CoVantage Credit Union was recently awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Treasury's Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund. CDFI grants help mission-driven financial institutions like CoVantage support economically disadvantaged communities. The purpose of the CDFI grant awarded to CoVantage is to allow the credit union to finance commercial real estate loans focused on the rehabilitation of blighted and/or vacant properties. The goal is to both strengthen individual businesses and improve deteriorating conditions of local downtown areas.
Once completed, CoVantage anticipates that the buildings financed through this program will have significantly-increased property values, which will positively affect the values of surrounding commercial properties and encourage further physical improvements. The financed improvements will contribute to job retention and creation as businesses are able to expand and more vibrant business communities develop.
CoVantage will offer the program until the grant is exhausted, and will continue to expand commercial lending services in the communities served. Business owners interested in learning about the many commercial financing programs available from CoVantage Credit Union may contact a Commercial Lender at any CoVantage branch or call 715-627-4336 or 800-398-2667, ext. 1125.
In addition to the above grant, over the past 7 years, CoVantage has received a total of $5.5 million in CDFI grants. These funds have allowed the credit union to assist over 150 families and businesses by providing affordable financing which helped some stay in their home after being at risk of foreclosure, others purchased a first home or financed repairs to make their home more livable, and a number of businesses were started or expanded which saved or created 250+ jobs. According to Charlie Zanayed, CEO of CoVantage Credit Union, "Our ability to obtain CDFI grants have enhanced the credit union's mission of serving those experiencing financial challenge while remaining financially strong. We are excited to offer this new commercial rehabilitation loan program to help build stronger communities."
On July 31 members of CentralAlliance Credit Union voted overwhelmingly in favor of the decision to merge with CoVantage Credit Union. The merger had already been approved by regulators. With the recent positive vote by CentralAlliance members, which was the final approval needed to move forward, the two financial cooperatives are planning the merger to be effective January 1, 2019.
Founded in 1934, CentralAlliance Credit Union serves approximately 5,200 members and has assets of nearly $80 million. According to Tonni Larson, CEO of CentralAlliance, "The staff, along with myself and our board of directors, see this as a wonderful opportunity for our members and for our community. CoVantage shares the same beliefs that we do – of service, value, and commitment to improving the lives of members and employees well into the future. There will be many benefits of membership in this larger credit union, including a wider variety of products and services."
Charlie Zanayed, President/CEO of CoVantage Credit Union, shared Larson's excitement in bringing the two financial cooperatives together, saying, "We are humbled and thankful for this opportunity, and look forward to being able to serve the communities of Neenah, Appleton, and Menasha with branch locations and state-of-the art technologies. We feel CoVantage has a lot to offer the members and the communities served by CentralAlliance Credit Union, including great rates and low fees; a full line of loan and deposit services for personal and business use; an extensive network of ATMs; 7 am to 7 pm Contact Center hours; and more. In addition, CoVantage member-owners have a history of benefiting from the success of their cooperative through patronage, a program similar to CentralAlliance's Loan Rewards Program. Last year was the 36th consecutive year CoVantage directors authorized patronage to borrowers and savers, and it amounted to over $3 million being returned directly to members."
All three former CentralAlliance offices will remain open with new, expanded office hours and all staff will remain employed with CoVantage.