Job No. 1 In Serving Low-Income Area: Finding Prospects

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Communicators Credit Union Marketing Director Shelly Horan knows they're out there-at least 500,00 underserved people living in Central Houston.

CCU wants to help them. But first, she said, it has to find them. Horan will be at The Credit Union Journal's fourth annual SEG/Business Development Conference in March in San Diego to share the plan CCU is using to expand into low-income communities.

"I want to make sure the presentation provides (the audience) information they can implement,'' she said. "I want to send them back to their own credit unions with something they can do.''

CCU, with $176-million in assets, received its new charter to serve low-income communities in 2001, Horan reported, adding that its staff spent the first year learning about the people and their needs. This year, it will launch an aggressive push to get their business.

"We have a pretty big projected growth," Horan said. "The estimation is that we will hit the $200 million mark this year.''

Its plan to get there includes the following:

* Radio and small newspaper advertising. That includes seeking out chambers of commerce, small business communities and luxury apartment complexes, all of which might have in-house newsletters.

* With the help of area non-profit agencies, chambers of commerce, and minority groups, Horan said, CCU expects to identify some low-income areas of the city. In addition, it hopes to partner with some of the agencies to provide financial services to their clients. Communicators CU already has strong ties to the city's Hispanic Chamber, she said.

A Minor Kink

* She added that the CU would also seek partnerships with existing for-profit SEGs who are also active in the community.

Horan said there is one minor kink that puts portions of the community outreach plan on hold.

"With the new charter, we felt that Communicators Credit Union no longer fit,'' she said. "It's hard enough having to explain it to our SEGs (many of whom are outside the communications industry).''

CCU was founded to serve telephone company employees and later added cable companies and other types of communication outlets along with many medical-related businesses.

An outside consultant has been hired to help the CU come up with a new name and identity that suits its membership culture and community. She expects it to be announced in April.

The Conference Skinny

WHAT: The CU Journal's SEG & Business Development Conference

WHEN: March 10-11

WHERE: Westin Horton Plaza, San Diego

FOR INFO: Visit www.cujournal.com or call 888-832-2929.

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