If all goes as planned, Navigant Credit Union will finish 2017 with a total of 18 branches in Rhode Island, including three new ones in areas of the state in which it does not currently have a presence.

The $1.8 billion CU, which is headquartered in Smithfield, R.I., was chartered in 1915, making it Rhode Island's oldest credit union. Tim Draper, vice president of marketing, told Credit Union Journal Navigant’s expansion plan recognizes the CU is strong in the northern portion of the state, and it wants to take advantage of population growth in the south.

To achieve this goal, Navigant first purchased two former bank branches in Kent County, in the cities of Warwick and East Greenwich. Those two locations will be open soon, and the CU will be hiring more than 15 new employees to run those.

Also in the works is a deal with Chartway Federal Credit Union, a $1.2 billion CU headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., regarding a current Chartway branch in Wakefield, R.I. Draper said Chartway years ago acquired two branches of a small credit union in Rhode Island. Chartway eventually closed one branch, and since has recognized “challenges” in running a branch hundreds of miles from its other facilities.

“Navigant and Chartway have had conversations,” Draper explained. “At some point, Chartway wanted to spin off its Rhode Island branch to a partner that would embrace the members and the employees. Fortunately for us, Navigant is in the position to do that.”

Before Navigant can acquire the Wakefield branch, Draper said final approvals from state and federal regulators need to be received. Once those go through, a member vote could be scheduled for mid-November.

“We are a state charter, Chartway is a federal charter, so there are some issues to be worked out,” he said. “But if the regulators and members all approve, the branch would be ours in December.”

Chartway has been “very good to work with,” Draper added.

The Chartway branch in Wakefield would be Navigant’s first location in Washington County.

Chartway FCU's Wakefield, R.I. branch, which will soon be a branch of Navigant CU.
Chartway FCU's Wakefield, R.I. branch, which will soon be a branch of Navigant CU.

“We could not be more excited to expand to both Washington County and Kent County, two areas where we have seen growing consumer demand for a Navigant Credit Union presence,” Gary Furtado, Navigant’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “While other financial institutions are consolidating their footprints, we are strengthening our commitment to Rhode Island by investing in the right opportunities to grow and strengthen our brand.”

Expanding footprint

Draper said Navigant’s management team formed its expansion plan after a bank closed four locations.

“We saw two of those former bank branches as way for us to backfill the southern part of the state,” he said. “Most of our current branches are in the northeast part of the state – Providence County and the East Bay.

“What it shows is community banking works, local works,” Draper continued. In a state such as Rhode Island, where there are hundreds of bank branches throughout the state, it is remarkable that we keep expanding. We already have more than 1,000 members who reside in the south, just from people who have moved there. There is a lot of growth in the southern part in the state, so we see opportunities to expand our brand.”

Navigant Credit Union reported more than $14 million in net income in 2016 in its Call Report. Its net worth ratio as of Dec. 31, 2016 was 11.26 percent (“well capitalized”).

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