Spokane-based Global Credit Union has closed two Tri-Cities branches and a home loan center there.
The credit union shuttered in-store branches at the Pasco and Kennewick Yoke’s Fresh Market supermarkets on Jan. 31.
Global Credit Union’s 1,600 Tri-Cities members may keep their accounts open and rely on mobile banking, online bill pay services and home banking in lieu of visiting a branch in person, says Mary Starkey, Global Credit Union’s Spokane-based executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Starkey says the credit union hasn’t seen any significant growth since it arrived in the market 15 years ago, and strategies to stimulate growth haven’t panned out, which led to the decision to close the branches.
“We have to look at our whole branch system,” she says, “How does everything contribute to the overall credit union for the members?”
The closure of the Yoke’s-based branches left nine employees out of work. All nine employees were offered positions at branches outside the area, but none accepted the option to transfer, Starkey says, adding that each opted to work until the branches closed permanently.
Global Credit Union has five Spokane-area branches, two North Idaho branches in Kootenai County, and three branches on military branches in Italy.
“We’ve always tried to serve people from a long distance,” Starkey says.
The company has decreased its presence in western Europe during the years and increased its presence in Eastern Washington, targeting mainly Spokane, where it was founded in 1954.
The decision to shut down the Tri-Cities offices was made after the leases for the Kennewick and Pasco stores had already been renewed.
Global Credit Union will continue to make lease payments through the end of 2018, unless a sub-let is arranged for the remainder of the contract.
John Orton, vice president of marketing at the Spokane-Valley based Yoke’s Fresh Market grocery-store chain, says the company is interested in filling the spaces with another credit union or bank and hopes to offer banking services to grocery customers again in the future.
The Global Credit Union branches opened in the Tri-Cities Yoke’s stores in 2003, and a home loan center opened along Kennewick Boulevard in 2006.
Any loans in progress were transferred to the Spokane office when the home loan center closed at the end of 2017, when the lease expired.
Starkey says Global Credit Union made its entrance into the Tri-Cities knowing well-established credit unions such as Gesa Credit Union and HAPO Community Credit Union already were dominating the market.
Global Credit Union considered opening a standalone branch in Richland at one point, but a consultant who assessed the potential for success found it would take seven to eight years to make an impact. Since the credit union is responsible for making investment decisions benefiting all its members, the lengthy delay for potential success meant the expansion wasn’t pursued.
Global Credit Union’s original expansion into the Tri-Cities came as a result of a 2002 statewide community charter that allowed it to serve anyone who lives or works in Washington state.
Global Credit Union’s branching strategy resulted in its first grocery store location, at a former Tidyman’s supermarket in Spokane in 1986.
It was considered a first of its kind concept in the western U.S., Starkey asserts.
Starkey says she hopes Global Credit Union’s Tri-Cities members will continue to bank with the credit union despite the closures.
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