Articulate September 2017

Florida Credit Union: Making Small Businesses Thrive

Written By: Rhina Garci

Caption: Left to right: Gary Schmidt (Business Account Manager), Janene Manning (AVP Business Relationship Manager), Robert Cooksey (VP Business Relationship Manager), Heather Gilliam (VP of Operations), Evan Pitts (SVP of Commercial Services)

From happy employees to state of the art equipment, it takes several factors to maintain a successful small business. Now more than ever, business owners are counting on their local credit union to obtain loans and assist managing their cash flows to help their businesses grow. More importantly, they look for professionals who will listen carefully to their needs and serve them with honesty and direct contact.

With the assistance of Florida Credit Union (FCU), many local Gainesville businesses are thriving with a relationship of one of the top credit unions in the state. Having a mentality that puts the well-being of its customers or members above anything else, FCU has made its name by helping small businesses thrive in the local community.

“It’s all about providing outstanding service to our members,” said Senior Vice President of Commercial Services Evan Pitts. “[They] are the ones who make the credit union a success.  It’s a win-win relationship.”

FCU was originally established in 1954 as a credit union for teachers in Alachua County. Over the last sixty years, they have expanded their services to add other educational groups, personal financing and most notably, business lending.  Today, FCU serves 27 counties in the North and Central Florida area.

With a “small business, big growth” mentality that allows them to have personal and direct relationships with their members, FCU prides itself on having the resources of larger financial institutions, while maintaining the personal touch that many big banks often lack. What separates them from other banks is that they are owned by the customers that they serve. They benefit their members directly, rather than having stockowners as middlemen.

“All of our branches are focused on helping the individual, whether they are a salaried employee or a self-employed business owner,” Pitts said.

The credit union hosts eleven unique locations in North and Central Florida. Their offices have extended lobby and call center hours and are equipped with

their own commercial banking team. These resources allow for a wide range of services that can help a local start-up or even a well-established business.

“The goal of the Florida Credit Union is to help people reach their financial objectives,” Pitts said. “We can help the lowest paid employee, all the way up to the highest paid owner.”

FCU offers commercial checking accounts, remote deposit capture, enhanced cash management services and same-day credit. They offer a variety of small business loans ranging from $1,000 to $18 million. One of their services includes giving employers the opportunity to provide benefits to their employees. Employees can receive FCU checking accounts and financial education services like a free credit report analysis and budgeting tools.

“We have a team approach,” said Pitts. “We’re looking at what’s in the best interest of the member and how we can serve them as best as possible.”

Customers can have direct contact with their staff, which has helped the credit union prosper. Members communicate directly with the commercial team for any financial advising they might need.

“[Our customers] can feel free to call or email and have an open communication line with me,” said Pitts. “We have an open dialogue in order to serve our customers best.”

Photography by Allison Durham


RHINA GARCIA is a senior journalism major at the University of Florida who is known for three things: loving coffee, being Hispanic and laughing at her own jokes. Harboring a love for all things entertainment, she hopes to one day work in the music industry as a publicist. 

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