Pacific Crest FCU Opens Branch in Christmas Valley


For several years, residents of Christmas Valley, Oregon, and the surrounding communities in North Lake County had no local financial service options. The 60-mile trek to the nearest bank branch presented quite a challenge for those who needed to deposit paychecks or conduct other financial transactions in person.

Now, residents in the area have a local credit union branch.

Klamath Falls-based Pacific Crest Federal Credit Union (Pacific Crest FCU) celebrated the grand opening of its new branch in the heart of Christmas Valley on Nov. 20.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), learned of the need for financial services options in Christmas Valley, and looked to credit unions for the solution.

“When Senator Merkley’s office reached out through the Northwest Credit Union Association regarding the needs of this community last year, we felt Pacific Crest might be able to serve the people who live in North Lake County,” said Chad Olney, Pacific Crest FCU’s President/CEO.

“Credit unions across Oregon play a critical role in supporting our small businesses and rural economies,” Sen. Merkley said. “By opening this branch, Pacific Crest is bringing much needed reliable financial services and economic opportunity to the region.”

Pacific Crest FCU’s decision to open a branch in Christmas Valley is consistent with credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative model, which puts people’s needs first. In fact, a 2017 independent analysis by economists at ECONorthwest found that credit unions are often the only financial services lifeline in rural counties.

“While many out of state, for-profit financial services institutions have closed branches in rural communities, local credit unions remain committed to serving these populations,” the report noted.

Credit unions are present in 31 of Oregon’s 36 counties, serving 413,000 credit union members who live in rural areas.

The Christmas Valley branch, Olney says, meets consumers’ needs without creating a large footprint. The branch has two full-time employees and one part-time employee who will serve members on site. Technology will allow members to video conference with Pacific Crest FCU loan officers in Klamath Falls — a financial opportunity the community has never experienced.

“We were fortunate that a lot of people in the community worked hard to bring fiber internet service to the area,” Olney said. “This enables us to provide high tech and high touch services in North Lake County.”

Olney notes the new branch will also provide local access to financial services for the community’s businesses.

Olney says he hopes the Christmas Valley branch model can serve as a blueprint other credit unions can replicate as they work to provide financial opportunities to rural consumers in the Northwest.

Posted in Around the NW.