Legislators Hear Wyoming Advocates Loud and Clear: Credit Unions are Essential
Posted by Ben Shuey on January 17, 2023
Legislators couldn’t miss Wyoming credit unions as advocates from across the state gathered in Cheyenne for the first GoWest Credit Union Day at the Capitol on Jan. 17. In addition to meeting with legislators, advocates also welcomed newly elected Secretary of State Chuck Gray, Federal Congresswoman Harriet Hageman, and Governor Mark Gordon as special guests.
“As lenders, credit unions are the connection to the people in your community,” Gordon said. “You know the people, you know your members, and you can take the risk on the people and their businesses, as you know their situation, and those loans and financial support will continue to build Wyoming into the future.”
The Governor also had high praise for Wyoming credit unions’ support of the Fighting Hunger program, which he and First Lady Jennie Gordon champion.
“Because of your efforts,” he said, “there is no school lunch debt in the state, and it’s making a critical impact for Wyoming students and families and will make an impact for our state and country going forward.”
Advocates told elected officials about credit unions’ cooperative not-for-profit, member-owned structure.
“Cooperatives are well-respected in Wyoming, so when we told legislators that credit unions are cooperative and driven by the very members using their services, it was enlightening for them,” said Bobbie Frank, GoWest’s Vice President, of legislative affairs for Wyoming.
Legislators received just-released studies documenting credit unions’ impressive economic footprint across the state, and the additional ways credit unions help their 336,000 Wyoming members build brighter financial futures through community services and relevant lending programs.
Economists from ECONorthwest, one of the region’s largest and most respected economic firms, performed an independent analysis measuring impact through jobs, economic output, and income supported by credit unions in the state economy. Dr. Michael Wilkerson, ECONorthwest’s partner and senior economist, shared the data and methodology, noting that credit unions delivered a $375 million boost to the state’s economy.
Credit unions reinvest their earnings in members through direct benefits that may include fewer and lower fees, lower interest rates on loans and credit cards, and more. ECONorthwest found when members spend those benefits in local communities, the entire economy benefits. Credit union employment is another factor fueling the state’s economy. The 900 credit union jobs in Wyoming support an additional 900 jobs throughout the state.
Read the executive summary here.
In addition to the economic analysis, advocates were able to tell legislators about their community services, and to support those stories with data from GoWest’s new community impact survey. The report detailed support for 251 non-profits across the state through volunteerism and more than $500,000 in charitable contributions. In addition, the state’s credit unions provided free financial education to more than 10,000 students and adults.
Learn more about Wyoming credit unions’ community impact here.
Similar economic and community impact reports have helped credit unions advance priorities and stave off unfriendly legislation previously in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. This was the first year the reports were available for Wyoming. New economic and community impact reports will be released this legislative season in all six states served by GoWest.
“It was inspiring to see Wyoming advocates show up in force for the first GoWest Credit Union Day at the Capitol,” said Troy Stang, President and CEO. “The impact information shared with policymakers today is a game-changer in advocacy because we were able to share stories and data that demonstrated how credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative structure is delivering tangible value and making such a positive impact on the state’s economy and in communities.”
Editor’s note: More Credit Union Day at the Capitol events are planned in the coming weeks, including in Idaho on Jan. 25, Colorado on Feb. 2, Washington on Feb. 9, Oregon on Feb. 16, and Arizona on March 15. Come and bring your team. There is still time to register.