Investor Spotlight: Suncoast Credit Union

November 30, 2023

Suncoast Credit Union is the largest credit union in the state of Florida, the ninth largest in the United States based on membership, and the 10th largest in the United States based on its $17.1 billion in assets. Chartered in 1934 as Hillsborough County Teachers Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union currently operates 78 full-service branches and serves more than one million members in 41 Florida counties. Since its founding in 1990, the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation has raised and donated more than $32 million to organizations and initiatives that support the health, education and emotional well-being of children in the communities that the credit union serves.

Jennifer Wade Bolivar, Senior Vice President, Business Transformation and Retail Branching

Jennifer Wade Bolivar has more than 17 years of professional experience in the financial services industry. She began her career at Suncoast in 2011, transitioning from working with credit unions across the country to becoming an essential part of the credit union movement

As Senior Vice President of Business Transformation & Retail Branching, Bolivar’s areas of responsibility include accelerating business outcomes across the enterprise and overseeing the agile framework that supports internal application development, portfolio management, and the enterprise project management program. Bolivar also supports propelling the member experience through our retail network, the human brand of Suncoast Credit Union. She oversees 78 retail locations, operations support, education and development along with market optimization and strategy.

1. Suncoast Credit Union recently came on board with the EDC as a Circle of Champions Investor, our highest level. Why do you feel it’s important to support local economic development efforts?

Supporting and investing in local businesses is like nourishing the heartbeat of a community. It is about believing in the dreams of local businesses, helping neighbors succeed, ensuring communities have access to food and transportation, and creating a vibrant, interconnected tapestry of prosperity. The heart of the EDC mission truly matches Suncoast’s mission and more importantly our origin story. Did you know that in 1934, when interest rates were in double digits and it was hard to come by a loan and affordable housing, a group of educators came together to solve the problem by pooling their money together to lend to each other? This is the genesis of Suncoast Credit Union, and since the beginning we have continued the mission of solving issues that affect our community uniquely. This investment furthers that mission and pays homage to those that trailblazed the path before us.

2. What community issues are you most looking forward to the EDC tackling over the next couple of years?

Easy! Talent and workforce development is such important work to focus on. The rapid pace of technology, the emerging technologies that require different skills, and the continuous changing of consumer expectations surfaces the need for us to upskill our workforce and create the right network of opportunities for up-and-coming talent to cultivate the right industries. This directly supports business development and our ability to track the right people to build a workforce the prevails the value proposition of our community. And EDC is just the entity to drive this mission and they are. This is phenomenal!

3. What in your view are Suncoast Credit Union’s greatest opportunities for growth in the short term, and the longer term?

We’re thrilled to continue supporting communities as a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), aiming to boost local well-being. Suncoast is currently in the process of applying for the New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) program, which encourages private sector investment in struggling communities. This program offers tax credits to individuals or corporations making Qualified Equity Investments (QEIs) in designated Community Development Entities (CDEs). Our organization, Suncoast, is a CDE actively working to secure funds to finance projects in low-income areas, promoting economic growth and supporting various community development initiatives like infrastructure projects and small business expansions.

Looking ahead, we’ve set an ambitious goal of reaching 2.5 million members by 2030. However, it’s not just about numbers. It’s a deliberate effort to share our compelling value proposition of service, affordability, access, and convenience. Our commitment goes beyond mere expansion; it’s about enriching lives in the communities we serve. To achieve this goal, we plan to extend our reach through market expansion and the establishment of a physical presence in underserved communities. Simultaneously, we aim to build a robust digital presence, enabling us to connect with even more people across Florida and beyond.

4. What do you love about Tampa?

Tampa is thriving! Not only is it one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, but it boasts tremendous culture and diversity anchored with key businesses that will ensure our community continues to thrive. Tampa offers the vacation vibe of the beach, incredible sunsets, and picturesque scenes. But it also delivers on amazing eating experiences and a multitude of options for a tapestry of lifestyles. I cannot tell you the gratitude I feel when I drive across the bridge each day (from St. Petersburg) to see this incredible city, the water, and the sky. My family actually calls it the “grateful bridge” as we know how many would love to experience this city and we get to do it every day!