Frenchtown Financial Opportunity Center
Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, the Florida State University Credit Union and the Envision Credit Union have joined forces to form the Frenchtown Financial Opportunity Center, which will be the first financial institution in the history of Tallahassee to locate in Frenchtown. Scheduled to open mid-summer 2016, this new and innovative community resource will be located in the Bethel Shopping Mall, on the north side of Tennessee Street directly across the street from the Bethel Church sanctuary. As an added incentive to locate in Frenchtown, Bethel has fully furnished and out-fitted the Center’s offices’ bank lobby, vault and night depository. In addition, Bethel will be offering the premises at rental rates well below current market rates. This banking facility will enable businesses and residents in the Frenchtown area to have banking and other financial services readily accessible and within convenient walking or driving distance.
The Frenchtown Community Credit Union
The Frenchtown Community Credit Union (FCCU), is a start-up a community-based financial institution insured by the National Shareholders Insurance Fund. FCCU is committed to serving individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in or that are the beneficiaries of the Greater Frenchtown area and surrounding communities. Our mission is to manage and protect resources while focusing on the needs of individuals using financially sound management principles to ensure accessibility, affordability, and profitability. We will partner with and empower the community to build a collective financial future by offering a full range of financial products, services, and education that meet the unique needs of and provide opportunities for the community. These services are offered using a holistic approach of education, leadership and a high level of customer service delivered by a qualified, highly trained, friendly and professional staff.
he primary objective of the FCCU is to establish itself as a viable financial institution that focuses on making credit and financial services available to those who live, work, worship, operate businesses, attend schools, and participate in associations headquartered in the Frenchtown community and their family members. Just as important as the provision of financial services, is the implementation of an educational and outreach initiative from a holistic perspective to truly address the core issues that have contributed to the economic and social decline of the Frenchtown community. The financial services initially offered to the Frenchtown community include: checking and savings accounts, personal loans, credit cards, auto loans, home equity loans, small business loans, and student loans. The Frenchtown Community Credit Union will to enter into the mortgage lending industry as the institution becomes more established.
The nucleus of the Frenchtown Community Credit Union is the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church’s Economic Development Ministry (EDM). Reverend R.B. Holmes, Jr., Pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church has envisioned the creation of community-based financial institution since the year 2000 as part of the church’s “2010 Plan”. The EDM has established an organizational committee to begin the process of creating the federally chartered credit union through the National Credit Union Administration who has granted the preliminary approval of the proposed field of membership and acknowledges the designation as a “low-income, community development credit union”.
Although there are a number of financial institutions in the Tallahassee area, none have made inroads in forging a reciprocal relationship among the Frenchtown Community Credit Union’s proposed field of membership, Frenchtown’s natural stakeholders. In the absence of meaningful outreach and education initiatives from existing financial institutions, many of the residents of Frenchtown have fallen prey to predatory lending and thrift practices. The principals involved in the establishment of the Frenchtown Community Credit Union see the current crisis as an opportunity to provide the sustainable wealth-building initiatives by addressing the needs of this disinvested community. The obvious question one may ask given the current economic condition of the Frenchtown inhabitants is, “How can any financial institution targeting this community sustain itself?” The Frenchtown Community Credit Union will focus its initial efforts on penetrating the segment of the field of membership that worships and operates businesses in the Frenchtown community.
There are sixteen active churches in Frenchtown with over 15,000 members who cross the entire economic strata. Additionally, there are more than fifty established small businesses located within the community. The Frenchtown Community Credit Union’s marketing strategy is to position the credit union as a member of the community, an equal stakeholder, a partner and a tool for self-sufficiency and empowerment. In effect, the Frenchtown Community Credit Union will be providing a solution to a problem that has existed for ages – the need for a community-based financial institution. This inclusive spirit fostered will have an exponential effect on the initial membership growth phase. Another benefit of forming a low-income community credit union is that the policies that govern the operations of a credit union are less restrictive to enhance and invigorate capital infusion to underserved areas. In accordance with NCUA regulations, credit unions designated as low-income are given greater flexibility in accepting non-member deposits, are exempt from the aggregate loan limit on business loans, and may offer secondary capital accounts to strengthen its capital base. Therefore, the Frenchtown Community Credit Union will aggressively pursue municipal funds deposits and business lending opportunities.
