Strata Credit Union will host a groundbreaking event on Thursday, Sept. 29, to introduce its latest branch to benefit underserved communities like Wasco.
"This is a $3.4 million investment that the credit union is making in the community of Wasco. It is a celebration, and we are inviting residents of Wasco to come join us," said Jose Gonzalez, vice president of sales and membership.
The event will be an opportunity to get to know Strata leadership and learn more about its products and financial resources.
Gonzalez said there is a big difference between a national bank and a credit union.
"A national bank is accountable to their stock owners. Instead, we are accountable to our members. We are a nonprofit, while national banks are not nonprofits."
With their branch, it will be a convenience for the residents of Wasco because the closest credit unions are in Delano or Bakersfield.
Gonzalez said that Strata is an alternative to predatory lenders and cash checking businesses, so people don't have to borrow at high-interest rates or cash their payroll check for a fee.
"We see a lot of community members that are taken advantage of."
He adds that members will have access to no-cost services and low-interest rates when it comes to any lending product.
Strata makes it possible for people without a social security number to open a savings or checking account and take out a mortgage loan so they can buy their first home.
One can open a checking account with a $25 deposit and $5 for a savings account.
Gonzalez said the groundbreaking is special because it is asign of hope for the community of Wasco that there are bigger things to come to the city.
"We are here to provide additional help to serve better and give access to financial resources to support families."
For those that have problems with their credit or have no credit at all, Strata has products to benefit them to improve and build credit."
Another benefit to community members is that they will have access to the credit union network, Co-op, where they can go to any Co-op ATM and utilize it for free.
"This gives them access to an abundance of ATMs across the country. Co-op has over 30,000 ATMs in the United States," said Gonzalez.
The Strata team is bilingual to accommodate the needs of Spanish speakers.
"This is important because we need to reflect the communities we are in, and we need to be able to communicate in their language to ensure they have the best experience possible."
The bank hopes to hire eight employees locally to fill the positions of mortgage loan officer, service specialist, financial representative, branch manager and four member services representatives.
Strata is expected to open its doors next summer in 2023.
"We look forward to a partnership that will help residents, students and local government."
The event will take place at 401 N. Central Ave. in the Walmart Shopping Center from 9:30 to 11 a.m. A light breakfast will be served, including pastries, cookies and refreshments from a local bakery and market. For more information, call 661-327-9461.