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Credit union name change allows for more Oregon members

Wood Products Credit Union has a new name ' Northwest Community Credit Union ' and the potential for a much larger membership after receiving state approval of a community-based charter.

The change allows residents and workers in 12 Oregon counties, including Jackson and Josephine, to join the credit union. Under the previous charter, customers had to come from wood products and allied trade fields.

Expanding our membership will help us offer more services, competitive rates, and easier credit union access for more consumers, said Helen rnes, president of the credit union.

Northwest Community Credit Union has 58,000 members, including 5,400 in Jackson County, and &

36;356 million in assets. Medford's Wood Products Credit Union was first opened in 1974. The branch moved to its present site at 2079 Cardinal Ave. in 2000.

We first talked about the charter change a little over a year ago, weighing out the benefits, says Jan Griffin, manager of Medford operations since 1998. The common bond in the past was wood products. We've turned people away in the past because they didn't qualify. I had to refer them to another credit union.

The Springfield-based credit union's board of directors took into account prospects for future growth for its 11 offices and 28 shared branches network and the need to remain competitive in adopting the changes. The expansion is not a result of a merger, buy-out or financial restructuring.

The name change to Northwest Community Credit Union occurs as part of the state regulatory process for conversion to a community-based charter. The name change was effective on Dec. 16 and sign changes and printed materials will be complete by March 31. The Wood Products Credit Union checks, credit cards and debit cards that current members hold will continue to work as long as members have them.

The credit union began as Weyerhaeuser Credit Union in 1949, serving just one company. As the timber industry changed, the credit union expanded to serve more companies in the wood products industry, and changed the name to Wood Products Credit Union in 1973.

As part of that change, it added branches to serve wood products industry employees in the many communities where the industry played a major role in the economy.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail