A Colorado Springs credit union, the $135 million Aventa, which over the weekend completed an NCUA-engineered purchase of the once-conserved Saguache County Credit Union, voiced strong support Monday for the role of mid-sized credit unions in supporting industry growth.
The fact is, said Gregory Mills, Aventa’s president/CEO, while larger credit unions continue to hold political sway healthy credit unions like his serve an important economic niche in protecting small communities threatened by the loss of financial services.
“We did our due diligence and were able to step up and handle this merger with NCUA though it did require a second look,” Mills said of Aventa’s NCUA purchase/assumption of the $17 million Saguache County CU in tiny Moffat, Colo.
In November the 18,000-member Aventa pulled back from a similar takeover offer from the NCUA.
Aventa was one of a handful of credit unions that were solicited by the NCUA last year for a voluntary merger but apparently there were no takers, leading to the July conservatorship, industry sources said.
Once the bad assets were removed by the NCUA, Aventa was willing to reconsider the purchase of Saguache County CU’s three facilities located in Moffat, Center and Crestone. Terms were not disclosed.
Saguache went into NCUA conservatorship last July amidst loan troubles and becoming overextended as it sought to build a new branch. The credit union had 3,000 members in a rural county of 6,000 and was the leading financial institution in the area. Saguache’s other two branches in Alamosa and Rio Grande counties.
“I’m an old school credit union guy determined to serve the membership and in this case we feel we could help protect our industry and this community from the loss of financial services,” said Mills.
Larger credit unions do play an important role on the legislative front in Washington but “credit unions like ours can help the smaller communities,” he said.
In its weekend announcement, Aventa said it “has again absorbed a struggling financial institution in its continuing effort to keep credit union options alive in smaller Colorado communities.” In 2010 Aventa merged Pueblo City Employees FCU.
Mills said Aventa received notice of its successful offer for Saguache on Feb. 15 with a deadline of completing the conversion by March 23.
“We’ve met that goal and let me say this was the fastest conversion we’ve ever done” he said.