ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Kitsap Credit Union received the green light from NCUA to adopt all of Mason County, Wash., as an underserved area. Previously, the credit union served all of Kitsap, the northern part of Mason, and Northwestern Pierce Counties. According to Kitsap’s Ron Rogerson, the credit union has 2,281 member households in Mason County but 2000 census data shows the county with 18,912 total households. “It was a very logical extension for us,” Kitsap President and CEO Elliot Gregg commented. He said the credit union prides itself for “serving the full spectrum of income levels.” The credit union has 30% to 40% penetration in other areas and would like to reach that same level in all of Mason County. It already has a community development branch in West Park, a city-owned housing area, Gregg explained. The credit union helps handle rent payments and offers Individual Development Accounts, which he said is “probably one of our lead programs.” Kitsap also has a branch in a local high school, a program he would like to expand into other areas, and works with BALANCE for financial counseling. Washington State is home to one of the most progressive state regulators, in part because of the fierce financial services competition there. When asked if the expansion for $600 million Kitsap, a federal charter, would help mitigate competitive issues, Gregg replied, “Definitely. Because on the state charter side we have in the state one of the more liberal chartering rules, we have seen state chartered credit unions take on greater fields of membership then we’ve seen before.” However, he added that though the competitive spirit is high, credit unions still “work very cooperatively on common interests.”

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