RALEIGH, N.C. -- All that is missing from Local Government Federal Credit Union's new headquarters is the wrapping paper and bow because the facility is basically a gift to its members.
"From our point of view we are local government," said LGFCU President Maurice Smith. "Other credit unions may take on unrelated SEGs but we don't do that. All we do and intend on doing to the extent of shouting it from a mountaintop is serving local government and this facility proves our commitment."
The $660 million credit union recently bought and moved into brand new office space in the aptly named Quorum Center, a 300,000 square-foot mixed-use building in downtown Raleigh. Buying all 75,000 square feet of office space, floors one through six, LGFCU offers leases to local government entities including the NC State Firemen's Association, NC Association of County Commissioners and the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Another tenant is the North Carolina Credit Union League Governmental Affairs division.
"This location is just perfect," said Smith. "Now the league's governmental affairs office staff, which does so much work for all of us, can just take a four minute walk and have a conversation with legislators. It's almost like a North Carolina spin on the CU House."
More than a new corporate headquarters, LGFCU has created a "local government campus"--an idea that has been percolating in Smith's mind for some four years.
The campus includes four office buildings in downtown Raleigh and is located within three blocks of the governor's office, state legislature and other key governing officials. "We also made sure to use all local talent and materials from concrete and bricks to furniture--you look at the workmanship and it is all done by North Carolina talent," said Smith. He adds the campus is designed to further the "people helping people" philosophy by allowing the local government units to work together on mutual projects while also giving each of the organizations and their constituents space to meet, share ideas and continue to produce innovative growth and change throughout local government in North Carolina.
"Quorum best describes the collaboration that will take place," said Smith. "We imagine exciting conversations, partnerships and joint ventures between the resident organizations. The beneficiaries of this teamwork and more effective government will be the citizens of North Carolina. We share a common bond with our new neighbors--we all represent the interests of North Carolina local governments in one manner or another."
According to Smith, LGFCU is the only credit union in the state that is solely focused on the needs of all local government employees and appointed/elected officials. LGFCU's field of membership includes 100 counties, over 545 municipalities, some 1,300 fire departments, and other local government units ranging from public-owned hospitals, authorities (housing, airport) and sanitary districts, to emergency management services and councils of governments. The Quorum Center's focal points are the LGFCU Financial Resource Center and the 350-person LGFCU Conference Center. The financial resource center will allow access to credit union services in addition to various employment/personal finance systems and databases via a new technology LGFCU calls Compass. The kiosks are designed to answer employee questions about benefits, retirement, sick leave and holidays and member questions about account balances allowing them to manage accounts, pay bills and even apply for loans. "We see it as a prototype for new ways to provide financial services. So, for example, if a local government employee wants to change their tax withholding they can have the information at their fingertips on how that change will impact them," said Smith. "It is another way to help members have a more comprehensive view of both their home and work resources so they are ultimately better prepared to manage both." As for the conference center, it features state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, comfortable surroundings and on-site parking--which Smith says is a premium in downtown. The LGFCU partners will operate the Conference Center for meetings with their constituent members.
"Basically we turned over the keys to the associations and league to run the facility and schedule meetings, conferences, whatever they need," said Smith. "We wanted this to be a place in which local government officials can call their own."
Currently, training takes place in hotels throughout the state. Smith adds that a central facility offers not only a dependable place for learning, but with its wide hallways, private meeting rooms and flexible meeting spaces, it also invites relationship building.
"What is great about the conference center is that when officials and newly elected legislators come into a building named after our credit union it fosters such goodwill," said Smith. "Our long-term vision is to have the credit union be part of the fabric of local government not seen as another vendor trying to finagle its way in. We want local government to see us as one of them and this conference center is how we are demonstrating our commitment to building that relationship."
The move is already striking a chord with members as the first conference was recently booked and the facility is being overrun with requests. For now the center will only be available to local government leaders and members.
"We get lots of inquiries from the community and locals driving by wanting to use the facilities for everything from civic club meetings to weddings but we tell them that this is space that belongs to local government," said Smith. "Our presence is definitely more acute since moving in. Local government agencies want to know more about us and we're being invited to the table now on a number of joint ventures." --firstname.lastname@example.org