Redwood CU Teams With Horizon Air To Bring Commercial Air Service To Community

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - This Northern California community soon will have commercial air service for the first time since shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, thanks in part to Redwood Credit Union's campaign to gather pledge travel dollars toward Horizon Air flights.

Redwood, a community CU serving eight counties north of San Francisco, said beginning in March, Horizon will offer two daily round-trip flights to Los Angeles, and one daily round-trip to Seattle. Anne Benjamin, Redwood CU's executive vice president and chief operations officer, told the Credit Union Journal in the wake of the attacks involving hijacked airliners, and the subsequent decline in the number of air travelers, the airlines pulled back from many routes-including those using the nearby Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.

"This is a beautiful community, but we have had no air service since 9/11," she said. "Business travelers have to drive at least 90 minutes one-way to the nearest airport, in San Francisco, Oakland or Sacramento. Having air service would be a significant benefit for local businesses."

The Redwood CU program, which is offered in conjunction with the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, allows local businesses to establish a no-fee dividend-bearing checking account, with a $1,000 minimum balance, to be used toward airline ticket purchases on Horizon Air. The CU will issue custom, co-branded RCU/Horizon debit cards to be used to access the deposited funds.

Individuals are allowed to participate in the program, but Redwood is trying to get to a goal of $500,000 and therefore is targeting businesses.

"We are trying to show support for Horizon Air," she explained. "I have not seen another credit union do something like this, but Redwood is a strong community supporter and this is good for the community."

The CU's financial investment consists of the design of the debit card and setting up the account, Benjamin said. Redwood is promoting it through its newsletter and Website, and placing a "bug," or tag, onto its existing first quarter marketing pieces. The return, Benjamin said, will be the opportunity to serve many area companies. "We have a business services department, and this program shows we are committed and want to earn their business."

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