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Economy

Area credit unions part of national growth surge

Area-credit-unions-part-of-national-growth-surge

Rae Koppelman greets customers at the credit union that began in 1953 with 123 members and $10,231 in assets.

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A credit union began in 1953 to serve parishioners from St. Clement's Church in the Trilby area of northwest Toledo.

That year, it had 123 members and modest assets of $10,231. It has evolved and grown into the Toledo Area Community Credit Union, with 67,000 members and assets of $340 million, seventh largest in the state.

One of the original members, Patrick McGrady, is winding down his 34-year career as chief executive officer. "Change in the industry is constant, and accelerating," he said. "You must adapt to the change, or you will disappear."

Such phenomenal growth isn't typical for credit unions, but it is a good example of the surge in credit-union assets and membership in recent decades. Many small credit unions in the Toledo area have been forced to merge or close their doors in the last 15 years.

Credit unions based in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan had assets at midyear of more than $2.9 billion, almost double assets of nearly $1.5 billion a decade earlier, according to midyear figures from the National Credit Union Administration.

In the mid-1990s, the 10 largest credit unions in the region had assets of $330 million. Today, the 10 largest have assets of more than $1.7 billion, a 415 percent increase.

One area credit union had assets of more than $100 million in 1995, but now nine in northwest Ohio and two in southeast Michigan do.

However, the area has fewer credit unions, 73 this year, down from 92 in 1995.

The same is true throughout Ohio, according to the trade agency. There were 514 Ohio-based credit unions in mid-2006, compared with 699 at the end of 1995.

Mr. McGrady, 64, predicted that trend will accelerate as small and medium-sized institutions merge to create enough of an asset base to broaden their services.

The 40 credit unions in metro Toledo will likely shrink to half that number in five years, he added.

The growth of his credit union began in 1981, when it installed an in-house computer system that enabled the credit union to offer certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, checking accounts, credit cards, home loans, and money market accounts, Mr. McGrady said.

It also enabled the credit union to absorb eight smaller ones in the 1980s.

By 1989, the organization took the name Toledo Area Catholic Credit Union, and in 2000 the state granted a community charter, allowing even greater expansion.

Its biggest expansion came a year ago, when it absorbed Empire Affiliates Credit Union in Mansfield, which had assets of $135 million.

Mr. McGrady believes that more credit unions will go the merger route in the future to get to an asset level of at least $300 million to be more competitive.

Contact Homer Brickey at:

homerbrickey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.

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