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The National Credit Union Awards highlight fresh and effective programs that emphasize local economic initiatives, innovative solutions that improve the effectiveness of the credit union, and the ambitions of tomorrow’s young leaders.

2010 Community Economic Development Award

Beaubear Credit Union, Miramichi, NB

The idea for a city-wide transit system was born in Spring, 2007 when a Beaubear employee commented on the challenges faced when attempting to transport her teenagers around town. Her simple comment kicked off a project that impacted the lives of thousands of people in the Miramichi. Over the next two years, staff worked diligently on researching a reliable, affordable and accessible transit system.

Beaubear Credit Union knew that the lack of an affordable public transit system impeded economic growth and limited mobility for thousands of low-income earners, job-seekers, seniors and others for whom the cost of car travel was prohibitive. CEO George Greenwood worked with his staff and a member of the local Department of Economic Development in researching and developing a business model that worked for their community.

Soon, an advisory board was struck that involved stakeholders from across the community: New Brunswick Community College, District 16 School Board, Regional Hiospital Authority, Retirement Miramichi, the Miramichi Physically Disable, FatKat Animation Studios, local Police, New Brunswick Tourismand the City of Miramichi.

Leveraging their leadership, Beaubear Credit Union attracted the Northumberland Dairy Co-op to the initiative. This added strength and credibility prompted the Provincial and Federal governments to invest $875,000 in the project. At the same time, Beaubear and Northumberland committed to provide ten years of financial support to the system in the form of advertising.

On August 4, 2009, Miramichi City Transit was officially launched. Since then, over 25,000 people have used the system. Ridership numbers increase daily. Reportedly, over 4000 people take the bus each month.

It was Beaubear’s hope that this project could serve as a shining example of community economic development to other small, rural credit unions in Canada. The credit union message travels the city streets each day, reminding the people of Miramichi that “it’s banking, only better.”