by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
The Little Falls Chamber of Commerce has named Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union (MMFCU) as the large business of the year.
“MMFCU understands the importance of being involved in the community”, said Chamber CEO Debora K. Boelz. “People do business with people who they know. For MMFCU to experience 54 percent growth in the Little Falls branch in just four years, that involvement is paying off.”
“MMFCU was an easy choice for this award,” Boelz said. “They are one of the first companies to step up in support of not only Chamber events, but the community as a whole.”
“I think we were chosen because of the relationship we’ve built with our members,” said MMFCU Branch Manager Jeanne Lee. “We are out in the community, giving our time and making donations to more than 100 organizations.”
MMFCU was founded in 1956 in Brainerd. The Little Falls branch office opened in 1985 in the basement of 210 Second Street N.E. Its next location was on Broadway, in the building currently occupied by Carol Theis Insurance Agency. In 2004, the business moved to its current location at 307 First Street S.E.
Many things have changed for MMFCU in Little Falls over the years. Shirley Soltis started in March 1986 as a part-time teller and is now the assistant branch manager.
“The biggest changes have been in membership growth and technology,” Soltis said. “We’ve gone from seeing three members a day to a line of people being served. There is a lot of new technology.”
When the branch opened, loan application information had to be called in to the Brainerd office.
“Fax machines were new when we were on Second Street,” said Soltis. “It opened up the world.”
MMFCU had taken over the Hennepin Paper credit union in 1985 and that comprised the majority of the initial membership.
“When we first came to Little Falls, I don’t know that everyone understood what a credit union is,” Soltis said.
“We are a cooperative owned by the members we serve,” Lee said. “Being a non-profit, we encourage people to do what’s right for their family and in their particular situation. There’s a huge difference between being a ‘member’ versus being a ‘customer.’”
Credit unions have membership requirements. For a person or family to be eligible to join, they need to live, work, attend school or worship in the MMFCU membership area — Cass, Crow Wing, Douglas, Morrison, Todd or Wadena counties — or have a blood relative who does.
Lee, who lives in Baxter, makes a conscious effort to be a part of the Little Falls and Morrison County community.
“I want to be involved and help where I can,” she said. “I want to make a difference here.”
MMFCU in Little Falls has $6,000 in available funds set aside each year to be donated to charitable causes throughout the year. In addition, other money is available for such events as the medallion hunt for Dam Festival.
The credit union’s tagline is “We’re with you all the way.”
“I love that,” Lee said. “Whether a person is age two and opening their first savings account or age 50 and retiring early, or whether they are a lifetime member or walking in the door for the first time — they’re going to get the best service we have here.”
The credit union’s vision statement is, “To be our members’ first financial resource for a lifetime of services.”
“We make a significant difference in our members’ lives every day,” Lee said. “We are always looking out for our members.”