Sonoma County’s North Bay Credit Union points to cannabis banks for record growth, first dividends in 74-year history

After enjoying a year of record growth, the North Bay Credit Union will distribute $250,000 in dividends to its members for the first time in its 74-year history, it announced Feb. 1.

Eligible members will receive part of the dividend pool. Members’ dividend amounts are “based on the percentage of their interest and/or fee contribution to the fund’s total revenue for the year,” fund officials explained. The higher the interest paid during the year, the higher the dividend.

Dividends, which will be posted to accounts in February, range from $50 to $3,000.

Although a dividend paid by this Sonoma County credit union has never occurred, it is rare only in certain circumstances, according to the California and Nevada credit union leagues.

Officials at the Ontario, California-based business organization said some credit unions pay dividends, while others choose to use that money “to make additional investments in the credit union,” which are defined as improvements in technology and operations.

With $94.65 million in assets, North Bay Credit Union has tied its success to becoming a leader in cannabis banking. He has developed a model program that manages the bank accounts of cannabis companies that traditionally find services scarce because their industry is considered illegal by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug.

The industry has been rocked by an impending market crash, with company officials and industry advocates saying it’s being triggered by overtaxation by states and local governments.

“Cannabis has been hit so hard by taxes. It’s hard to get a profit,” CEO Chris Call told the Business Journal.

In a year of high finance for the banking world, the North Bay Credit Union reported to the National Credit Union Administration in Alexandria, Va., $3.94 million in net interest income, the difference between income generated by interest-bearing assets and the cost of service liabilities. Non-interest fee income was $4.61 million.

During the pandemic, some banks and credit unions have decided to waive certain fees. North Bay Credit Union has stopped charging NSF fees.

“So many people are struggling,” Call said.

Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, manufacturing, technology, energy, transportation, agriculture, and banking and finance. For 27 years, Susan worked for various publications, including the North County Times, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe News. Contact her at 530-545-8662 or [email protected]

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