by Ardie Arvidson
The Health Facilities Federal Credit Union in Florence is merging with the much larger North Charleston-based South Carolina Federal Credit Union. The merger is to take place on March 3.
This will be S.C. Federal’s third merger in Florence since 2016. It added Florence DuPont Employees Federal Credit Union in 2016 and last year S.C. Telco Federal Credit Union.
In an announcement, South Carolina Federal President and CEO Scott Woods said, “We are very proud of our presence in Florence and are thrilled to deepen our community reach by merging with Health Facilities, a strong and trusted local entity.”
He said, “Florence is a thriving town and we are committed to providing the best service to our soon to be 10,000 members here.”
Members of Health Facilities Federal Credit Union voted in November to approve the merger. Health Facilities has two branches in Florence. Its main branch is at 501 S. Irby St.
Health Facilities was started in 1977, said CEO Robert Harris. It provides loans and other financial services to health-care employees and municipal employees in the Florence area.
Health Facilities Federal Credit Union has roughly $35 million in assets and more than 9,000 members, he said.
The announcement said “both Health Facilities locations and all employees will be retained. Health Facilities CEO Robert Harris will continue in the role of city executive.”
Harris said the merger will provide several benefits to the credit union and its members.
“The leadership of Health Facilities believes this merger is an opportunity to provide more convenient, competitively priced products and services to our members, while keeping pace with the growth of Florence,” Harris said. ”We look forward to the future and serving both the Pee Dee region and state of South Carolina.”
South Carolina Federal is a much larger credit union that was set up as the Charleston Naval Yard Credit Union in the mid-1930s, Harris said.
South Carolina Federal now has more than 155,000 members and operates 21 offices in five major markets: Charleston, Columbia, Georgetown, Florence and Spartanburg.
“It has close to $2 billion in assets,” Harris said.
Harris said the merger will provide Health Facilities Federal members enhanced technology, expanded services, investment options and a full line of insurance products and ATMs.
Harris has worked with Health Facilities Federal for about 16 years.
The last official board meeting of Health Facilities was held Tuesday night at The Peddler. Members of the Health Facilities Federal Credit Union Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board were recognized. Each member present was presented a plaque for his or her tenure on the board, some having served almost from the beginning when the four hospitals in Florence came together to form the credit union. In the 1980s the credit union merged with the Florence municipal employee credit union and some board members are from that merger.
Donald Wilcox, chairman of the board, said he is looking forward to the merger.
“It will mean great advantages for our members,” he said. “They (South Carolina Federal) will be able to offer them more financial services than we could because of our size.”
Jeannette Glenn, board member since 2003, retired from McLeod Regional Medical Center and a charter member of the credit union, said Health Facilities Federal Credit Union has been a tremendous value to employees and has enabled them to have valuable financial services. She said it has been a wonderful opportunity for people to save for both their living and retirement.
She said the company has partnered with the community and supported other institutions and organizations, contributing to worthy causes.
“It was a tough decision for us,” she said. “When you look at the number of services that will be provided for members through the merger it will be a wonderful thing. They already have many services that we were longing for but couldn’t have due to our size.”
Mary Ann Turner, member of the board since 1993, worked for a physicians group for 35 years before retiring. She said of her time of the board, “It is a wonderful organization and our board is the best.”
Other members of the board of directors honored at the meeting on Tuesday night were Waymon Munford (1986); Josephine Jupiter (1998); Dorothy Hines (2005); Howard Parnell (2010) and Joe Page (2017).
Harris presented a check for $25,000 to the First Responders Memorial as part of a $120,000 giving program above the company’s normal gifts given annually over the past 20 years. This portion of the gift will help finance a planned memorial for all fallen first responders to be placed at the Florence County Judicial Center, Harris said.
Previously, $10,000 was given to the Youth Mentors of the Pee Dee (formerly the Big Brothers Association), $50,000 to the McLeod Foundation ($25,000 for the Hope Fund and $25,000 for the Children’s Hospital) and $25,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of the Pee Dee.
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