[Click here to access a PDF of this news release and a backgrounder]
After watching banks abandon Winnipeg’s North End and fringe financial outlets move in to fill the gap, one of Manitoba’s largest credit unions announced today it is bucking the trend and opening a new branch to serve Winnipeg’s North-End residents, businesses and non-profit organizations.
In a fitting move, Assiniboine Credit Union has purchased an old bank building at McGregor Street and College Avenue and invited its early investors to take a peek at the renovations.
An impressive lineup of community leaders, organizations and individuals committed to North-End renewal are backing ACU’s new branch with millions of dollars in new business to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the branch.
The decision to open a branch in one of Winnipeg’s lowest-income neighbourhoods, better serve existing and new members, and reach out to people with no or limited access to banking services is part of ACU’s long-term vision. It is driven by ACU’s promise to contribute to community economic development and the realization that the North End is undergoing an exciting renewal. ACU wants to continue to be a part of that, said ACU President and CEO Al Morin as he stood in the shell of the former bank building today.
“The address of our newest branch at 360 McGregor also describes the 360 degree turn this community is making and we’re proud to be part of that renewal. A building that was abandoned by a bank years ago is now coming back full circle to provide affordable financial services to this community again, but this time as a credit union with a commitment to community economic development. While we have many members who live or work in the North End, it’s good to finally have a branch here,” says Morin.
ACU has been planning for a few years to create a branch in the North End, making it the 25th ACU branch in Manitoba. But it would not have been possible without the co-operation and encouragement of the entire community, said Chair of the ACU board, Garry Loewen.
“Building a branch here is the right thing to do socially, but it also had to make good financial sense to ensure we could be here for the long term. Our business case was built on needing $6 million of new business to open the doors and the early investors exceeded our expectations very quickly,” Loewen said. “When we told North End community leaders we were serious about bringing an ACU branch to their neighbourhood, they assured us others would support it and they have. This is a perfect example of how people can vote with their dollars to help make good things happen in the community.”
Among those early investors who have supported the new North End Branch with new deposits or loans are the University of Winnipeg, The Winnipeg Foundation, Winnipeg Harvest, First Peoples Economic Growth Fund, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Neechi Foods Co-Op, Ma Mawi-Wi-Chi-Itata Centre, Ndinaweemaaganag Endaawaad, Pollock’s Hardware, North End Community Renewal Corporation, Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre, and numerous others.
Organizations, businesses and individuals have deposited new funds or taken out new mortgages, loans and lines of credit to support the branch because they also want to support the North End. Without their commitment to North-End renewal, none of this would have been possible, added ACU Vice-President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Priscilla Boucher.
“The new ACU branch will demonstrate our commitment to community economic development starting with the renovations underway. Inner City Renovations, which provides quality jobs for inner-city, low-income residents, has been hired as our general contractor with the mandate to source labour and supplies from the North-End as much as possible. And in addition to providing convenient and affordable service to North End residents and local businesses and non-profits, our new branch will continue to work with community partners to reach out to people in the neighbourhood who don’t have access to a bank account or other basic services,” Boucher said.
With the opening of the North-End Branch, Assiniboine Credit Union will have 25 branches, more than 100,000 members and over $3 billion in assets. It is the largest credit union in Manitoba by membership and branches, and second largest by assets. This week marks International Co-op Week with the theme “Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World.” Credit Union Day falls on October 20th, 2011 and highlights the important economic and social contributions credit unions make to their communities as financial co-operatives.
For further information contact:
VICE-PRESIDENT, MARKETING & COMMUNICATION
Assiniboine Credit Union
Marketing and Communication
2nd Floor, 200 Main Street
PO Box 2, Station Main
Winnipeg, MB R3C 2G1
Tel: 204.258.3506 • Cell: 204.479.7421
Driven by the responsibility to make a profit and the commitment to making a difference.