When Central Willamette Community Credit Union started laying out the blueprints for several meeting rooms in 2005, some wondered if community groups would be interested in using the spaces as well.
The answer turned out to be a solid yes, according to the $208 million credit union in Albany, Ore.
The list of nonprofit and government agencies that have booked the rooms include the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Albany Police Department, Credit Union Association of Oregon, Greater Albany Public Schools, Samaritan Albany General Hospital and many others.
Perhaps the organizations are attracted to the rooms because they offer far more than just generic tables and folding chairs, CWCCU has discovered. The credit union considers the spaces so advanced, two of the rooms have been dubbed Central Intelligence and Central Command.
The Central Intelligence room can accommodate 75 guests in a stadium seating arrangement while the smaller Central Command room can handle 15. The two larger rooms are configured for conferences and training with audio and video systems, DVD/VHS video projectors, wireless and handheld microphones, Internet access, Microsoft Office and PowerPoint. The smaller room, aptly named the Oval Office, has a more intimate setting and can seat up to eight.
The cost is also right, according to CWCCU. Nonprofits and government agencies can book the rooms for free, paying only a $25 setup and cleaning fee. The YMCA and Habitat for Humanity are a few of the nonprofits that tend to use the rooms for monthly gatherings. Government agencies reserve the spaces for training as do local enforcement and employment offices.
For-profit businesses pay what is considered well below market rates, the credit union said. In addition to the rooms at headquarters, there is now a meeting room at the new branch in Lebanon, Ore.
Jeff Christman, the credit union’s chief financial officer, explained that initially the community heard about the meeting room offer from the area’s chamber of commerce. Now, word of mouth keeps reservations coming in. By this month, ten meetings had already been booked by several groups.
“We initially did it as a community service,” Christman said. “We also had for-profit organizations wanting to use our meeting rooms. There are days when we may have two or three groups using the rooms.”
According to the credit union, there is no set requirement on reserving the rooms; it all depends on availability. The spaces are generally accessible from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. On occasion, arrangements have been made to accommodate events outside of regular hours.
The technology is updated regularly, according to Christman. The CWCCU IT department has trained five staffers so there is almost always someone available to help orient a group to the services available. A procedures brochure offers additional guidelines on using the rooms and technology.
For credit unions that are considering offering a meeting room, Christman advised weighing how much technology will be provided. There must also be a realistic discussion on whether the credit union has additional resources and staff to assist groups that may use the room.
Christman suggested a space with the least amount of frills but equipped with the latest technology can be a nice mix for both the credit union and outside groups.
“The meeting room at the branch in Lebanon is really pretty basic. The technology isn’t as up to date as at headquarters. You need to figure out what you’re willing to take on,” Christman said.One of the benefits is that even though one room will seat 75 very comfortably, it’s still small and intimate enough that a group of 10 or 15 people who want the same kind of equipment and technology, he pointed out.