Credit unions make gains amid financial crisis

As banks labor through what many have called the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, credit unions are promoting themselves as responsible lenders largely immune from the trouble.

“We are not part of the current financial problems,” S.C. Credit Union League President Gen. Gary Parks said at a recent appearance in Rock Hill. “Credit unions are outperforming the rest of the country.”

A local example can be found at Family Trust Federal Credit Union, which reported near record loan growth in the first six months of 2008.

The Rock Hill-based institution has enjoyed an increase of more than 9 percent since year-end 2007, with growth in every loan category.

The agency, originally created to serve employees of the former Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co., now has more than 33,000 customers.

Some former Wachovia customers closed their accounts and moved to Family Trust around the time Wachovia announced it would be sold to Wells Fargo, said President and CEO Lee Gardner.

“We’re not smarter than anybody else,” Gardner said. “But we are not Wall Street risk takers.”

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