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Togiola signs paperwork for a Credit Union to set up shop

fili@samoanews.com

Out-going Gov. Togiola Tulafono says he signed last week the permit and necessary paperwork for the Community Investment Corporation, or CIC, to begin its work setting up a new credit union in American Samoa. To be called Community Development Credit Union (CDCU), the new financial institution will fill the void left behind when Bank of Hawai’i shuts down local operations on Mar. 15 this year.

Togiola said that he had spoken to a company familiar with matters of financial institutions early in November, to look at setting up a credit union in the territory, but didn’t identify the company at the time, as discussions were continuing.

He provided an update on this issue on his radio program over the weekend, saying that he had completed meetings with CIC, the firm that will be setting up the new credit union, which will be headquartered in Fitiuta, Manu’a with branches in the Manu’a island group as well as on Tutuila.

He said the new company has an office at Pago Plaza and has been issued a permit to commence its work setting up a local credit union.

Togiola claimed that the community development credit union is strongly supported by the federal government, who is satisfied with the plans for this new credit union to operate here and has policies in place to protect its assets and customers.

He said one of the best things about this credit union is that it has more than 3,000 financial institution partners throughout the U.S., which will make it easy for residents who may be on the mainland to make a deposit at one of the partner branches, and the money goes into the account right away.

In comparison, Togiola said, with BoH, the person had to have access to a BoH branch in Hawai’i to make a deposit there for the money to be withdrawn here.

He said CIC has already made a commitment to him to be part of the local community and he believes that they have also made contact with the incoming administration, who will need to work with the company in order for this project to move forward and be successful.

BACKGROUND

Samoa News should point out that a credit union is not a bank; although bothprovide similar services, each offers different types of benefits for account holders and borrowers.

A simple definition offered by www.wisebread.com is that “A credit union is a cooperative financial institution in which individuals pool their money to provide loans and services to other members. In the United States, credit unions are nonprofit entities, and their cooperative structure is designed to ensure fair dealing. Additionally, anyone who belongs to a credit union must first qualify to join under a particular institution's field of membership.”

It is not known if the CDCU is a nonprofit entity, and what the qualifications to join its membership will be, nor if it is funded with ARRA money or privately or in partnership.

The CIC office has been open at the Pago Plaza for three months and its local representatives are Paula Alo and husband, Michael McDonald.

The couple also manage the One Stop Job Center at the old VA center, which is funded by an ARRA grant managed by the Hawaiian Holding Company. Samoa News understands the One Stop center has been granted a 6-month program extension, as they were set to close their doors Dec.31, 2012.



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