Baton Rouge Credit Unions Swap Refinery Branch Hit By Katrina
Two Baton Rouge credit unions, the $191 million Pelican State CU and the $93 million Eagle FCU, said Wednesday they have agreed to a branch swap at a New Orleans facility which felt the brunt of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Under the transaction, Pelican State is transferring loans, a lone employee and the actual trailer building in Chalmette, a New Orleans suburb, to Eagle effective April 17.
The branch sits on a refinery site and once housed $3 million Chalmette Refinery CU, which had been in danger of closing until it was eventually merged into Pelican to protect the member base.
The 500-member Chalmette branch is being transferred to Eagle since Pelican management said it has no interest now in expanding in that part of the state.
“We are concentrating our growth on central Louisiana, in Monroe and other communities and that is the direction we seek to go,” said Leigh Porta, marketing manager of the 10-branch credit union. For its part, Eagle’s CEO, Ginger Manint, said her credit union already maintains a branch in Chalmette and does seek to expand in metro New Orleans. “We look forward to developing relationships with our new members in Chalmette,” she said.
”This transfer of membership is demonstrative of the cooperative spirit of credit unions and how we make every decision with the best interest of our members in mind,” said Manint.
Pelican CEO Jeffrey Conrad said in a statement that his Baton Rouge credit union has no plans to develop the Chalmette area and said Chalmette members “could benefit from a credit union that has a larger presence in the community with intentions of growing in the area.”
State regulators were notified, Conrad said, adding that the refinery owns the building and that the CEOs of both credit unions met with the head of human resources there to get its approval.
“Human resources was excited that the two credit unions were working together for the benefit of their employees and our members. Often times when things don’t work out, financial institutions just close branches and walk away,” Conrad said. “Pelican wanted to make sure these members were taken care of.”