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CUs expansion counters emigration trend
NEW YORK (9/30/08)--The Polish community in New York may be shrinking, but Polish & Slavic FCU, Brooklyn, N.Y., is expanding. The credit union opened a new branch in Garfield, N.J., in March and an e-branch in May. It also will open a branch in Trenton, N.J., this winter and plans for a branch in Maspeth, N.J., have also been made, Marian Ponanta, Polish & Slavic vice president of marketing and public relations, told News Now. “The idea that our membership is diminishing is not true,” he said. “We’ve doubled our marketing efforts and maintained membership.” The number of Poles in New York dropped 7.8%, to 60,153 from 2000 to 2006, according to The New York Times (Sept. 21). Immigration from Poland to the U.S. has slowed since Poland joined the European Union and because of Visa restrictions. The devaluation of the U.S. dollar is also a factor. As a result, many Polish immigrants are moving back to their home country and the credit union does not have the growth strength it once had, Ponanta said. “If we didn’t double our marketing efforts, we would see negative growth,” he said. “But because we opened new branches, we’ve been able to replenish the attrition.” Polish & Slavic is going after its existing pockets of members, and is experiencing some of its best years in terms of financial results, he said. The credit union is attracting members and testing new markets with its mobile branch. It consists of a truck that has the functionality of a traditional branch through a wireless connection to the credit union’s system. The branch recently traveled to Pennsylvania and may move to Staten Island, Ponanta added. E-branching will allow the credit union to have members nationwide. Currently, Polish & Slavic’s members are in New York and New Jersey. The credit union hopes to open a branch in Chicago as a part of its strategic plan, he said. Polish & Slavic--dubbed the “engine of development” for the Greenpoint area, according to The New York Times--has, like many credit unions, been able to maintain itself during the financial crisis. “Credit unions did well,” Ponanta said. “The difference is so pronounced. While banks are going down, we’re standing. It validates credit unions.” For more information, use the links.
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