SAFE Credit Union invests in success of downtown Sacramento


SAFE Credit Union recently announced that it is investing in the reinvention of Downtown Sacramento by making a 25-year commitment to an arts and entertainment district that includes a convention center, performing arts center, and outdoor plaza. The $23 million investment includes a working relationship between the city of Sacramento and SAFE, as well as provides the credit union with naming rights for the convention center district.

Sacramento has long been an underdog city in California. Even though it’s the state capital, the techie Bay Area and trendy Southern California have eclipsed it.

But that is quickly changing. Sacramento is transforming into a dynamic, cultural and economic center, with new Michelin-recognized restaurants, a professional soccer team, and a new vision driving downtown redevelopment that includes the Convention Center district project SAFE is supporting.

“This partnership is a model for our region of public private investments because it provides value for both parties,” said SAFE CEO and President Dave Roughton. “The city of Sacramento gets new fresh capital to invest in economic development and prosperity for the region, and SAFE gets an opportunity to serve the city, serve the city employees, grow our deposit base, expand local investment and put our name on these beautiful new buildings.”

Under the agreement, the area will be known as the SAFE Credit Union Convention and Performing Arts District. A new convention center will be called the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center. An updated theater will be named the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center. And a new outdoor community area will become the SAFE Credit Union Plaza.

“This agreement coincides with many important milestones. We celebrate that this 25-year commitment will take SAFE from our 80th year into the next century,” said SAFE COO Jim Allen. “SAFE is committed to supporting a vibrant, dynamic, and prosperous community.”

City leaders expressed appreciation for SAFE’s commitment and investment in the future success of Sacramento.

“Sacramento has had a custom of always saying, ‘Wow, look what other cities are doing.’ Now a lot of cities are looking at us and saying, ‘Look what they’re doing in Sacramento,’ because we’re creating more senses of place,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “This project and SAFE’s contribution is not only a sign and signal of confidence in Sacramento, it says this is a healthy and growing downtown and city.”

The commitment is made of up three parts: the investment in the Convention Center district; financial services for Sacramento city staff; and a treasury relationship between the city and SAFE that will encourage economic growth through the Local Community Investment Pledge.

SAFE is providing its financial health services directly to city staff through the credit union’s SAFE@Work program, a no-cost benefit to employers that helps reduce financial distraction. According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation 2017 report “Employee Financial Health: How Companies Can Invest in Workplace Wellness”:

  • 85% of Americans are anxious about their financial lives
  • Nearly 1 in 3 employees report that issues with personal finances have been a distraction at work
  • 13 hours per month, on average, is spent by employees worrying about money matters at work
  • Financial struggles impact workers across the spectrum, even high-income earners

SAFE@Work provides in-person workshops and online lessons on topics ranging from home-buying readiness, smart spending, retirement planning, women’s empowerment, identity theft prevention, Medicare, trusts, and more. SAFE also provides youth money management courses through SAFE Bite of Reality Fairs, where participants practice everyday life scenario simulations making choices they’ll face as they take on adult responsibilities.

Through the Local Community Investment Pledge, Sacramento will deposit city revenues with SAFE to use to fund business and other loans to encourage growth.

As a strong supporter of the credit union movement, SAFE takes seriously its role as a steward of its members’ trust and investment in their community. This investment in a project that economically benefits the region at large reflects on the community-minded spirit embodied in SAFE’s mission.

“We’re a financial services cooperative, which means we pull together the resources of the people to try and make it better for everybody,” Allen said. “I think this is a great example, an excellent opportunity to make this a wonderful, exciting place for the arts, for conventioneers, to drive economic development. This is absolutely part of our mission.”

SAFE, a credit union serving around 235,000 members with nearly $3 billion in assets, has long been a strong business citizen in the Greater Sacramento region. “It’s with our members in mind that SAFE is making this investment,” said SAFE Credit Union Board President Terrance Tremelling.

“As the region thrives, so do the economic opportunities to all who live here,” Tremelling said. “Part of SAFE’s stewardship and promise to our members is to promote their financial health so they can enjoy life. Transforming the city core into a dynamic business and arts center lifts the entire region by creating jobs and fostering economic growth. We believe our members will benefit from this exciting reshaping of Sacramento’s downtown and identity.”

Roughton pointed out that while the most visible aspect of the investment that Sacramento residents and visitors to the city will see is new SAFE Credit Union Convention and Performing Arts District, “beyond the new construction, this partnership means more financial resources for city employees, more assistance to members here and more loans for local small businesses, all keeping dollars at home where they contribute to the growth of our region.”

Carole Ferguson is Senior Content Manager at SAFE Credit Union.

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