Centris PR-NE Corner-Morning-030819_300dpi

This is a rendering of the new Centris Federal Credit Union headquarters to be built at the Sterling Ridge site near 126th and Pacific Streets.

Seven telephone workers pitched in $7 apiece to get the ball rolling. Their investment, 85 years later, is still gaining momentum.

Known today as Centris Federal Credit Union, the financial institution pushed by Pearl Scheid and her colleagues in 1934 has grown to 102,000 members and 14 retail branches in Nebraska and western Iowa. Its $715 million in assets marks about 40 percent growth in five years, said Steve Swanstrom, president and chief executive.

In its biggest move yet, Centris is part of a development spurt at the Sterling Ridge office park that includes construction of a new $30 million headquarters for the credit union. Work on the four-story building begins this spring and is to be done in two years.

About 150 of the credit union’s workers will settle in the 115,000-square-foot structure, which will offer underground as well as surface parking.

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Centris’ corporate staff currently is overflowed at two different sites. The new headquarters will unite the team and allow for further workforce expansion in an office building featuring modern amenities such as an outdoor patio and a community meeting room. Centris’ new base also will include its 15th retail branch and drive-through accessibility.

Swanstrom said Centris was attracted to Sterling Ridge’s central location, tenant mix and planned hotel. He said the leadership team liked Lockwood Development’s philosophy — founder Chip James early on proclaimed Sterling Ridge his signature project, and the Lockwood offices are based there, too.

“Their goals for Sterling Ridge just aligned with our goals for long-term commitment to the community,” Swanstrom said. “It’s a diverse development we’re honored to be a part of.”

Chartered originally as the Omaha Telephone Employees Federal Credit Union, the credit union changed its name to Bell Federal in 1974 after switching from a single employer group to multiple occupational groups. The 2001 change to Centris — a name that nods to the center of the nation and a member-centric service — coincided with an even broader communitywide membership reach.

Swanstrom said Centris values an “old-school community banking with your neighbor” delivery. He said member-owners call the shots and appreciate easy access to branches that offer face-to-face service.

Anne Helm, who heads retail and administration, said online and e-commerce offerings also have grown.

Centris is working with local partners, including MCL Construction and Holland Basham Architects, on the new headquarters it will own. Centris expects to lease a portion of the building to other tenants.

The credit union sold its current main corporate base at 118th and Q Streets to Project Harmony. Centris will continue to lease that space until its 2021 move to Sterling Ridge.

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