LANSING, Mich. –- At a time when economic stress is sweeping the nation and threatening the survival of the U.S. auto industry, a consortium of nearly 1,300 Midwest and Southern credit unions have launched “Invest in America,” a credit union loan partnership between General Motors and Chrysler LLC.

Credit unions in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mississippi are participating in the program, which plans to go nationwide in 2009. The program, which runs through June 30, 2009, will make available more than $32 billion in auto loans and bring discounts to 26 million credit union members.

The program offers rebates of $500 or $1,000 on eligible Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. The program also offers eligible new Buick, Cadillac, Hummer, Saab, Chevrolet, GMC, Saturn, and Pontiac cars and trucks at a “GM Supplier for Friends” price discount to credit union members and members of their households. Credit union members will be able to get an additional $250 bonus cash before Jan. 5, 2009 on their eligible new GM vehicle purchase.

Rebates for Chrysler and GM vehicles will be exclusively for credit union members who also obtain their financing from a credit union, layering on top of other incentives.

“We are confident that the ‘Invest in America’ program and ‘Credit Union Member Cash’ will provide significant value for our customers and the economy as a whole during these challenging economic times,” said Steven Landry, Chrysler executive vice president of North American Sales.

“This new arrangement with credit unions creates a tremendous value for GM and for thousands of credit union members. We appreciate the credit unions’ promotional support and are pleased to make this offer,” said Mark LaNeve, GM vice president, North America Sales, Service and Marketing.

The “Invest in America” program was created by CUcorp, a marketing company based in Livonia, Mich., and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League.

“The ‘Invest in America’ vision is to create a win-win program where credit unions pledge billions in low-cost credit union financing and strong marketing support in return for exclusive credit union member discounts and rebates,” says David Adams, Michigan Credit Union League president and CEO. “Credit unions have always focused on service to their members and communities. This program simply expands that vision to apply much needed financing assistance to help boost domestic auto sales.”