Laura Ewart is the newly promoted Business Development Consultant for First Trust Credit Union and serves as the new face of First Trust in their unique position offering products and services to small businesses in Northwest Indiana. This emphasis on small business products and services is something that Ewart is excited to be getting into, which is one of the reasons she was chosen for the position.
Dorene Martinson, Marketing Director for First Trust, explained, “Helping local small businesses is a necessity because we are able to offer business products and services, plus business lending."
First Trust offers business accounts and services to businesses of all sizes, and in addition, business lending is available as well. Offering these business services and especially the lending services to small businesses demonstrates the long-standing credit union philosophy of "People Helping People."
In a unique position to work with small businesses in Northwest Indiana from their four branches in Michigan City, La Porte, Valparaiso, and Wheatfield, Ewart finds great meaning in her new position. The lending aspect in particular is something that Ewart finds to be a standout in the credit union’s services.
“A lot of financial institutions and even banks might offer account services, but in terms of lending, it can be limited for small businesses, and the types of lending are very limited,” said Ewart. “We try to open it up to real estate, lines of credit, and business credit cards. We try to open it up to serve everyone that we can.”
“I think the thing that shocked me, that makes me enjoy the new position so much more, is that I got an office, I got a desk and I thought, ‘am I going to be behind a desk all the time?’ Which is not what I do,” laughed Ewart. “I’m a people person. I actually went to school for hospitality and tourism, so, that’s kind of my passion. I love Interacting with people, helping people, and meeting new people, so, being able to go out into the community and get involved is important. Not just meeting with businesses, but doing volunteer and community work has been really nice to be able to do through my position.”
Ewart found herself in the Northwest Indiana community unexpectedly when her husband found a position at St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart in 2015. She wasn’t expecting to move from her native Ann Arbor, Michigan, but has found it to be a good experience so far.
“I think we really lucked out by moving to Valpo. I never thought I’d be more of a small-town person because Ann Arbor is a large city, but Valpo is just a great, small town. I love the feel it has as a college town, close to Chicago, it’s a good in between. I just love the town,” said Ewart.
Ewart has found a lot of fulfillment in helping other people and businesses, and has also found the position to be dynamic and challenging.
“No day is the same, which I like. I enjoy that aspect, there is always something new to do. I definitely do not get bored,” said Ewart.
Ewart does a lot of travelling as well due to the scope of First Trust’s coverage, as their branches serve not just the cities in which they are located, but the counties as well. An average day could take her as far as Rensselaer, Indiana or Chesterton. In order to get an account at First Trust, a member must live or work in the counties they serve, which includes businesses seeking membership. These counties include: Porter, La Porte, Jasper, Newton, or Pulaski Counties.
Having started a little over two years ago, Ewart has absorbed the First Trust values for serving the community and the business needs of their members.
“I like the family aspect of First Trust, we are truly a family. Here, people care about what you do, what’s going on in your life and I really appreciate that,” said Ewart.
This work culture is part of the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People” that First Trust Credit Union has had since its inception. Starting in the 1800s when small business owners and farmers banded together to help each other out when they couldn’t get loans from bigger banks, this attitude is still present in the credit unions of today, especially in First Trust.