The BSC National Energy Center of Excellence in Bismarck, North Dakota was buzzing with activity on Wednesday, August 25th as more than 100 credit union professionals and guests gathered for various activities and meetings hosted by the Dakota Credit Union Association (DakCU).
The highlight of the day was the exclusive “DakCU Members Only” luncheon with Jim Nussle, with the president/CEO of CUNA taking the stage as the honored speaker. This was Nussle’s first visit to North Dakota, a very special occasion – as it officially completed his “bucket list” of visiting all 50 states!
Nussle began by thanking DakCU President/CEO Jeff Olson for his support and commitment to CUNA and the AACUL. He emphasized the unique situation we have in the Dakotas, where we can meet face-to-face with our legislators and tell the “credit union story.” More importantly, he said, “They know and understand the credit union difference.” The “people helping people” philosophy is ingrained in credit unions, but Nussle says, “where we are going to really shine, is in the area of financial well-being for all.”
Nussle went on to explain that this is not necessarily financial literacy; but rather a bigger understanding of how financial skills can improve lives. “We can’t just check the box; we need to double down,” he stated. In addition, we need to measure the impact, which is supported by the Advancing Communities platform.
The idea of financial wellness expands beyond members, to attracting and retaining top talent. “Today’s workforce wants to feel that they are making a difference, and credit unions are a natural fit,” says Nussle. He concluded by encouraging attendees to tell their story – not just to members, but to employees and potential employees as well.
North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer also accepted an invitation to attend, adding to the excitement of the day. Cramer remarked on the wonderful culture of credit unions, adding, “Meeting in our own North Dakota environment, where we are at our best, is a special and unique occasion – and in some ways, can be more productive than meeting in Washington, DC.”
As a member of the Senate Banking Committee and the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the senator provided an update on both infrastructure and regulations on financial institutions.
“North Dakota’s credit unions have been vital partners for me during my time in the Senate,” said Cramer. “I appreciate them allowing me to discuss the benefits the bipartisan infrastructure bill would deliver to North Dakota, and legislation I am leading to prevent large financial service providers from categorically discriminating against industries that are key to the success of our state and the country.”
The senator briefly touched on the interchange issue, stating he is taking the matter very seriously, and has been meeting in-state with credit card companies, large banks, retailers, and of course, the Dakota Credit Union Association to gather information. He is currently working with Senator Durbin to see if they can arrange a similar open discussion on the national level.
“Getting this type of quality time with Senator Cramer speaks volumes about our relationship, as well as our ongoing advocacy efforts in engaging members of Congress on important matters that impact our ability to serve our members,” says Jeff Olson, DakCU President/CEO. “This dialogue was especially important since we have had limited opportunity to meet in person with our congressional representatives for nearly 18 months. I sincerely appreciate Senator Cramer’s transparency on the prospective legislation impacting credit card interchange for issuers.”
He continues, “Because of the Retailers and Petroleum Marketers lawsuit filed here in North Dakota this spring targeting the 2010 Durbin Amendment, we may be the launching pad for an expansion of legislation to include credit card interchange. While Congress is poised to take some kind of action on the issue this session, credit unions, especially Dakota credit unions, have been engaged and included in the discussion, and I believe we are being heard. Having this type of access to our lawmakers means we can help control the future of the credit union model, making the case that all Dakotans should have access to a not-for-profit cooperative choice when it comes to their families’ financial futures,” he concluded.
Once again, thank you to all the attendees who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the events in Bismarck this week. We sincerely appreciate your participation and engagement.
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