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Small Business Spotlight

AACCWP Spotlight: Hill District Credit Union

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Since 1970, the Hill District Federal Credit Union has served those living in the Hill and beyond by providing financial services. When you join the Hill District Federal Credit Union, you become part of a member-owned organization built on the philosophy of people with a common bond, helping each other. 

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FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

Learn more about the Hill District Federal Credit Union from Board Treasurer and CEO, Richard Witherspoon: 

Tell us a brief history of the Hill District Federal Credit Union

The Hill District Credit Union was founded in 1970. Shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, traditional financial institutions were not willing to come into neighborhoods such as this.  

A woman by the name of Mary Walker said, “If we are unable to secure our own financial services, then we will start our own bank.” She went door to door in the community asking people for .25 cents to open an account at the Hill District Credit Union. In October of 1970, we received our federal charter, and we became a federally insured and regulated financial institution. Ms. Walker operated the Hill District Credit Union until 1992. I came on board in 1988. In the institution’s 51-year history, it has only had two managers.  

We serve the underserved in financial services. We still offer things like $500 loans, and we offer lines of credit to our small businesses for up to $20,000. 

Tell us about how you got into the business 

When I got out of school, I got into retail management. I then moved on to my first credit union for the Carnegie Library and later for South Side Hospital’s credit union. They were both taken over by the University of Pittsburgh, so I ended up at Hill District Credit Union. 

What services do you provide? 

We offer all the same financial services that a traditional bank would offer. We provide savings deposits, checking accounts, online banking, consumer loans, vehicle loans, educational loans, home improvement loans, and debit cards. 

What makes your business unique? 

Our niche is serving people of needs. To do that, you cannot be motivated by profit. You must provide your service and be hopeful that the profit will take care of itself. 

We are debt-free and housed in a building we own. We are also the only African American-owned and operated financial institution in the state of Pennsylvania. 

What is your favorite part about being located near Downtown Pittsburgh? 

The resources. Being near Downtown makes it easy if we have to do a referral. We are only 8 blocks away from Downtown, so it is convenient for the people we serve to get to us. 

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting a business in Pittsburgh, what would it be? 

From a financial perspective, my advice would be to be conscious of your reserves. Building up resources is especially important even if it is a line of credit. Having the ability to pay your bills should not be dependent on the income from your business. That is where so many businesses get into trouble. 

Any other news or updates that you want people to know? 

We own the building we are in. Our operation has grown significantly over the past few years. We currently have only 2 teller windows that complete over 2,000 transactions a month. With that being said, we are busy. We have a plan that we are working on. We are going to rehab our building from top to bottom. We have two storefronts. We plan to reconfigure one of our spaces to have an education center and back offices. In the next year or two, we will be able to offer mortgages to those we serve. We will also be remodeling four apartments above us for affordable housing. We need donations to make this plan a success to grow the Hill District Credit Union.  

Thanks, Richard! You can find the Hill District Federal Credit Union online at hilldistrictfcu.org and give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram. If you would like to donate to their current project, visit their contact us page.  

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