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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Hoosier Hills Credit Union Members voting on planned merger this week with Centra Credit Union Columbus Indiana

BEDFORD - MAY 2, 2024 - Editors note: The Lawrence County Zephyr is a member of HHCU.


The Hoosier Hills Credit Union released some information on the alleged misinformation that has circulated on many social media platforms this week during the vote to merge with Columbus , Indiana Centra Credit Union.


" We would like to clarify some of the crucial facts surrounding our merger with Centra in response to the misinformation circulating on social media. Be on the lookout for a series of informational posts from us throughout the day," in Hoosier Hills Credit Union Facebook post.


The following information was trickled through, this week about the proposed merger but not prior to the absentee ballots being presented to the membership..



Hoosier Hills has secured two merger voting methods for your convenience. By mail: Pick up your absentee ballot and pre-addressed envelope from your local Service Center during business hours Monday, April 29 – Friday, May 3, 2024, and drop it in the mail to be received by The Koch Law Firm, our third-party Election Administrator, no later than Monday, May 13, 2024. (Ballots must be personally picked up and signed for by the validated voting Member.)


In-person: Attend the special meeting at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22 and cast your vote in-person at the Bedford Annex Lobby in the building next to the Bedford Service Center at 630 Lincoln Avenue. For more information, refer to our Member Voting FAQ by visiting this page: https://hoosierhills.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/Member-Voting-FAQ-4.18.24.pdf


The time to vote before the meeting will be limited, members are asked to pick-up their ballots on Friday and get the mailed in quickly.


This is some of the information provided to the HHCU members.


1. A Strategic Choice This merger was a strategic choice by Hoosier Hills and Centra to ensure our credit union continues to be sustainable and relevant and serve future generations of Membership for decades to come. Hoosier Hills Credit Union is organizationally strong and is not in any financial jeopardy whatsoever.


2. Job Security Based on the terms of our legal agreement with Centra, no Team Members are losing their jobs because of this merger, either now or in the future. Team Members will continue to have the same or similar jobs, in the same locations as they do today, and will not be required to change locations unless they choose to. We take pride in the fact that neither Hoosier Hills nor Centra Credit Union has any history of laying off employees, and we are committed to continuing that promise to our Team Members.


3. No Automatic Votes There are no automatic votes being cast. The only votes cast will be those submitted by validated primary Members that are either mailed in or turned in at the in-person special meeting on May 22 to an independent 3rd party. This merger is NOT a “done deal.” The outcome will be determined by the majority of members who vote.

4. What Happens If… If HHCU does not merge with Centra, we will continue to be a strong and stable credit union. However, without the size and scale provided by a merger of this size, the pace at which we can introduce new products and services, technological improvements and increased benefits to our Members and Team Members will be slower than it would be if this merger was approved and may impact our ability to stay competitive and maintain best in class products in our markets over the coming years.


5. Member Numbers Our merger hinges on a positive member vote. With Member approval, the official combination of our two credit unions will occur in phases over an 18–24-month integration period where we work behind the scenes to systemically bring our two credit unions together for the best Member experience. Since we are not yet in the integration phase, we have not determined if, how or when member numbers will change. We do know, however, that changes will not be immediate and that we will communicate any changes early, thoroughly, and often to make sure you are well informed and assisted through every step of this process. We will execute a seamless integration with the friendly, knowledgeable, white glove service our Members know and have come to expect. Please know that if changes require new checks, we will pay for one box of basic checks for Members requiring them.


6. Southern Indiana Roots Centra headquarters is in Columbus, Indiana – NOT Columbus, Ohio. Columbus, Indiana is about an hour’s drive away, or 56 miles from our current HHCU headquarters in Bedford. We are both southern Indiana Member-owned financial institutions. There are no other financial institutions involved in any aspect of this merger, which is exclusively between Centra Credit Union and Hoosier Hills Credit Union.


7. Obtaining a Loan Due to processing efficiencies, obtaining a loan will be just as simple if not more so than it has been in the past. Turnaround times will be even quicker, and as always, our Team Members will continue to work closely with our Members to understand their financial situation, background and particular circumstance when working to get a loan approved. Additionally, we will NOT refinance existing loans if this merger with Centra is approved. Your loans will continue at the terms you agreed to when you secured them with us initially.


