Granite Credit Union opens Rancho Market branch in bid to reach out to Latinos, immigrants

Granite Credit Union President Mark Young stands with oversized scissors after a ceremony Thursday inaugurating a new credit union branch at Rancho Markets in Salt Lake City.

Granite Credit Union President Mark Young stands with oversized scissors after a ceremony Thursday inaugurating a new credit union branch at Rancho Markets in Salt Lake City. (Tim Vandenack,

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SALT LAKE CITY — In a bid to reach out to the Latino and immigrant communities, Granite Credit Union has opened a branch inside the Rancho Markets location on Salt Lake City's west side.

The Millcreek-based credit union has plans to open a branch in the Rancho location in Ogden, perhaps in July, and is also investigating installation of branches at Rancho Markets locations in West Valley City and Clearfield.

"This is a celebration of community partners coming together to offer financial services to the people in this area and particularly to those who may not have had access to financial services in the past," Granite President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Young said at a ceremony Thursday to mark the opening.

Notably, Wells Fargo Bank has made outreach to the Latino and immigrant communities in the United States a priority, at least one factor prodding Granite officials to take more aggressive efforts in the unique market. "If Wells can do it, then we thought, well, we can do it too," Young said.

In fact, some Latino newcomers may be uneasy dealing with U.S. banks, he said, and the partnership with Rancho, which caters to a heavily Hispanic clientele, aims to temper such jitters. "The Hispanic community doesn't seem to be as trusting of banks from their experience in their country, so this builds a trusted partnership," he said.

Also taking part in Thursday's ceremonial kickoff were Rancho Chief Executive Officer Eli Madrigal, Juan Pascua of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Utah Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City.

"We have many gaps, many challenges to find the correct way, the correct help to grow in this community," Pascua said. Granite's outreach efforts, he said, allow Latinos to "get the specific help to grow with our family, our children and everything."

Escamilla, a Democrat who represents the area, said with the seeming surge in anti-immigrant rhetoric, "some people now are hesitant to walk into a big institution and say, 'Hey, here's all my info. I need to open an account.'" Granite's outreach helps dispel such worries.

"It's just going to make it easier. It's really about customer experience," she said. Staffers at the new Rancho location are bilingual.

Among other products, Granite offers home loans to anyone with individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITINs, which the U.S. government grants to immigrants and others unable to get Social Security numbers. Granite also provides accounts to people without a Social Security number.

Some financial institutions may view such customers as less rooted in a community and potentially more risky, but Young countered, saying, over the last year, Granite has provided $25 million in home loans and $5 million in auto loans to people with ITINs.

"We haven't found that," he said. Loans to buy homes and cars to those with ITINs "have performed amazingly, better than our other business, to be honest with you."

The credit union, last year, garnered a Juntos Avanzamos designation from Inclusiv — also part of its outreach efforts to Latinos. Juntos Avanzamos status is granted to credit unions committed to serving Latino customers. Juntos Avanzamos means "together we advance" in English.

In many communities "immigrants remain largely unbanked and vulnerable to predatory financial service providers," according to New York-based Inclusiv, which promotes expansion of financial services via credit unions to low- and moderate-income people.

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.


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