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MERCO Atwater moves to new branch location


MERCO Credit Union in Atwater has moved into an impressive new facility located at 598 Bellevue Rd, across the street from the Atwater Village shopping center.

The Atwater branch is considered a top-tier, full service credit union center with a drive-through ATM, and a drive-up teller window. The interior features a new Financial Empowerment Meeting Room designed for members to attend workshops, receive financial education and coaching, and bilingual services.

The location is an upgrade from the previous branch site, a little less than a mile down the road at the Save Mart shopping center.

Established in 1954, MERCO is a local, non-profit, member-owned community development financial institution. MERCO has had a presence in Atwater since 1996.

“Because we are a nonprofit, we end up returning all of our profits to our members in the form of affordable loan products, and our goal being a community development financial institution is to help everyone in our community join the economic mainstream,” said David Ness, MERCO’s president and CEO. “A lot of people are subject to predatory lending or high-cost lending, like payday lenders or 36 percent interest rates on loans, simply because they are immigrants, or because they are low income, and our goal is to provide the same affordable products regardless of who you are, where you come from, what color you may be. As recognition of this, the federal government has provided us with $10 million of grants and other investments to expand our lending to low and moderate income families in Merced County and the surrounding area.

“For example, over the last year, we have increased our lending by 28 percent to people who previously were denied a loan. It’s our goal with the opening of this Atwater branch is to expand that. One of the things we have in this location here is a financial coach and a financial empowerment center with free educational workshops and free coaching to help people improve their credit scores and help them prepare for financial success. We want them to be successful.”

A grand opening celebration and ceremonial ribbon cutting for the new branch was held on Aug. 29 with support from the Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“MERCO Credit Union teaches the business owners in Merced County that expanding and growing can help us access to new markets,” said Uriah Perez, vice president of the chamber. “Growing can bring value to businesses and quality to customers.”

Dignitaries at the event included Atwater Mayor Mike Nelson, Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel, and representatives from the offices of Congressman John Duarte, State Senator Anna Caballero, and Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria.

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