The $276 million Berrien Teachers’ Credit Union of St. Joseph, Mich., is expanding its western Michigan footprint by moving ahead with a merger of the $2.5 million Otsego Paperworkers Credit Union.

Subject to regulatory approval, the consolidation is due to be completed later this month or in May.

The membership and board of Otsego CU, a single SEG, voted to approve the merger March 30.

“We are excited that the members of Otsego Paperworkers voted in support of the merger,” said Berrien Teachers’ CU CEO Scott McFarland. “We anticipate a smooth transition and look forward to serving our new Otsego members and the surrounding community.”

McFarland said the Otsego CU, located 50 miles from St. Joseph, “had interviewed several other Michigan credit unions starting last fall and chose us.”

Like other small CUs in Michigan and elsewhere struggling in the difficult economy, Ostego sought out a partner after finding itself unable to launch a community charter because of its financial status, said McFarland

The Otsego CU had served employees at a local paper mill that closed some time ago. The Berrien-Otsego merger will result in an eight-branch CU with more than 26,000 members serving Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

Berrien Teachers’ strategy remains open to further mergers, “but we are not bent on scooping up a bunch of small credit unions,” said McFarland, adding that it is his hope that small CUs can retain their identity and serve members.

In a separate transaction, the $380 million Connex Credit Union of North Haven, Conn., has now completed the merger of the $400,000 St. Boniface CU of New Haven, effective April 1. The 100-member CU had been operating out of the home of CEO Susan Smith following the closing of St. Boniface church in 2005.