Ent Credit Union, already southern Colorado's largest financial institution, doubled its potential membership base to about 3 million by winning approval Friday from state regulators to add three Denver area counties and Fremont County to its territory along the Front Range.
The Colorado Financial Services Board approved Ent's application to add Arapahoe, Douglas, Fremont and Jefferson counties, which have a combined population of 1.54 million, to its territory that already includes Denver, El Paso, Pueblo and Teller counties as well as parts of Adams and Weld counties.
Ent, which already has about 15,000 members in the four counties, plans to open a branch in Castle Rock by the first quarter of 2017 and up to four more during the next two or three years, said Chad Graves, the credit union's senior executive vice president of operations and technology.
"This is a great opportunity for us," Graves said Monday. "We are not looking at going up and dominating any market there. We are just serving our existing members and expanding a bit. We want to be able to take care of the members we already have in those areas and provide them better services."
Ent began the expansion push in October, when it asked its 267,000 members to approve switching its charter from a federal to a state charter to allow the credit union to expand more easily. Members approved the change and Ent sought approval from the board shortly after the change took effect in January, Graves said.
"This expansion allows us to increase our geographic and economic diversity, providing our credit union with added stability during economic downturns, and will also provide increased service convenience to our members as we add ATM and service center locations in these new communities," Ent CEO Randy Bernstein said Monday in a news release.
Ent has no plans to add more Denver-area counties to its territory and is mostly focusing its expansion on the southern end of the Denver area as well as communities along the E-470 tollway on the east side of the metro area adjacent to Buckley Air Force Base where the credit union already has many members, Graves said.
Ent operates 27 branches in the Springs, Denver and Pueblo areas with $4.38 billion in assets, $3.58 billion in deposits and $3.28 billion in loans as of March 31. The credit union plans to begin construction in a few weeks on its 28th branch in Pueblo West. Ent was started in 1957 with $602 in deposits from 30 members who worked at the former Ent Air Force Base.
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