SARASOTA, Fla. (6/3/10)--Despite difficult times wrought by an economic downturn, credit unions in the Sarasota, Fla.-area still are thriving, with some going through mergers and name changes, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune said Monday. Sarasota Coastal CU, the area’s biggest locally based credit union, experienced financial turmoil before it merged into the $878.7 million asset, Largo, Fla.-based Achieva CU, last fall, the newspaper said. Sarasota Coastal’s five branches are being switched over to Achieva, with the conversion of systems slated for the July 4 weekend. Sarasota Coastal had roughly $211 million in assets and more than 25,000 members in three counties, the paper said. On Tuesday, Tropicana FCU, a 52-year-old Bradenton, Fla.-based credit union with $23.4 million in assets, changed its name to Manatee Community FCU to indicate its countywide expansion effort, the paper said. “We’ve been the best-kept secret, and its time to get the word out,” Cindy Barco, Tropicana president for the past 33 years, told the paper. West Coast Federal Employees CU, a $34.6 million asset, Sarasota-based credit union, lost money last year and its membership is down about 500 members who lost their jobs and moved out of the area to find work, Marie Peet, West Coast president/CEO told the paper. The credit union also implemented cost-cutting measures such as closing its offices early on Wednesdays, renegotiating vendor contracts and replacing two full-time employees with part-timers, the paper added. “We’re here for the long haul,” she said. “We didn’t anticipate this coming down the road and impacting us and our members to this degree. We were prepared and had our capital built up.” To read the article, use the link.