Pioneer West Virginia Federal Credit Union's new $1.5 million branch in Putnam County will serve as a model for branches the company hopes to build in the future.
Employees and local officials cut the ribbon on the new 2,800-square-foot branch July 18. It's the first branch the company has designed and built from the ground up — its other locations were all remodeled from existing buildings.
Officials also hope it serves as a template for future construction at other locations.
"We're always looking to expand our footprint," said Shannon Bradley, Pioneer's vice president of member services. "This branch is going to be the model branch for future branches."
Pioneer is a relatively new name in the local credit union industry, but its history dates back to before World War II.
It began as the Kanawha County Teachers Credit Union in 1940, and was later changed to the Kanawha County School Employees Federal Credit Union when its membership expanded to all school employees, not just teachers.
By 1998, its territory had grown to include school employees in Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, and Roane counties, so the name was changed again to the West Virginia School Employees Federal Credit Union.
After receiving a full community charter in 2002, the name was again changed to Pioneer.
Headquartered in Charleston, Pioneer has about 13,000 members in Kanawha, Putnam, Greenbrier, Clay, Roane, Fayette, Cabell and Wayne counties. Before the Putnam branch opened last month, the credit union only had locations in Charleston, South Charleston, Oak Hill and Belle.
Of the 13,000 members, 1,800 live in Putnam County, and Bradley said that number was growing faster than in the company's other territories. That led officials to begin searching for potential branch sites in the county.