by: David Miller, Co-Founder and CTO/CFO, CUinsight.com
Highlights from Tuesday’s opening session at GAC 2012. Freshman Congressman Rob Woodall from Georgia gave a great presentation. He said there are over 100 new freshman congressmen this year. The new comers believe in their heart that if they do the right things, then the elections will take care of themselves. They do not have self-interests and aren’t interested in spending big money on expensive commercials to get reelected. They are fresh and ready to work for us.
Congressman Woodall stated he is in the customer service business. Just like credit unions. He is here to support those who elected him and credit unions rank high on his agenda. He made some very interesting comments, “How do we get people off the sidelines and into the game”, and “Fewer Americans today are entrepreneurs than ever before.” Those comments hit the core of what credit unions are about. We need to engage the population. They need to know that credit unions are a viable option.
He went on to discuss the “laws of the land” that restrict the influence a credit union can have on their community. He was referring to the current cap on Member Business Lending. He is a proponent of raising the cap. He said “We legislate based on what folks ask us too back home”. He loves credit unions because they voice their concerns and invest in their communities. “We are a powerful force for change in America.” “Of all the complaining that is going on today, folks are bragging about credit unions.”
The next speaker was Gigi Hyland. She is an NCUA board member. She gave a very interesting presentation of her bio by relating it to the new trend on television. Programs based on classic fairy tales. She started with “Once upon a time …” and continued to explain how she morphed from a credit union advocate to a credit union regulator. She said that many think that changing from an advocate to regulator is scary, but it isn’t. She made two promises six years ago, and has honored those promises. Her promises were to ensure safety and soundness and to listen to what the credit unions are asking. Her comment that policy decisions are not meant to strangle credit unions was very well received. She has traveled the country listening to the concerns of credit unions. She encouraged everyone to continue to submit comment letters. They have made a difference several times in her policy decision making. She is very proud of the credit union system. Saying credit unions have done a tremendous job of weathering the financial crisis.
At the conclusion of the initial presentations, current CUNA Chairwoman Harriet May ceremoniously passed the gavel to incoming Chairman Mike Mercer. Mike introduced and welcomed several new members to the board.
Paul Mercer, President of the Ohio league, introduced Congressman Steve Chabot of Cincinnati. Steve is a strong credit union supporter. “They are important to our nation, are a source of capital to regular people, and provide to those who need the help.” Steve dedicated his support to HR1418 and HR 4191. These are focused on Member Business Lending. He is the cosponsor of HR 1418. The bills would increase the amount that credit unions can loan to businesses and increase credit union participation in the SBA 7a program.
He then spoke about unemployment. Citing the statistics show that unemployment is getting better, but a lot are still under employed. Some unemployed people with college degrees are stuck in lower paying jobs and may be overqualified for the jobs they are working. On top of that, there are people who have given up and aren’t searching for jobs. Those are not counted in the unemployment statistics. So the true unemployment number may be as high as 14-15 percent.
The speakers in the opening session were very dynamic. The thousands of attendees were drawn in by the knowledge base and breadth of the speakers. Stay tuned for more GAC updates.
David Miller is one of the founders and CTO/CFO of CUinsight.com, your one stop place for all things credit union. He has been involved with the credit union community for over 10 years. As a Partner in the company, David enjoys wearing many hats. He designs and implements new technologies for cuinsight.com. Additionally, he manages all accounting aspects of the business. David is a published technology author and speaks at credit union events around the country. www.cuinsight.com