a small town credit union making fantastic loans in North Carolina
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the foundation of many industries in the US, physical bank branches were already disappearing steadily. An analysis conducted by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) found that there was a 5.13% loss of bank branches across the United States from 2017 through the third quarter of 2020, reflecting an already present trend, as the total number of bank branches declined by 14% from 2008 to 2020. Although some bank closures result from mergers, as larger banks buy smaller banks in neighborhoods where they already have locations, a disproportionate number of these closures occur in rural and low-income areas, where few branches existed to begin with. This forces individuals and businesses in these neighborhoods to turn to alternative and predatory financial providers.
Small, local credit unions with brick-and-mortar locations provide essential and inexpensive banking services to those who may have limited internet and technology to access online banking. Underbanked and unbanked populations are more likely to have a distrust of technology and institutions, meaning they may be less likely to want to bank online. That’s why it’s so important to support local institutions which make an effort to open branches in low-income and rural areas.
First Carolina People’s Credit Union has recently had to close one of their branches in Cary, NC, as the mall they were located in was shut down permanently. However, they’re looking to open another branch in the area soon, an effort which has no doubt been complicated by the pandemic. That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to feature them on this blog; they’re a bank with rural roots and a fantastic lending portfolio, but one that could also use more members and exposure.
We first discovered First Carolina People’s CU because they’re the first Better Banking Option that pops up when you look up the Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill in our search engine. They’re a designated LICU and do a significant amount of quality lending for a credit union, which is why they score so well in our metric.
They were originally chartered in Goldsboro in 1952 as the Goldsboro Postal Credit Union, but slowly grew by merging with other local Postal credit unions, until opening eligibility to anyone living and working in Wayne County and changing their name in 2011. They’re still wholly a local institution, with their main office located in Goldsboro, and although they don’t currently have a branch in Cary, they have extended their eligibility to both Wake and Johnston County.
We recommend First Carolina People’s Credit Union to anyone in Goldsboro or in Wake and Johnston County, although those living in the Research Triangle will have to wait for their new branch to open or travel to Goldsboro to open an account. Check out their website to learn more. Until then, it’s important that we lift up and celebrate institutions like these, as they continue to be put at risk by the trend of disappearing branches and the pandemic.