FISHERS, Ind. – One way to position the credit union front and center of the business community is to have a place for them to meet. In a little over a month since its debut, FORUM Credit Union is already seeing returns from a newly-completed conference center that is catering to the small business market here. With the recent opening of its 700-seat, 7,000-square foot FORUM Conference Center, the $822 million credit union is certainly making strides. Since its Nov. 1 opening, four businesses have already held meetings at the conference center, said Andrew Mattingly, FORUM senior vice president for strategy and marketing. A FORUM credit union employee coordinates with businesses for use of the center and a salesperson makes the bookings. In December, the Fishers Chamber of Commerce will start holding its monthly meetings here and the Meeting Planners International has booked the center for a spring luncheon. But it’s not all about business. On the social side, three spring weddings have already been booked and two companies are planning to host holiday parties here with an estimated 200 to 400 employees attending. “We found that there’s been a lack of available space here,” Mattingly said. “All of it is downtown, which is 45 minutes away from where we’re at. This is a great way to leverage our new corporate office.” In addition to a 750-space sparking lot, the center is super high tech with overhead projectors, drop-down screens, and wireless microphones with surround sound. The center is a part of FORUM’s $25 million expansion of its corporate headquarters, which is scheduled to be completed in May, 2005. Income earned through the center will go directly to the credit union and will be listed on the income statement, according to the credit union. The actual cost of the building is contained on the balance sheet. All functions, including weddings and banquets, will be listed as income. Mattingly said FORUM’s former main building, which the credit union has occupied since 1991, was supposed to last at least 20 years. By 2001, it was apparent that they had run out of space. In addition, Fishers, one of Central Indiana’s fastest growing retail centers here, is trying to keep up with the record suburban growth that has occurred over the last two decades – encouraging news that a conference center would be a welcomed fit. According to the Fishers Chamber of Commerce citing U.S. Census data, the town’s population has grown from 7,500 in 1990 to more than 50,000 this year. Chamber officials predict Fishers’ population could go as high as 120,000 by 2043. Mattingly said FORUM put together a brochure announcing the new center and sent it to 400 businesses and 100 meeting planners in the Greater Indianapolis in October. The center, which features wood flooring and glass structures, has a main “grand forum” room that can be subdivided into three separate rooms. The foyer, which has already been used by businesses for cocktail receptions, can also be rented out separately, Mattingly said. While there is not a kitchen on the premises, FORUM will handle all catering needs. FORUM currently serves more than 79,000 members but projects more than 100,000 members and over $1 billion in assets by 2006. With 13 branches now, up to four new branches are scheduled to open by 2007. Just a few years ago FORUM’s Business Services Group was the new kid in town. In March of 2003, they announced an expansion of their services into commercial real estate lending. Soon, FORUM Business Services went on to be ranked third in SBA loan volumes and was the #1 SBA credit union lender, FORUM said. [email protected]

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