Community Credit Union arrives with a bang

Darrell Kuhn is confident the Community Credit Union is poised for a banner year in 2013.

The financial institution has a new branch on Truro’s Willow Street and its name proudly displayed on the arena of the Rath Eastlink Community Centre. Combine that with a variety of products and services and a knowledgeable staff ready to help, it’s no wonder Kuhn has that feeling.

“We’ve had many people come in and they’re so impressed with our new home,” said Kuhn, president and CEO of Community Credit Union. “We want to take advantage of this market, which is something we haven’t done for a long time. We want to show our members and people who aren’t our members that we have a lot to offer.”

Kuhn says a review of the last decade showed Community Credit Union hadn’t made the progress they had hoped to achieve. When it came time to plan for the next five years, there was only one way they could make it the top of mind place for people to do their banking in Colchester County – a new building.

Local company Fowler Construction Services was awarded the contract and Avide was hired to oversee the project. With feedback from the board of directors and staff, a design was approved and construction began. Kuhn says staff played an important role in making the branch a warm, inviting place. The offices are also a considerable upgrade over the smaller, cramped ones clients are familiar with in the old branch.

“We wanted an open concept that was noticeable as soon as you walked through the door,” he said. “We didn’t have a real reception area in our previous location so that was a priority for us and people naturally gravitate to that area. The open concept makes it feel big, it’s well lit and it’s a comfortable place for our clients to come.”

A state-of-the-art boardroom was also a key in the design process but not for the reasons people may think. Kuhn confirms it is used by staff members but it’s also available to the community free of charge.“It features a video system so people can do video conferencing, they can do conference calls or just have everyone gathered around the table,” he said. “This isn’t a boardroom that was designed to be used once in a while. We have a lot of volunteer organizations who are members of ours and they can use it when they need it. This is one of the ways we can give back to the community. I’m pleased to say we’ve already had a few people and groups take advantage of it.”

The corporate offices are located on the opposite side of the branch. It houses the administration offices as well as the commercial banking centre. Instead of a client having to go through the branch to conduct their business, they can now use a different entrance to save time.

This side also has office space available for lease. The Nova Scotia Co-op Council leases one of those spaces while the other is still available. The space is currently wide open and ready for a new tenant to move in.

When the doors finally open to the new Rath Eastlink Community Centre, one of the main attractions will be the Community Credit Union Arena. The commitment was made in December and is the largest of its kind in the organization’s history. However, Kuhn says the opportunity to create even more noise in Colchester County was just too good to pass up.

“A lot of thought went into that decision,” he said. “We had to ask ourselves what we were prepared to do. Instead of sitting back in the corner of an older building, we were in our brand new building and we really wanted to make a big bang.”

And they weren’t done there either. They’re also the presenting sponsor to the upcoming Fred Page Cup, which will be played at RECC this May.  “That’s over and above what we do on an annual basis,” Kuhn continued. “We have fundraisers all the time and those are led by our staff. They take a true leadership role. In 2013, we’re focusing on anti-bullying. To help fight against bullying, we purchased pink tuques and are selling them at the branch with all the proceeds going to the Kids Help Phone. We’ve also held events in support of charities like the local food banks and the Children’s Wish Foundation.”

Local students also benefit from the efforts at Community Credit Union. In both Colchester and Cumberland County, where the sister branch is located, 12 bursaries valued at $1,000 are issued to students at each of the high schools.

Of course giving back to the community isn’t the only thing Community Credit Union can successfully do. It’s also a pretty good place to do your banking. Owned by its members, Kuhn says that sets them aside from other banks and best of all, the profits stay in the community.

“We’re not profit driven. It’s not our mantra. Yes, we have to make a certain amount of profit and maintain certain financial ratios because we have a regulator to report to,” said Kuhn. “They oversee our operations to make sure we’re protecting our members’ money.”

In terms of products and services, Community Credit Union is right up there with the other major players. In fact, its service fees are usually lower than other banks. When it comes to lending, the mortgage rate is exactly the same as other banks as well. However, they have the flexibility to adapt very quickly and enhance their services on the spot, unlike other banks.  “For example, if a member has a mortgage with us they want to retain when it comes up for maturity or they want to bring a mortgage with us, we will fund a $250 donation to the charity of their choice,” said Kuhn. “The reason we do this is not to get the mortgage but instead, get our members engaged in their community. That’s what we’re all about. Yes, we do benefit from having the mortgage through us, but the objective of offering something like that is to get our members engaged and get more money coming back into the community.”

The Community Credit Union is located at 347 Willow Street. It also has a full service website that can be visited at www.communitycreditunion.ns.ca.

 

Smiling is easy for employees of the Community Credit Union. They have a brand new branch on Truro’s Willow Street and the name of the financial institution will proudly be displayed on the arena at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

–Courtesy of the The Hub Newletter, Truro

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