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Natco CU Opens Community Empowerment Center
RICHMOND, Ind. (3/27/13)--Natco CU in Richmond, Ind., will open the Natco Community Empowerment Center (NCEC) to provide assistance and resources so area consumers achieve economic empowerment. The move comes after the credit union noticed a significant increase in unemployed or under-employed individuals in its community.

This is a just one example of how credit unions take the initiative to move forward in their mission of serving their communities--especially during tough economic times, said the Credit Union National Association.

"Our focus has been on helping credit-challenged individuals rebuild their credit and raise their credit score," Natco CEO Cynthia Gribben explained. "We've seen first-hand how this approach, in combination with various other tools/resources, increases a consumer's ability to obtain future loans at reasonable interest rates, and avoid future financial crisis.

"The Empowerment Center and Natco have a team of Certified Financial Counselors who work one-on-one with our community members to provide effective solutions that will help them through challenging times," she added. "By doing so, we are not only building secure futures, we build relationships."

CU Strategic Planning, a Community Development Financial Institution certification and grant writing firm, provided consulting services to the $63.5 million asset Natco in seeking grants to fund the NCEC and in helping with set up. The not for profit, low-income designated credit union is expanding its resources through the NCEC.

Many individuals within the credit union's community have become over-extended, living off their credit cards or using payday loans during periods of reduced income, said Gribben. The credit union seeks solutions that will allow those individuals to rebuild their credit and consolidate their credit-card debt, with the goal of being debt free within three-to-five years.

The center will provide the community with no-cost programs and services, including: one-on-one financial counseling, resume/job seeking assistance, homeownership/foreclosure assistance, small-business support, budgeting, credit/debt assistance, access to computers and office resources, financial/life skills outreach, workshops and scholarship/federal student aid resources.
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