financial center

MILESTONE — Art Lehman (center) cuts the Greater Kokomo Chamber of Commerce ribbon during Financial Center Credit Union’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Left to right) Charlie Sparks, president and CEO of Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance; Liz Kerns, Chamber Manager; Paula Turney, branch manager; Art Lehman, chief business development officer; J. Kevin Ryan, president and CEO; and Larry Marcum, chairman of the board.

The opening of Financial Center Credit Union recently was heralded with a ribbon cutting at its location on Dixon Road.

The event marked the opening of an endeavor representing the merger of Kokomo Heritage Federal Credit Union and Financial Center, which culminated in the founding of Financial Center Credit Union. The new organization now will be housed in its new 3,450-square-foot branch located at 1935 S. Dixon Road.

The merger of Kokomo Heritage Federal Union, a $10 million credit union formerly associated with Continental Steel, and Financial Center, a 66-year-old, $560-million, state-charged credit union based in Indianapolis, not only gave rise to the new financial institution, but also the founding created a location that will house multiple assets for the community.

Chief among those is a 1,000-square-foot financial education center that will host classes and serve as a free community meeting space for local groups.

According to Art Lehman, the CEO of Kokomo Heritage, the partnership between his organization and Financial Center came about due to the Indianapolis-institution’s focus on encouraging financial literacy.

“Part of the reason we picked Financial Center was because of their dedication to financial literacy … We decided we should pick someone with that same commitment,” said Lehman.

Kevin Ryan, the CEO and president of Financial Center, echoed Lehman’s sentiments and championed his organization’s ongoing financial training efforts. Last year, he said, Financial Center provided financial literacy education to more than 9,000 individuals, and he hoped to accomplish such things in Kokomo as well.

“It’s something we’re very strong at,” said Ryan. “We have several of our team members who focus solely on financial literacy.”

In the merger, Lehman will assume the position of chief officer for Financial Center in Kokomo. Kokomo Heritage’s membership, it was noted, would continue to be served by the organization’s existing staff after the merger as well. Employees of Kokomo Heritage retained positions within the new institution.

Kokomo Heritage’s old branch will be put to use within the community as well.

It was announced during last week’s ribbon cutting that the former branch, located on Courtland Avenue, was to be donated to the Literacy Coalition of Howard County.

Charlie Sparks, the president of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance, also spoke during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Sparks championed the new facility as a valuable addition to Kokomo.

“Thank you,” said Sparks. “Thank you for your confidence in Kokomo and thank you for your investment here.”