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  • Emerging Markets a Hot Topic at ACUC

    Posted by on August 26, 2013

    Panelists (left to right) Carole Wight (Holy Rosary CU), Maria Martinez (Border Federal CU), Bishop Taylor (ERDA), ERDA staff member

    I recently attended the America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC) in New York City where I had the opportunity, in partnership with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation), to coordinate and participate in a pre-conference workshop on emerging markets. Coopera also had the chance to host a breakout session titled “Multidimensional Hispanic Market – A Different Model of Assimilation.”

    With more than 100 people in attendance at these two events, emerging markets proved to be a hot topic with 2013 conference attendees.

    Here’s a quick recap of what was presented…

    During the pre-conference workshop, three different panel-based events provided the audience with background and opinions on the importance of serving emerging markets (defined as the underserved, immigrant and minority populations) as an opportunity for credit union growth. Panelists included:

    In the breakout session, we shared how to view the Hispanic community through the lens of the acculturation and assimilation processes. For reference, acculturation refers to the preservation of one’s birth culture and the addition of another culture. Assimilation refers to the replacement of one’s birth culture by another. At Coopera, we see that Hispanics are creating a new model in which they are more likely to create a bicultural and bilingual identity.

    During both sessions, many attendees wanted to understand why more credit unions are not embracing the Hispanic market opportunity.

    Our belief is that a lack of clear understanding of the market — essentially, a fear of the unknown — often creates a sort of marketing paralysis. This makes it difficult for credit unions to know when or how to engage. A lack of relevant marketing intelligence also contributes to this fear. Credit unions do not have a sufficient amount of data to support their development of an emerging markets strategy.

    Our goal with these sessions was to help provide attendees with a better understanding of the Hispanic community from a multidimensional perspective. We did this by providing ideas on how to get started with outreach efforts, as well showcasing some of the available data to support the emerging-markets business case.

    Both sessions received high ratings from attendees, proving how important the topic of emerging markets is to the credit union industry right now. Some of feedback we got included:

    “Very informative marketing tools and distinction between assimilation versus acculturation.”

    ‘Very educational and informative.”

    “This was outstanding and enlightening, revealing the complexity of the Hispanic community that I was no aware of. Thanks.”

    Armed with useful data and a better understanding of the market potential, we hope conference attendees and their colleagues will begin to eliminate the barriers that stop them from developing emerging markets strategies. By doing the research and then empowering their leaders, credit unions can find tremendous success and growth from among these critical market segments.

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    Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Innovation and Welcoming Initiatives

    Posted by on August 13, 2013

    The following content was written and provided to Coopera by The Immigration Policy Center.

    In Iowa, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation economy, and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies. Furthermore, local government, business, and non-profit leaders recognize the importance of immigrants in their communities and support immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.

    Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute significantly to Iowa’s economy.
    From 2006 to 2010, there were 4,823 new immigrant business owners in Iowa, and in 2010, 3.1 percent of all business owners in the state were foreign-born.

    – In 2010, new immigrant business owners had total business revenue of $215.8 million, which is 2.8 percent of all business income in the state.

    Highly skilled immigrants are vital to Iowa’s innovation economy.
    In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor certified 2,089 H-1B labor certification applications in Iowa, with an average annual wage of $66,422, which is higher than Iowa’s median household income of $50,451 or per capita income of $26,110.

    – High-skilled immigrant workers contribute to the success of many Iowa-based companies and institutions with a significant presence in the state, including Aviva USA Corporation, UST Global Inc., NCS Pearson Inc., the University of Iowa, Tejase Technologies Inc. and Rockwell Collins Inc.

    – The Des Moines metropolitan area had 767 H-1B high-skilled visa requests in 2010-2011, with 79.9 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations.

    – The Iowa City metropolitan area had 320 H-1B high-skilled visa requests in 2010-2011, with 59.2 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in STEM occupations.

    – The Cedar Rapids metropolitan area had 252 H-1B high-skilled visa requests in 2010-2011, with 80.6 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in STEM occupations.

