Updated: Aug 17
Written By Richard Stewart
Janean Armstrong is a big deal…a REALLY BIG DEAL, but you would never know it. In the world of banking she is a builder, ground breaker, dream maker. However it is her approach to community building and making a difference in the community that makes her work so remarkable.
As the Georgia Market President for VyStar Credit Union, she balanced many plates, quite successfully. It's a wonderful story about a credit union that was founded in 1952 by 12 individuals with $60 at Naval Station Jacksonville. VyStar Credit Union started as a place to help military and civil service members meet their financial needs and now does help so many people reach their small business dreams. "We're deeply embedded in our commitment to our brave serve members.
In 2019 she returned to Georgia after a brief stint up north in Maryland and was tapped on the shoulder by VyStar to build their presence in the state. “I have 25 years of banking experience. I started my career back in 1997 in Houston Texas. I started as a teller. I was the region executive in Maryland. I was all over the state of Maryland and I had some branches in Northern Virginia I had about ninety branches. I transitioned back to Georgia in 2019. I am here to grow the market and bring VyStar to Georgia. I am here to enhance the Georgia economy by offering jobs.”
The growth has been as purposeful as it has been methodical. “Our goal is to expand through the Southeast. Currently we have 70 full service branches in North and Central Florida. We opened our very first branch in Georgia last year in Thomasville and in the next few weeks we are going to open in Savannah and Brunswick. By the first of the year VyStar Credit Union will open new branches in Stockbridge, Smyrna, Marietta Johns Creek, Suwanee and Norcross.”
This news alone should have the average Georgia excited in general but if you are a small business owner you should be over the moon. Why you may ask? Because of Janean’s commitment through Vystar to offer real financial opportunities to small business owners in Georgia. “Small business owners face many challenges and we know that. It’s because of the lack of funding and access to credit. But VyStar is committed to helping small businesses by providing funding and lines of credit. We recognize the importance of small businesses in the community and offer opportunities for them to grow and succeed. We offer cash management, merchant services, payroll services to help businesses simplify their operational aspects of running a business. So we provide all the education needed for a small business to grow and we give them an opportunity.”
The company and Janean work under the guise of one simple principle “Our purpose is simple- Do good and lead by example.”
It is easy to trust Janean’s words because they are backed by a deep passion for community and bridge building…offering hope to the “little guy” in so many words. “Being present means understanding the needs of our members in south metro Atlanta. We are committed to developing products and services aligned to meet the needs of the community. We are not just a financial institution. We want to be a part of the community fabric. Being involved means forming partnerships with local organizations, schools and nonprofits.”
VyStar has a vision for the greater South Georgia area and really all of the nation when it comes to educating its customers and even non customers. They are open to educating local high school students on the importance of financial literacy. “When you think about the importance of saving, good credit, sound money management. That sets you up for future success. We give local high schools an opportunity to learn basics through our Vystar academy of business high school branch program.” She continues “When I was in high school they never talked about financial literacy. They didn’t tell us how to write a check. I didn’t learn until after I graduated high school. I wish we had programs in school when I grew up that really taught how to prepare for credit and savings.”
Her passion for doing right by her community is one of the reasons that VyStar is gaining presence in South Georgia and the southeast in general. “We want to do the work in the community. We as an organization in the community have already logged over eight thousand volunteer hours as an organization. I want to bring that to Georgia. When you see that blue VyStar t-shirt walking around. It's not just because we are opening the door to product and services. We are opening the doors to partner with each and every community leader and non profit. Throughout my career I had a purpose, but this is the first time I feel I can fulfill that purpose.”
Now all of Georgia can benefit from that purpose.
Check Out Janean Armstrong In The New Edition of Game Changers Magazine 6 Year Anniversary Edition featuring Regi & Pam Myles: Understanding The Business of Marriage