How ACU’s Business Financial Centre helps build strong communities

Nothing is business as usual at Assiniboine Credit Union’s Business Financial Centre (BFC). And that’s completely intentional. With its strong commitment to community and deep expertise in real estate and construction financing, BFC isn’t like every other commercial lender. Many financial institutions help build businesses, yet few help build communities.

Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada

Here’s how ACU’s Business Financial Centre excels at both.

The credit union advantage

BFC specializes in serving medium to large businesses as well as public institutions like schools and municipalities.

Its services include:

  • customized accounts and deposit strategies
  • financial advice and counseling
  • term loans
  • operating loans
  • leasing
  • payroll
  • cash management
  • credit card products
  • operating lines of credit
  • letters of credit
  • commercial mortgages
  • construction financing and bridge financing

BFC advisors pride themselves on being there for members — who are all owners of the credit union — in a way most large financial institutions simply can’t be.

“ACU is more accessible and provides a more member-focused service. Our members can call us directly with their needs and are assisted by an entire support team,” says Michelle Hardy, Commercial Account Manager at ACU.

ACU regularly taps into its knowledge of the local market so they can quickly connect members with experts from the region. If an appraisal, building condition report, or environmental assessment is needed, ACU knows exactly who to call, smoothing out speed bumps and cutting through red tape.

Hart Garfield, Senior Commercial Account Manager at ACU, says it’s not just about lending, it’s about setting up members and their companies for success.

“We really want to support businesses in all aspects,” Hart says. “Once we do the loan, we don’t just say, ‘see you in five years.’ Even after we fund the loan, we work hard to have an ongoing relationship with our commercial members.”

Commercial lending with a community focus

Assiniboine Credit Union has been deeply rooted in the local community for eight decades, and BFC steadfastly upholds that commitment. Regardless of the services or circumstances involved, BFC’s team works closely with ACU members to meet their distinct needs and goals.

“We’re community minded and take the time to really listen to our members, know what’s important to them, and think outside the box to structure something that’s unique for them,” says Martin Petras, Associate Director, Commercial Real Estate and Syndications at ACU.

Construction site for a commerical building

Real estate and construction expertise

BFC’s portfolio of successful projects ranges from expanding family businesses to building extensions for fast-growing schools. It offers construction loans for four major types of projects:

  • residential home developers of all sizes
  • business owners constructing new premises
  • large commercial and land development projects
  • major renovation work on multi-residential and commercial properties

BFC has developed a particular expertise in financing multi-unit construction. Martin recalls one such project featuring 192 residential units and seven commercial units.

“Listening to that member and knowing what was important to them, we took the extra step of doing a cross-benefit analysis of two financing options,” Martin explains.

Two construction workers in hard hats

Crunching those numbers revealed that one type of financing would ultimately cost more in fees. After taking into account that the borrower also hoped to avoid locking into what Martin describes as “a super-long term,” BFC came up with an alternative structure instead.

“At that time it didn’t make sense for them to pay the required fees. So we did the financing by thinking creatively and stretching the terms a little bit beyond what’s typically done.”

“We understand how to structure a deal and the different checks and balances needed to help you with your construction financing projects.,” says Hart.

BFC has used that same kind of flexible, community centred approach to help finance several residential and industrial projects in northwest Winnipeg, an area of the city where many immigrants and other newcomers have settled to build homes, businesses and new lives.

Building dreams

BFC advisors live in the same community as their members, so they get to see tangible results of the crucial roles they’ve played in so many real estate and construction projects — efforts that have turned their members’ dreams into reality. According to Martin, that’s key to the fulfillment he gets from his role.

Rendering of a mixed use building

“There’s one building I drive by on a daily basis. Seeing the bricks and mortar of something you helped create gives you a deep sense of pride.”

To explore financing for your business, real estate assets or construction project, get in touch with ACU’s Business Financial Centre to start building a new future today.

About Christine Wong

Christine Wong has been covering business and technology since 1995, when Mark Zuckerberg was in sixth grade. A former associate producer at Business News Network and Slice TV, Wong freelances while chasing after the biggest story of her life — Ben, who is 10.

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