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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Demonstrating that six counties – three of which are considered among the largest in northern California – constitute a community by California Department of Financial Institutions standards, SAFE CU was approved to expand its field-of-membership that doubles the size of the credit union’s community charter to 12 counties. The new counties are Amador, Butte, Nevada, San Joaquin, Solano, and Contra Costa with an estimated population of 4.2 million, but the actual number of potential new members for SAFE CU is higher because membership in the credit union is open to anyone who lives, works or worships within the 12-county region. The three largest new counties by population are San Joaquin County, located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, and the eastern San Francisco Bay counties of Solano and Contra Costa. The $1 billion, 106,000-member credit union already serves Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties which have an estimated total population of 2.2 million. This means SAFE’s FOM now covers 12,466 square miles. Faith Galatti, vp of marketing for SAFE CU said there were several reasons the credit union’s executive committee decided to file for the FOM expansion. Among them, she explained, is SAFE serves more than 4,000 businesses in the greater Sacramento area who have employees who work at other facilities located outside the six counties the credit union previously served. So those employees weren’t eligible to join SAFE even though other company employees were. There was also the `efficiency in mass media’ factor that SAFE considered. The credit union uses six radio stations – KSPK, KSPE, KGBY, KNCI, KTCT, KHYL, KSFM, KYMX, KQPT and KXOA – in its mass media efforts. The stations’ service areas overlap, so SAFE was able to demonstrate they share common media listeners. The service areas of the stations also included the six counties SAFE previously served, as well as some of those it applied for. In addition, SAFE CU advertises in the Sacramento Bee daily newspaper, and its primary and secondary distribution area includes 97% of the 12 county area. “The expansion allows SAFE to serve the regions our mass media advertising already targets,” said SAFE President/CEO Henry Wirz. Galatti concurred, adding that, “If I’m advertising in media that broadcasts in areas I can’t serve, then it isn’t cost efficient.” Galatti said SAFE CU also proved the six proposed contiguous counties constitute a geographic, well-defined area because they have defined geographical boundaries, namely the county line. The counties are also part of a distinct traffic flow on the major area highways. As for shared facilities, SAFE is part of a shared branching network. Galatti said this is how the credit union plans to serve new members out of the new counties, as well as through an expansion of the credit union’s online services. SAFE has no plans to build a physical branch in the communities. According to Galatti, the DFI “is very explicit” with the documentation it requires a credit union applying for an expanded community charter provide to prove the proposed counties constitute a community. The criteria include “shared facilities, shared services, or shared media.” So in SAFE CU’s case, the credit union was able to satisfy all three criteria. Galatti said the credit union wasn’t concerned about the competition it will be up against from other large credit union players in the state such as The Golden 1 CU – the state’s largest – and Patelco CU. “I believe people should belong to more than one financial institution. At any given time, it may be in their best interest to choose a Golden 1 certificate of deposit because of their rates, then want to use us for another service. Consumers on average belong to two or three financial institutions, and I’d rather they belong to that many credit unions than banks,” said Galatti. -

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