By John Demmler
President and CEO, 717 Credit Union
WARREN, Ohio – 2023 was a transformative year for 717 Credit Union. With a focus on the future, we installed a new core processing system to enhance our system functionality in order to expand our services, enhance our products and improve efficiencies to better serve our members.
With new technology came the opportunity to offer video banking through our business services department, which allows our business account owners and signers to join a single account opening session remotely from different locations with a 717 business specialist. This creates an additional delivery method for our business deposit members to open or make changes to accounts. Video banking usage will be expanded for use for retail members during 2024.
717 also assisted local businesses pursuing opportunities for growth by disbursing more than $46 million in commercial loans in 2023, with another $21 million in loan commitments made in late 2023 and set to close in early 2024.
In addition, 717 launched a new business credit card program designed to deliver flexible options to support small business growth in the region while providing robust rewards for our business partners.
When the industry tightened lending due to liquidity and rising delinquencies, 717 continued to meet the lending needs of our members and the community. The credit union saw nearly 6% loan growth, double the national average for credit unions in 2023.
Home equity loan growth was particularly strong, growing by 9%. And, despite a tight housing market, in 2023 we closed 460 mortgages with an overall volume of $73 million. At an average of $158,000 per loan, 717 was committed to providing local working families access to affordable housing.
717 was the top auto lender in the Mahoning Valley based on the number of vehicles financed. While many institutions pulled back on auto lending in 2023, 717 continued to meet the needs of purchasers while supporting our local network of dealerships. The credit union supported more than 8,000 auto sales.
Strong loan growth can be attributed, in part, to strong membership growth. 717 added another 10,000 members in 2023 – bringing total membership to 117,000.
Across Google reviews, 717 branches average an outstanding 4.7 out of 5 star-rating. In addition, 717 participates in a mystery shopping program that consistently ranks among the top peer credit unions with an average score of 4.87 out of 5.
717 was also named to Forbes’ top credit unions list. That ranking is based on consumer surveys focused on six facets of relationship: trust, terms and conditions (including reasonable and transparent fees), branch services, digital services, customer serv-ice, and financial advice.
717 again earned a 5-Star Rating from Bauer Financial. And the credit union was also named a NorthCoast99 Award Winner. The honor is awarded to 99 Northeast Ohio workplaces that have exceptional policies, practices, and benefits that are shown to attract and retain top performing employees.
Add to those accolades, another national recognition by Newsweek, in which 717 makes the coveted list of “one of America’s best regional banks and credit unions 2024.”
While inflation, rising rates, and the potential for recession created financial uncertainty for many consumers and businesses in 2023, 717 maintained a net worth ratio, a measure of safety and soundness, of 13.6%. This is nearly double the regulatory definition of a well-capitalized credit union.