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RANTOUL, Ill. – The $390 million Credit Union 1, a privately-insured credit union, has taken up the government of Illinois’ challenge to provide financial services to some of the most underserved areas in the country. Pembroke Township is a rural community about 60 miles south of Chicago in Kankakee County. It has a population of about 3,000 and statistically it is one of the poorest communities in the nation, the credit union said. This is an area that still has homes without running water and incomplete plumbing. Many homes have no phone service and many households still use wood as heating fuel. Very few streets are paved. The township has a history of being used as a used-tire dump, which has created breeding grounds for mosquitoes, leading to increased health risks. The credit union is starting a branch in the township’s town hall that will offer many products aimed at low-income consumers such as free checking and low-interest loans that might help residents avoid payday lenders. The credit union plans to call the branch Pembroke Township Financial Services in the expectation the CU will eventually spin it off as an independent CU. The Illinois regulator is aware of the credit union’s plans and has already indicated it supports it, the credit union said.

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