Northeast Community Credit Union celebrated its 66th anniversary, marking more than six decades of serving the area through financial services and community outreach. Coinciding with the anniversary, NCCU once again received a 5-star Superior rating from Bauer Financial, Inc.
Northeast Community Credit Union was chartered in October 1952 as the Elizabethton Teachers Credit Union. Former Elizabethton City School Superintendent Mack Pierce and eight of the city’s school teachers – including current Northeast Community Credit Union Board of Directors Chairman Bill Armstrong – set out to create the foundations of the new credit union.
“At the time, teachers were paid very small amounts, usually averaging $40 a month, and were not paid in the summer as they are now,” Armstrong says. “When it came time to finance their dreams, the educators of Carter County did not have many options available to help them reach their own personal finance goals.”
This is where the vision to start the Elizabethton Teachers Credit Union came to life. The credit union had humble beginnings, operating out of the secretary’s office in the Elizabethton City School administration building. The superintendent’s secretary would take deposits from the teachers a few days a week, write them in a ledger, and keep records of transactions.
“The teachers would make deposits as they could, sometimes just a few dollars, but they were working to reach their own financial goals and to help give the credit union a solid start,” said Kathy Campbell, who was the first full-time manager of the credit union.
These savings transactions provided enough of a balance for the credit union to issue its first loan to one of the original members. John Large, one of the eight teachers there in the very beginning, was issued a loan for $200 to buy a new washer and dryer for his home.
Elizabethton Teachers Credit Union stayed in its first home for many years and continued using ledger books and calculators for record keeping until 1983 when it became the smallest credit union in business at the time to take its operations online to a computer system. The credit union continued to grow and eventually found a new home in downtown Elizabethton, and the charter was gradually updated to allow membership to employees of over 70 local businesses.
In 1996 the name was changed to Northeast Community Credit Union to better reflect the composition of its membership. Membership was opened to anyone who lives, works or worships in Carter County. One year later, the main office at 980 Jason Witten Way was completed, and in one more year the staff at the credit union had doubled. Soon, three new branch offices would be opened from which it now does business as well – a second Elizabethton office, one in Johnson City, and one in Roan Mountain.
Northeast Community Credit Union has repeatedly been recognized for its social responsiveness in the community and for its excellence as a financial institution. In 2012, NCCU was one of only six credit unions nationwide to be awarded the national Excellence in Lending Award. In 2015, NCCU was named the Community Credit Union of the Year, a national award by the Credit Union National Association.
NCCU continues to receive a 5-star Superior rating from Bauer Financial, Inc., the nation’s leading independent credit union and bank rating and research firm since 1983. The 5-Star rating is the highest ranking the banking industry research firm can assign a financial institution and denotes the highest level of financial performance.
“The 5-Star Rating by BauerFinancial indicates that Northeast Community Credit Union excels in many different areas,” said NCCU President/CEO Teresa Arnold. “The rating places us in the top tier of financial institutions in the United States. We are honored by the ranking and are committed to providing the highest level of service to our members every day.”
According to BauerFinancial, criteria in the financial ratings include such things as profitability, capital, asset value, delinquent loan levels, investment quality, regulatory supervisory agreements, historical data and liquidity. “What this means for the community is that the institution is safe, financially sound, and operating well above all regulatory requirements.”
Northeast Community Credit Union maintains a visible, active presence in its service area by working every day to live out its motto, “Always Here When You Need Us.” Each year, Northeast Community Credit Union donates thousands of dollars back into the community, along with hundreds of volunteer man hours from credit union employees and board members, and with other contributions of assistance or supplies to organizations and individuals in need. NCCU has received designation by the US Treasury Department as a Certified Development Financial Institution (CDFI) due to its work with low income individuals and financial assistance programs in the community.
NCCU is a primary provider for financial literacy and education through its work in local schools, colleges, non-profit organizations, associations, ministries and workplaces. Anyone interested in a free class or presentation can call 423-547-1200.
Another way Northeast Community Credit Union reaches out into the community is through the monthly “Helping Teachers Teach” grant. NCCU started out as a credit union for teachers and remains true to its roots by making sure to provide needed assistance to educators, however possible. Northeast Community Credit Union also supports local high school seniors with the William Armstrong Scholarship, a $500 scholarship to help pay the costs of post-secondary school.
NCCU works with several community organizations including the Carter County Imagination Library, TLC Community Center, Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter, Red Legacy, Second Harvest Food Bank, Assistance Resource Ministries, United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County, Shepherd’s Inn, Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center, Relay for Life, Race for Wandell, Carter County Cattleman’s Association, Elizabethton Twins, Elizabethton Kiwanis Club, Recovery Soldiers Ministries, East Tennessee Christian Children’s Home and Academy, and many others to provide sponsorships, volunteers, donations and supplies as needed.
“We have a rich history of service and look forward to a bright future as we continue that tradition. We will always try to find a way to help, and we will always consider YOUR best interests in doing so,” Arnold said.