WH’s Fairfield Community Credit Union putting money where its service is

When one applies the old economic rule of thumb that money “turns over” seven times before leaving a community, a recently opened Fairfield Community Credit Union in White Hall will be generating a multimillion dollar boost to the city.

And that’s figured just on construction and start-up costs alone.

FCCU Chief Executive Officer Alan McFalls said Wednesday that the new location at 7010 Sheridan Road represented a $2.1-million investment, so the overall initial effect on the area should be an economic injection of roughly $15 million.

Adding to the lift is the fact that about 90 percent of the construction and interior decorating was done by local interests, which was in keeping with McFalls’ plan for the community to have an increased “sense of ownership” with the facility.

Marketing Director Cindy Dunn said FCCU members were primary players with the start-up team.

“We wanted to keep the money here,” Dunn said. “We’re a full community partner. Our employees here are exceptional with one another and our customers, and we want to have a family atmosphere for everyone. Our customers care for us as much as we care for them. They are our owners and we want them to be happy.”

Dunn said FCCU’s 11-member staff has a goal of ensuring its customers and others within the firm’s service area feel that their contact with the operation constitutes “a positive, personal touch.”

Dunn said FCCU officials wanted visitors to sense warmth when entering the facility, which features a centralized seating area that includes decor ranging from a wall-mounted head of an elk to a pair of stuffed bobcats on a mantle surrounding a raised, glass-sided fireplace. The game pieces are trophies of McFalls’ hunting experiences, and notions for the area’s arrangement and features came from McFalls and Branch Manager Jeff May.

“I love coming in here,” Dunn said. “The whole atmosphere makes you feel good. Everyone has been in awe with the office. Our customers and staff are very proud, and they should be.”

She compared the flavor of the site to that of a lodge. “We’re not a bank, and we didn’t want to look like one,” Dunn said.

Construction at the location began during the past summer and concluded in January. Dunn’s husband, contractor Shawn Dunn, oversaw building activities.

McFalls’ appreciation for nature was reflected in a selection of LED interior and exterior lighting for the entire facility. Cindy Dunn said FCCU is the first building in the state to be totally illuminated by LED — light-emitting diodes. She said the business and its lighting would be the subject of an article in an upcoming national publication.

Jimmy Davison of Irby Electrical Distributor in Pine Bluff provided guidance on FCCU’s LED lighting project, which he described as “state of the art.” Davison said LED units have a number of advantages over incandescent light sources — including lasting longer, producing increased lighting for less voltage, generating less heat, being much cheaper to operate and functioning mercury-free.

“The energy savings is just phenomenal,” Davison said, adding that LED is the “greenest lighting source going” currently.

McFalls said the White Hall operation achieved a goal for FCCU of operating across Jefferson County.

“We are countywide now,” he said, noting sister locations at 206 Highway 81 North and 3310 Camden Road in Pine Bluff. “We had missed out on not being in White Hall, and residents there had missed out on having a Fairfield Community Credit Union office there.”

McFalls said he’s glad that the White Hall branch will enable FCCU to provide “more financial opportunities.”

Cindy Dunn said FCCU is an active supporter of participant in assorted public service programs and projects and intends to expand such presence in White Hall. Additional developments around the White Hall site will likely be announced within the next two years, McFalls said. Dunn said the firm would eventually host “special activities” for the community.

“We’re excited to be in White Hall and across the county,” said McFalls.