As the latest exponent to heighten its profile on the Central Oregon financial front, OnPoint Community Credit Union is making a bold statement of intent with the almost simultaneous opening of three branches in Deschutes County.
The largest credit union in the state, with assets of some $2.8 billion and over 209,000 members, OnPoint has unveiled two new offices in Bend – including a landmark downtown site – and one in Redmond, with grand opening events to follow over the next week.
Central Oregon Vice President and Regional Manager Paul Stednitz – familiar to Central Oregonians after 14 years as a senior executive with the former Liberty Bank – said: “We have been looking at growing in Deschutes County for quite a while as part of our investment and expansion in the Pacific Northwest.
“We already have around 5,000 members in the area and wanted to bring the added convenience of local offices as well as expanding our presence for potential new members.” The new branches will also create 26 jobs out of a total workforce of 430.
OnPoint has been in existence for over 70 years, originally founded in 1932 as the Portland Teachers Credit Union – when sixteen schoolteachers gathered to create a safe place to save their money and to provide low-cost loans for those looking to build a better life.
From its original focus on the educational community, the name was changed in 2005 after the granting of a community charter allowed membership to be opened up to anyone living or working in areas served – which now encompasses 10 counties in Oregon and two in Washington. Relatives of existing members are also eligible to join.
As with other credit unions, OnPoint offers a wide range of banking, investment and other financial services and is set up on a member-owned – rather than shareholder-driven – basis, with equal voting rights for each regarding election of a volunteer board of directors.
Serving members as opposed to investors is a core principle that credit union operators say separates them from large multi-national financial institutions.
“Given that we are not shareholder or profit-driven, we are able to create value and pass on savings in terms of competitive rates and so forth,” added Stednitz. “We offer predominantly the same products as conventional banks, but the way we deliver is different.
“We have low fee structures and are also able to make local decisions and give quick responses.”
Consumer financing products and home loans are a major component for OnPoint, which is also the state’s number one auto lender, but it has also made strides in the business lending arena.
“Credit unions have been in business lending for about a decade, but we started offering business deposit accounts about a year ago as we wanted to grow our consumer base first,” commented OnPoint Senior Vice President/Marketing and Member Services Kelly Schrader.
“We are coming to this market able to offer unique opportunities including to the business community, especially in light of our strong capital position in terms of being able to make loans.
“Another great advantage in hiring Paul and his team is that they already have a well established presence and reputation here in Central Oregon.”
Schrader said OnPoint is also part of the ‘money-pass’ program which allows members to use U.S. Bank’s ATM network.
She also observed that there was something of a general movement to raise awareness of credit unions and their potential benefits, tailored to different needs and customer aspirations.
Stednitz added that community involvement and investment was an important principle for OnPoint, which has already committed to several local sponsorships, including the Bend Winterfest, Opportunity Knocks annual meeting, Jingle Bell Run and the Tools for Schools program.
A high-profile enduring presence as the first credit union in downtown Bend was also acknowledged, with the move to the former Washington Mutual branch, on the corner of Wall and Oregon, which has been remodeled as a more consumer-oriented location.
“We want to show our commitment to being here for the long haul and investing where we can make a difference,” said Schrader.
“We became the largest credit union in Oregon one member at a time. Our member base is very loyal and many people in Central Oregon have already expressed how glad they are to see us expand here.”
The new OnPoint downtown Bend branch at 950 NW Bond Street will celebrate its grand opening on September 17 from 9am to 4pm, with similar events for Redmond (1380 SW Canal Boulevard, Suite 105) on September 21 and the South Bend location (61276 S. Highway 97, Suite 100) September 24. All the grand opening events will feature food and prizes.