EVERETT, Wash. (9/16/14)--For the last 75 years, even in the most difficult of times, Mill Town CU has been there for the community it serves.
Julie Benson, treasurer-manager of what was then called the Scott Employees CU, assists a member in 1974. Now called Mill Town CU, the Everett, Wash.-based financial institution celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. (Mill Town CU Photo)
That included when the Kimberly-Clark mill, which employed many of the Everett, Wash.-based credit union's members, closed in 2012, impacting the town far and wide.
"The closing of the (mill) was hard on our membership, but we worked with anyone that needed help," Laura Leuze, president/CEO of the $47 million-asset credit union, told The Herald Business Journal this week (Sept. 15).
Mill Town granted extensions, reduced payments and shifted to interest-only payments to aid former mill employees until they gained solid financial footing, according to The Herald Business Journal.
It's that type of commitment and service by credit unions that has helped fuel membership increases across the country, as the credit union movement recently surpassed 100 million memberships nationwide.
In Everett, even after those who had lost their jobs moved away, they still came back to the credit union to do their banking. The credit union still serves more than 2,800 members.
"They would always run into people they had worked with and they would catch up," Cathy Vanderberg, board member for Mill Town CU, told the Business Journal. "About 50 people watched the demolition of the oldest mill building from the credit union building. It was very emotional."
Since opening in 1939, the credit union has helped residents with mortgages, college tuition and auto loans, among other services.
While the credit union's membership base was extended beyond mill workers in the early 2000s, the people who worked at the mill, the same people who founded the credit union, continue to serve as the bedrock of the membership base.
"The credit union was started by people before we were even born," Leuze told The Herald Business Journal. "We have generations of memberships coming from just former mill employees. We have to be good at what we do and get to personally know everybody."
Festivities to celebrate Mill Town CU's 75th anniversary are scheduled for later this fall.