Two South Dakota credit unions, Bell FCU and Midwest Partners FCU, which have been competitors within 75 feet of each on the same cul de sac, are planning to merge into a $65 million entity this summer.
The two Sioux Falls CUs began discussing consolidation plans in earnest last summer “and let me stress this is a merger of equals and both of us are healthy,” said Darla Erb, who will become president/CEO of the combined CU with 9,000 members and four branches.
Erb holds the same job at the $35 million Bell while her counterpart at the $30 million Midwest Partners, Jeff Schmidt, will become chief operating officer.
On its website, Bell FCU also stressed that the merger is not a buyout but a partnership forged to produce product and service benefits.
Bell, formerly Sioux Falls Bell FCU serving employees of Northwestern Bell Telephone Co., will move into offices of Midwest Partners, whose origins are hospital and bakery sponsors. Both CUs hold community charters.
Erb said “nobody will lose their job” in the merger. A new board including elected directors from both credit unions will be established and the merger is expected to be complete in July or August.
A statement said the merger deal has been approved by the NCUA and both boards. Erb said there are plans to add an additional branch in the Sioux Falls area.
Erb said the merger reflects the ongoing trend among like-size CUs looking for cost savings as compliance and the interchange burdens mount.