Biz Buzz: Credit union seeks to build branch by Costco just off Highway 371

Wings Financial plans new credit union branch in Baxter, Downtown Brainerd adds food and artisan vendors each Tuesday and ordering from Best Buy now means there are multiple locations where orders can be picked up, including two in Brainerd.

The blue shaded box marks the potential addition site for a Wings Financial Credit Union branch in Baxter between Costco and Highway 371. Image from city of Baxter

Plans for a new credit union to be constructed on prominent property by Costco came before Baxter’s Planning and Zoning Commission last week.

The development proposal for a Wings Financial Credit Union is expected to go before the Baxter City Council this week. If approved, the credit union would be constructed on 1.75 acres north of Forthun Road on land that is between Costco and Highway 371, just north of the CentraCare - Baxter Specialty Clinic.

The land is certainly on a high profile spot along the 371 corridor and this addition would join a seemingly large field of existing financial institutions.

“Under the plan, the applicant would create one buildable lot for a new 3,271-square foot credit union building,” according to the new business report by the city. “The building is designed with its front entrance and parking to the south. Access would be from the east using the shared drive aisle on the Costco Property. The Credit Union would also have a detached drive through station on the east side of the development.”


Exterior view of the Maple Grove Wings Financial Credit Union branch. Photo from Wings Financial

In a recent annual report, Wings Financial noted 2020s challenges including branch closures, but it stated it increased its capital reserves by $80 million last year. In order to provide value for Wings’ membership, the organization reported it needs to constantly grow and add new members.

In the annual meeting minutes, Wings Financial Board Chair Mark Photiades mentioned “some members join after hearing about the offerings from friends, while the most growth in membership is seen through acquisitions, such as the upcoming merger with Brainerd Savings & Loan that was announced earlier in the year. He remarked that acquisition will expand Wings’ footprint into central Minnesota, providing the members who live there – or go north on vacation – an additional service option in the area, adding that the deal is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close this summer.”

Wings Financial reported funding $1.9 billion in loans last year, including a record-breaking $1.2 billion in mortgages. Areas of rapid growth were listed as high-yield savings and high-yield checking accounts.

Wings Financial and Brainerd Savings & Loan announced reaching an agreement with Wings buying the bank and the branch location in Brainerd in January of 2021 with an expected transaction close by May 31.

Formed in 1922, Brainerd Savings & Loan served central Minnesota for more than 99 years. By 2020, it reported about $72.4 million in assets and one location in Brainerd.

At the time of the announcement, Catherine Meyer, CEO, president and director of Brainerd Savings & Loan said in a news release, “This is an exciting transaction! Both Wings and Brainerd Savings & Loan are institutions that are owned by their members. Our operating philosophies and principals are strikingly similar. … Wings is passionate about the communities it serves and is committed to continuing our tradition of excellence in the Brainerd Lakes Area.”

With the addition of the Brainerd branch, Wings reported it included 25 locations in Minnesota and was exploring opportunities to expand here. With the addition of a Northfield branch this spring, the number rose to 26.


Wings Financial reports $6.7 billion in assets and more than 300,000 members at the start of the year.

“Founded in 1938, Wings’ membership has grown to include anyone who lives or works in 24 Minnesota counties including the Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area, the metropolitan areas of Detroit, Seattle and Orlando and the aviation industry nationwide,” Wings Financial reported.

Outdoor food, music and vendors are hallmarks of summer and those elements are added each week in downtown Brainerd.

The Destination Downtown Brainerd Coalition, reported the Here for Good Market had more than 15 local food and artisan vendors for its kick-off 3-7 p.m. June 8 on South 7th Street between Front Street and Laurel Street. The market will continue through Aug. 31. “The market will run the course of the summer at this location, and is hoping to encourage Downtown Brainerd business to hold later hours on Tuesday evenings for Here for Good Market’s attendees,” the coalition announced. Live music and artisan demonstrations are planned weekly. To view a calendar of events, visit the DDBC’s facebook page or website at .

Those interested in becoming a vendor or a sponsor of the Here for Good Market, are asked to contact Rylie Weber at or 218-831-4870.

Best Buy now offers pick up of orders at multiple locations. So if you need a new monitor and don’t want to fight traffic across town to get it, or there is a location just a minute from your home or office, there are now multiple choices. Order pickups can be done at the Baxter Best Buy store, at the UPS Store in west Brainerd, or Advance Auto Parts on Washington Street in Brainerd. Those who prefer curbside pickup or to be able to get orders fast — within a few hours or for same day pickup — may still need to go to the Best Buy store. A test order Friday morning, had the order ready for pickup at the alternate locations as of Tuesday. If customers aren’t in a rush, the alternate sites may prove to be a nice convenience and a time saver.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Exterior view of the Maple Grove Wings Financial Credit Union branch. Photo from Wings Financial

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads