QUESTION: What is the status of the State Employees’ Credit Union branch that had been planned in Graham? It seems like the plans have been dormant for an awfully long time.
ANSWER: State Employees’ Credit Union has, in fact, paused its plans to open a branch in Graham for the time being, due to a desire by the credit union’s upper management and board of directors to focus their energies on improving SECU’s online services and infrastructure, a top official for the credit union’s Piedmont-Triad region said in a recent interview with The Alamance News.
“At this point, we’re waiting in line to see when we can get that open,” said Mark Greene, a senior vice president at State Employees’ Credit Union who oversees the three existing branches in Alamance County, as well as others in Randolph and Rockingham counties.
Greene emphasized that SECU remains committed to opening a Graham branch.
SECU purchased the former BB&T branch at 220 South Main Street in Graham for $1.9 million in November 2021, based on documents that were filed at the time with the county’s Register of Deeds. Alamance County tax records list the latest tax value for the property at $1.95 million.
SECU’s purchase of the former BB&T branch marked a reversal of the credit union’s initial plans to build a new branch near the intersection of South Main and West Moore streets in Graham.
“Our board of directors is looking at different projects we already had going on statewide,” Greene explained in the interview. “I don’t think there’s going to be any issue with putting a branch there; we are just making a push as an organization to enhance our technology.”
Among the circumstances that Greene pointed to as having delayed the opening of a fourth branch in Alamance County – which would be the first SECU branch in Graham – are not only ongoing disruptions due to Covid-19 but also a change in the credit union’s executive management in Raleigh and renewed focus on technological improvements. SECU’s board of directors and executive management “are kind of putting a lot of emphasis on [technology],” Greene told the newspaper.
“We are the second-largest credit union in the country,” Greene said, adding that SECU is working to keep pace “with other institutions of our size.”
For now, SECU’s leadership is focused on upgrading the credit union’s online platforms and services in order to create a more user-friendly experience for its members, with a goal of “faster technology, more robust [infrastructure and programming], particularly for our app,” Greene explained in the interview. “With a $53 billion organization, you can’t do that overnight; you can’t turn around a large ship like we are quickly.”
Greene nonetheless stressed that SECU remains committed to opening a branch in Graham. “This area needs another branch,” he emphasized. “With just three branches in Alamance County – St. Marks Road, Alamance Road, and Mebane – our loan to deposit base is $1.4 billion, which is larger than most credit unions in the country. This area is growing so quickly we feel like it would be very much used there [in Graham].”
Greene confirmed for the newspaper that the credit union has yet to secure any estimates from contractors for the renovations that may be needed to outfit the former BB&T branch in Graham for a SECU branch. “It is a very larger building – much larger than our typical branch.”
“They want to see how much some of the costs would be,” Greene said, referring to the costs to renovate the former BB&T building for a SECU branch. “Everybody out here in the branch network is committed to that; we have all intentions of opening a branch there. It may just be a little bit more of a delay than we had thought.”
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