It’s official: Frenchtown Financial Center open
[subtitle] Frenchtown Financial Center open [/subtitle]
St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
When Darryl Worrell came to town to head up Envision Credit Union, some of the top executives from Florida State Credit Unions were first to have a sit-down with him.
Right away they began to discuss partnership possibilities. Not much materialized until a year ago when Rev. R. B. Holmes put the idea of a partnership on the table.
On Monday under a blazing morning sun, it all came to fruition with the grand opening of the Frenchtown Financial Opportunity Center (FFOC). Every speaker encouraged the estimated 100 in attendance to support the initiative, which gives Frenchdown its first modern era banking institution.
It shouldn’t take long to become sustainable, Worrell said.
“We know where our heart is,” he said. “We know what our mission is and if everyone in this community supports it, I can promise you it’s going to be a success.”
Government and civic leaders lauded the credit union launching before Holmes used ceremonial giant-size scissors to snap a red ribbon, marking the official opening.
Holmes was repeatedly applauded for having the foresight that led to the joint venture.
“There have been many great days in this community, starting with this great man,” said Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce president Sean Pittman, pointing to Holmes. “Since he has been here, he has focused not just on his congregation but on his neighborhood. Step after step, idea after idea, he’s been leading the effort to revitalize this community.”
Several in the crowd expressed interest in becoming members, but they were asked to register Monday morning then return to complete paperwork to avoid a long wait.
James Matthews was one of those who wanted to sign up.
“This brings more of an anchor to Frenchtown,” he said. “It’s something that has been missing in terms of economic development. I’m happy to be able to join this credit union. It means a lot to the future.”
Since it first opened about a month ago, 24 new members have joined, according to Chuck Adcock, vice president of FSU Credit Union. Should membership continue to grow with at least 15 monthly it would be encouraging, he said.
New members could start an account with just $5.
The credit union, which is located on the corner of Tennessee Street and MLK Blvd., is part of a bigger picture that Bethel Missionary Baptist’s Economic Development Ministries has undertaken.
Under the leadership of Keith Bowers, who also is regional director for FAMU Small Business Development Center, the church has already built a housing community, has a school and housing for senior citizens. The larger part of the development will come with a self-contained community that features shops, offices and housing.
Holmes first outlined the Frenchtown redevelopment project in 2007 and it has since been unfolding piece by piece.
The FFOC is being hailed as a significant piece.
“This is a game-changing moment for this community,” said Leon County Commission chairman Bill Proctor. “It makes a statement about how we see the future. We are so glad to have Envision and FSU credit unions coming together for a unique, dynamic moment of change.”