WASHINGTON – A new survey finds that brick and mortar branches are here to stay. According to a Callahan & Associates research study The Credit Union Branch: Expansion Trends and Strategies for Improving Member Service, credit union branches are the top source of loan originations. In 2002, credit unions experienced double-digit brick and mortar growth for the third consecutive year as their investments in land and buildings rose to $8 billion. This trend is expected to continue, as nearly 60% of credit unions participating in the Callahan survey reported plans to open a new branch this year. Only 12% said they expected to close a branch this year. In addition, credit unions reported improving their branching operations through programs that provide member feedback and technological upgrades such as the introduction of automated lending software and cash dispensers, and greater use of e-mail, intranets, and software for training and document imaging. The study targeted credit unions with over $50 million in assets. The 81 credit unions responding to the survey operate a total of 746 branches nationwide and hold $59.6 billion assets, representing 10.5% of industry assets. For more information regarding the report visit www.creditunions.com/research or call (800) 446-7453.

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