City County Credit Union Reaches Out to Area's Changing Communities
Founded in 1952 to serve municipal employees, the Fort Lauderdale-based credit union now serves anyone who lives or works in the South Florida counties of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Martin and the city of Port St. Lucie.
"We have made a conscious business decision to reach out to our divergent populations," said City County CU CEO Bill Marquardt.
According to City County CU Vice President of Advertising and Public Relations Sandra Spence, rather than looking back and yearning for the good old days, the credit union has looked forward and opted to not only acknowledge the changing face of its members and employees but embrace it.
"In an area with a booming young population, immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean and one of the largest gay communities in the country, our credit union has spread the welcome mat for these groups," said Spence. "From a business perspective. having a more formalized approach has just been a smart, realistic step for us to take."
The credit union formed four employee resource teams charged with focusing on the Caribbean, Hispanic, youth and gay markets. Each team consists of no more than eight staff volunteers representing each group. With their insight and perspective, the volunteers serve as advisers and often represent the credit union at fairs, festivals and community events. According to Spence, the employee reaction to the resource teams has been overwhelmingly positive, and there is no shortage of people wanting to volunteer.
Each team develops a business plan and has an allotted budget. Group leaders present their proposals for approval, which can then be implemented as they see fit. Spence says the input has been invaluable.
"This is the brain child of our COO of using the resources we have internally to reach out and better serve our members," said Spence. "We know this is how the demographics in our area are trending. I think because it has always been presented strictly as a business strategy, our employees have embraced that what we are doing is ultimately to help our credit union improve and grow."
She added that the two-year project has been having a positive impact on everything from services provided to identifying which media outlets are most effective in each target market. For example, Spence said the radio plays a major role with those raised in the Caribbean, so there has been a shift from newspapers to radio spots when reaching out to the group.
"It takes time to feel the overall impact, but we are slowly seeing progress. For example, we have the largest gay population here in Fort Lauderdale outside of San Francisco in the town of Wilton Manors," said Spence. "Thanks to our team working actively in the community, we saw a need for a branch in that area, and we recently opened the doors to our new Wilton Manors branch."