Ohio CUs Experiment With Branch

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When Credit Union of Ohio opens the doors of its newest branch in Grove City here it will include office space for a BMI FCU employee to work full time.

According to officials with both credit unions, this shared branch partnership is the first of its kind in the state.

"We heard that CU of Ohio was planning to open a new branch in the Southwestern part of Ohio," said Sharon Custer, CEO of the $200-million BMI FCU. "It's an area where we have members, but not enough to justify a branch today."

With both CUs already part of the shared branch network, the agreement seemed like a logical next step, she said.

Typically, most members who use a facility that's part of shared branching network conduct teller transactions. But, in this case, members of BMI FCU can also open new accounts and apply for loans at the CU of Ohio branch.

Susan Birkhimer, President/CEO at the $80-million CU of Ohio, said the arrangement is beneficial to everybody involved. "BMI's members can do loans and open new accounts here and CU of Ohio will get all the benefit of interchange revenues from shared branching transactions on the teller side," she said.

Neither Custer nor Birkhimer expressed the slightest bit of concern about the overlaps in FOMs.

"While there is an overlap-someone can be an employee of one of our SEGS and live in one of their geographical areas-we don't see it as an issue," Custer said. "We have always been so respectful of each other's memberships and the reality is that people can and do belong to other credit unions."

The lease agreement is good for one year, Custer said, enough time for her board to test the market in that area.

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