Chartered January 17, 1962, West Florida Central Credit Union, one of three Central Credit Unions established by the state of Florida, was the credit union for other credit union employees and officials in the West Florida Area. We had one employee and operated out of an office in the Telco Federal Credit Union building until 1973, at which time, a second employee was hired, and our first West Florida Central Credit Union office was established.
Credit Unions are financial cooperatives – meaning we (members) pool our money (savings) to loan to our fellow members. Our loan rates must provide the income to pay dividends on the savings AND expenses of the credit union. Our fees and earnings on investments also supplement our income.
In 1969, the State of Florida approved the addition of other liquidating credit unions and SEGs (Small Employee Groups) that were unable to support themselves or develop their own credit union. We were able to merge credit unions such as: Sacred Heart Employees Credit Union, Enlisted Men’s Credit Union, Borden’s Dairy Credit Union, Automobile Dealers Credit Union, SPC Credit Union, Westinghouse, Community Mental Health (Lakeview) and Armstrong World Industries. During the next five years, the credit union grew rapidly merging other credit unions and offering more services.
We were able to expand our reach into Okaloosa County in 1976 when Eglin FCU allowed us to begin operating an office out of their Ft. Walton Beach Office. Eglin FCU’s CEO was a member of the Board of Directors of West Florida Central Credit Union at that time.
In 1978, the central credit union for the Jacksonville, FL area – Jacksonville Central Credit Union - was merged with us, West Florida Central, doubling the credit union in size overnight. To represent the entire geographical area, we changed the name to Central Credit Union of Florida and maintained a branch in the Jacksonville area until 2005.
During the 1980s and 90s, there was an explosion of financial services offered by credit unions - checking accounts, lines of credit, IRAs, ATMs, etc. We were one of the first credit unions to offer open-end credit, home equity loans and credit cards. During this time we operated a branch in a facility shared with two other local credit unions in the Eastgate Plaza-area of East Pensacola. We moved from this location to our third branch on Dunmire Road in 1988. This office was relocated in Aug. 1989 to Creighton Road, and again in Oct. 2001 to Airport Road, and most recently, in 2006, to our current location known as our Cordova office.
In June 1982, the State of Florida wanted to start a community credit union which would give people the opportunity to join a credit union without having a common bond (such as an employer). Therefore, allowing people to join a community credit union if they resided within 100 miles of the credit union. Central Credit Union was made the first community credit union in the state of Florida.
As a result of subsequent changes to the Florida Statutes, our field of membership broadened to include anyone living or working in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Duval Counties. This allowed us to open an additional branch in the northern area of Escambia County in 2004, which was known as our Fox Run branch.
Because we are not a closed field of membership, we do not have a business or company to support us - such as Monsanto supported their credit union with free rent, electricity or just funds to operate, Pen Air, supported by government, or Gulf Power supporting Gulf Power Credit Union. We support ourselves through sound, conservative fiscal standards and practices.
During the late 1990s, the credit union made the decision that we wanted to be a credit union for all people and stick with the philosophy of what a credit union really is….people helping people. We specialize in the practice of ‘one member at a time’, considering all their financial needs, not joining the masses. Our mission is to give personal service that will “serve the needs of our members beyond their expectations”.
In 2006, we were the first Northwest Florida credit union to join the Shared Branching Network, which allows our members to access their accounts at more than 5,000 branches worldwide. This also enables non-members to use our credit union offices to access their accounts at other credit unions on the network.
As Central continued to grow, an opportunity to join two credit unions with the same philosophy appeared. In 2007, Central Credit Union of Florida acquired Endeavor Federal Credit Union (formerly Telco of Florida Credit Union). This merger doubled the credit union size bringing our assets to more than $100 million and our membership to more than 13,000. The merger with Endeavor added two additional branches to our footprint, one in Ft. Walton Beach and another in Panama City.
In preparation for the relocation of our Panama City branch in Dec. 2013, Central requested from, and was granted by the State of Florida, permission to expand our field of membership in Aug. 2013. Our field of membership now encompasses Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Washington, Bay and Duval counties.
Credit unions are unique. Unlike banks, our Board of Directors are not paid, they are volunteers elected by the membership, and are responsible for setting the policies for the credit union.
Since 1995, Central Credit Union of Florida has continuously received the 5-Star rating from Bauer Financial, the nation’s leading independent bank rating firm. The 5-Star rating denotes the absolute highest level of banking performance and is the firm’s highest rating.
In 2014, Central Credit Union of Florida was voted BEST of the BAY CREDIT UNION by members and non-members in the Pensacola News Journal’s BEST of the BAY competition. We feel this proves we are exceeding the expectations of our members and our level of community involvement is recognized by all.
We were able, in 2015, to begin the process of building a new Home Office facility on the site of our Fox Run branch. Construction was completed, and we were able to take occupancy in April 2017.
As a state chartered, federally insured credit union, we not only abide by the State of Florida Statutes but also federal regulations for financial institutions (NCUA). We are a very safe and sound institution. Central Credit Union of Florida continues to have a dedicated Board of Directors and staff that exemplify our mission: “We will serve the needs of our members beyond their expectations,” as well as our vision: “To be the community credit union of choice providing financial opportunities that last a lifetime.”