Northwest Community Credit Union in Morton Grove, Ill., was formed in 1939 with a church-based membership, and parishioners comprise most of its membership even today.
But in the past two years, President/CEO Jose Garcia has embarked upon two strategic partnerships to diversify and strengthen the $58 million credit union.
First, Northwest Community established a fully student-run branch at St. Xavier University in Chicago. Recently, the credit union developed a select employee group relationship with Special Olympics of Illinois, and soon will launch its first campaign geared toward that constituency.
"We feel that if we could establish a relationship, those organizations will promote the credit union among the constituents they serve," Garcia tells the CUNA News Podcast. "We feel that strategy is best versus trying to grow within the community one member at a time."
The most formidable obstacle to Northwest Community's growth is consumers' lack of awareness of credit unions, Garcia says. A 25-year veteran of the industry, he makes a point to regularly trumpet credit unions' advantages over other financial institutions.
"Membership does make a difference," he says. "We need to tell that story more" to connect with potential members."