SHREVEPORT, La. ( 5/3/13)--Pelican State CU celebrated the grand opening of its first Financial Resource Center last month in Shreveport, La. It focuses on relieving a fee burden on residents of the historic Highland Neighborhood--who do not have access to or do not qualify for low-cost financial products--through education and breaking the payday loan cycle.
Pelican CU opened its first Financial Resource Center inside Volunteers of America (VOA) in Shreveport, La. The center will focus on relieving the fee burden of residents of the historic Highland Neighborhood through education and breaking the payday loan cycle. Pelican partnered with VOA and Church for the Highlands, which consider Pelican to be their "financial ministry" and refer clients to Pelican. (Photo provided by Pelican State CU).
The center was opened by the $200 million asset Baton Rouge-based credit union in partnership with Volunteers of America and the Church for the Highlands.
"Our Financial Resource Center shares a mission with the church and Volunteers of America-- to teach independence," said Jeffrey K. Conrad, Pelican CEO. "We want to convert unbanked Shreveport residents to credit union members, which will reduce the fee burden they now endure at payday lenders, check cashers and authorized utility bill payment centers."
The center will specialize in financial education. Heike Reagan, a nationally certified credit counselor, will meet one-on-one to help members improve their credit score, budget and stretch their paycheck by avoiding fees.
The partnership was initiated by the church, which wanted to add a financial ministry to the programs already offered. Church leaders reached out to Pelican because of its long history of providing financial education and community outreach.
The center will focus on unsecured loans, credit cards, microbusiness loans, payday loan alternatives and second-chance checking for members of modest means in an effort to revitalize the community.
Although the center has the full operational capacity of a traditional branch including deposits, withdrawals and opening new accounts, it has no teller lines or conventional branch fixtures at the location.
"Pelican created an approachable, casual environment to make everyone feel welcome," Conrad said. "This, in addition to the wildly popular free coffee, has created a conversational atmosphere appreciated by our visitors."