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Credit union doubles downtown presence

May 20, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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Credit union doubles downtown presence
The CWD Building stands in downtown Grand Rapids on Louis Street NW at Fulton Avenue NW. Photo via cwdrealestate.com

A credit union is moving to expand its presence in downtown Grand Rapids and investing in the local market.

Michigan First Credit Union is doubling its presence downtown with a new office, renovating its two other local offices and launching an advertising campaign, all in the coming months.

Michigan First will spend more than $2 million in renovations and upgrades in the Grand Rapids market this year.

The process began when Michigan First Credit Union merged with Grand Rapids Family Credit Union at the beginning of the year, creating the 11th-largest credit union with more than 100,000 members and $740 million in assets.

“Grand Rapids is the second-largest market in Michigan, and we’ve been looking to enter it for some time,” said Michael Poulos, president and CEO, Michigan First Credit Union. “The merger with Grand Rapids Family Credit Union is a tremendous opportunity to build on what they had already established. We’re really excited to be there.”

Downtown presence

With the merger, Michigan First Credit Union moved into the Grand Rapids Family Credit Union office at 87 Monroe Center NW. The lack of space necessitated a move to a larger location, while raising the credit union’s profile, Poulos said.

“The size of the space isn’t adequate to our services,” Poulos said.

To make room for the credit union’s service technology and additional wealth management and mortgage services, Michigan First signed a long-term lease on the ground floor of the CWD Building, at 50 Louis St. NW.

The space is 4,500 square feet, offering room for the added services and its employees, a MoneyWorks ATM — providing four bill denominations, money transfers, loan-paying abilities and a high-speed coin counter that deposits money directly into accounts.

The move should be completed by early fall.

NAI Wisinski of West Michigan facilitated the deal.

Grand Rapids locations

The other Grand Rapids branches, on Plymouth Avenue NE and Breton Road SE, will not be affected by the downtown move.

The two branches will undergo renovations to modernize their interiors and add the credit union’s banking technology.

Poulos didn’t rule out additional branches in the future, as the credit union adds more than 1,000 members a month.

“It’s very likely we will continue to grow in the Grand Rapids market,” Poulos said. “We’re investing a fair amount.”

Campaign

Poulos said Michigan First Credit Union is set to begin an advertising campaign in June.

Still, he said a majority of the credit union’s members come through referrals from its service, which will hit Grand Rapids in full once the move and renovations are complete.

Poulos also said Michigan First is the official credit union of the Detroit Red Wings, which gives it a natural tie to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Lathrup Village-based credit union will donate more than $150,000 to nonprofits and scholarships this year.

“We’re strongly committed to the community,” Poulos said. “We do whatever we can to service the community. That’s what drives us.” 

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