PAWTUCKET — There's strength in numbers. That's why the merger of two longstanding and successful credit unions is good news for local residents in this challenging economy.
Alliance Blackstone Valley Federal Credit Union, of Pawtucket, and Blackstone River Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Woonsocket, are merging.
The announcement by credit union officials was made this week, with the legal merger set to take place on Sept. 30.
Joseph J. Cicione III, the current president and chief operating officer of Alliance Blackstone Valley Federal Credit Union, will be retaining his title under the merger, and James Wood, current CEO of Blackstone River Federal Credit Union, has been named executive vice president of the newly expanded operation. Blackstone River will now operate under the umbrella of the Alliance name.
The move will expand the credit union to three branches: the current Alliance Blackstone Valley Federal Credit Union headquarters at 594 Central Ave. in Pawtucket, and the two locations of Blackstone River Federal Credit Union, at 10 Monument Sq. in Woonsocket (across from the Stadium Theater) and inside Lincoln Town Hall at 100 Old River Rd. in Lincoln. All branches are open six days a week.
More importantly, said Cicione, the merger expands the credit union's membership to 8,700 and allows it to serve the entire Providence County.
“I want to stress the benefit of this merger to our credit union members,” said Cicione. “This is an extremely positive move. We're two very strong institutions, which is important to consider, especially with the economy being the way it is.”
He added that a merger such as this one is a “pro-active” business move and predicted “we'll see more of this in this economy.”
Wood agreed, noting that both credit unions were recently examined independently and received high marks from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). He noted that when the merger question was posed to the membership of the Blackstone River Federal Credit Union on Tuesday, 97 percent voted to approve the plan. The merger, he said, “will benefit the credit union as a whole, and the employees.”
Both Cicione and Wood spoke of the many redundancies in fixed costs that can now be eliminated because of the merger, and said that these savings will be passed on to credit union members in the way of lower service fees.
“By joining forces, we'll be able to provide more services as well as better services,” said Wood.
The two credit unions have similar histories, both involving teachers. Alliance, in business since 1948, began as a financial institution catering to employees of the Pawtucket School Department, while Blackstone River was chartered back in 1961 by members of the Woonsocket Teachers Union expressly for Woonsocket teachers. Both financial institutions grew and changed over the years, eventually moving from a state to a federal credit union charter that would allow them to provide a wider array of services for its members plus ongoing financial protection.
“Both credit unions share the same philosophies of taking care of their members and employees,” said Wood. Cicione agreed, noting that the credit union is “not a bank. We're not about the profit. We're about helping our members to meet their financial goals.”