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Credit union to close main Oxford branch

By Chris Curme
On March 14, 2014

The Miami University Community Federal Credit Union (MUCFCU) will vacate the Miami University-owned Wells Mill complex, where its main branch is currently located, in a year's time.

The move comes as Miami has broken its lease with both MUCFCU and the American Classical League, the two non-Miami companies at Wells Mill, to make way for an expansion of the Demske Culinary Support Center, currently occupying roughly half of the complex.

"The move kinda came as a surprise, but it will be good for us and our membership," MUFCFU CEO Rick Parker said, adding he has no complaints. "We were given a reasonable heads up that it was likely the university was going to need our space."

Parker said the credit union will consolidate the majority of its operations into its existing community branch at 5120 College Corner Pike, first opened to serve the greater Oxford area. According to Parker, as it becomes the primary location, MUCFCU is considering seven-day-a-week operation or extended hours.

"It is state-of-the-art, high tech, and it's going to become our main office," Parker said. "We built our community branch so we'd have a location to serve our community as a hedge against [losing the Wells Mill lease]. That transition, in the short term, will take an adjustment."

MUCFCU currently serves about 60,000 members, according to Parker, and has roughly $58 million in assets. The credit union employs around 20 people, including full-time, part-time and student intern staff.

"Are we going to keep the same number of employees? I'd say close," Parker said. "We're considering [opening] seven days a week. We'd certainly keep all of our employees then."

While MUCFCU caters specifically to the Miami employee, they have the right to serve the greater Oxford community: including anyone who lives, works or attends school in Butler County. However, Parker added, when dealing with Miami students, MUCFCU gives preference to First Miami Credit Union, Miami's student run credit union.

In the long term, Parker said, the entire banking and credit union industry is moving to online access. Need for physical space is reduced, but an increase in activity at the College Corner Pike branch should prevent a significant workforce reduction.

"We have 40 percent of our membership using some aspect of our online services," Parker said. "With everyone doing everything online, [the branch closing] is probably-long term-not a bad thing."

MUCFCU, founded in 1969 with Miami's sponsorship, has moved three times in those 45 years as they have either outgrown their space, the university has required it or both.

"We knew when we entered into our lease here-the way the university was growing-we were at risk for the university needing our space," Parker said.

Then located in Gaskill Hall (now a portion of the Armstrong Student Center), MUCFCU moved into the Wells Mill complex July, 2001.

"We're very thankful to the university for having provided this space to us," Parker said. "Since 2001, we have grown significantly."

The American Classical League, an educational nonprofit that serves the needs of Latin and Greek teachers around the world, is also vacating. The Wells Mill location is the League's headquarters and only office, where four people are employed.

"We've been on and off the Miami campus for 70 years," league administrative assistant Sherwin Little said. "There's a provision in our lease that says if Miami needs to do something that services the university's greater good, they can break our lease."

"If there's suitable space at a suitable price, we'd like to entertain the idea of staying in Oxford," Little said.

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