pacific Northwest community. Nominees were judged on professional accomplishments, community leadership, as well as awards and milestones.

Examples of Ms. Evans’ innovation in her field include implementing a monthly student loan principal payment benefit for employees, saving them thousands of dollars as they pay off loans three-to-five years early. She also instituted a partnership with BankWork$, a program that improves social mobility by helping young adults from low-income communities build meaningful careers in banking, which led to 17 new hires at Unitus. Ms. Evans moved Unitus’ employee medical plan to a self-insured platform, saving $12 million for the membership, lowering the cost to employees, and gaining the flexibility to tailor the benefits to meet the needs of the workforce.

Ms. Evans’ contributions to the community helped earn this recognition. She serves as a Trustee on the Board of Directors for Western Oregon University, the chair of Oregon Business & Industry’s health care steering committee, and a mentor for the Portland Rose Festival Court. She has also been appointed to two committees by Oregon Governor Kate Brown: the Task Force on Resolution of Adverse Healthcare Incidents and as vice chair of the Oregon Patient Safety Commission’s Board of Directors.

Read more about Consulate of Mexico partnership here.

Read more about Gayle Evans’ accomplishment here. 

Mid Oregon’s Holiday Dough Fundraiser Crumbles Records Again

December 22, 2021 — Through the generosity of its members, Mid Oregon Credit Union’s (MOCU) 2021 Holiday Dough fundraising efforts collected almost $9,000 in donations for local charities. This amount exceeds last year’s previous record and nearly three times 2019’s fundraising totals.

During the month of November, MOCU’s Holiday Dough invited members to make financial contributions online or at any of its seven branches to assist local organizations. These proceeds provide much-needed food, clothing, and shelter for vulnerable individuals and families during the holiday season.

“Giving back to our communities is a core value of Mid Oregon Credit Union,” commented Kyle Frick, VP, Marketing and Community Relations. “In this year of uncertainty, we are gratified by our member’s generosity and willingness to make a difference for those in need.”


Redistricting Takes Center Stage

August 27, 2021 — The Oregon Legislature is on a fast track to finalize a redistricting bill by September 27th. In early August, eleven state lawmakers begin the process to draw our state’s new political districts in a very short timeline that will be used beginning with the 2022 election.

The six Democrats and five Republicans on the House and Senate redistricting committees are reviewing U.S. Census data that outline population and demographic changes since the last map-making 10 years ago. A special session of the Oregon Legislature is set for September 20th and their job is to draw 60 House Districts, 30 Senate Districts and Six Congressional Districts, adding one more to Oregon with the addition of over 700,000 residents.

If successful, the lawmakers will create the maps, win approval in the House and Senate, and then get Governor Kate Brown to sign off on the plan. That’s happened once in the past 110 years, in 2011. The rest of the time, the Legislature couldn’t agree, the governor would reject the lawmakers’ plans, or court challenges would lead to revisions.


Oregon Credit Unions Contribute $2.8 Billion Economic Impact to State Landmark study documents economic impact, volunteerism, charitable contributions and extraordinary service by credit unions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 24, 2021 — Oregon’s credit unions have proved a critical role supporting the state’s economy, consumers, businesses and local communities, according to an analysis performed by ECONorthwest, one of the region’s leading economic firms. The analysis documented a positive impact of nearly $3 billion on the state’s economy.

How are Credit Unions Able to Drive Such an Impact?
Unlike profit-driven Wall Street banks under pressure to enrich stockholders, credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, owned by their members. Credit unions reinvest their earnings in members through direct benefits such as fewer fees, dividends, lower interest rates on loans and credit cards and more. When those benefits are spent in local communities, the ripple effect helps the entire economy. ECONorthwest measured the impact of member benefits, credit union jobs and other factors in its analysis. Economists also documented credit unions’ significant community impact including volunteerism, financial education provided to adults and students and services such as first-time homebuyer loans. Cooperative credit unions put people before profits!


TK Keen named administrator of Oregon Division of Financial Regulation

Dec. 29, 2020 — TK Keen is the new administrator for the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation, which licenses and regulates banks, credit unions, investments, debt resources, and insurance in the state.

Keen has served as acting administrator since August, and succeeds Andrew Stolfi as the division’s administrator. In April, Stolfi was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown to lead the Department of Consumer and Business Services, the state’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency, of which the Division of Financial Regulation is part. Stolfi will continue to serve as Oregon Insurance Commissioner, a role he has had since 2018.

Under Keen’s leadership, the division has responded with agreements and emergency orders to help Oregonians affected by COVID-19 and wildfires.

In response to COVID-19, the division issued grace periods for consumers to pay insurance premiums. This created a sustainable way for insurance customers to keep up with premium payments without falling too far behind during the pandemic. The division also reached agreements with health insurance companies to provide expanded telehealth in response to COVID-19.


Oregon, Washington CUs Have $7.7-Billion Economic Impact
Feb. 3, 2017 — Credit unions in Oregon and Washington created a $7.7-billion economic impact in 2016, according to a new analysis released by the Northwest Credit Union Association. The analysis, performed by ECONorthwest, measured jobs, economic output, and income supported by credit unions in the regional economy. (CUToday.info) READ

Bill removing criminal liability for CUs in cannabis business banking heads to governor
March 2, 2016 — The Oregon House has passed a bill that will expand financial services currently available to legal marijuana businesses by removing criminal liability for credit unions and other financial institutions. It now awaits the signature of Gov. Kate Brown. (CUToday.info)

New division to take broader look at financial industry
Jan. 7, 2016 — Salem —The Department of Consumer and Business Services announced today the merging of the Insurance Division and Division of Finance and Corporate Securities into one division. The new division, named the Division of Financial Regulation, became effective on Jan. 1, 2016.

Oregon’s Economy Thrives through Not-For-Profit Credit Unions
May 4, 2015 – While every family felt the shifts of the national and local economies, they still believed in their credit unions. They spent wisely, saved for the future, and borrowed money when necessary. In Columbia County that interconnectedness was shown thanks to a special study.

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