A Street Car Stop Reflects Desire

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Tampa Bay FCU found a way to support one of its SEGs, get involved in its community and get its name out to the public all in one fell swoop: the CU purchased the naming rights to a streetcar station stop.

As the local public transportation authority is one of its SEGs, and the station is in the newly revitalized area of historic Ybor City, TBFCU saw the trolley car stop as a triple opportunity.

"We saw it as a way to support the community's efforts, help out one of our SEGs and it gets our name out to the public," said CEO Dale Schumacher. "We're always keeping our ear to the pavement for opportunities to help the community and our SEG groups."

The 10-year agreement cost the CU a total of $100,000, and in all likelihood, TBFCU will continue to re-up the agreement in the future, Schumacher said.

"We're not a tiny credit union in a tiny city, but at $230 million in assets, we're the fourth largest credit union in the city and the seventh in the metro area, which makes us a relatively small player to a lot of people here. We're an unknown. So, we have to work hard to get our name out," he told The Credit Union Journal. "We need to seize opportunities to get our name to the public. We can't afford to name a stadium, so we have to find affordable means of getting the name out and getting that extra visibility."

TBFCU considered purchasing a trolley car, but at $250,000 it was too expensive. For that matter, the naming of the trolley line itself was also up for bid, but as the cost was in the millions of dollars, Tampa Electric Company snapped that sponsorship up, dubbing it the TECO Line.

But Tampa Bay FCU has looked at other "mobile advertising options" and already has a PT Cruiser that's been "wrapped" in TBFCU's logo, and the credit union is getting ready to unveil a double-decker bus that has been similarly "wrapped" as well.

Monitoring and measuring such brand awareness efforts is tricky, but the CU is working on that, too, having conducted a recent survey to get a feel for the public's awareness of TBFCU.

"We haven't gotten that survey data back, yet," Schumacher noted. "But we also look at how we grow our membership relative to other credit unions in the area and across the nation, and where most others are at about 3.5%, ours is closer to 7%, so we must be doing something right. As far as how much the trolley stop is contributing to that goes, it's just too early to tell."

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