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FORUM Credit Union has opened a 620-seat conference center as part of a $25-million expansion plan that will triple the size of its headquarters.

The opening of the conference center completed the first phase of the 155,000-square-foot facility that will expand FORUM's building space from 45,000 square feet and include 20,000 square feet of prime retail space.

"We have already had three or four events in conference center since we opened on Nov. 1," said Andrew Mattingly, SVP of Marketing at FORUM CU. "There was an evening reception for employees, a small sit-down dinner and a couple of wedding receptions."

He said several businesses have already reserved the space for all-day meetings. And, starting in December, he said, the Fishers Chamber of Commerce plans to hold its monthly luncheons there.

Prior to the conference center opening, Mattingly said, the largest space available to the local community seated only 175 people.

"City officials see this as a another asset for their community," he said.

Mattingly said the credit union also expects the center to serve as a marketing tool to help CUs forge relationships with business people.

"While there is a lot of meeting space in downtown Indianapolis, that's a 45-minute drive from here," Mattingly said, explaining that the new conference center is conveniently located on USA Parkway and the I-69 Corridor in the very affluent Hamilton area.

"We have lots of hotels around here that are growing and looking for space close by that they can use to attract business," he said. "This is a very competitive market that includes a couple of large credit unions and several regional players. It makes everybody be really sharp."

FORUM (formerly Indiana Telco) moved to the Fishers location in 1991, expecting enough room to grow for at least 20 years.

"By 2000, we had outgrown it," Mattingly said. "We had to send 45 employees off-site to work and we had no room for training classes."

The expansion, which includes renovation of the original building and several new structures with corridors linking them, is targeted for completion in May. With the new buildings completed, Mattingly said, crews will get started on the existing building.

"Our plan was to expand the campus large enough so we could rent out some of the space, bring back those 45 employees and hopefully have plenty of room for growth."

FORUM CU has $850 million in assets and about 80,000 members.

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