Community members, East Lansing business owners and city workers gathered Friday (July 21) to formally celebrate the grand opening of the new Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) Abbot Road Branch.
The opening of the MSUFCU Abbot Road Branch has been long anticipated. The full-service branch, which replaces the former branch located at 523 Grand River Ave., features an integrated design, offering sit-down desks rather than the traditional teller line and opened for business June 21. Construction on the seven-story structure at the corner of Abbot and Albert roads began in 2021.
Throughout the grand opening celebration, MSUFCU emphasized the theme of “Strength in Roots,” and that the new branch was built in order to give back to the community it calls home and has been serving for over 85 years.
Attendees were greeted at the 10:30 a.m. event by the music of the Michigan State University College of Music Jazz Ensemble. The ensemble, whose long history of partnering with MSUFCU was highlighted in a video, played throughout the event.
Snacks and refreshments were provided by local East Lansing businesses and included shakes and drinks from The Edge MSU, coffee from Blue Owl, pastries from Mitten Raised Bakery, and sandwiches and salads from Campbell’s Market Basket.
Attendees made their way to the second floor where the community rooms are located. As they waited for formal remarks, they were able to mingle with others, enjoy the food and drinks provided, and take pictures in front of a photo-op wall reading “dream BIG” or with three MSU Championship Trophies on display.
Chief Community Impact Officer of MSUFCU Susi Elkins began formal remarks and thanked everyone for attending. She also recognized the MSUFCU Board of Directors who attended and the branch leadership team at the new Abbot Road Branch, applauding them for all of their hard work.
“Of course, this is a beautiful building,” Elkins said. ”But what really makes the Credit Union special is our employees and the connections they make with members. This is a representation of that and we want to thank you so much for really taking care of the membership.”
MSUFCU Board of Directors Chair Greg Deppong expressed his excitement to see the branch finally opened and serving the East Lansing community.
“For the Credit Union, East Lansing is home,” Deppong said. ”And as we expand far and wide, our home roots grow stronger and this building is a testament to that. It promises to be a place for gathering, celebrating, service and, of course, celebrating.”
Deppong expressed the pride he has for MSUFCU’s long-standing commitment to MSU.
Interim President of Michigan State University Teresa K. Woodruff seconded this sentiment, following Deppong’s remarks by sharing a history of the partnership between MSUFCU and MSU and all the credit union has done for the university.
“The credit union has been an incredible partner of Michigan State and the wider community since the Great Depression,” Woodruff said. “Coming out of that time in 1937, can you imagine dreaming big? When financial hardship was the name of the game? But it really was from the Michigan State folks who decided that we needed to come together, even in those difficult days, to help each other.”
Woodruff shared two specific aspects of what the credit union does in partnership with MSU: philanthropy and community service.
MSUFCU is among MSU’s largest funders, investing $30 million in the university in scholarships and endowments, half of which has gone to the arts.
MSUFCU has also partnered with the university to provide students with financial counseling, given many students access to an internship program, and has joined the name, image, and likeness (NIL) sponsorship for student athletes.
Nala Barlow, a member of the MSU track and field team, has been a NIL partnership athlete with MSUFCU since 2022 and shared her experience working with the credit union.
“Having the opportunity to partner with MSUFCU, I am a part of something bigger than myself,” Barlow said. “If I could choose one word to describe what it has been like to be a NIL partnership athlete and a representative of the credit union, I would choose ‘empowered.’ I have been able to make a meaningful contribution to my community, my professional development is being accelerated, I have more confidence in my leadership skills. I truly believe this opportunity has allowed me to build a foundation for what is ahead.”
The credit union not only plays a large role with the university but also with the city of East Lansing as a whole.
Mayor Ron Bacon spoke at the event and thanked not only the members of MSUFCU but also members of the many city commissions who made creation of the downtown branch possible. He shared that he believes MSU, MSFCU and the city of East Lansing function as a team.
“We must grow in a wise and efficient manner, both as a community and as a team,” Bacon said. “Us [the city], MSU and MSUFCU, we’re inseparable. The theme of today was strength in roots and, as I was sitting outside, when you think of the height of this building, the depths of this relationship, particularly between MSU and MSUFCU, go far deeper.”
Other organizations that have partnered with MSUFCU shared their appreciation and excitement for the new branch including Rebuen Levinsohn, investor and strategic partner from Blue Owl Coffee; Brandon Markham, project architect of Neumann/Smith; and Glenn Granger, president and CEO of Granger Construction.
April Clobes, president and CEO of MSUFCU, closed out the two-hour event by thanking all attendees for being there and everyone involved in making this branch opening possible.
Clobes also discussed the recent news that MSUFCU will be expanding to Chicago with five new branch locations.
“When we branch to Chicago, it’s because there are a lot of MSU alums in Chicago and they have accounts at the credit union,” Clobes said. “And the thing that we know from all of this time and data and history is that when we put a branch in a location, the credit union grows about 30%.”
MSUFCU was created to serve Michigan State University, Clobes said, and when decisions are made, such as building the Abbot Road Branch or expanding to Chicago, “we make our decisions on if we are living to that original decision for the credit union to lift up MSU faculty, staff and then, eventually, students and alumni.”
When deciding to build the new branch, Clobes said the question was asked, “How do we partner better with the city of East Lansing?” And, she added, the answer to that question included to “have a walkable space for the faculty and staff to come across the street, do the transactions in the branch, have the ability to utilize this beautiful community room for their events and programs, to have alumni be able to come here and, in the future, maybe have a place to remote work when they’re visiting campus.”
Following formal remarks, there was an official ribbon cutting ceremony with the MSUFCU board of directors, MSUFCU staff and event speakers. Attendees were able to continue to enjoy the music, snacks and other refreshments, as well as to tour the new seven story building. On their way out, attendees were invited to grab a cookie made by MSU Bakers and a succulent plant, keeping with the “Strength in Roots” theme of the grand opening event.