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Community First Credit Union Named “Credit Union of the Year”

By: Maria Coppola, APR, CPRC

Posted on 6/18/2021 1:18:36 PM

League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates
announced the honor Friday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 18, 2021 – Community First Credit Union has been recognized as “Credit Union of the Year” for 2020 by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and Affiliates (LSCU). The awards were announced Friday at the League’s annual meeting. Community First was recognized as the top credit union in the largest category ($500 million in assets or more). This recognition is a first in the credit union’s 87-year history.

Institutions honored as Credit Union of the Year demonstrate the all-around best the industry has to offer. These credit unions have accomplished outstanding achievements in the areas of daily operations, financial prowess, and community outreach. The LSCU’s membership includes credit unions in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Three credit unions are selected as “Credit Union of the Year” in each state in each asset category.

“There were several great credit unions considered for this honor and Community First CU of Florida stood out among them. The credit union focuses on members first and foremost, providing them with resources to make confident decisions and plans for their financial future,” says Patrick La Pine, LSCU CEO. “After their members, the Community First team works on supporting the communities it serves – doing this is their literal name. CEO John Hirabayashi is an excellent leader and a well-respected figure in the credit union movement. John and his team have earned this award and on behalf of the League, I congratulate them.”

Community First was recognized for its outstanding financial performance and member-focused critical services during 2020, which was heavily impacted by the pandemic. Community First grew an astounding 20.1 percent in 2020. It grew assets by 18% and grew commercial lending by 50%. It was its fastest rate of growth since 2005.

In 2020, Community First:

  • Grew membership to more than 150,000 members, a 5% increase from 2019.
  • Surpassed the $2.0 billion mark in assets for the first time in its history.
  • Assisted more than 6,000 members with deferments and relief on more than $125 million in loans with its Pandemic Relief program.
  • Created and launched enhanced digital services to help members connect with the credit union where they are and how they prefer, including dedicated customer service chat, major technology improvements and an appointment model for its branches.
  • Funded $525.3 million in loans, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.
  • Served the community with continued financial support of many organizations in Northeast Florida. The credit union created philanthropic and partnership programs to help segments of its community impacted by the pandemic including teachers, healthcare workers and restaurant workers.
  • Pivoted its free moveUP financial literacy program to be fully virtual. The program held 24 events with 1,000 participants. The credit union added 15,857 moveUP users in 2020.

“We are humbled to be recognized for our member-focused service and support in 2020,” said John Hirabayashi, CEO and president of Community First. “This honor is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff who help members with daily and long-term financial solutions every day.”

The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates represents 333 credit unions in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with a combined total of more than $120 billion in assets and more than 10.3 million members. LSCU provides advocacy and regulatory information; education and training; cooperative initiatives (including financial education outreach); media relations and information; and business solutions. For more information, visit their website.  Follow the League on Twitter or Facebook.

Community First Credit Union of Florida is a state-chartered credit union based in Jacksonville serving anyone who lives or works on the First Coast. Community First is one of the 10 largest credit unions in the state, serving more than 153,000 members and with assets of $2.2 billion. Community First has 19 locations and 340 employees. A not-for-profit, Community First is a full-service financial institution offering banking, loans, mortgages and investments for consumers and businesses across the First Coast.