The merger of Southwest Gas Federal Credit Union into Reno's Sierra Pacific Federal Credit Union further opens the door for Sierra Pacific to build its business in Las Vegas.
The merger a combination of the two not-for-profit institutions in which no cash changed hands cleared its final regulatory hurdles last week after more than a year of work.
Jim Hunting, president and chief executive officer of Sierra Pacific Federal Credit Union, described the combination as "a friendly merger between two healthy, well-capitalized institutions."
But he said smaller organizations such as Southwest Gas Federal Credit Union it has $20 million assets and about 2,600 members increasingly struggle to deal with growing costs, including regulatory requirements.
Sierra Pacific Federal Credit Union, which has about 5,300 members, carries assets of $74 million.
The two member-owned credit unions share similar roots, although they have taken different paths.
Sierra Pacific Federal Credit Union was founded in 1936 to serve employees of the electric utility in northern Nevada. Since then, it's opened its membership to include 35 organizations ranging from NV Energy to the Nevada Alumni Asssociation to Microsoft.
Southwest Gas Federal Credit Union was founded in 1960 to serve employees of the natural gas utility. Until the merger, it was one of the few credit unions that limited members to a close field in its case, employees of Southwest Gas and their families.
Hunting said Sierra Pacific Federal Credit Union has a sizable base of members in Las Vegas, but hasn't had a physical presence in the market. It operates three branches in Reno.
Southwest Gas Federal Credit Union operated offices in Las Vegas as well as Phoenix, and Hunting said the newly merged institution's executive will look to grow its share of the consumer as well as the small commercial banking market in Las Vegas.
That initiative will get a boost, Hunting thinks, by the reduced numbers of community banks across Nevada, as they have been taken over by larger institutions.
"This move is a reversal of the current trend of Nevada institutions being acquired by out-of-state banks and credit unions," he said.
Sierra Pacific Federal Credit Union is the oldest credit union in Nevada.