Report: Credit unions thrive by putting 2.9 million Wisconsin citizens first
Madison - The newly released Scorecard, by the Wisconsin Credit Union League, details credit unions’ economic impact on 2.9 million Wisconsin citizens and communities through their REAL Solutions® —a full range of services that credit unions offer voluntarily and without regard for profit to deliver needed help.
League President & CEO Brett Thompson noted in the report that credit unions’ structure as not-for-profit cooperatives lets them go where other institutions can’t or won’t to help Wisconsin citizens, schools, small businesses and local causes.
“In 2016, credit unions provided more than $3.2 billion in small business loans, 500,000 hours of free financial counseling, 131,000 volunteer hours, $2.5 million for local causes and more than 100 youth-run branches that teach saving,” Thompson said. “Since the start of the recession in 2007, credit unions have returned more than $1.5 billion to the pockets of state citizens.”
Stories in the report that showcase credit unions’ REAL Solutions span the state and include:
- Families managing student debt more effectively with low-rate student loan refinances and free financial counseling
- College students improving credit scores with a credit union’s bicycle loan program
- Entrepreneurs launching a coffee shop with 14 employees using a credit union loan others wouldn’t grant
- An addiction rehab facility filling a void in the community with a credit union small business loan
- A vacant historic building becoming a bustling civic hub with credit union-coordinated financing
- Teens learning financial skills for their futures during “reality days” that simulate real-life budget challenges
- Green energy fueling a credit union offering loans for solar power, hybrid cars and a garden stocking local pantries
- Milwaukee area students receiving $26,000 in scholarships from credit union employees donating part of their pay
It turns out doing good is good for business, too. The report cites credit unions’ ten-year trend in loan and deposit growth while saving Wisconsin citizens $137 million in 2016 because of lower interest on loans, higher interest on savings and lower and fewer fees.
Despite the millions in savings that not-for-profit credit unions return to Wisconsinites, banks still hold 84% of deposits in the state. Credit unions are still the state’s “best kept secret.”
Credit unions “put people before profit and provide solutions that benefit individuals and families, nearby schools, small businesses and other community organizations,” Thompson noted, adding that Wisconsin is home to credit unions’ national and international trade associations, national charitable foundation and independent think tank.
“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Thompson added.
Read the Scorecard at www.theleague.coop/Scorecard.