|Volume 4, Issue 8||
Sunset Science Park Federal Credit Union
Electro Scientific Industries, Inc. (ESI) which was founded in 1944, was one of the first businesses in the Sunset Science Park area of Cedar Mill. A group of eight ESI employees decided that they wanted to have their own cooperative financial institution. They formed a Board of Directors and in 1960 proceeded to found Sunset Science Park Federal Credit Union (SSPFCU). At first it was only ESI employees who were eligible to join the Credit Union, and it was located in a “broom closet” in one of the ESI buildings.
Eventually they decided to expand to serve the other businesses that grew up in the Sunset Science Park. During the first 30 years of operation, they moved to several locations along Science Park Drive. In 1994 SSPFCU had the opportunity to purchase the building at their current location, on NW Murray across from the Safeway shopping center.
The Credit Union is run by a Board made up of members who are volunteers. About a year ago, the Board of Directors decided it was time to expand a little bit more, and now if you are an employee of a small business in the Cedar Mill Community, you can join SSPFCU.
What’s a Credit Union?
Jenny Bevard, who has been with SSPFCU for nine years, explains, “Our members have a voice. Credit Unions are owned by members and banks are owned by stockholders. We are here for our members, not the bottom line or stockholders. We have very few fees & low loan rates. We live by the motto: People Helping People.”
Bevard continues, “In the true spirit of Credit Unions we have maintained a core field of membership, which has always been the companies on Science Park Drive. We feel our niche is staying small and maintaining personal relationships. We have chosen to grow a little by expanding our field of membership to owners and employees of small businesses in the Cedar Mill community.”
SSPFCU has everything a bank can offer. They are full-service and offer many products from mortgage loans, consumer loans, ATM/debit cards, free home banking and free bill pay. Their website (sspfcu.com) offers everything from an online loan application to loan calculators. They are part of an ATM and offer free service at over 24,000 ATMs in the US and Canada.
Judy Makela is the CEO, and has been with the organization for 27 years. Rhonda Baggarley is the Assistant Manager and has worked at SSPFCU for 18 years. The other four employees, Debbie (11 years), Trish (10 years), Stephanie (9 years) and Jenny (9 years) do “all the jobs,” and don’t have titles. The organization prides itself on its personal relationship with customers.
They joined the Cedar Mill Business Association at about the same time that they decided to open membership to area businesses. They felt it would be a good way to introduce their services to local companies and also give back to the community by getting involved. Bevard has joined the CMBA Board of Directors.
“We want to
stay small and local,” says Bevard. “We know
99% of the people who walk in here, and that’s the way we all like
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