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Northwoods Credit Union (NCU) started in 1936 in a small trailer on the Northwest Paper Company property in Cloquet. Five paper mill employees began the credit union with a vision to offer fairly priced products and excellent member service to their hard-working blue-collar coworkers. NCU remained at the Cloquet Paper Mill location from 1936 – 1996 until they moved off-site to their Avenue B location.
Since then, NCU has continued to expand with over 12,000 members and a staff of 55. In 2007 their community charter was opened for banking common services. They now have three Cloquet locations, one on Avenue B near Sappi, one on Stanley Avenue near Walmart, and one on Tall Pine Lane, which houses their back-office staff. Their Stanley Avenue location offers consumer loans, while their Avenue B location offers mortgage loans. They also have a Moose Lake location which houses a mortgage representative, call center, collections department, and financial planners, and then have a Floodwood location which was acquired via a merger in 2018.
Credit unions in Minnesota date to the 1930s when they were formed for financial improvement for members in a cooperative to lend to one another. Today, if you live, work, go to school, volunteer, or attend church in the following counties or townships of Carlton County; Pine County; St Louis County; Townships: Feeley, Wawina, Goodland, Ball Bluff, and Unorganized Township 52-22, you are now eligible to open an account at NCU. Additionally, you may join NCU if you live in the same household as a current member, including but not limited to the spouse of a member, the blood or adoptive relatives of them, and their spouses may be members. You may join if employed by one of our Select Employer Groups: https://www.northwoodscu.org/our-story-and-membership/.
NCU provides consumer lending, not commercial lending. So what makes NCU unique? CEO Doug Wolf says the answer is “how we do lending; it is very gratifying. We look for ways to say yes. We strive to be distinct and don’t lend on credit scores; our lending process takes longer because we take the time to get to know our members and put them back on track, working to lend to those with less than stealer credit scores.” Wolf shared that operating costs are higher compared to NCU assets which are unique. When it comes time to hire, Wolf shared, “we hire people that reflect our values.”
NCU values are summarized as the “Northwoods Spice” perfectly blended for member service, with the ingredients of servant mentality, progressive thinking, integrity, compassion, and empathy, and best if used every day.
NCU exists to support its members and member community. In 2013, they stepped up to support via naming rights the Northwoods Credit Union Arena; they recently also supported the Cloquet Library expansion for a period of ten years, invested in Carlton’s Four Seasons Mini Mites, and donated towards the scoreboards for Cloquet High School baseball as a few examples—they locally co-sponsor Senior Day with Reliable Insurance. Wolf says, “We do things because it is the right thing to do. This is our community.”
902 Stanley Avenue
Cloquet MN 55720
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