STCU Pasco branch A sketch of STCU’s Pasco Financial Center, which is scheduled to open in late 2019 or early 2020.

When the Liberty Lake, Wash.-based Spokane Teachers Credit Union decided to open a new branch in Pasco, Wash. – more than 100 miles away from its home base and main cluster of branches around Spokane, Wash. – President/CEO Ezra Eckhardt knew there would be work to do. The credit union, which has $3.1 billion in assets and about 195,000 members, already had 23 other branches under its wing. Trying to build and operate a branch far outside the credit union’s geographic epicenter meant added time and expense, even though the move would fortify STCU’s reach in the bourgeoning Tri-Cities area, whose population growth rate since 2000 is expected to exceed 50% by the end of this year, according to the Washington Office of Financial Management.

“About seven or eight years ago, the credit union had made a decision to try to open up one or two new branches every year,” Eckhardt told CU Times. But about four years ago, an influx of competitors in Spokane prompted the credit union to reevaluate the growth rate it could achieve inside the membership-dense 30-mile radius of its existing market versus the growth rate it could achieve in new areas, he said.

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