The state's second-largest credit union will invest more than $2 million to expand its branch network by nearly 40 percent over the next year or so.
Credit Union of America said Thursday that it had acquired the former Bank of America branch at 501 N. Woodlawn and plans to reopen the 2,900-square-foot building as a CUA branch before the end of the year.
The $315 million credit union also will open a student-operated, limited service branch at Southeast High later this month.
And it is acquiring land for a branch in northwest Wichita, with plans to open that facility in the fourth quarter of 2010.
CUA president Bob Thurman said strong member, loan and deposit growth in the past few years, despite the national and local economic slump, led the nearly 75-year-old credit union to proceed with its branch expansion plan.
He said the expansion will create about a dozen jobs — boosting its institution-wide employment to 133 workers — between now and the end of 2010.
"We've had a good year operationally," Thurman said of CUA, which has 33,700 members in the Wichita area and Great Bend.
On Thursday, workers were replacing countertops at the Woodlawn branch, which until August had been operated by Bank of America.
Thurman said the branch will serve to fill a gap in its coverage of east Wichita.
"We hope to be open for member operations... by December," Thurman said.
The branch initially will employ six people, he said.
Farther south, CUA is preparing for an Oct. 27 grand opening of its Southeast High branch, at Lincoln and Edgemoor.
The branch will employ two Southeast students who CUA has been training over the past couple of months, Thurman said. They will be supervised by CUA staff.
The branch will be open about two hours a day because of the student employees' class schedules.
Thurman said the Southeast High branch is as much an education tool for students as it is a source of new business for the credit union, though the students are potential CUA "members of the future."
The last CUA branch to open will be on the city's northwest side. Thurman declined to identify exactly where it will be because CUA is within days of finishing a deal to acquire the land where it will sit.
"We're a few days away from nailing those things down," Thurman said.
That branch likely will be between 3,200 and 3,500 square feet, he said. Thurman said if all goes as planned, CUA will begin construction of the branch just after the first of the year. It also initially will have between six and seven employees.
A competitor said now is probably a good time for branch expansion.
Property values are lower and builders are looking for new projects, said Jim Holt, CEO of Mid American Credit Union.
"If the economy turns around in late 2010 it seems like that would be great timing," Holt said.
Holt said he isn't worried about competing with CUA on the northwest side.
"We're already in that territory," he said. "We've got a good stake posted there."