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SAFE FCU breaks ground on Lugoff branch
SAFE Groundbreaking
Several local dignitaries joined SAFE Federal Credit Union in breaking ground Friday for a new branch facility on U.S. 1 in Lugoff. See Wednesday's print edition for a complete listing of those pictured. - photo by Photo courtesy of SAFE

Now, everyone can know what will replace the former Burger King on U.S. 1 South in Lugoff: a new SAFE Federal Credit Union branch. SAFE and local government officials and others took part in an official groundbreaking for the new facility Friday.

“We’re so excited about this financial institution, SAFE Federal Credit Union, with this groundbreaking. We’re so excited about the investment you are making in this community,” Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce President John Thomas said.

Kershaw County Economic Development Director Peggy McLean said growing financial services in the county can help attract businesses to the area.

“Part of my job is to greet visitors and show them our community and to get industrial prospects and show them what we have to offer. It’s wonderful to be here and show them a community that is vibrant and a financial community that is growing and is doing things in our community,” McLean said. “This is wonderful. We’re glad to see some new construction.”

S.C. State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk said she has a long history with the credit union.

“SAFE helped me open one of my first bank accounts. They were a leader in partnering with large businesses and manufacturers to be one of the first to do payroll deposits,” Funderburk said. “They have developed, over the years, a reputation of being extremely customer friendly, user friendly and have also been wonderful partners for our community. This new building on this prominent lot in Lugoff is going to be something we can all be proud of.”

SAFE Board of Directors Chairman Ken Privette gave a brief history of the credit union.

“In 1978, SAFE merged with Kershaw County Employee Credit Union and the first Camden branch opened. In 1987, the Rutledge Street location opened. In 1988, our first drive-up ATM was installed at the Camden branch. In 2001, our Springdale Plaza facility opened,” Privette said. “Presently, we have more than 3,500 members. Camden has certainly done a lot for SAFE, but let me mention what SAFE intends to do for you. We’re going to have a beautiful facility here. We just built a facility on Lewis Road in Sumter that’s state of the art. This will be as well. Our motto is, ‘Where Membership Matters.’ It is a way of life at SAFE Federal Credit Union and it will be no different here.”

Privette said the U.S. 1 location will be more accessible to members and more visible to drivers passing by. It will replace the Springdale Plaza branch. SAFE is using the same architectural design for all new branches and Hunter Builders of Sumter is the general contractor for every new project. Wayne Hunter said construction is expected to take six months.

SAFE CEO Beverly Gagne said the new 3,900-square-foot building will be a vast improvement over the Springdale Plaza location.

“We’re kind of restricted there,” Gagne said. “We don’t have any drive-thru service, drive-up windows or a drive-up ATM. We’ve tried to exist as long as we can there but we’re outgrowing that space and we really need to expand the members’ accessibility. It’s really going to be a beautiful building here. We’re going to have four drive-up lanes. We’re going to have a drive-up ATM. It’s going to have some of the latest technology that we have in our other branches. We look forward to serving the members up here better than anyone else can.”

SAFE, organized in 1955 at Shaw Air Force Base, is now one of South Carolina’s largest credit unions with more than 108,000 members, 18 branches and two in-school facilities, serving eight counties. SAFE has $874 million in assets and more than 280 employees.