Carol Cain Free Press Business Columnist
Published 6:30 AM EST Nov 10, 2018
What’s in a name? An awful lot of history if you’re One Detroit Credit Union.
The financial institution began in 1935 when a group of Detroit newspaper employees felt ignored by area banks and banded together to form the Detroit Newspaper Industrial Credit Union. In the 1970s, the financial institution’s reach began to expand and include members from radio, television and printing industries. Hence the name was changed to Communicating Arts Credit Union.
Fueled by ongoing growth of noncommunication industry members and more business from folks in the neighborhoods, the institution in 2015 again changed its name to One Detroit Credit Union.
To keep up with growth, late next year, it is going to move its longtime headquarters on Howard Street to 10201 E. Jefferson, one block east of Pewabic Pottery.
“We’ve nearly outgrown our Howard Street headquarters and have been considering alternatives for the past year or so,” said Hank Hubbard, president and CEO of One Detroit Credit Union. “Early on in our search, we decided to focus our efforts on neighborhoods where access to credible financial services was limited. We figured that there are plenty of financial services in Midtown and the Central Business District. Our inclusionary vision of how Detroit should be really drove that decision to go where people live.”
The credit union purchased a building in the Villages area and will begin the process of refurbishing it into a banking branch and headquarters.
“There is one bank within a 5-mile circle around our new location, which basically makes it a banking desert,” added Hubbard.” “Our last two branches were chosen for a similar reason,” and the credit union remains the only financial institution in Highland Park.
Those two branches are 15123 Woodward in Highland Park and 14740 Mack in Detroit.
Hubbard said choosing where to open a branch is “remarkably difficult” because few places within the Detroit city limits have good access to a financial institution.
“The way we narrowed it down is by using the city’s strategic neighborhoods as a starting point. These are where city, philanthropic and community developers are investing. But not much thought is being given to providing people there financial service. We believe these are areas where our impact can be greatest, and are our priority.”
The credit union will continue to operate a branch on Howard Street after moving into the new headquarters.
Credit unions are nonprofit cooperatives, owned by their members and run by a volunteer board of directors made up of members.
“We, too, are in business to enrich our members lives, and that of the community,” he said. “We do that by providing products and services at a lower cost/higher earnings, and making them available to everyone.”
As an example, Hubbard cited RefiMyRide, which refinances car loans from other lenders at half the interest rate.
“We’ve invested over $17 million in these loans, and saved members over $3.2 million in interest they would have paid,” he said.
He said the metro Detroit region has strong banks but there is still room for the credit union’s services.
“We have a number of great commercial banks doing great things in Detroit, but what is missing is affordable access to financial services in the neighborhoods where people live,” he added.
It was 15 years ago during a strategic planning session the organization recognized this void.
“It was then we expanded from our focus on the communicating arts industry, to everyone who lives or works in Wayne County, with a focus on Detroit,” he said. “Our role is to be Detroit’s community financial institution. Owned by Detroiters, for Detroiters.”
Their efforts have gained notice.
The Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) invited Hubbard and four other American credit union CEOs to their annual gathering in Manchester, England, in March to talk about their local impact.
Karen Bennett, president of ABCUL and also CEO of Enterprise Credit Union in Liverpool, invited Hubbard to visit her financial institution as well. She attended a community development credit unions conference in the Motor City sponsored by One Detroit Credit Union five years ago.
“All credit unions have inclusion as part of their mission and origination story, but some have it integrated more fully than others,” Hubbard said.
The financial institution also is trying to find unique ways to stand out, including launching a new social media challenge to other credit unions that has grown and is raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
Similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised money for ALS, the KiKi Challenge spurred by One Detroit Credit Union could see Michigan credit unions raise as much as $50,000 for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals by year’s end.
It came about when Joumana Mcdad, chief strategy and innovation officer at One Detroit Credit Union, saw Instagram comedian Shiggy’s video of him dancing and lip syncing to Drake’s song “In my Feelings.” In the video, Iggy is shown singing the song’s opening line “KiKi, do you love me?” and then dancing. Viewers picked up on it and began creating their own versions of the KiKi Challenge and posting online leading to the hashtag #KiKiChallenge.
Mcdad decided it would be a great way for One Detroit Credit Union to gain attention. So she convinced Hubbard and other employees to take part and they spent three days preparing and taping their KiKi Challenge video. It ends with Hubbard challenging other credit unions to do the same.
Public Service Credit in Romulus was among those who took the challenge.
With the effort gaining momentum, the Michigan Credit Union League added an incentive for credit unions to participate with a pledge from CU Solutions Group (which is owned by the Michigan Credit Union League, which has more than 100 investors) to donate $500 to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals for every credit union that participates. So far, over 14 have accepted the challenge.
“You never know what will strike a chord with people,” Hubbard said. “In this case we had some fun, and I think through that we were able to convey some of our personality, share the credit union feeling of people helping people, get our brand out there, and encourage our friends to do the same.”
Contact Carol Cain: 313-222-6732 or [email protected] She is senior producer/host of “Michigan Matters,” which airs at 11:30 a.m. Sundays on CBS 62. See Mark Hackel, Denise Ilitch, L. Brooks Patterson, Army Staff Sgt. William C. “Bud” Brown, Tara Consolino and Shelly Rood on this Sunday’s show.
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