By Samantha Sunne Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Kimberly-Clark paper mill is shutting down this year, but its credit union is not. The mill’s closure will have few effects on Mill Town Credit Union, Chief Executive Officer Laura Leuze said.
One is that Mill Town might have to move off Kimberly-Clark’s property on the waterfront. But the institution itself is safe and sound.
“We’re really stable and in really good financial shape,” Leuze said. “We’re able to absorb a lot of losses because we have a lot of money set aside.”
In fact, Mill Town Credit Union has the highest capital as a percentage of assets out of all similarly sized credit unions in the state. Capital is the amount of money a financial institution keeps in reserve, in case of hard times.
Mill Town’s high capital ratio means it has a lot of padding to protect it from losses, Linda Jekel said.
Jekel is the director of credit unions for the state Department of Financial Institutions, which regulates and examines state financial service providers. She said Mill Town’s income is lower than would be desired, but the credit union is not in danger because of its capital reserves.
Though Mill Town was originally chartered in 1939 to serve mill employees, its membership has expanded. Now anyone living or working in Snohomish, Skagit or Island counties can open an account.
The credit union provides a full range of services, including checking, savings and credit services. It offers consumer, but not business, loans.
“We never stopped lending when commercial banks stopped,” Leuze said.
Mill workers make up about a fifth of Mill Town’s membership. A few, Leuze said, have closed their accounts and moved away, but most have stayed. She said the credit union is working individually with members who are affected by the mill’s closure.
“We’re small, so we really give individual attention to everyone,” she said.
Financial reports show that Mill Town has grown over the past couple of years. Loans did decrease this year, but Jekel said that was not by an unusual amount.
“In this economic environment, a lot of people are not borrowing,” she said.
Bankrate, an independent rating service that analyzes those financial reports, rated Mill Town “sound.” It gave the credit union four stars out of five among credit unions of its size.