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Suncoast Credit Union catches the St. Pete vibe in its new Edge District branch

Margie Manning

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Grand opening of the Suncoast Credit Union at 1022 Central Ave.

Suncoast Credit Union isn’t shying away from brick and mortar branch offices.

The Tampa-based credit union has opened its 69th office, and its fourth in Pinellas County, in St. Petersburg’s Edge District, at the corner of Central Avenue and the traffic circle at 11th Street.

The new branch is a large open space with no teller lines, modern furniture, a coffee bar and a large mural painted by local artist Derek Donnelly. It’s pet-friendly, with Suncoast dog bowls.

“We wanted something that would be inviting and appealing, so people would be curious to come in and check us out,” said Kevin Johnson, Suncoast president and CEO. “It’s more collaborative. We want to try to sit next to members or potential members to counsel them and offer advice and this setup suits that need better than the traditional model.”

Kevin Rodriguez, branch manager, hopes people will come in, set up their laptops and enjoy coffee, while also getting help with their financial needs.

“I think this branch design will appeal to millennials because it is high technology, but all are welcome,” Rodriguez said.

While downtown St. Petersburg has more than a dozen bank branches, the new Suncoast office is one of the just a handful of financial institutions in the 33705 zip code, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the National Credit Union Administration.

The location occupied by the new Suncoast branch has had a few businesses come and go, said Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. It means a lot to have a large institution like Suncoast invest in the area, he said.

Suncoast, with $9.8 billion in assets, is the largest credit union based in Florida and the 11th largest credit union in the United States.

Mayor Rick Kriseman was impressed by a sign that said “We love our community” on the wall of the new branch. “These folks are part of this community,” he said. “It’s one thing to open a business in a community. It’s another thing to be part of the community.”

The new branch is about 700 feet from Tropicana Field, and Suncoast partners with the Tampa Bay Rays on programs such as Reading with the Rays, said Matt Silverman, president of baseball for the Rays.

Both organizations have an innovative approach, Silverman said.

“We have been known to be a little cutting edge, a little innovative on the baseball side and the business side with how we approach winning baseball games. So far this year it’s working pretty well. First place Rays!” Silverman said, to much applause. “Suncoast is doing something different. They’re expanding to a part of St. Pete that is vibrant, that is different than a lot of other places they may have their locations. I love that they are taking a chance.”

Many financial institutions have focused on their online and mobile presence, citing statistics that show few customers walk into a bank or credit union lobby anymore. Johnson sees a need for both.

“It’s not going to be a digital-only business. You have to complement it with branches. Millennials still want to have a place to come to solve complex matters. You have to complement a digital strategy with a brick and mortar strategy, but it has to be slightly different way,” Johnson said.

Suncoast expects to continue to add branches in both existing and new markets, Johnson said.

Suncoast Credit Union

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Employees joined civic and business leaders in cutting the ribbon on the new Suncoast Credit Union on Central Avenue.

 

 

 

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