Secretary of State Recognizes 7 17 for Financial Literacy Programs

WARREN, Ohio – Gary Soukenik, president and CEO of 7 17 Credit Union, is concerned about the public’s financial management skills. Or, more accurately, the lack of them.

Many people, he warned, don’t budget or know how to balance a checkbook, and young adults often don’t know how to go about applying for their first car loan. “We are very active in teaching those skills in the area high schools,” he said.

The financial literacy services that the Warren-based credit union offers to 80,000 members were among the reasons 7 17 was chosen as one of eight Ohio financial services companies recognized by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office through its Ohio Business Profile program.

Among its programs are Knowledge of Financial Education, or Kofe, an online financial literacy course that also has a call-in service for clients to talk through questions and problems.

“We like to pick businesses that are doing great things, that are expanding, that are providing jobs and a great service to their community,” said Perry Alexandrides, regional liaison for Husted, at a ceremony Monday.

Alexandrides presented a certificate of recognition to Soukenik at the company’s headquarters. Like the other businesses chosen, 7 17 was selected because it is doing great work, is involved in the community and is a valuable asset to the state, he said.

The credit union recently piloted its Crayons to College program in Austintown Schools, which focuses on the basics of banking that students need, such as the importance of savings. And it partners with Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley by having its employees visit schools to teach financial literacy based on guidelines that the organization provides.

For adults, 7 17 holds financial literacy seminars throughout the year that are open to the public at its main office.

Earlier in the month, Husted declared April as “Investing in Your Future” Month.

“Making important financial decisions can be an intimidating process,” Husted said in a news release announcing the honorees. “Whether it’s a local credit union or a consumer finance group that helps to design a plan for you, these organizations can assist you in planning for a better financial future.”

“It truly is an honor to get an award like this, especially when what we’re being honored for is so consistent with our mission,” Soukenik said at the ceremony. “That’s what we’re all about. We’re about simplifying our members’ financial lives and making this a better community.”

The credit union, which has 12 branches, recently exceeded $1 billion in assets, Soukenik said.

“Our members vote with their pocketbooks, so they’re entrusting us with their money,” he said. “We’re a financial cooperative, so we actually pool that money that the savers entrust us with and then we loan it out to people for profit and productive purposes.”

Rising interest rates are among the issues facing customers, he said. With that increase, the refinancing boom is over, but customers now are expecting a higher rate of return on their savings accounts, he said.

Pictured: 7 17 Credit Union President Gary Soukenik and Perry Alexandrides, regional liaison for Secretary of State Jon Husted, at a ceremony honoring the credit union for its financial literacy programs.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.