Why is it important to provide this to members transitioning out of the military?
RS: Our community is not a destination point for young people — they are more likely to move to a large city. When we have members or local people who are retiring from the military, they want to stay local because they like it here. Many times, they want to create a business and find a way to hire people. This adds so much to our community, it just makes sense to partner and help veterans looking to do that.
Do you have any success stories you’re willing to share?
RS: We had a member who was transitioning out of the military after 28 years. He wanted to start a running store in Elizabethtown, KY, which is close to our main office. He needed an SBA loan to build up his inventory. It was a small loan, not something a bank would normally do, but we wanted to help him. A few years later he wanted to buy a building in downtown Elizabethtown to be a part of that area’s revitalization. We gave him a regular commercial loan at that point and he continues to be successful.
Today, he talks at our veteran’s entrepreneur training programs. We recently had a state representative in one of our branches, and our member came in that day and talked to the state representative about the impact credit unions have and what they are about.
These are small loans, but this is exactly the business we should be in to make a difference for our members.
CU QUICK FACTS
Fort Knox FCU
HQ: Radcliff, KY
Data as of 12.31.17
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 6.7%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 8.3%
How else does Fort Knox FCU connect with the community?
RS: We are always partnering with community groups to build connections in our area and to help make a difference.
We’ve partnered with a regional hospital group that runs hospitals in roughly the same markets where we have branches. We created a “Check Your Numbers” program with the group. It brought a bus to one of our branches so people could check their cholesterol and their credit at the same time.
We also connected with a group called Feeding America. We have a cash-back credit card program, and for a time we ran a co-branded promotion that gave 3.5% back on groceries. We also put into place a donation program that helped generate donations and communicated the value of our credit card.
We had a member who wanted to start a running store. It was a small loan, but we wanted to help him. A few years later he wanted to buy a building downtown to be a part of that area’s revitalization.
How does Fort Knox FCU measure the success of its community efforts?
RS: We tend to look at financial performance measures. We are disbursing about $300 million per year in loans in our communities. We are donating another $50,000 each year directly to a veterans group. We regularly work on base to provide financial literacy training, which includes a special welcome program for new base personnel.
For how that results in success for the credit union, we look at market share in the three counties around Fort Knox [Bullitt, Hardin, and Meade], which are more concentrated with military members. We have a little more than 20% of the insured deposit market share in those counties, the highest market share of any local financial institution.
What advice or best practices have you gleaned from Fort Knox FCU’s community work?
RS: Our story isn’t just about what we do for our veterans, even though we do a ton. It’s more about the ways we try to connect local organizations to make the community a better place.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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