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Michigan Credit Union League Home » Information Services » Publications » News Articles  

IIA Named Herb Wegner Memorial Award Winner   (Misc News: August 17, 2011)

Invest in America has been awarded one of the credit union industry’s highest honors, the 2012 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Program.

“CU Solutions Group and the Michigan credit union community are honored by this prestigious recognition,” MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams said. “Invest in America was born during the credit crisis in the fall of 2008 when U.S automakers could not sell vehicles in part, due to a lack of consumer credit. Credit unions stepped in to help fill the void and Invest in America partnerships helped GM and Chrysler weather the storm as credit unions gained market share in new vehicle financing for GM and Chrysler products.

“In just a few years, Invest in America has made a notable impact on the credit union industry,” according to a press release from the National Credit Union Foundation, which administers the awards. “Whether it’s raising awareness of the benefits of credit union membership, providing consumers with discounts, supporting credit unions with a program designed to increase member loyalty, or funding financial literacy initiatives such as Biz Kid$, IIA has proven to be a unique and beneficial credit union program.”

But Adams also said that the philosophy behind IIA was to pump up the economy by supporting U.S. companies.

“In addition to helping credit unions grow, serve and stay strong, CU Solutions Group's Invest in America is philosophically based on the principle of supporting great, U. S.-based companies,” Adams said. “That means more jobs, a stronger economy and great value for credit union members.”

By participating in Invest in America, members save money on everyday purchases, credit unions increase loans, income and member loyalty, while credit unions and their members simultaneously support American companies. CUcorp, a wholly owned subsidiary of the MCUL, started IIA in December 2008 and it later became part of CU Solutions Group. Through IIA, credit unions could band together  to promote and support not only their own products and services, but also those offered by collaborative American-based companies, such as General Motors, Sprint and Intuit. The companies gave credit union members discounts, which in turn drove membership growth and loyalty.

Invest in America has since grown to help credit unions add vehicle loans, increase debit/credit card transactions/balances and provide noninterest income opportunities. Nearly 3,000 credit unions nationwide, representing more than 70 percent of credit union members, support Invest in America.
NCUF Awards & Recognition Committee Chairman Bob Schumacher said choosing IIA for the award was easy.

“Rarely has the Awards and Nominating Committee collective scored a program so high,” Schumacher said. “When you look at the numbers that support Invest in America’s efforts, the outcome is so overwhelming, it’s hard to grasp or comprehend all its immensity.”

This will be one of three Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on March 19, 2012 — Monday night of the 2012 CUNA GAC. Online registration for dinner tickets will be available later this year on the NCUF website.

IIA’s Big Ticket program is focused on driving new membership and increasing vehicle loan volume. The partnership with U.S.-based companies such as GM also helps bring credit union members significant savings on new vehicles. Through April 2011, the program has helped sell more than 400,000 vehicles, generating an estimated $6.4 billion in credit union vehicle loans. In 2009, Credit Union Journal named Invest in America the “Innovation of the Year,” citing the number of car sales generated through the program as one reason for the award.

The national Sprint discount program from IIA saves credit union members on wireless services through lower monthly bills, waived fees and discounts on products and accessories. As part of the unique partnership with Sprint, credit unions receive noninterest income to support their marketing expenses.

Another IIA program, Membership Rewards, is designed to increase credit unions’ card transactions and balances by providing discounts on products and services members use every day. Partners in this program include well-known brand names such as Allied Van Lines, FTD, DIRECTV and a web-based mall exclusively for credit union members called Shop America. In January 2011, CU Solutions Group purchased CUTS Performance Marketing adding discounts on TurboTax to the mix.

“Our members benefit from the program as does our credit union,” said Anthony M. Carnarvon, President/CEO of Co-op Services CU in Livonia. “IIA provides a unique opportunity for us to remind our members of our great service and low rates. Combining the GM discount with credit union’s historically low interest rates means that the member saves even more and increases auto loans for the credit union.”

Besides the benefits to consumers and individual credit unions, IIA has become a major supporter of programs such as Biz Kid$, the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship.

“IIA’s commitment to the Biz Kid$ program is truly exceptional and deserving of recognition by the National Credit Union Foundation,” said RoxAnne Kruger, executive director of the Washington Credit Union Foundation. “IIA and its staff were quick to realize the value of Biz Kid$ — itself a winner of the Herb Wegner Award in 2010 — and stepped forward with a multiyear, multi-million dollar commitment when the show was forced into a production hiatus. This was a truly exceptional move, and one that laid the undergirding for Biz Kid$ to transition to the national level.”

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