Board chair Andy Chute thinks merging the Nelson & District Credit Union with six other other West Kootenay institutions could be a great idea. Photo courtesy of NDCU

West Kootenay credit unions explore seven-way merger

Boards building business case, process in preliminary stages

The Nelson and District Credit Union is in the early stages of exploring a merger deal with six other West Kootenay institutions, building the business case and putting feelers out into the communities to see what kind of response they get.

So far, according to board chair Andy Chute, most of what they’re hearing back is positive — though he’s careful to stress that they’re only in preliminary stages, and have no deadlines to work toward.

“Seven is a magic number, but it’s also a big number,” Chute told the Star this week.

“We can see potential for a lot of opportunity for our staff and members, being a part of a larger organization. Now it’s about building the business case, understanding the implications and implementations, which means looking into the future. We’re all excited, but it’s going to be a lot of work.”

He’s optimistic that the seven institutions share priorities.

“I’ve been on the board for 12 years now, and I’ve always known our peer group, these seven unions, to be a collaborative bunch. It’s because we’re all rooted in the community.”

The credit unions that would join the NDCU include institutions from Columbia Valley, Creston, East Kootenay, Elkford, Fernie, Sparwood, Grand Forks, Castlegar, Rossland and the East Shore. And each of those comes with its own subsidiaries and off-shoots, making bringing them together something of an epic task.

So why is this the right time to embark on this endeavour? Is there a problem this merger would solve?

“What I don’t want to paint is a picture of challenges — there’s no doom and gloom — all of these credit unions are strong at this point in time and we think we could provide better opportunities for our customers if we work together,” he said.

“Technology is playing a much larger factor these days, and that’s something we think we could do better together. That’s one example of where having more resources to provide a unified vision would benefit us.”

The credit unions have set no deadlines for advancing with the merger process, but are releasing their plans to the public in order to solicit feedback.

“It’s going to take months to compile this information and really understand it. We’ll keep bringing this back to the public, but to state time frames or goals would be premature.”

Nelson Star

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