By Steve Yablonski
The new site is expected to open in mid-May and will provide more space, access to safe deposit boxes and more.
Oswego County Federal Credit Union plans to open its new location on the Port City’s west side in mid-May.
According to CEO William Carhart, the 5,000-square-foot branch will be located in the former Kraftees College Town site, 242 W. Seneca St.
“We’re looking to have it open by mid-May. That’s our timetable,” he said. “It’ll be a very clean and modern office space.”
The credit union’s 300 W. First St. branch has been closed to the public, operating as a drive-thru location only, since March 2020.
The branch wasn’t reopened because it’s small, making social distancing during the pandemic difficult, Carhart explained.
“We just didn’t have the room we needed to do every thing we wanted to do safely,” he said.
They have been able to meet members’ needs using drive-thru windows, online banking, mobile platforms and ‘text concierge,’ the longtime CEO said.
For several years, OCFCU has offered text concierge, which allows members to conduct almost all their financial transactions securely via text.
The credit union will move its west side staff into the new facility. They will also relocate staff and equipment from the space they’ve been renting on the west side, Carhart said, adding that two new staff will be added.
There isn’t an official closing date for the current west side branch.
The new site will be cleaner and more modern with much more room for customers and staff. “We’ve gutted the inside. It will be a completely different layout,” Carhart said. “We’re moving two (offices) into one. It will improve our level of member services. The new site gives us room to grow.”
In the new office there will be safe deposit boxes, a drive-thru ATM, two-lane drive-thru and multiple loan officers.
They had looked at other locations, including the former Pizza Hut building across the road on Route 104 West.
However, the Kraftees was the best option. Not only did it offer the space to accommodate the credit union’s needs, its location was such that members will be able to turn into the drive-thru, go around and easily exit on the other side without having to fight with a lot of traffic.
There is still a significant amount of work to finish up, Carhart said.
“We have a fair amount of work left to do on the outside. The parking lot needs to be painted and re-striped. The building needs to be repainted as well,” he said. “There is some lighting and electrical work left to be done.”
Carhart believes credit union’s members enjoy being treated as a name, not a number. “It will be good when we get back to deal face-to-face with people,” he said. “We’re excited to have a presence open again on the west side.”
OCFCU is a member-owned, nonprofit financial cooperative association. Through its community charter, it welcomes those who live, work or worship in Oswego County.
The credit union has four branches and added a new satellite office at the Center for Instruction, Technology & Innovation in Mexico in January 2020.
Over its 46 years of serving the residents of Oswego County, the credit union takes great pride in reinvesting in the communities it serves.
It makes donations, community investments and sponsors events that total in excess of $50,000 annually.
OCFCU requires every employee to volunteer at least 10 hours annually for credit union-sponsored events or other community events they have a particular interest in.
Normally, the credit union sponsors “Movies in the Park” on Wednesdays of each month during the summer with venues set up at local parks in Mexico, Fulton or Oswego.
It participates in the Gloves for Love program, which provides free hats, gloves and scarves for those in need during the winter time.
The credit union also offers scholarships to college-bound high school seniors.
OCFCU partners with Oswego Bookmobile and the Oswego Youth Bureau to make the special nights happen.
Since 2004, OCFCU has grown from $19 million to $100 million in assets. During that time, it also went from six to 44 employees and membership increased from 5,400 to 14,400 members.
In 1975, a group of local people who wanted to better the community by forming a credit union designed for public employees created the Oswego County Public Employees Federal Credit Union.
The small credit union started out in a closet-sized space in the Oswego County Office Building with only two employees.
In 1995, the first credit union-owned branch opened on East Seventh Street in Oswego. In March of 2006, it opened a second branch at 300 W. First St., also in Oswego.
OCFCU’s third branch involved a complete restoration of the historic railroad depot at 5828 Scenic Ave. in the village of Mexico in 2010.
In December of 2013, the credit union replaced its original eastside branch with a new facility where the former St. Louis Church once stood at East Fourth and Bridge streets in Oswego.
In May of 2016, OCFCU opened its fourth branch at 707 S. Fourth St., Fulton. At that time, OCFCU was a $71.6 million organization serving more than 11,200 members.