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Caring for Our Community: Credit Union of Georgia by Miranda Wiley

March 25, 20245 min read

Credit Union of Georgia was first established in 1960 to serve local school systems and institutions of higher learning but has since expanded to serve 13 counties across Northwest Georgia. Since its inception, the Credit Union of Georgia has been dedicated to providing superior financial services to its members as well as continuing a proud history of donating to school organizations and educational causes in both Cherokee and Cobb counties. If you live or work in Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Dawson, Douglas, Fannin, Forsyth, Fulton, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Paulding, Pickens, or Union County, you are eligible for membership.

Jason Blakey is the Cherokee Area Business Development Manager and emphasizes that Credit Union of Georgia is not just about transactions, but about building strong, lasting relationships with their members. This relational approach results in numerous benefits for members, such as higher interest rates on savings, more competitive interest rates on loans, and minimized fees.

Two of the most important ways that credit unions differ from banks is their non-profit status as well as their members versus customers philosophy. Banks have customers while credit unions have members. Banks are for profit while credit unions are not for profit. To further clarify, Jason shares, “When I say we’re not for profit, it doesn’t mean we don’t have a profit because we do. And when we do have those profits, we put that money back into the credit union in the form of higher interest rates on savings, more competitive interest rates on loans, and fewer or lesser fees.” He explains that when a bank has a profit, which is reflected in the form of a dividend or a higher share price for their shareholders. It does not always translate to a benefit for their customers. He continues, “That’s the big difference on profit from a membership versus a customer mentality. When you are a member somewhere, it is more relationship based. When you are a customer, it is more about the transaction. Outside of those two differences, most everything you can do at a bank, you can do at a credit union.”

Before coming to Credit Union of Georgia, Jason was in a sales commission job and found himself ready to leave behind the “feast or famine” of that position, prompting him to make a career shift. He accepted a position in 2008 at the credit union first as a teller before moving up through many positions including account representative, loan officer, business development in the Cobb County school system, heading up the business services department, assistant manager, and then branch manager for one, then two, then all Cherokee branches; all before moving into his current position where he jokes that he is out “preaching the credit union gospel in the highways and byways of Cherokee County.”

Jason and his wife enjoy hiking, finding time away from their careers to get in the woods to soak up some sunlight and enjoy God’s creation in the North Georgia mountains. Jason finds their hikes to be refreshing and takes a lot of stress of day-to-day life away. His wife is an educator here in Cherokee County, and they stay busy with their three children’s activities including wrestling, football, and track.

Some misconceptions that linger about credit unions include that you must work for a specific employer to be eligible for membership, as was the case years ago and still occasionally applies to Select Employee Groups (SEGs). But with the change to their charter in 2007, anyone working or residing in the counties listed above is eligible for membership at Credit Union of Georgia. Another common misunderstanding is that credit unions are strictly for savings—and while they do offer savings vehicles, they also offer other banking services such as checking accounts and personal and commercial lending as well.

Jason further emphasizes the unique culture and community-focused ethos of Credit Union of Georgia, highlighting the warm family-like environment, their commitment to building strong relationships with members and the community, and their active involvement in charity works. They have given back to many organizations just recently through the holiday season, including Cherokee County schools, Marietta City schools, Cobb County schools, The Salvation Army, and supporting a pet supply drive for local animal shelters.

Beyond the services they offer, the culture at the Credit Union of Georgia is what keeps Jason and his colleagues motivated. They enjoy building relationships with members and serving the community, which creates a rewarding work environment. Jason jokes that there are “two things that make the world go ‘round – the people you meet and the contacts you make.” He enjoys being a “connector” between members, knowing that it may not always pay off in a business deal immediately but building those relationships will always be worth it in the long run. Jason adds, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Jason urges anyone who is dissatisfied with their current banking experience to consider credit unions. Credit Union of Georgia offers a range of services, from savings accounts to various loans, all aimed at serving their members better and to provide a refreshing alternative to traditional banking. Often their savings rates on products such as CDs as well as loan rates are better than what traditional banks are offering. With their motto of “Better Banking. Better Benefits. Better Believe It.” and three locations in Cherokee County – off Riverstone Parkway in Canton, Hickory Flat, and Towne Lake – they are ready to welcome you as a member and serve our community!

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