It's turning out to be a busy spring for STCU in the Sandpoint area.
Ten years after opening its Bonner County Branch, the region's favorite credit union will move in June into a larger and more convenient new home. Since mid-winter, travelers on U.S. Highway 95 have watched construction progress at Kootenai Cutoff Road, where Payless ShoeSource once stood.
At the same time, the credit union is preparing to welcome new Sandpoint-area members from Banner Bank. Pending regulatory approval, Banner and STCU have agreed that the credit union will provide a new home for the Banner clients. We anticipate that happening in August.
STCU and Banner have requested state and federal approval for the sale of the clients' accounts. It would be unusual for regulators to prevent such a conversion, since they typically find that it's in the best interest of the clients.
"Once approval is granted, we will make this conversion as seamless as possible for Banner Bank clients," said Ezra Eckhardt, STCU president and CEO. "The timing couldn't be better, with the opening of our new Bonner branch location. It's an exciting time for us in North Idaho, and we can't wait to show our new members everything that makes STCU a great financial partner."
Eckhardt noted that STCU has been through this process before, with 2003's friendly acquisition of a Wheatland Bank branch in Cheney, Wash.
All of Banner's Sandpoint team will be offered employment at STCU.
Banks and credit unions offer many of the same services. If the transaction is approved, the new STCU members will find that their Banner accounts align well with similar accounts at STCU. Like Banner, the credit union offers an array of savings and lending products, home loans, rewards and conventional credit cards, and more. As with banks, credit union accounts are federally insured.
STCU also serves businesses and public agencies, with commercial real estate and business loans, credit cards, lines of credit, and loans for new equipment, vehicles, or inventory. Businesses also turn to the credit union for cash management tools.
The primary difference is one of structure. STCU is a not-for-profit cooperative that is owned by members, who elect a board of directors.
Since opening the Bonner County Branch in 2009, STCU has immersed itself in the community, playing a key role in the annual Bulldog Finance Fair that helps high-school seniors learn to better manage their money, and offering free financial workshops for adults. Like Banner Bank, STCU provides its employees 16 hours of paid time off to serve non-profit organizations and schools.
The credit union supports back-to-school events for public school employees, has supported STCU employees attending Leadership Sandpoint, is active in the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, and has provided significant financial gifts to organizations such as the Sandpoint Youth Center, Panhandle Animal Shelter, and others.
"At STCU, `Here for good' isn't an empty slogan," Eckhardt said. "It's our promise as an organization. We do our best to live it every day, with every member interaction, and in our service to the community."
Bonner County was the first Idaho county added to STCU's field of membership in 2002. Today, STCU has five Idaho branch locations, with a sixth expected to open this year in Rathdrum. Membership is open to anyone in North Idaho or Washington.
Founded by educators in 1934, STCU has 23 branch locations in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. In addition, STCU members can access their accounts through a network of nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. STCU's 200,000 members also enjoy 24-hour access to online banking and the STCU mobile app.