MUSKEGON — A new branch under construction in Muskegon will become the fifth location in the waterfront market for Community Choice Credit Unionwhich plans to expand its presence in western Michigan in the coming years.
Community Choice, based in Farmington Hills, wants to expand further in the area by forming new partnerships or acquiring smaller credit unions in markets along Lake Michigan and in the Grand Rapids area.
“We’re definitely not done in West Michigan,” COO Dan Munro said. MyBiz. “We would like to not only expand more on the coast, but also enter Grand Rapids and continue to expand in that area of western Michigan. We are tied to the market.
Community Choice Credit Union, with a charter for an area of membership open to anyone who works or lives in Michigan, has 24 offices in the state, primarily in southeast Michigan. The credit union currently has three offices in the Muskegon area and one in Holland.
The new Harvey Street office, slated to open next spring, provides a “super convenient” location for Community Choice 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 longtime CEO retired and an interim executive “asked us to come in and help,” Munro said. Community Choice provided administrative support to Shoreline when the credit union ran into 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 agreements with other smaller credits in the West Michigan market, including through some form of partnership that could lead to a merger. The credit union could also look to buy old bank branches that have closed, as many banks change their physical footprint given the continued growth of digital banking, Munro said.
In seeking to build its 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 its footprint between the market and its closest location in Jackson, he added, noting that “we believe the greater area of Grand Rapids really connects those two as well.”
“We want to expand to the outer perimeter of the areas we currently have,” Munro said. “The vision is to continue to be open to mergers and partnerships, to 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 be “much faster” through mergers, he said.
In Muskegon, Community Choice secured 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 over $2.5 million to develop a four-unit commercial building, one of which will house the new branch. Based in Grand Rapids Wolverine construction group inc. is the project contractor.
Community Choice ranks 12th among credit unions 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 which were up more than 17% from a year earlier.
The credit union’s business loans include pursuing cannabis-related businesses, Munro said. Community Choice has yet to gain a foothold among cannabis businesses in West Michigan, “so we’re really looking forward to getting into that,” he said. “We are open to that.”
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