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Biz Bytes: Ascentra pledges $15K to United Way to address local inequities
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Biz Bytes: Ascentra pledges $15K to United Way to address local inequities

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Ascentra Credit Union has made a $15,000 pledge over the next three years to the United Way Quad Cities’ efforts to help address the inequities that affect Blacks and minorities throughout the Quad-Cities region. Ascentra joins a growing list of investor businesses and organizations, in a community-wide joint effort led by the United Way Quad Cities, whose aim is to raise $200,000 to help fund strategic efforts that address the racial gaps in various aspects of the community.

For the past five years, the United Way has worked closely with partners to measure and monitor academic benchmarks for Scott and Rock Island county K-12 student achievement, track employment and jobs trends, median income, housing, poverty and health and well-being measures. The collective data illustrates too many Black Quad-City residents start out and face a lifetime of historical and modern roadblocks keeping them from thriving.

“The Black and Latino communities are also the hardest hit by COVID-19, exposing the health and economic disparities resulting from years of disinvestment and structural racial barriers. The correlation between race and achievement gaps in education, income and health makes it critical for United Way to address racial equity strategically,” United Way Quad Cities President and CEO Rene Gellerman said in a news release.

In addition to the investment, Ascentra provided staff specialized training on diversity, equity, and inclusion, had internal open dialogue about these topics and is encouraging staff to take part in the 21-Day Equity Challenge from the United Way. Coincidentally, the local Equity Summit fell on International Credit Union Day, in which credit unions around the world celebrate the credit union movement.

“Local diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts align with our culture and the outreach efforts we have put in place to make financial services attainable and equitable to all individuals throughout our region,” Jennifer Naeve, SVP, chief marketing officer for Ascentra, said.

Jeff's Car Corner helps Arc of Q-C

Jeff's Car Corner helped the The Arc of the Quad Cities Area in two ways recently so that people with disabilities have the supports they need to live their best life.

Jozett McCoy was the winning bidder on a 2005 Buick LeSabre, donated by Jeff's Car Corner. Her winning bid of $2,600 helped raise money for The Arc.

Jeff’s Car Corner also donated a 2004 Ford Freestar to help with The Arc’s Transportation needs. October is National Disability Awareness month, in support of The Arc of The Quad Cities, Jeff’s donated both vehicles to help The Arc raise money and awareness to a local cause.

Vibrant announces branch updates

Vibrant Credit Union has announced that next spring it will begin upgrading branch interiors in all markets, with visual enhancements as well as improvements in technology, according to a news release.

Plans for the future corporate office have also grown to prioritize a new space for members. Located off John Deere Road near shopping and entertainment in Moline, the relocation will offer members a drive-thru option, as well as cash and lending services within.

"Our priority continues to remain on our members," President/CEO Matt McCombs said in a news release. "We are excited to dedicate space within our new office to offer a more convenient location for their daily banking needs."

With the new additions, Vibrant will be permanently close its Elmore branch and relocate the current East Moline branch to the new corporate office. Both of the branch ATMs will remain open and will be upgraded to include image deposit technology.

Citizens First Bank sponsors Clinton CC program

Citizens First Bank has announced a $2,500 sponsorship of the Manufacturing Awareness program at Clinton Community College.

The funds will provide scholarships for students to participate in the Manufacturing Awareness program through Eastern Iowa Community Colleges. The series of online classes provides an overview on topics such as forklift safety, assembly and supply chain management to encourage students to explore a career in manufacturing. Ultimately, the students can pursue certificates in Manufacturing Awareness and Manufacturing Fundamentals as part of the course.

The class launched in June 2020 to instant popularity; 42 students have already completed the program.

“This program is a great way for anyone to explore the path of manufacturing and learn the basics," Clinton CC President Brian Kelly said in a news release. "It’s a first step for these students to become part of our local workforce and secure stable employment. We sincerely thank Citizens First Bank for their support and sponsorship!”

The Clinton Regional Development Corporation President and CEO Erin Cole said: “Workforce Development is a critical area of focus for us; we are grateful to Citizens First Bank for this support that allows us to retain talent in our local workforce. Clinton Community College provides this unique learning opportunity, and in turn our region benefits by matching homegrown talent with careers that are in high demand.”

SCORE chapter launches Clinton branch

Quad Cities (QC) SCORE, a nonprofit partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, has announced a new branch opening in Clinton County in partnership with the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Regional Development Corporation and DeWitt Chamber and Development Co.

The new branch will serve existing small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout Clinton County. The branch will be a Small Business Resource Hub. It will offer business mentoring and online workshops for small business owners and entrepreneurs who need guidance on growing their business or starting a new one.

Through the hub, local residents can be paired with a mentor, one of SCORE’s 10,000 volunteers who are experienced business leaders. Mentors can help small business owners and entrepreneurs navigate difficulties in all business areas, including marketing, staffing, scaling, and budgeting. Mentorship is a free service of SCORE.

Dillon Franks of DeWitt has been assigned as the lead mentor. He is actively recruiting experienced local business people to volunteer as mentors and subject matter experts to support the local business community. Dillon can be reached at dillon.franks@scorevolunteer.org.

Ascentra's Owen elected as chairman ICUL board

Dale Owen of Ascentra Credit Union has been elected to serve on the Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) Board of Directors for 2020-2021. By serving on the ICUL Board, Owen represents the collective interests and future of Iowa's 86 credit unions and their more than 1.3 million members. ICUL is the trade association for Iowa's not-for-profit credit union industry.

“Dale brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to the board, and we sincerely appreciate his dedication to improving the financial lives of consumers and the credit union philosophy of people helping people, Murray Williams, president and CEO of ICUL, said in a news release. "I look forward to working with him."

Owen has been the president and CEO at Ascentra Credit Union in Bettendorf, Iowa since 2013. He received his master's degree in public administration from Drake University in Des Moines, a bachelor's degree in public administration from Augustana College  and an associate degree in banking and finance from Black Hawk College. He also holds the Certified Chief Executive (CCE) designation from the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES). He has graduated from the CUES CEO Institutes conducted at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“It’s an honor to be elected to serve as chairman of ICUL’s Board of Directors,” Owen said. “I believe strongly in the credit union industry and look forward to working with other Iowa credit union leaders to develop initiatives that will help improve the financial lives of our members and advance the credit union movement.”

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