First Trust Credit Union History
In September of 1959, nine La Porte school teachers met to discuss organizing a credit union. They submitted an application to the National Credit Union Association. On December 31st, their application was approved for a federal charter. The credit union was named La Porte Teachers Federal Credit Union. LaPorte teachers and their immediate families were eligible for membership at that time. By the mid 1960’s, the credit union’s field of membership expanded to include Michigan City school teachers and employees. This prompted a name change for the credit union to La Porte County School Employees Federal Credit Union. The credit union had approximately 270 members at that time.
By the early 1970’s, the credit union had a 35% growth in membership totaling over 500 members. This growth was largely because of the La Porte and Michigan City School Corporations implementing payroll deductions with the credit union. Due to this growth, the credit union moved into its first office in Michigan City located above the Smith Shoe Store in 1972. In 1973, the office moved to Evergreen Business Center. Then, in 1976, it moved to the fifth floor of the Marquette Mall office building. That year, the credit union surpassed the $1million dollar marker in assets, and membership reached over 1,600 members.
By 1978, the credit union’s field of membership had grown to include teachers from Chesterton, Valparaiso, and the remaining townships of southern Porter County schools. This prompted another name change to La-Porter Federal Credit Union, to recognize both LaPorte and Porter counties. By 1981, employees in the healthcare industry were added to the field of membership. This expansion included employees and their immediate families from St. Anthony, Memorial, & La Porte Hospitals, Swanson Center, La Porte County Health Department, and the Northern Porter County Ambulance Commission.
The late 1980’s brought upon the addition of offices in La Porte (1985) and Valparaiso (1987), and also the relocation of the Michigan City office to a larger location on Hwy 20 next to Von Tobel. By 1991, the credit union merged with Hoosiers Credit Union which led to opening the current Wheatfield, IN branch in June of 2000 which is located on Hwy 10.
In 1995, a new building was built for the Michigan City office, which is the current corporate office location for the credit union at 950 E. US Hwy 20.
The year 2000 brought upon another merger, this time with Valparaiso University Credit Union which provided access to the faculty and students of Valparaiso University, Porter Memorial Hospital, and the employees of Valparaiso. By 2006, the credit union included numerous fields of membership that included public school employees living or working in seven counties (La Porte, Porter, Jasper, Newton, Stark, White and Pulaski). Hospitals, universities, city employees, and about another 100 select employee groups were part of their field of membership. This diversity in membership fostered the need to change the name of the credit union to First Trust Federal Credit Union in 2007.
By 2008, a trend in credit union membership drifted from select employee groups to allowing the expansion of their membership to include those who lived or worked in designated communities. This prompted an overwhelming vote by First Trust Federal members to approve the change from a federally chartered credit union to a state charter. Therefore, in 2009, the credit union’s name was changed to what it is today – First Trust Credit Union. The years 2009 and 2010 also brought about two more mergers for First Trust with IBEW Credit Union and Select Credit Union.
Today, First Trust Credit Union has over 12,400 members, and offers a full range of financial services including checking and savings accounts, auto loans, mortgages, online & mobile banking, debit & credit cards, Youth Club accounts, Golden Apple Club accounts, Christmas/Vacation Club accounts, Small Business Loans & Services, and more. First Trust continues with their four branch locations in Michigan City, La Porte, Valparaiso, and Wheatfield. Their field of membership includes anyone who lives or works in the counties of LaPorte, Porter, Jasper, Newton and Pulaski Counties, and also includes select employer groups in Stark and White counties.