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Business Spotlight

Reliant Federal Credit Union

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06/01/2009 - In a way, it's a little like expecting a baby. First, there's the euphoria when you find out it's for sure. Then, you get lots of advice, solicited or otherwise. You make plans, change plans, implement plans. You wait. Then finally, the big day arrives and it's a date you remember for the rest of your life.

In this case, the "new baby" is Reliant Federal Credit Union's newly constructed building near the westside Wal-Mart. Birth date: June 1, 2009.

Reliant Federal Credit Union's family tree looks like this: Once upon a time, in 1936 to be exact, a few of our school-district teachers established a federal credit union. Not surprisingly, they named it Natrona County School District Employees' Federal Credit Union (Try fitting that on a check!).

Over the years, the credit union prospered. It grew from $400 in assets its first year to 75 million dollars last year. Membership grew and, in 2002, they voted to change their charter to a community charter so that the credit union's benefits could be accessible to even more people. Membership is now open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or goes to school in Casper, Glenrock, or Douglas. The change to a community charter prompted the need for a name change so, in 2003, it became Reliant Federal Credit Union. Now they have four branches: Glenrock, Douglas, and two in Casper. One is on the eastside at 777 Landmark Drive and the other is that "new baby" on the westside at 4015 Plaza Drive.

Prior to moving day, I have an opportunity to visit with Reliant's CEO Steve Higginson and Administrative Assistant Angel Phillips. As they tell me about Reliant, I can tell by their smiles and the joyful lilts in their voices that both truly enjoy working for such a great organization.

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Angel says, "When I was first researching the company as a place I might like to work, I was impressed with their yearly Day of Caring." The Day of Caring is a date on which Reliant closes for one day a year so employees can work together on a project in the community. For instance, just this past May, their Day of Caring was at Rotary Park. They spiffed it up by cutting out dead tree limbs, cleaning up the path, and cleaning out the underbrush. Now the stroll and the view of Garden Creek are even more gorgeous. The photo you see here was taken at the base of The Falls when they broke for lunch that day. In it, you'll find all 38 employees from all four branches.

As we visit, I learn the difference between a credit union and a bank. Steve explains that, unlike a bank, a credit union is non-profit. It has a voting membership which is made up of depositors. To become a member, a person simply opens an account. Minimum deposit = five dollars. Five dollars! This five-dollar account gives him one share of ownership in the credit union. One share is all he can ever have. It's all anyone can ever have. Steve sums it up, "We don't have stake-holders over there and customers over here. The stake-holders are our customers. We are owned by our customers. All decisions are based on what's best for our members."

Angel adds, "And our board-of-directors is all volunteer. I'm really impressed by that."

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