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<p>ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In a strategic move to capture both business and residential accounts and cement ties with Pueblo tribes, U.S. New Mexico Federal Credit Union has opened a branch on reservation land in one of the city’s high growth areas. The Santa Ana Pueblo branch is located across from a casino and in the heart of a developing hotel/retail complex and close to an upscale residential development. The facility situated in Bernalillo, a bedroom community 20 miles north of Albuquerque, has been on the drawing boards for nearly two years and is the result of the CU’s successful NCUA bid to reach low income tribal residents in Santa Ana and at three or four Pueblos north of the city. Formal grand opening ceremonies for the U.S. New Mexico branch, its fifth, were recently held with tribal leaders praising the Albuquerque CU for its role in helping residents. “We are looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship with U.S. New Mexico Federal Credit Union,” said Santa Pueblo Governor Bruce Sanchez. “The benefits to the Pueblo members and our partners in our business development area by having a credit union are tremendous.” Expressing enthusiasm for the branch’s growth possibilities, Jeff Bruce, vice president of sales and marketing, said the Santa Ana facility received NCUA designation 11 months ago as a commercial lender and now can serve a variety of businesses springing up in the area, some tied to tribal projects. In accordance with NCUA rules, the CU had hired a commercial lending expert to receive NCUA clearance, he said. The Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission will have its offices in the Santa Ana branch which is being leased back by the CU from a Santa Ana tribal corporation which owns the property. The decision to open a Santa Ana branch follows inquiries two years ago from Jess Hernandez, the internal auditor for the Gaming Commission and a friend of former U.S. New Mexico Chairman Robert Blunt. Hernandez had sought financial advice from the CU on project development in the area and on ways to help tribal members “improve their business savvy,” said Bruce. Those discussions are now paying off, said Bruce, since the area which a year ago saw the opening of a new Hyatt Hotel plus an 18-hole golf course. Ground was also broken for a new cinema complex and office buildings and there are also plans for a Wal-Mart, a K-Mart, and car dealers. The branch is also close to Rio Rancho, a fast-growing residential area, as well as to Placitas, an upscale community located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The CU expects to provide a broad array of retail and commercial services from the Santa Ana branch, which “gives us a strong presence in an area without a credit union nearby,” said John Danzeiser, U.S. New Mexico’s chief financial officer. There are few banks in the area as well, it was noted. The $325 million U.S. New Mexico is the state’s third largest and has 140 employees, of which about a dozen are being housed in the new Santa Ana facility. Among that group are members of the sales and marketing staff who last month were moved to that site. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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