The re-opening of a Credit Union of Atlanta branch to serve in a historic and underserved area downtown here was one project the late President/CEO Dean Gaymon was working on before he passed away in July.
The $55 million CU re-opened its third branch on Auburn Avenue Aug. 31. Closed since May due to renovations, the branch was acquired from a merger between CU of Atlanta and Wheat Street Baptist Church Credit Union in early 2004. While the merger enhanced the products and services offered to members, the branch's design limited the amount of service staff could provide, according to Cassandra Brown, assistant vice president of marketing and business development at CUA. The redesign will afford members the opportunity to open new accounts and investments and apply for loans. The Sweet Auburn branch will also have a walk-up ATM and house the CU's call center.
Gaymon was shot and killed by a New Jersey undercover sheriff's detective July 16. The case is still under investigation.
Through the branch, Gaymon also wanted to continue the CU's commitment to the mostly senior citizen residents of Wheat Street Towers by providing a convenient financial institution, Brown said. CUA was recently certified as a community development financial institution, she added.
Known as the Sweet Auburn Historic District, Auburn Avenue was a hub for African American-owned businesses, social organizations and civil rights' gatherings. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s childhood home is located nearby, as is Ebenezer Baptist Church, once presided over by the young minister and his father.
"Due to the tremendous rich history in the Auburn Avenue area, Mr. Gaymon wanted to make sure that the credit union continued to have a strong presence within the community," Brown said.
"The board of directors [has] been extremely strategic in their plans to position Credit Union of Atlanta as one of Atlanta's premier financial institutions," Brown said. "With CUA's recent certification as a community development financial institution, it is the board's goal that CUA continues to concentrate on underserved communities, thus holding true to the universal credit union creed of 'people helping people.'"
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed spoke at the branch re-opening along with representatives from the Sweet Auburn Project, an urban design and historic preservation plan for the area.