Brooke VanVleet

The economy has been a roller coaster for nearly a decade. That’s a long time for anyone to live with uncertainty, let alone whole communities.

While every family felt the shifts of the national and local economies, they still believed in their credit unions. They spent wisely, saved for the future, and borrowed money when necessary. Here in Columbia County we were able to see that interconnectedness thanks to a special study.

Last year, the regional trade association for Oregon and Washington credit unions, Northwest Credit Union Association (nwcua.org), engaged ECONorthwest to complete an independent economic analysis of all Northwest credit unions. In that report, which is available at our website (shcu.org), we received a clear picture of the credit union industry’s direct impact on local jobs, personal income and total output for the area.

According to the ECONorthwest report, there are 1.6 million credit union memberships in Oregon, representing 41.7 percent of the population. In total, Northwest credit unions had a $6.8 billion dollar impact on the economy in Oregon and Washington combined. That helped positively impact 46,296 jobs throughout the region.

Collectively, Oregon credit unions delivered $103 million in direct benefits to their members in 2014, according to ECONorthwest. Members received these direct benefits in the form of low to no fees, as well as better rates on loans and deposits. As members reinvested this money in their families and communities, it further generated a buying power impact of $206 million. This impact was made possible by cooperative, member-driven credit unions.

Locally, St. Helens Community had an impact on more than just our members and our employees. We positively affected thousands of families, helped create jobs, and returned hundreds of thousands of dollars into the economy.

We were proud to have delivered $969 thousand dollars of direct benefit to our members in the form of lower fees, higher deposit rates and . That return helped create local jobs, pump money into the local economy, and benefitted numerous non-profits and schools.

It really is an honor to serve the local community with affordable financial products and services. I believe that commitment and dedication to the members is what has made credit unions in Oregon and Washington such a positive light for the now-improving economy.

While we cannot track exactly where every dollar had an impact, we can see that with credit union members saving, spending, investing and borrowing, good things happened. Entrepreneurs started new companies, more jobs were created, communities found added stability, and additional homes were built.

I encourage you to explore all the details in the report. If you are a member of St. Helens Community or any other credit union, thank you for your support. These numbers reflect your belief in the cooperative spirit that is working throughout the Northwest and beyond.

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