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GAITHERSBURG, Md.-With the help of its community charter conversion and expansion, Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union passed the $200 million in asset threshold in April this year. Mid-Atlantic was initially chartered in 1968 to serve local IBM employees. When the company began downsizing, the credit union looked for other sponsors and added a few select employee groups. In 1998, Mid-Atlantic received a community charter conversion to serve the northern portion of Montgomery County, Md. Then, in July last year, they were approved for an expansion to serve anyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in the county, which just about tripled the service area. Mid-Atlantic’s potential field of membership jumped from 300,000 after the conversion to 900,000 following the expansion a little less than a year ago. According to Mid-Atlantic Vice President of Marketing Sharon Simpson, the expansion was a natural fit for the credit union, which was “already doing a lot in the county in terms of volunteering.” She also explained that the original community charter was confusing. “There was a dotted line that call center reps knew but nobody else understood,” she said. Additionally, Mid-Atlantic is the only community chartered credit union serving Montgomery County, so the opportunities were there. If the initial reason for a community charter was survival, growth drove the decision to expand, Simpson said. In April, Mid-Atlantic reached $203 million in assets, up from $101 million in Dec. 1997, according to Mid-Atlantic’s figures. Loans also more than doubled from $59 million to $139 million. Simpson feels the credit union would not have had the same success without the community charter conversion and expansion. “The community charter has really been an important growth driver for us and will continue to be,” she said. Membership has remained a bit over 20,000 during this time, which Simpson said is partially due to a round of “purging” inactive members and dormant accounts. That number could be on the upswing shortly with new plans to concentrate on the needs of the southern part of the county, which borders Washington, D.C. Simpson characterized Mid-Atlantic’s “core membership base” as “very loyal and upscale.” But, Montgomery County’s demographics are very diverse. The credit union is planning to open a new branch in the Silver Spring-area, which is at the southern end of the county, this summer and is ironing out plans to best reach the burgeoning Hispanic population. Simpson also pointed out that Mid-Atlantic recently joined the Allpoint ATM network and is enhancing its online services at www.mafcu.org. The credit union is a Small Business Administration approved lender. Mid-Atlantic is going to rely in part on grand opening ceremonies at the new Silver Spring branch and its new headquarters and expanded branch in Germantown at the end of the year to help spread the word. The credit union is also engaged in radio and newspaper advertising, as well as direct mailings. [email protected]

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