2018 is proving to be an extraordinary year for CORE Credit Union. Their membership is nearing 11,000, they are finalizing a merger with Savannah Federal Credit Union and on Wednesday at 4 p.m., CORE will break ground on a new main office in the Market District.
CORE was founded in 1974 when the US was experiencing tough financial times with interest rates reaching double digits. Local elementary school principal Hubert Tankersley saw how this was adversely affecting educators in reaching their financial goals.
Tankersley convinced a few of his friends to pull together with him in founding CORE Credit Union on the principles of people helping people. At that time, it was run by one employee out of a room at Sallie Zetterower Elementary, offering only savings accounts to teachers.
Now, almost 45 years later, CORE is growing like never before. With more than 30 employees, CORE serves more than 50 employee groups in Bulloch, Effingham, Bryan, Emanuel, Evans, Jenkins, Screven and Candler counties. Anyone who is a resident of Bulloch County or is employed in Bulloch County is eligible to become a CORE Credit Union member.
About three years ago, the CORE board of directors hired Robert “Bob” Clampett as their CEO. Clampett has definitely put his thumbprint on the operations. Aesthetically, each branch has been renovated, updated and freshened up to make them more inviting for their members.
Also, Clampett and his team at CORE have significantly increased their technology by implementing a host of mobile options that has helped modernize CORE.
CORE has led the way with community involvement and has launched a host of financial literacy classes. Each step of the way, the community has responded through extraordinary growth of the credit union.
Understanding the importance of measured growth, Clampett has led CORE through its first merger with Georgia’s second oldest credit union, Savannah Federal Credit Union, which was founded in 1931.
Savannah Federal, led by Jane Evans, has nearly $20 million in assets and a little more than 1,000 members. Evans is preparing to retire, so her board explored options of the best way to move forward.
One of the options was a merger and that led to an agreement with CORE Credit Union. Once the merger is complete, the new company will be have almost $100 million in assets. Even though CORE will be the parent credit union, Savannah Federal Credit Union will continue to operate under the Savannah Federal banner.
“This is a win for both,” Clampett said. “Savannah Federal membership will see enhanced services including technology improvements and shared service centers. For CORE, it allows us to diversify into multiple markets that are currently underserved from a credit union perspective. This is an unusual merger in that it is two smaller (under $100 million in assets) credit unions coming together. Smaller credit unions are typically gobbled up by very large credit unions”.
To help accommodate the growth and plan for the future, CORE is breaking ground on a new 10,000-square-foot main branch, which will be located in the Market District. The two-story headquarters will be very modern with lots of technology upgrades.
Also, it will include a multi-lane drive through. CORE hopes to have the new location open early summer 2019. They will continue to operate the current main branch on North Main Street as a branch location, along with the drive through operation there. The Brooklet branch also will continue to operate. They will move the Main Street Village operations to the new office in the Market District once it opens.
“We understand growth is important to sustain a viable business model, but our focus is on incremental growth that allows us to continue being a customer driven (institution) that allows us to focus on each individual customer,” Clampett said. “We understand that we all win when our members, employees and institution wins. It is a simple, but powerful formula for success that the CORE Credit Union team continues to understand and honor”.
The community is invited to join CORE Credit Union’s groundbreaking Wednesday at 1099 Bermuda Run, adjacent to the Hampton Inn and across from Walker Pharmacy.