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BARTLETT, Tenn. – With the opening of an on-campus branch First South Credit Union is on its way to building lasting financial relationships with University of Memphis students and teachers. “It’s a very diverse population,” said First South CU President/CEO W. Craig Esrael. “There are students who may need credit cards, professors who need mortgages or auto loans and both need financial planning. It’s like a city in itself.” When University of Memphis surveyed the campus population last year about what additional services they wanted, an on-campus branch was at the top of almost every list. Bids were quickly sent out to local financial institutions. First South CU pulled ahead of some 20 local financial institutions including the $549 million Memphis Area Teachers Credit Union, for the five-year exclusive agreement as the on-campus financial center. The MATCU branch that was next to the University has since closed. According to First South CU Director of Marketing Anne Mathis, the credit union had affiliated with the university in the past. “Going into this our thinking has been that we are building relationships so if we can help when they have a need now they are more likely to remain committed to that relationship in the future,” said Mathis. “It is good community relations. Everyone wins. We’ll benefit as students, faculty and staff open accounts but we also give back to them with financial education/planning courses and seminars, activity sponsorships and free checking.” As part of the agreement, First South CU agreed to pay a minimum of $59,347 a year to the university plus $1 for each automated teller machine transaction on which the credit union levied a surcharge. Since winning the bidding war the $240 million credit union has invested some $300,000 over the past year renovating its new 2,719-square-foot branch above the bookstore. According to Mathis, everything from the branch interior to the credit union’s logo has been customized for this campus branch. “We wanted the feel of the branch to be very different, more like a Starbucks,” said Mathis. “It is a place where students can gather or relax in between classes and there are two easy chairs with connections for laptop computers. Basically we want to spend time to get to know them a little better.” First South CU tapped local design/build firms to renovate the space, which eliminated the standard teller line but included an online banking area complete with free coffee, and a more contemporary retail friendly environment creating small conversation areas complete with bistro table-sized desks. Before construction could begin the marketing team spent about six months designing a logo for the branch, which combines the University tiger mascot with the credit union name. “From a marketing standpoint this has been a lot of fun,” said Mathis. “Our marketing plan is to emphasize more personalized service and get more involved with different campus events such as new faculty orientation, Greekfest and Freshman First. University members can even choose their own Tiger credit cards and checks.” In just the first three weeks, despite the university being on summer break, the First South CU campus branch has already opened 157 new accounts with 131 new checking accounts. [email protected]

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