AUSTINTOWN Credit unions merge, expand



Officials say the merger will provide more services and conveniences to members.
By CYNTHIA VINARSKY
VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- Ohio Edison/Penn Power Credit Union has increased its membership by 29 percent and added millions of dollars to its assets by merging this month with the Austintown Federal Credit Union.
The merger, effective Jan. 1, brings Ohio Edison/Penn Power's assets to $38 million and its membership roster to 8,000. Four former Austintown employees will stay on, bringing the credit union's staff to 13.
Barbara DeLauter, manager, said the Austintown Federal Credit Union name will be gone, but its former office in the Austintown Plaza will serve as a branch office. Ohio Edison/Penn Power's headquarters is at 45 South Ave. in downtown Youngstown.
Michelle Gearhart, financial supervisor and a former AFCU manager, said the Ohio Edison/Penn Power members won't be able to access their accounts at the Austintown office until later this month. It will take that long to complete telephone and computer system connections, she explained.
Members approve
The Austintown credit union's 1,800 members voted to approve the merger, which was in the works for nearly a year, DeLauter said. Before the merger, AFCU had assets of $4.5 million; Ohio Edison/Penn Power had assets of $33 million and 6,200 members.
Founded in 1940, Ohio Edison/Penn Power started out as a credit union for Ohio Edison employees, added Penn Power employees in 1978, and opened membership to the employees of affiliated businesses in the early 1990s. There are about 36 affiliated businesses.
Under the merger, Ohio Edison/Penn Power's first membership eligibility has expanded again to include anyone who lives, works, goes to school or worships in Austintown or the West Side of Youngstown.
Advantages
The merger has advantages for both credit unions, DeLauter said.
Ohio Edison/Penn Power offers its members features such as debit cards, better credit card rates and larger house mortgages that the smaller Austintown credit union could provide.
The Austintown office is an advantage, because many of the Youngstown-based credit union members live in the Austintown area and because it offers the convenience of expanded Friday hours and Saturday hours.
Austintown Federal Credit Union was founded in 1936 as the Ohio Works Employee credit union and was based in the mill on Salt Springs Road in Youngstown. When the mill closed in 1980 it expanded its membership to include Austintown and West Side residents.
vinarsky@vindy.com

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