By Cynthia Anderson
NASHVILLE, TN — Since 1957, Metropolitan Teachers Credit Union (MTCU) has served the financial needs of African American and minority Metro Nashville School employees and families from its non-descript location at 1605 Jefferson Street.
But now the historic financial institution is changing its look and expanding its customer base to accommodate the growing needs of small businesses along the Jefferson Street Corridor.
The infrastructure of the building has been upgraded inside and out to achieve a more modern welcoming look. Signage that makes the building more visible and identifiable was also added.
Computer systems have been upgraded, the entrance was moved from the side to the front of the building, two new interior rooms were added and interior rooms were altered to reflex an open-space concept.
“We are upgrading to reach today’s community, fill the financial needs of the community and keep our legacy alive,” said Rev. James Sawyers, board chairman of the Metropolitan Teachers Credit Union.
In the early 1950s, it was often difficult for African Americans to receive loans. The goal of the credit union was to serve the financial needs of African American teachers in the Nashville area, many of whom went without paychecks when school was out during the summer months.
A small group of eight educators united to form a Teachers Benefit Association, which later evolved and was renamed Metropolitan Teachers Credit Union. It specialized in small, low-cost loans and great customer service.
“One of the things that helped our credit union survive as long as it did, is we were able to do payroll deduction,” MTCU CEO Beverly Barton said, adding that the credit union has always continued to evolve and new services. “If we want to keep our doors open and become a viable part of this community, we have to offer services people want.”
Today, Metropolitan Teachers Credit Union has more than 900 members (primarily Metro Nashville School employees and their family members) and approximately $2.3 million in assets. Services include financial counseling, direct deposit, payroll deduction, mobile banking and debit cards.
Metropolitan Teachers Credit Union has been approved by the state to extend membership to small businesses with less than 500 employees who don’t have access to another credit union. As service businesses, restaurants and retail stores continue to open along Jefferson Street and in the surrounding area, MTCU hopes to be a resource to help those businesses thrive. Credit union officials plan to contact the more than 100 small businesses along Jefferson Street and offer them membership.
“We are looking to loan,” said MTCU Financial Advisor Angelia Dobbs, CPA. “Our goal is to grow our lending base. We are a very small credit union, hopefully we won’t be for long.”
Dobbs said as a community-based credit union, the goal of MTCU is to build long term relationships with members, and help to improve their financial situations by offering services such as budget classes and consultations on how to improve credit scores.
“We are a risk-based lender,” Dobb said. “We are willing to work with our borrower more than a major bank. Your credit score may not get you in the door at Bank of America. We have 20-plus year members. They have credit history with us, which increases our credibility to lend to them.”
MTCU specializes in small loans, but is expanding its business to include car loans. In the future, MTCU hopes to partner with a mortgage company to offer home loans. In addition to small business memberships, any employees or family members of employees (active or retired) of Metro Nashville Public Schools are eligible for membership.
Visit www.metrotcu.com for additional information.