8. A History of Growth We know some local acquisitions and mergers were painful and not executed in a way that served employees or Member’s/customer’s best interests, but that has not been our experience, nor would it be if this Centra merger is approved. Keep in mind - this forward-thinking merger isn’t the first in Hoosier Hills’ history. Years ago, when we were known as Bedford Independent Federal Credit Union (BIFCU), we changed our name to Hoosier Hills and switched from a Federal to a State charter to benefit the Membership. Then our Credit Union merged into Spencer County Credit Union to secure our ability to continue to make business loans, and the Hoosier Hills charter went away. And then yet again, we merged with Dearborn County Federal Credit Union in November 2022 to serve the underserved and have since opened another HHCU Service Center in Dearborn County. In the end, our Members, Team Members and Communities have benefitted significantly, and are far better off than before these mergers occurred. The benefits in store for us all if the Centra merger is approved far exceed the benefits of any previous merger in our history, and we will execute a seamless integration process with the friendly, knowledgeable, white glove service our Members know and have come to expect from us.



Many local HHCU members have been opposed to the proposed merger while many others are in support of the merger.





Previous news story : BEDFORD - JANUARY 17, 2024 - In an announcement on Tuesday Hoosier Hills Credit Union Bedford, Indiana and Centra Credit Union will merge that will be subject to member and regulatory approval.


Photo: Hoosier Hill Credit Union Bedford, Indiana will combine with Centra Credit Union Columbus, Indiana with a combined assets of $ 3 billion between the two the two institutions


Centra President and CEO Rick Silvers will remain as CEO and Centra Credit Union will keep its name.


Hoosier Hills President and CEO Travis Markley, will serve as chief experience officer.


The board of directors from both credit unions will combine into one. The board representative will be relative to the asset size and membership.


Centra merged with NorthPark Community Credit Union on January 1, 2024. Hoosier Hill Credit Union merged with Dearborn County Federal Credit Union in 2022.


The merger must be reviewed and approved by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and Indiana Department of Financial Institutions. Members will then vote on the merger some time in the second quarter.


The Hoosier Hills Credit Union membership was notified on Tuesday.


The Hoosier Hill Members received the following message:


Dear Centra Credit Union Members,


Happy New Year, everyone! As we bid farewell to another year, the Centra Credit Union Board of Directors and I would like to thank you for the trust you place in us. We appreciate your Membership and hope this year brings health, happiness, and prosperity to you.


The Centra team and I look forward to continuing our vision of creating value for our Members, Team Members, and the Communities we serve! Our team remains Centered Around You and your financial goals.


We’re thrilled to announce an exciting opportunity to build an even more robust financial community. Strong, growing, and well-aligned in mission and purpose, Centra Credit Union and Bedford-based Hoosier Hills Credit Union recently entered into a definitive merger agreement.


As southern Indiana born and based financial institutions with similar origin stories (General Motors for Hoosier Hills and Cummins for Centra), both CEOs and executive leadership teams unanimously support this merger, and the Board of Directors for each credit union has unanimously approved a formal agreement to merge our two financial institutions, pending regulatory and Member approval.


Past board chair and longtime CEO, Loretta Burd also shared her support of the partnership, “This merger provides additional growth opportunities in new markets for Centra Credit Union. It demonstrates the continued commitment to provide products and services to all credit union Members.”


As incredibly hard-working, financially sound organizations, we will be Better Together, and our combined organization will bring our Members, Communities and Team Members MORE of everything there is to love about credit union banking after integration is complete:


  • 38 full-service banking centers and 73 ATMs/ITMs across central and southern Indiana

  • Free access to more than 30,000 ATMs and 5600 credit union branches through the CO-OP Network

  • Checking account options including Cashback Checking and High Interest Checking

  • All-cash Member Loyalty Rewards deposited into an interest-bearing Member Loyalty Account*

  • End-to-end mortgage services and increased mortgage loan options

  • Enhanced wealth management and insurance resources including a larger team of experienced consultants**

  • Enriched suite of commercial banking options, including treasury management and deposit services, and agricultural lending products

  • Increased community support and outreach


First and foremost, rest assured that there will be no Centra Credit Union locations or Hoosier Hills Credit Union Service Centers closing and all Team Members will have a role in the unified organizations.


 This means you’ll have More Placesto conduct your financial transactions and access your money, while enjoying consistent, knowledgeable, and friendly service from the Same Faces you know and have come to trust.


While this is no doubt an exciting opportunity, we understand this news might raise some questions in your mind. I assure you that more information will be coming in the weeks and months ahead. If you’re interested in learning more about this potential partnership in the meantime, please visit our dedicated webpage at Centra.org/more-places-same-faces, review our frequently asked questions, stop in to any Centra location, email us at membersupport@centra.org, or reach out to our friendly representatives at the Centra Contact Center by calling 800-232-3642.


We’re here to answer your questions, address your concerns, and keep you informed about this process every step of the way.

 

For breaking news and information go to lczephyr.org or like/follow the Lawrence County Zephyr Facebook page.


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