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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Driving through the areas where Cornerstone Community Financial Federal Credit Union has its branches sparked an idea that would make it stand out from its competitors. The $134 million did so in a big way when it recently rolled out an enticing certificate of deposit offer that is easily one of the best deals in the country. The 12-month term CD carries a 10% annual percentage yield and requires a minimum $500 deposit to open the account. To receive this exceptional rate, new members must open an active CCF checking account or sign up for direct deposit. Those same members can earn a maximum of $250, with dividends paid upon the maturity of their CD. To become a member, a minimum deposit of $10 in a CCF savings account is required. To qualify, current CCF members must not have a checking account or direct deposit at the credit union. “Every time we drove down the road, we’d see (promotions) like `if you bring this, we’ll give you $50,’” said Heidi Kassab, president/CEO of CCF. “We’re not looking for quick-fix things, we’re more interested in establishing relationships.” Those relationships can go a long way considering the credit union is continuing its quest to woo new members after converting to a community charter in April 2004. Founded in 1951 by a group of employees from the Chrysler Corporation’s Center Line, Michigan parts division, the credit union changed its name from Motor Parts Federal Credit Union to coincide with its new charter. It now serves more than 14,000 members and its charter has expanded to Oakland and Macomb counties in Michigan and Lucas and Wood Counties in Ohio. CCF started offering the CD on Aug. 1 and at press time, nearly 20 new members had taken advantage of the offer. An expiration date for the promotion has not been set but the goal is to bring in about $1.5 million and at least 2,500 new members, Kassab said. A targeted direct mail piece went out to between 15,000 to 18,000 persons that lived within a five-mile radius of each of CCF’s three branches including the one in Perrysburg, Ohio. As for whether competing financial institutions have tried to match or beat CCF’s CD offer, Kassab said she hasn’t seen much reaction yet but it’s still very early in the promotion campaign. “We are seeing some credit unions that have been doing higher rates but nothing close to what we’re doing,” Kassab said, adding local banks haven’t reacted with similar offers yet. Kassab is no stranger to making bold moves. In September 2004, at the age of 33, she was recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of its “40 under 40″ honorees for 2004 for her professional and personal achievements. Since she took the helm in April 2003 after serving as executive vice president since 1999, CCF’s assets increased to $130 million from $116 million her first year as CEO. CCF’s net income also increased 60%, its loan portfolio grew 8% and employee turnover decreased significantly, according to the credit union. “(The CD) is pretty new, it’s pretty interesting,” Kassab said. “We’re trying to let the community know that this is (their) credit union and we want (them) to take advantage of what we have to offer.” [email protected]

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