On almost 7,000 acres spread across eastern Washington State, Broetje Orchards employs as many a 2,800 people during peak harvest season. A leader in the apple industry, the Orchard is also a mission-based business that deeply cares for the well-being of employees, investing in them and the communities in which they live. Through their employer, people who work at the Orchard and their families have access to affordable housing, education, and other community programs.
When the Orchard wanted to provide employees, who are primarily from immigrant and low-income communities, with convenient access to safe, responsible, and affordable consumer services and products, it turned to Lower Valley Credit Union (LVCU) for help. A CDFI serving the state’s Lower Yakima Valley for more than 60 years, LVCU is dedicated to supporting its community and growing its membership of nearly 14,500 by “Planting Seeds of Opportunity for a Better Tomorrow.”
“Broetje operates in very rural areas in a region that mainstream banks left behind because it isn’t profitable,” said LVCU Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Josh Beck. The Orchard has its main land in Prescott, WA, and additional growing acreage in Wallula, Benton City, and Burbank. “Our closest branch is more than 40 miles away from Prescott, and it wasn’t feasible to open a new branch on site. We recognized a creative and easy-to-implement solution in Virtual Interactive Teller Machines.”
These leading-edge teller machines—ITMs—offer the features of a traditional ATM, including deposit and withdraw, along with a full suite of financial services and products. When fully installed in early 2017, LVCU’s ITM will enable Broetje users to speak on screen with a Spanish-speaking credit union employee in real time and access credit union services, such as ITIN mortgage and consumer loans and its nationally acclaimed Citizenship Program. In addition to the ITM, LVCU will offer regular financial counseling and education programs in person at Broetje.
In 2016, LVCU won a $100,000 Wells Fargo NEXT Seed Capital Award to help implement its ITM strategy.
“LVCU is honored to have been selected as an Awardee for the Wells Fargo NEXT Seed Capital Award,” said Josh. “The Award will go a long way in allowing for the credit union to build a more robust ITM Network to reach and provide much needed financial services in very rural communities. Members of these communities will now be able to join the credit union and open savings, checking, and loan accounts where they live and work, and speak to a LVCU staff member in their language of choice. This award will help change the lives of thousands of community members by providing access to vital financial services that would otherwise be unavailable.”