Delta's credit union growth takes off
Looking to community: Legal changes let cooperative add nonairline
members, avoid buffeting by economic head winds.
By Russell Grantham
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/08/08
While Delta Air Lines was having its ups and downs, so was a big credit union that catered to its employees.
But these days, Delta Community Credit Union —- the largest of about 170 such institutions in Georgia —-
has been flying high by looking outside Delta, building branches and adding customers across much of
And it's not alone. Like Delta Community, several large credit unions in the state have been adding to their
product offerings and taking advantage of so-called "community charters" to expand beyond their original
customer bases. Historically, the nonprofit financial cooperatives were often formed by workers at a single
large employer or other organization. Members who deposit money theoretically own and run the credit
union, which in turn makes loans to members and returns profits to them in the form of dividends and
But changes in federal rules in the 1990s and a new state law in 2005 eased the way for credit unions to
switch from employer-focused operations to community-based models, and more of these nonprofits began
moving into suburbs and neighborhoods to recruit new members —- often right next to small banks.
Growth trend sparks fight
With roughly $2.1 billion in deposits, Delta Community would rank among the top 10 financial institutions in
the Atlanta market if the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. included credit unions in its annual ranking of
banks by share of local deposits. (Credit unions' deposits are guaranteed by a separate agency, the National
Credit Union Administration.)
Similarly, Georgia's Own Credit Union, which started in 1934 as a credit union for telephone employees, now
offers membership to employees of more than 300 companies as well as residents of seven Atlanta-area
and Savannah counties.