The LSCU, along with five credit unions, spent a few days in Costa Rica last week addressing the government, working with credit unions to improve operations and address areas where the credit union movement can improve in the country. The League (initially as the Alabama Credit Union League) has been partnered with Costa Rica since 2005 through the World Council of Credit Union's International Partnerships Program.
The participants included Joe Melbourne, CEO of CFE FCU in Lake Mary, FL; Andy Price, general counsel for Florida Commerce CU in Tallahassee; David Southall, CEO of Innovations FCU in Panama City; Gina Turner, AVP of Operations and Branch Administration at Alabama Teachers CU Gadsden; Peter Alvarez, Hispanic Program Manager for Redstone FCU in Huntsville; and LSCU VP, Cooperative Initiatives Laura Vann.
The LSCU contingent met with members of the government including Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Miranda and the equivalent of the Speaker of the House.
Costa Rica has 76 credit unions with 600,000 members, however only 31 are regulated. Credit unions with $1 million in assets are the only ones regulated. Credit unions also are the only "banking" component without government deposit backing. State banks are backed by the government while private banks have a fund of roughly $600,000.
The meetings with the Costa Rican government were productive with the President thanking credit unions for their place in the economy. Ms. Chinchilla addressed the group in English and talked about how the country was trying to reduce its carbon footprint. She also talked about the effects Hurricane Tomas had on the country's infrastructure.
Price, fluent in Spanish, addressed a group of credit union CEOs, board members, and legislators as part of a panel discussion on deposit insurance. The panel discussion was held at the Assemblea Legislativa and more than 70 individuals attended the meeting.
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