MUSKEGON – A new branch office under construction in Muskegon will be the fifth location in the lake market for Community Choice Credit Unionwhich plans to expand its West Michigan presence in the next year.
Farmington Hills-based Community Choice wants to expand further in the area by forming new partnerships or acquiring small credit unions in markets along Lake Michigan and in the Grand Rapids area.
“We’re definitely not done in West Michigan,” COO Dan Munro said MyBiz. “We would love to grow not only more on the shoreline, but to get into Grand Rapids and continue to expand in the Western Michigan area. We are committed to the market.”
Community Credit Union, with a charter for membership open to anyone who works or lives in Michigan, has 24 offices in the state, most of them in Southeast Michigan. The credit union currently has three offices in the Muskegon area and one in Holland.
The new Harvey Street office, targeted to open next spring, provides a “super convenient” location for Community Choice customers in the market, Munro said.
All West Michigan locations were acquired through mergers with smaller credit unions, including the former Shoreline Federal Credit Union in 2017 and First General Credit Union in 2021, both in Muskegon. Community Choice acquired the Holland office in 2015 through a merger with Wyandotte-based NuPath Credit Union.
The Shoreline and NuPath deals both started as partnerships that led to mergers. At NuPath, Community Choice provided leadership when the credit union’s CEO retired and the interim leader “asked us to help,” Munro said. Community Choice provides Shoreline with administrative support when the credit union experiences financial difficulties.
Starting with the NuPath office in Holland, “our intention is to build a cluster of locations around that,” Munro said.
Community Choice remains open to similar arrangements with other small credits in the West Michigan market, including through some form of partnership that could lead to a merger. Credit unions may also look to buy former bank branch offices that have closed as banks change their physical footprints given the steady growth in digital banking, Munro said.
In looking to build the next market presence in West Michigan, Community Choice wants to diversify its membership across the country and drive organic growth in the region, Munro said. The credit union may add a location in West Michigan, as Community Choice fills its footprint between the market and the nearest location in Jackson, he added, noting that “we think the greater Grand Rapids area really connects that as well.”
“We want to expand the outer perimeter of the area we have now,” Munro said. “The vision is to continue to be open to mergers and partnerships, being open to the acquisition of new branches for locations that match our retail growth strategy.”
Since 2007, Community Choice has been involved in nine mergers, Munro said. Growth in West Michigan could be “much faster” through the merger, he said.
In Muskegon, Community Choice acquired a 2.5-acre site for the new Harvey Street location as part of the First Public merger last year, Munro said. Community Choice is investing more than $2.5 million to develop a retail building with four units, one of which will serve as a new branch office. Grand Rapids based Wolverine Building Group Inc. is acting as a contractor on the project.
Community Choice ranks as the 12th largest credit union in Michigan by assets. As of Sept. 30, the credit union had $1.73 billion in total assets and $1.53 billion in total deposits, according to quarterly financial reports to the National Credit Union Administration.
Loans totaled $1.29 billion at the end of the third quarter, including $230 million in commercial loans that increased more than 17 percent from a year earlier.
The credit union’s commercial loans include participating in marijuana-related businesses, Munro said. Community Choice has yet to secure a foothold among cannabis businesses in West Michigan, “so we’re very keen on that,” he said. “We’re wide open to that.”