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Published: Friday, 9/10/2010

New credit union puts focus on Hispanic community

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The Nuevo Esperanza - New Hope - Community Credit Union on Broadway will be geared to the Hispanic community. The Nuevo Esperanza - New Hope - Community Credit Union on Broadway will be geared to the Hispanic community.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

A group of Hispanic, community, and business leaders are about to launch a new community credit union in Toledo's Old South End, the first new credit union in Ohio in nearly a decade.

Nueva Esperanza - or New Hope - Community Credit Union will open for business within the next several weeks, its leaders say, and could be in its own building by year's end.

The institution is expected to open with $1.3 million in deposits and about $180,000 in start-up capital, and will cater to customers who live, work, worship, or volunteer in and near Toledo's Old South End.

The effort to establish a credit union that would cater to the city's Latino community has been talked about for almost 10 years, but began in earnest in late 2006, Jessica Hernandez, the credit union's vice president, said. "In the south end, besides Charter Bank, there's not a financial institution in [that neighborhood]," Ms. Hernandez, who also owns Hernandez Insurance in South Toledo, explained.

She said a credit union is a key tool to bring financial education and opportunities to a community that is often skeptical of financial institutions because of cultural or language barriers.

"There are a lot of unbanked and underbanked Latino people. They don't trust a lot of people, especially those that don't speak their own language," Ms. Hernandez said. "A lot of people in the community are unfamiliar with the services that a credit union can offer them."

For several years, community leaders sought to raise funds to capitalize the new credit union, and they received significant donations from a number of local private and community founda-tions, Barry Shaner, president of Directions Credit Union, said. He has been working with Nueva Esperanza's incorporators since late 2006.

"We had a total of about 30 or more businesses and individuals that donated capital funds to this effort," Mr. Shaner said. "We're building a whole lot of new, well-educated, knowledgeable financial services users, and I don't think that hurts anybody. We're going to be serving a lot of people down there that I don't think many credit unions have been able to serve."

As the new credit union launches, Directions will provide "back-room" support services, such as accounting and information technology, until the new institution gets on its feet, Mr. Shaner said.

In June, the board of the new credit union hired its first employee: Sue Cuevas, who most recently worked with Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Archbold, Ohio, was hired as chief executive officer of Nueva Esperanza.

Ms. Cuevas, who was unavailable Thursday for comment, temporarily will work out of the Champion Federal Credit Union branch near the intersection of Detroit and Glendale avenues until Nueva Esperanza opens its permanent office at 1638 Broadway.

Nueva Esperanza is the first new credit union chartered in Ohio since 2001, when Stark Metro Housing Authority Federal Credit Union was federally chartered.

However, it is the first state-chartered credit union in Ohio since 1994, when Kent State Student Credit Union opened.

The most recent credit union chartered in the Toledo area was in 1996, when the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union was opened, Patrick Harris, a spokesman for the Ohio Credit Union League, said.

Like banks, most credit union deposits are insured up to $250,000; however, the insurance is provided through the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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