A venerable San Jose, California-based credit union geared toward the technology community is considering setting up shop in Boise.
Tech CU, formally known as Technology Credit Union, hasn’t filed paperwork with the state of Idaho nor received approval from its board, but it is looking at Idaho for its first branch outside of California, according to Guy Hadnot, senior vice president of marketing for the credit union.
“We follow the news. We know Boise is a burgeoning tech hub,” Hadnot said.
In particular, many Californians are moving to Idaho, he noted, though “a lot of things have to happen before we can say we’re going into Idaho.”
“We are super excited,” said Jess Fuhrman, director of business development for the Idaho Technology Council. “They are a huge player in developing talent and supporting our educational initiatives.”
Blame the Californians
The credit union has had a lot of requests to open a branch in Idaho, said Richard P. Ruiz, recently hired as vice president and head of emerging markets. The credit union works with companies located in Idaho such as Applied Materials, HP and Micron, said Cathy Caday, market development officer.
Part of what appeals to the credit union is how many Californians – particularly from the Bay Area – are moving to Idaho.
“We’re in Silicon Valley, one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.,” said Hadnot. “A lot of people in California, especially from Silicon Valley, are interested in moving to Idaho for the cost of living and the burgeoning technology environment.”
The credit union is also considering other destinations for the Silicon Valley diaspora, such as Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle, Hadnot said.
“There are a lot of states that are focused on technology as an industry growth opportunity,” he said. “All we’re doing at this point is seeing what’s happening in the technology marketplace. There are states out there that are making strong appeals for tech. If you want a tech company and you want to have employees, it’s expensive to live here (in Silicon Valley). They’re looking at other places to start up and taking the people with them.”
The next step for the credit union would be to gain information about the opportunity, Hadnot said. Ruiz and Caday said they had a visit to Idaho scheduled in late February. While Hadnot won’t be on that trip, he and his wife have traveled through Idaho and Boise.
“We liked it,” he said, citing the area’s openness, lack of traffic, outdoor recreation and four seasons.
Should the credit union decide to pursue opening a branch in Idaho, its executive team would then have to get approval from its board and file paperwork with the state regulatory body, Hadnot said.
Where exactly the credit union would put a branch is yet to be determined, Ruiz said.
“Preferably in a high-traffic area” – foot traffic as well as automobiles, he said.
It also isn’t clear how many jobs such a credit union would bring to the area.
History and competition
The Tech CU credit union was founded in 1960 as Fairchild Semiconductor Federal Credit Union, with a field of membership of employees from the Fairchild Camera and Instrument Semiconductor Division, according to the company’s website. It now has more than 120,000 members and 10 branches and is one of the 100 largest credit unions in the U.S.
While Tech CU isn’t the only credit union geared toward the technology community, nor would it even be the first in Idaho – First Tech Federal Credit Union, founded by employees from Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix, has a branch at the HP campus on Chinden Blvd. in Boise – Tech CU offers benefits to employees that it does not offer to the general public, such as a $150 bonus for deposits and other bonuses for mortgages and car loans, Caday said.
In addition, Tech CU offers federally guaranteed Small Business Administration loans, Ruiz said.