October 24, 2001

Celebration Marks Start of Work on New AFCU Site

Print More

After a near decade of negotiation and strategic planning, the Alternatives Federal Credit Union finally broke ground on the construction of its new credit facility located on the corner of Seneca and Fulton streets yesterday.

Balloons and live jazz celebrating the much-awaited occasion greeted a diverse crowd with members of all ages.

The Credit Union, a locally based financial institution established in 1979, provides transactional, savings and investment services for members of the community who are under-served by other financial institutions.

As a not-for-profit institution, the Credit Union is owned by union members.

“We help small business people get on their feet,” said Chief Operations Officer Leni Hochman.

Alternatives’ old facility — located on the corner of Albany and State streets — is no longer sufficient for the growing membership, said Leslyn McBean, a member of the board of directors.

“As a community credit union growing rapidly, we no longer have enough space,” she said.

The new facility will feature an array of new programs and facilities including a small-business development center for local entrepreneurs, computer kiosks with internet access, and a drive- and walk-through resource center.

“It’ll be a place where people can come and explore all aspects of new business,” Hochman said.

The completion of the new facility also promises to increase Alternatives’ membership, which is currently estimated at 6,000.

“We will increase membership because we’ve been restricted by our physical location,” said Elizabeth Fattaruso, the director of marketing.

Much of the event’s jubilation was attributed to conclusion of the prolonged process taken to earn the necessary approval from the National Credit Union Association (NCUA).

“Part of the excitement [lies in that it has] taken so long to get to this point,” said Chief Executive Officer Bill Meyers ’73.

With initial planning and strategic development for the new facility beginning in 1992, the Credit Union board and officers spent the majority of their efforts during the past decade negotiating with the NCUA, convincing the association of Alternatives’ legitimacy as a not-for-profit organization, funded largely by grants.

“We needed to spend a long time educating [the NCUA] on how the grants work,” Hochman said.

In front of the crowd of about 100 people including Mayor Alan Cohen ’81, Meyers expressed his excitement for the building’s completion.

“I feel confident that when you see the completed building, you’ll say, ‘Wow!'” he said.

The building’s completion date is tentatively set for September 2002.

Archived article by Ellen Miller