    – An expansion of the high-skilled visa program would create an estimated 3,200 new jobs in Iowa by 2020. By 2045, this expansion would add around $1.2 billion to Gross State Product and increase personal income by more than $1 billion.

    While the numbers are compelling, they don’t tell the whole story.
    In Marshalltown and similar Iowa communities, immigrants are bringing new life to small towns that might otherwise have begun withering away. Marshalltown’s Chamber of Commerce, in particular, is actively trying to recruit additional members from immigrant-owned businesses.

    – In the southeast Iowa town of Ottumwa, Jose Rodas and Elsa Urrutea are examples of new immigrant business owners. Rodas, who originally came to Iowa to work for Cargill, recently opened his own tortilla shop. His tortilleria is one of 25 new Latino-owned businesses in the town. Urrutea, who grew up homeless in El Salvador, now owns her own bakery in Ottumwa.

    – In small towns such as Ottumwa, immigrant entrepreneurs have opened small “mom-and-pop” retail establishments, restaurants, auto repair shops, and even pupuserias (which make the Salvadoran corn-dough delicacy). Such business establishments foster local interaction and commerce, helping breathe new life into small towns that might otherwise experience decline.

    Some localities have begun recognizing and supporting immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.
    Welcoming Iowa, a project of the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition, is a “grassroots effort committed to creating a more welcoming atmosphere in Iowa’s communities by promoting mutual respect and cooperation between foreign born and U.S. born residents.”

    “The ultimate goal of Welcoming Iowa is to create an atmosphere – community by community – in which immigrants are more likely to integrate into the social fabric of their new hometowns.”

    Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration: An initiative to help guide and prepare Iowa communities and businesses as they accommodate immigrant and refugee newcomers living and working in Iowa.

    The center provides consultation for community leadership, “conducts research related to issues facing newcomers and communities, develops initiative training programs for business and industry, and educates Iowans concerning the needs, challenges and opportunities of their new immigrant neighbors, co-workers and employees.”

    The Center provides programming that “incorporates a strong appreciation for the critical role newcomers play in ensuring the long-term social and economic vitality of Iowa’s businesses and communities.”

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    Reform to Create Completely New Lending Market

    Posted by on August 6, 2013

    This blog contains excerpts from the recently published article “Path to Citizenship Will Lead Members to Your Door” in Credit Union Magazine.

    With an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S., immigration reform will have a tremendous impact on the economy — particularly the financial services industry. Like many American businesses and organizations, credit unions stand to benefit from an immigration reform bill, particularly as it relates to helping immigrants as they travel the path to citizenship. Credit union leaders who think strategically about membership growth can’t afford to ignore the important step many Americans are pushing their legislators to take.

    In the most basic sense, credit unions will find a completely new market for lending products in the wake of immigration reform.

    Here’s how: Today, the filing fee for the application to naturalization through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has reached $680 per person, and families often have several individuals going through the process at once. Unfortunately, this can be the least of the all the necessary expenses, which may include filing fees for temporary residence, permanent residency or legal fees. In fact, some families pay upwards of $10,000 when all is said and done for just one individual to adjust his or her immigration status.

    Whereas U.S.-born consumers may not think twice about using traditional financial institutions to save and borrow to pay for fees associated in gaining citizenship, a Hispanic immigrant may not think this is even an option. With check-cashers, money order providers, and friends or family fronting loans, credit unions often are not even considered by Hispanic immigrants.

    Credit unions can change this — now is the perfect time for Hispanics to be introduced to the credit union difference.

    A critical first step is establishing trust. Credit unions must work within their local communities to begin to build the relationships that will grow over time. Credit unions already working with Hispanic communities certainly have a leg up — grassroots community initiatives often yield a higher return than extensive media campaigns.

    One of the best grassroots efforts to start with is culturally relevant financial education sessions that take into account how Hispanic immigrants handle their money today and shows them better alternatives that help them achieve financial success. These are particularly beneficial for credit unions looking to serve immigrant families who are not only going through the immigration and naturalization process, but who are simply going through the stages of life that require a sound financial partner.

    It’s this kind of outreach that ultimately allows credit unions to plant the seeds of trust that grow into loyal, life-long memberships.

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