Co-Op Principles From the Get-Go

Local Government Federal Credit Union makes its dedication to cooperative principles known in the marketplace.


Local Government Federal Credit Union ($1.4B, Raleigh, NC) has had a close relationship with the state’s largest credit union, State Employees’ Credit Union, since LGFCU’s founding almost 30 years ago. Local Government’s field of membership includes employees of local governments or governmental units such as fire departments, libraries, and emergency response teams. SECU, a state-chartered credit union, shares its branches, ATMs, and call center with Local Government. The federally chartered Local Government also looks to SECU for back-office support. The symbiotic relationship between the two member-driven institutions is truly a nod to the cooperative spirit. I spoke with Ashley Ruffin, the vice president of marketing at Local Government.

You have a very close relationship with State Employees’ Credit Union in North Carolina.

AR: Yes, very close. Ours is a major example of one cooperative working closely with another. We would not be where we are right now were it not for our partnership with SECU. It’s a mutually-beneficial relationship — SECU helps us serve a statewide membership when we only have 62 employees; our membership, in turn, makes it more practical for SECU to build branches in certain regions of the state, allowing it to expand its reach and grow. We are helping SECU while SECU is helping us.

Do you work with other cooperatives in other ways?

AR: Yes. We have an in-house marketing team — Jones & Harrington — that we offer as an agency to credit unions or affiliated groups that might not otherwise be able to afford effective marketing services. Jones & Harrington is composed of people on our staff who make print and web marketing available at a reasonable price, sometimes at no charge depending on the circumstances.

We also are working with the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) to promote cooperative principles, and we have employees involved with the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Educator program.

Does that work also help you promote the principle of education and training?

AR: It does. Educating is important to us. In particular, we work hard to train our staff. Half of our employees this year have completed training specifically on the cooperative principles, and the other half are scheduled to finish before year’s end. Some of our employees work closely with our state’s Development Educator group, which is interested in promoting mutually beneficial credit union programs to North Carolinians. We collaborated to produce study materials and are sharing these materials with other credit unions that would like to offer the same kind of education.

To read the full interview, see Callahan & Associates’ 1Q 2011 Credit Union Strategy and Performance (CUSP). To get the latest best practices and industry data, be sure to check out the latest issue of CUSP.