- Front Porch
MERIDEN — Connex Credit Union opened its doors Tuesday in its new home at Townline Square on Route 5, one of several new tenants that have significantly changed the plaza’s offerings.
The seven-year-old branch closed its Wallingford location to move into space next to the new Edge Fitness Center, which also held a grand opening this week.
“One of our core values is customer advocacy,” said Connex President Frank Mancini. “It’s all about acting in our customers’ best interests.”
Connex is a 74-year-old credit union headquartered in North Haven. It opened its former location at 970 N. Colony Road in Wallingford about six or seven years ago. But a downturn in traffic at the plaza, which also houses Big Lots and the Holiday Stadium Cinemas 10, and a need to serve its core demographic led to the move.
“Meriden scored higher in terms of relocation,” Mancini said.
After a ribbon cutting and a few speeches, Connex presented a $500 check to Meriden Boys & Girl’s Club Executive Director Lawrence McGoldrick. It also plans to present an additional $10 to the agency for every checking account it opens in the next month up to $500.
Credit unions nationally have enjoyed a resurgence in growth following the bank bailouts in 2008 and the Occupy Wall Street movement that encouraged people to take their money out of “too big to fail” institutions.
“A lot of members feel disenfranchised with big banks,” Mancini said.
Connex has seven branches, primarily in the New Haven area, and 48,000 members. Like other credit unions, Connex has created ways that allow it to compete with the breadth of services offered by larger banks. For instance, customers can access their accounts at other shared credit unions nationwide, as well as at 50,000 ATMs. Connex also has mobile banking apps for smartphones that can be used for paying bills and to scan and deposit checks.
Connex introduced interactive ATM machines at the new location. Interactive teller machines give customers access to a live teller on a video screen at the machine that can help process deposits, answer questions, and move transactions faster. If customers don’t have their ATM cards, they need only show the teller a license for approval. The tellers can be available up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, according to recent news reports.
Credit unions are spending more time ensuring their clients are financially literate. They’ve begun offering workshops in home buying, credit repair and retirement planning to provide a wider suite of services, Mancini said.
“We’ve geared all of our efforts to help the members,” he said. “We’re going to spend time with them and track progress.”
Mayor Manny Santos welcomed the credit union to Meriden, and said he is pleased the plaza is 100 percent occupied. The credit union helps fill space previously occupied by Linens ’n Things and Old Navy, which left several years ago.
“We look forward to working with you,” said Santos, recalling a car loan he had with the credit union.
The area around the closed Connex branch in Wallingford has seen some new restaurant users this year, but it is zoned for several uses, said Timothy Ryan, economic development specialist for Wallingford. Kiwi Spoon, a frozen yogurt shop, and Wood-n-Tap Bar and Grill opened within the past year. But the property was developed for a financial user.
While no one has specifically inquired about the property, Ryan said it does lend itself to a variety of uses.
“It is prime real estate and has good traffic numbers,” Ryan said.
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