NCUA OK's Broad TIP Charter Along Mid-Atlantic Coast

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In one of the broadest fields of membership ever granted a federal credit union, NCUA announced last week it has approved a new TIP charter for IR FCU to serve all civilian federal government employees and their family members throughout the mid-Atlantic corridor, in metropolitan Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, and all the way up to New Jersey.

While many credit unions serve federal agencies or groups of federal agencies, IR FCU is the first one authorized to serve all federal agencies-within a defined geographic area.

The TIP charter, for trade, industry or profession, will allow the $200-million credit union, based in the Washington suburb of Lanham and about 20 miles south of Baltimore, to serve as many as 1 million people-including 425,000 federal workers and their families-in 40 counties in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Officials with the credit union, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, were excited by the precedent-setting charter.

"We're thrilled beyond words. This allows us to serve a whole new market," said David Bunch, president of IR FCU.

Bunch said he met with NCUA officials more than two years ago, soon after the agency approved the new TIP concept, to discuss how it may be incorporated into the credit union's field of membership, which had begun to slow its growth in its core base. "We were looking at some national options because we were born from the IRS in 1935," he said. "We really are proud of our past and we're so excited about our future," said Bunch.

Along with the IRS, the CU was serving eight other federal agencies and more than 50 select groups, most of them local companies.

Expansion of branches and other brick-and-mortar will be slow and deliberate, said Bunch, of capital plans that included the recent move from nearby Riverdale, Md., to new headquarters in Lanham.

"We have to be able to support what we're doing," he said. The new headquarters, he noted, is strategically located between Washington and Baltimore where there is one of the highest concentrations of federal workers in the country.

Plans include a local area advertising campaign to explain the new eligibility options for federal employees, which will begin shortly. A name change is expected down the road but has not been contemplated yet, said Bunch.

NCUA also approved three other TIP charters last month, for: Illinois State Police FCU, Springfield, Ill., to serve all police and related employees in Illinois; Rushmore Electric FCU, Rapid City, S.D., to serve the power industry in South Dakota and Wyoming; and Hawaii State FCU, Honolulu, to serve all state and local government agencies in Hawaii.

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