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PORT HURON, Mich. – The new home of E&A Credit Union is property with, well, a past. In fact, The Port Huron Times Herald used the phrases “high-profile” and “contentious” in referring to the parcel. Although it’s a downtown river-front site that should lure buyers, at least one deal has come and gone since 1997 without any bricks and mortar to show for it. A local utility company agreed to reimburse the city more than $1 million the city had invested in the property when the utility backed out in favor of another setting. But with word the credit union will build on the land known as River Centre – the British and Canadian spelling reflecting Port Huron’s position on the Canadian border – city officials are delighted to see another step in downtown development. As for E&A CU employees, spokeswoman Andrea Serra quips the problem is keeping employees from carting moving boxes into their offices right now. After all, she reminds everyone, the building won’t be completed until early 2006. Serra cites the conference room at the current facility as one example of the crunch there. There’s only one meeting room to serve 40 people, she notes. “It’s always busy and you can never get in there when you need to,” she says. Members are also pleased, she continues, as they imagine a larger office free of the lines that often form at the existing headquarters. The new building will replace E&A operations presently conducted at the less central address. In addition to housing administrative headquarters it will also be a fully operational branch with a drive through, full-service lobby, ATMs and computer kiosks. “We wanted to be in a central location,” Serra explains. “We also wanted to build. That narrowed our options down. The location just made sense. It has been vacant for a long time. Once we identified that particular location, we were determined to go after it.” However, one challenge was making sure the city’s previous commitments weren’t an issue. E&A CU hired Koch-McNabb Resources, a strategic planning firm in Southfield, Mich., to perform an exhaustive study that included traffic flow at the credit union’s existing four branches. “Our business is expanding, and we found the need for a bigger building,” says President/CEO Janice Rose. “Port Huron is where we need to be and want to be.” In addition to the headquarters, E&AS CU has four branches and serves some 35,000 members. -

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