With 2014 in mind, Freedom First Credit Union held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to celebrate the beginning of the construction of a community revitalization project.
The $300 million credit union in Roanoke, Va., broke ground with the city of Roanoke and the West End Center for Youth for a project to include an urban mix of commercial and meeting space, a community pavilion with a full-service production kitchen, and gardens to encourage and promote healthy financial and physical lifestyles, according to Freedom First.
The project will be anchored by a full-service Freedom First branch scheduled to open in early 2014, which will serve the West End, Hurt Park and Mountain View neighborhoods, as well as commuters to downtown Roanoke.
“This important project will enable Freedom First to reach into the community with the financial education and specialized products we’ve developed to serve people of modest means,” said Freedom First President/CEO Paul Phillips.
“Establishing a community development financial institution in the West End area of Roanoke gives people who are currently unbanked and under-banked a real opportunity to move toward long-term financial self-sufficiency,” he added.
Freedom First said it is working closely with nonprofit agencies, local government, and other businesses on this and other projects that serve community and economic development goals.
“We are excited to partner with Freedom First in this venture that will greatly expand the opportunities available to the families we serve,” said Joy Parrish, executive director of the West End Center, which owns the property and will oversee its community activities.
The planned production kitchen and gardens will enable the West End Center to bring fresh food and nutrition education to the neighborhood, and the community meeting space will accommodate educational initiatives, according to Freedom First.
"The West End is a neighborhood that is on the rise,” said Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill. “With existing assets like the West End Center, interesting housing stock, and proximity to downtown, the West End is poised to be an even better place to live and work.”
“It is our hope that Freedom First's investment in the neighborhood, and services that will be offered to residents and businesses, will be a catalyst to more rapid improvements,” Morrill added.