FORT WORTH, Texas – Unity One Federal Credit Union is headed to the “stockyard” to better serve its Hispanic members. Tapping Mexico President Vincente Fox’s former cabinet member Dr. Juan Hernandez for consulting services, the oldest credit union in Texas has plans to open the first full service credit union branch in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. In the mid 1800s, Fort Worth became a frequent stop for cattlemen herding through the area and was nicknamed “Cowtown”. In 1876 with the development of the railroad and the opening of various meatpacking companies the town became known as the “Stockyards”. Today the Fort Worth Stockyards still has historic ties but is also a tourist hotspot and home to countryline dancing clubs, bars and restaurants. In fact, Unity One FCU’s $2.5 million renovated “concept” facility is a former Burger King. “We’ve been looking at serving the Hispanic community for some time and although the Stockyard is mostly an entertainment district some 85% of its residents are not only Hispanic but from a single state in Mexico called Guanajauto,” said Greg Barnes. “It has been about a 12-14 month process but we’ve finally landed this great visible location. We did our homework and we’ve learned that not only are many of the locals working anywhere from two to three jobs to make ends meet in the States and to send money back home but also most plan to be here up to two years then go back to Mexico.” Dallas-based TGS Architects and Manchester, Missouri-based design/build firm NewGround Resources’ plans for the former fast food restaurant incorporate elements such as high columns, arches, and bright colors that are reminiscent of buildings in Mexico. “We want the whole branch to be more appealing and inviting to residents here like a home away from home or in our case their financial home,” said Barnes. “From bilingual internal marketing and multimedia elements to bilingual tellers and a great community room we want this branch to be something that really hasn’t been tried here.” The open design will include a concierge station to welcome members, a kids play center, a few financial service representative areas, and a traditional teller line that will have designated check cashing and IRNet express windows to handle the anticipated high volume traffic. In addition, the facility’s community room, which is the former Burger King Playland area, can be rented out and will host financial education and homebuying seminars and even basic English classes. “Dr. Hernandez has helped us a lot in reaching out to business leaders in the area and we are already building our community relations,” said Barnes. “Since residents respond better to word of mouth than any mass advertising or direct mailings, we’re also hoping the community room will be a center for locals.” Until the branch opens this Fall Barnes says the credit union will work on building a presence and to that end has adopted a local elementary school to teach financial literacy classes and will be sponsoring such local events as the Cinco de Mayo Festival and celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day with a Fiesta night. -mdigiovanni@cutimes.com