Credit union continues expansion

Tesla isn’t the only out-of-state company spending money and creating jobs in northern Nevada.

Also banking on the region in terms of future growth, Michigan-based United Federal Credit Union last week broke ground for a new branch at The Summit mall and opened its first in-store branch at the Walmart Supercenter at Firecreek Crossing Shopping Center.

“This is our largest expansion in northern Nevada so far,” said Danny DeLaRosa, market vice president for the credit union, which now has four stores in the market and 68 employees.

The Redmond Company of Waukesha, Wis., is managing the multi-million-construction project at the Summit Mall, 13925 S. Virginia St. Local subcontractors will be hired during the course of building the 6,400-square-foot banking center, which will open by the end of the year.

Teller services, auto and mortgage lending, checking accounts, debit and credit cards, business services and investment planning are all provided at the UFCU branches.

“We’re really growing by leaps and bounds,” said DeLaRosa, speaking to the beachhead the credit union established in 2009 when it agreed to acquire Clearstar Financial Credit Union in Reno.

The National Credit Union Association asked that UFCU, a well-capitalized multi-state credit union, take over the troubled Clearstar, which was buffeted by the economic downturn, said DeLaRosa.

With that move, UFCU acquired a book of business and absorbed Clearstar employees into the fold. Its membership base included employees from the Washoe County School District.

In addition to the new construction underway and the in-store credit union, DeLaRosa said the company is looking at opening locations in Spanish Springs and Carson City. The expansion correlates to an improving economy.

“The financial landscape is changing in ways” that aren’t always served by traditional banks, said DeLaRosa. “The needs of borrowers don’t always fall in a certain box,” he added, especially for individuals who may have had some financial reversals.

“Bad credit doesn’t mean a bad person,” said DeLaRosa, adding that credit unions, which plow their profits back to members, are more willing to help customers rebuild their financial standing and offer better terms, such as lower rates on credit cards.

In terms of the competitive landscape, he said UFCU is competing with traditional banks such as Wells and Chase. He said UFCU membership in northern Nevada has grown 35 percent from last year.

While its corporate offices are in St. Joseph, Michigan, DeLaRosa said every business decision relevant to northern Nevada is made locally.

Also on the drawing board are plans to open an operations center, which would not only support the Nevada division as it grows market share, but UFCU’s other locations in five other states. DeLaRosa said the new center would provide employment to about 30-40 people.

They will perform duties such as accounting and other behind-the-scenes business activities that don’t result in face-to-face transactions with credit union members.

United Federal Credit started as the former Whirlpool credit union, formed at a single branch at the appliance maker in 1949. It now has offices in Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. UFCU has 130,00 members worldwide and manages assets in excess of $1.8 billion.


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