Family Trust reports good growth

Family Trust Federal Credit Union grew to more than $205 million in assets, broke ground on its seventh branch and launched several new programs in 2007, the institution reported at its annual meeting Tuesday.

Celebrating its 51st year, Family Trust held its annual meeting at Baxter Hood Center at York Technical College on Tuesday. Credit union leaders praised the successes of the past year and elected four new members to the credit union's board.

Among the highlights of 2007 were the addition of a payday lending alternative program titled Lifeline Advance. The lending program allows credit union members to borrow cash for a short term at a much lower interest rate than payday lenders, while encouraging the borrower to make deposits into a savings account.

"We didn't make any money on it," said Family Trust spokesman David Casey, "but we didn't expect to. We did it because it was the right thing to do."

The credit union, now with about 32,000 members, also introduced health savings accounts and a no-private-mortgage-insurance option for qualified borrowers.

Casey said the credit downturn didn't have a big effect on the credit union in 2007.

The credit union didn't offer loans to high numbers of unqualified borrowers, which was the major cause of the subprime lending meltdown, Casey said. "Everything we do is based on relationships."

Family Trust in 2007 was one of only two local businesses to receive the Diamond Award from the Rock Hill school district for its support of the district. It also continues to support teacher grant programs and the Eddie Reeves scholarship fund.

Also at the meeting Tuesday, members elected Samuel "Smokey" Childers, Beverly Ellis, Brown Simpson Jr. and Patsy Walker to the board of directors.

President and CEO Lee Gardner reported that the credit union hopes to open its first branch in Clover by fall of this year and make improvements to the credit union's Web site, bill-paying service and credit and debit cards in 2008.

Full copies of the annual report are available at Family Trust branches. For more details, call (803) 367-4100 or visit the Web site