LOWELL — U.S. Representative Lori Trahan joined Workers Credit Union President and CEO Doug Petersen and Assistant Vice President Doug Reedy on Wednesday to announce $150 million in federal funding for the credit union.
The funding is being allocated through the U.S. Treasury’s Emergency Capital Investment Program and will allow WCU to increase lending to low- and middle-income people and traditionally underserved, minority-owned small businesses.
“With this federal funding, Workers Credit Union can expand its proven, effective, individualized efforts to support families and small businesses in need of assistance,” Trahan said.
The WCU located at 1201 Bridge St. is the newest and largest of the company’s 17 Massachusetts branches. The six employees here and the 350 company-wide are not so much bankers as financial coaches helping low-to-middle income members achieve financial success.
Although technically a bank, they do not sell products to WCU. Rather, they invest in relationships because, according to Reedy, “they are people in our community and it feels good to help our neighbors.”
This principle is the basis of WCU’s growing success. Each member receives personalized assistance, using simple strategies and methods, to overcome challenges such as bad credit, starting a business, obtaining mortgages and car loans. By improving the financial stability of individuals, the community as a whole benefits.
“The programs supported by this funding will strengthen our local economy and build on the progress we have made in addressing economic inequality. Small businesses and the workers who run them are the backbone of the Third District,” Trahan said. “And this federal investment is for them. This is exactly the type of project I envisioned when I voted to create and fund this program last year.
The layout of the interior reflects the connection employees have with their 120,000 members across the state. From the hologram to the welcome kiosk that welcomes each visitor, to the live assistant on the ATM screen, to the digital display screens that members interact with upon arrival, to the configuration of the Restaurant style inside private meeting booths, this is no ordinary bank.
It’s this extraordinary approach that has helped WCU become one of the largest credit unions in the state, now with $2.4 billion in assets.
“We were in a unique position,” Petersen said. “The objective is to transform these 150 million dollars into three, four or five hundred million by exploiting them in the form of loans.”
Federal funding announced Wednesday will allow WCU to provide financial services to those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing access to critical resources to stay afloat.
WCU also offers community services such as its “Workers Way” program, which offers personalized financial coaching at no additional cost. Certified financial coaches meet members one-on-one to help those with little or no financial management experience. Reedy himself has led more than 150 such nominations.
“We are delighted to receive these funds. This program will allow WCU to fund even more loans to low-to-moderate income individuals and small businesses,” Petersen said.
“Seventy percent of the loans we give go to people and businesses in need, which is why we were chosen for this program,” he said. “It’s the perfect foundation for WCU’s commitment to improving the daily lives of our members through financial well-being and improving the economic health of the communities where they live.”