VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA and LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 30, 2014) - As Island Savings members consider the direction of their credit union, the business community on the south Island is already getting a taste of what the future as part of First West Credit Union might be like.

A partnership with First West has made possible a sizeable development deal for an Island Savings member who owns real estate development company Pritchard Creek Estates Ltd. The unique arrangement has Island Savings and First West working together to finance the member's work on a 48-lot subdivision in the West Shore.

"We're excited to partner with First West and we're seeing the benefit even before the member vote wraps up," says Mark deMedeiros, senior manager of business banking at Island Savings. "In this case, Island Savings alone wouldn't have been able to fund the loan because it pushed the top end of what we're able to loan as an independent credit union. Together with First West, we were able to make this deal happen. It's a funding arrangement that otherwise is rare between credit unions."

In a growing economy and a real estate market that has yet to show strong signs of a cool-down, lower lending limits can be challenging for small business owners on the Islands who are looking to grow their operations.

"It's critical for us to be able to support the full range of needs that our small-to-medium local business members have," says deMedeiros, "If we can't meet the need, the reality is, someone else will-and turning people away is not the kind of experience we've built our reputation on. Being part of First West will enable us to provide more of the financial services and lending that our current and potential members expect from us. This level of service is essential to growing our business here on Vancouver Island. As part of First West, we won't have to make special arrangements like syndicating loans or seeking external partners, as we did with the Pritchard Creek financing."

Pending a positive merger vote, Island Savings business members can look forward to a higher lending cap and a local, seamless service process for loans that would have been beyond limit previously.

Brian Burr, regional manager of business services at Envision Financial, a division of First West, worked alongside deMedeiros to orchestrate the details that made the Pritchard Creek deal possible.

"A higher lending cap creates greater potential for our business members," says Burr. "Those with growth or operational plans that require financing don't have to worry about whether they will hit a wall and have to seek alternatives. It's just as disappointing for us as it is for them when we're unable to provide funds to help them build their businesses."

Burr notes that prior to Valley First and Envision Financial joining forces to create First West, smaller lending caps sometimes led members to seek support elsewhere.

"I'm still in touch with business owners who are former members that left the credit union because the lending cap of our previous standalone credit union prevented us from meeting their financing needs. This is just one example of how we're better together for the benefit of our members," Burr adds.

About Island Savings

Island Savings is the Islands' most recommended banking experience. As a Top 50 Best Employer and Top 30 Greenest Companies in Canada, its neighbourhood experts offer financial, insurance and investment advice and products to over 100,000 Islanders. Managing a total portfolio of $2.8 billion under administration, Island Savings is investing $15 million from 2012-2015 to expand their branch network and all service delivery platforms. Since 2010, their successful Growing Island Families Together (GIFT) program has proudly given over $7.0 million back to the community.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 38 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. Visit for more information on First West Credit Union.

Follow us on Twitter: @firstwestcu

Contact Information:

Island Savings
Melanie Tromp Hoover
Communications Specialist

First West Credit Union
Jason Brown
Manager, Public Relations & Communications