The principals involved in the organization and launching of the Frenchtown Community Credit Union represent a cross section of highly qualified, enthusiastic professionals who realize the social and economic impact a community-based financial institution would bring to the Frenchtown Community. The organizing committee consists of:
Reverend R.B. Holmes, Jr. - Pastor, of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, one the leading and largest churches in the State of Florida with a membership of 7,000 and 40 active ministries. President of the National Congress of Christian Education. Member of the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees.
Dr. Osiefield Anderson - Mathematics Professor, Florida A&M University for over 30 years. Real estate investor, long time Frenchtown businessman and community leader.
Mr. Keith Bowers – President, The Bowers Group Consultants, Board of Directors, Northwest Florida Black Business Investment Board, former Single Family Administrator, Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
Mr. James Crumel - Executive with the Affiliate Services for the National Council on Compensation Insurance, responsible for managing client relations with insurance executives throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southern States.
Attorney Cecil Howard – General Counsel for the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
Mr. Curtis Hunter – State Farm Insurance, Agency Field Executive responsible for all State Farm branches and operations in the Tallahassee area.
Mrs. Rebecca Johnson – Director of Administration, Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Office Manager WTAL Radio Station.
Mr. Eddie Kilpatrick, Jr.– Adjunct Professor of Mathematics, Florida A&M University. President, Steele-Brooks Institute a public policy think tank. An instrument rated private pilot, real estate broker, and a retired Leon County School System math instructor.
Dr. Gladys Lang – Former Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs, Florida A&M University, served as interim Provost, Florida A&M University.
Mr. James Lawrence – Co-Owner, Strong & Jones Funeral Home and a long time Frenchtown businessman and community activist.
The Honorable Doris Malloy – Certified Public Accountant, Tax Collector, Leon County. Member of the Board of Trustees, Capital Regional Medical Center, Board of Director, LeMoyne Art Foundation.
Mr. Fred Mattingly – Deputy Commissioner of Resource Development and Planning, Department of Education.
Mr. Byron Menchion - President/CEO Integrated Technology Company, LLC specializing ERP and IT consulting services to both Public and Private Sector Organizations.
Attorney Kimberly-Clark Menchion- President/Owner of the Law Offices of Kimberly Clark Menchion, PA specializing in Family, Business, and Employment Law; Member, Florida Bar Subcommittee Relations with CPAs.
Dr. Sybil Mobley – Former Dean of the Florida A&M University School of Business and Industry for over 30 years. Served on numerous Fortune 500 boards of directors throughout her tenure as Dean.
Mrs. Barbara Wright – Realtor/Independent Contractor for the Magnolia Properties and Investment Company.
Mr. Reggie Smith – Senior Management Consultant, MGT of America, specializing in State and Local Government Operations.
Mrs. Darryl A. Scott – Information Services Coordinator, Center for Information Training and Evaluation Services, Florida State University. Chairperson, Greater Frenchtown Front Porch Florida Revitalization Council.
At this stage of the chartering process, the organizational committee is attempting to form collaborative partnerships with existing organizations whose goals and objectives are to; promote a higher degree of financial literacy, stabilize underserved communities through economic empowerment, and enhance the quality of life for individuals and families. By forming collaborative partnerships with organizations such as; Fannie Mae, Tallahassee Lender’s Consortium, the Small Business Administration, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the Florida Black Business Investment Board, and financial institutions, the organizational committee plans to create a synergy that results in the leveraging of human and financial capital to buttress the credit union until it is able to stand on its own.