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A Springfield-based credit union is simultaneously making facility investments this year in two of the communities it serves.
TelComm Credit Union plans a groundbreaking in the spring for an operations center on over 2 acres it owns behind its 2155 E. Sunshine St. headquarters. Additionally, the credit union plans to move its Nixa branch by May to a newly acquired building at 1564 N. Main St.
“We’re looking at continued growth. We’ve had amazing success over the last few years,” said Operations Director Jenna Sweeney, who also is serving as acting CEO at TelComm while President and CEO Jessica Shorney is on medical leave.
Officials say TelComm has roughly 24,000 members and nearly $273 million in assets – both all-time highs for the credit union formed in 1940. Lori Johnson Murawski, chief experience officer, said TelComm had around $220 million in assets and 21,000 members when longtime employee Shorney was promoted to her leadership role two years ago, succeeding Don Ackerman, who retired.
Murawski said the growth over the past couple of years made the operations center project an immediate priority. TelComm in 2020 purchased the East Sunshine Street acreage for an undisclosed price from Don Bracy with Debco Properties, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Officials said at the time the land would be used for a future operations center.
“The intent was to purchase it if we needed it. As we grew rather quickly, that became a shorter time horizon,” she said. “We weren’t sure if that was going to be 12 months or 60 months at the time we purchased it. As time has passed, it seemed like this was the time to make that happen.”
TelComm’s deposits in 2022 grew roughly 12% to $236 million over the prior year, and loans increased 20% to $195 million during the same period, according to officials. Staff has grown to nearly 70 employees from 50 two years prior, officials say.
TelComm ranked No. 3 last year on SBJ’s list of the area’s largest credit unions based on total assets.
At the center
DeWitt & Associates Inc. is signed on as general contractor, and Hood-Rich Inc. is architect for the two-story, roughly 34,000-square-foot operations center. TelComm officials declined to estimate the project cost, noting bids for some of its planned work are still being sought.
The groundbreaking date is yet to be announced, but Murawski said it likely will be in March or April. The project timeline from start of construction will be roughly 18 months, according to officials.
“We hope that’s sooner, but we recognize the fact that it can be a bit of a process,” she said.
Sweeney said the second floor of the operations center is designed with a contact center and executive offices as well as the information technology department and other back-office operations, such as marketing and compliance personnel. Around 35 staff members – nearly half of the credit union’s 69 employees – are slated to work at the facility, which will conduct no face-to-face member transactions, she said.
“There is room to grow up there,” Sweeney said of the second floor.
Officials say the next-door headquarters will continue to operate as one of the credit union’s six branches, with a drive-thru, night drop, loan office and an ATM among its services.
The center’s first-floor plans call for a small gym and training room for staff, as well as up to four office suites that will be available for lease. Murawski said roughly 75% of the first floor will be leasable. She said the training space is being designed to seat 60 but will have moveable furniture that can expand seating capacity.
New in Nixa
Sweeney said TelComm closed Jan. 5 on its purchase of the North Main Street building in Nixa from Stoneridge Flooring Design for an undisclosed price. The flooring company was using the building for office space, Murkowski said, noting the facility previously had been branches for Peoples Bank of the Ozarks and Southern Bank.
TelComm had rented in Nixa since opening a branch nearly 20 years ago, Murawski said, adding there was a desire to put down permanent roots.
“You go looking and it kind of becomes a matter of right time, right place, right situation,” she said. “It’s something that had kind of been on the radar for a little while, but the opportunity presented itself and we jumped. We think we’ve got a good location and good facility to meet our needs and be a beneficial transition for our membership in that community.”
Because of its usage history as a bank, Sweeney said the building needs little in renovation. The credit union is working with Federal Protection Inc. on some of the work at the branch, which will include three drive-thru lanes, a fourth lane for an ATM, as well as office space and five teller stations.
While the new branch at 2,640 square feet will only be 10% larger than the current location at 338 N. Massey Blvd., officials say it will have more teller stations and be more convenient for both staff and members.
“The big difference is the way it’s configured,” Murawski said. “The new Nixa location has four offices in it along with the additional teller lines, the additional drive-thru lane and the ATM being closer to our building.”
A May 1 opening is targeted, Sweeney said, which will lead to one project ending just as construction should be starting on another.
“Although we do have two major projects going on at the same time, the Nixa one is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” she said. “We have a great team in place to take care of these projects, so it doesn’t feel that big.”
The nonprofit moves into its new campus.