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Community Choice CU eyes continued expansion in West Michigan market

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MUSKEGON — A new branch office under construction in Muskegon will become the fifth location in the lakeshore market for Community Choice Credit Union, which plans to broaden its West Michigan presence in the years ahead. 

The Farmington Hills-based Community Choice wants to expand further in the region by forming new partnerships or acquiring smaller credit unions in markets along Lake Michigan and in the Grand Rapids area. 

“We’re certainly not done in West Michigan,” COO Dan Munro told MiBiz. “We would love to grow not only more on the shoreline, but to get into Grand Rapids and continue to expand in that Western Michigan area. We’re committed to the marketplace.”

Community Choice Credit Union, with a charter for a field of membership that’s open to anyone who works or lives in Michigan, has 24 offices in the state, mostly in Southeast Michigan. The credit union presently has three offices in the Muskegon area and one in Holland.

The new Harvey Street office, targeted to open next spring, provides a “super convenient” location for Community Choice’s customers in the market, Munro said.

All of the West Michigan locations were acquired through mergers with smaller credit unions, including the former Shoreline Federal Credit Union in 2017 and First General Credit Union in 2021, both in Muskegon. Community Choice acquired the Holland office in 2015 through the merger with Wyandotte-based NuPath Credit Union.

The Shoreline and NuPath deals both started as partnerships that led to mergers. In NuPath, Community Choice provided leadership when the credit union’s long-time CEO retired and an interim leader “asked us to come and help out,” Munro said. Community Choice provided Shoreline administrative support when the credit union had financial difficulties.

Starting with the NuPath office in Holland, “our intention was to build a cluster of locations around that,” Munro said.

Community Choice remains open to similar arrangements with other smaller credits in the West Michigan market, including through some form of partnership that could lead to a merger. The credit union also may look to buy former bank branch offices that have closed as many banks alter their physical footprints given the steady growth in digital banking, Munro said. 

In looking to build a further market presence in West Michigan, Community Choice wants to diversify its membership across the state and drive organic growth in the region, Munro said. The credit union could add locations in West Michigan, as Community Choice fills in its footprint between the market and its nearest location in Jackson, he added, noting that “we think the greater Grand Rapids area really connects those two as well.” 

“We want to expand on the outer perimeter of areas that we have right now,” Munro said. “The vision is to continue to be open to mergers and partnerships, be open new branch acquisitions for locations that fit our retail growth strategy.”

Since 2007, Community Choice has been involved in nine mergers, Munro said. Growth in West Michigan could come “a lot faster” through mergers, he said.

In Muskegon, Community Choice gained the 2.5-acre site for the new Harvey Street location as part of last year’s First General merger, Munro said. Community Choice is investing more than $2.5 million to develop a retail building with four units, one of which will house the new branch office. Grand Rapids-based Wolverine Building Group Inc. is serving as the contractor on the project.

Community Choice ranks as the 12th largest credit union in Michigan by assets. As of Sept. 30, the credit union had $1.73 billion in total assets and total deposits of $1.53 billion, according to a quarterly financial report to the National Credit Union Administration.

Loans totaled $1.29 billion at the end of the third quarter, including $230 million in commercial loans that grew more than 17 percent from a year earlier.

The credit union’s commercial lending includes pursuing cannabis-related businesses, Munro said. Community Choice has yet to secure a foothold among cannabis businesses in West Michigan, “so we’re really eager to get into that,” he said. “We’re wide open for that.” 

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