At Invest Surrey, we aim to highlight the many remarkable local businesses that make our city vibrant, diverse, rich with opportunity, and an excellent place to invest. This post, the first in a series of local business spotlights, features Prospera Credit Union — a financial cooperative with deep roots nurturing British Columbia’s communities and economies.
The Vital Role of Banking in Local Economies
The banking industry in Surrey is a vital part of the local economy and the Province of British Columbia overall. As one of the fastest growing cities in Canada with over 600,000 residents and counting, Surrey has a diverse, thriving business sector across industries like tech, advanced manufacturing, agriculture, and more. The banking industry supplies essential financial services and support to individuals, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all sizes in Surrey, empowering them to achieve their goals and contribute to the community's growth. Banks supply critical access to credit and capital, while also offering valuable financial guidance to startups and small businesses looking to set up and expand their ventures. In particular, the banking industry in Surrey plays a pivotal role in fostering a vibrant local ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship. By providing financing, credit, and expert advice, banks give innovators and entrepreneurs the critical tools and foundation to turn their ideas into reality and make a tangible impact.
Prospera Credit Union's Local Legacy
Prospera Credit Union is a homegrown financial cooperative with a steadfast dedication to British Columbia's communities. Serving BC residents for over 75 years, Prospera now operates an extensive network of 26 branches across the Okanagan, Fraser Valley, and Lower Mainland. But local does not mean little. Prospera has $6.7 billion in assets, proving that it’s a hometown hero with a big impact. At Prospera, the definition of "local banking" extends far beyond transactions alone—it stands for a wholehearted commitment to empowering community growth, enriching members' financial lives, and forging lasting local relationships. Prospera focuses on offering personalized advice, service, and solutions tailored to their members' unique needs and goals.
As a member-owned credit union, Prospera is dedicated to making a positive local impact in the communities they call home. For example, Prospera invests more than $1 million back into communities annually and supports more than 90 local organizations. And since 1992, $52 million has been disturbed in foundation grants. The credit union also has a passionate, community-minded team of employees who volunteer more than 5,000 hours each year.
The Evolution of Prospera's Deep Roots in Surrey
Prospera's major presence across BC did not occur by chance, but rather has steadily evolved over decades through mergers and acquisitions between credit unions. Most recently, Prospera Credit Union took shape through the merger of Westminster Savings and Prospera in early 2020. Prospera’s head office is located at Central City (near Surrey City Hall), as well as six branches across Surrey – underscoring their deep roots in our community.
Insights from Ed Michielsen, VP of Business Banking and Leasing
To gain perspective on Prospera's unique community-focused vision and evolution in Surrey's business ecosystem, we sat down with Ed Michielsen, Vice President of Business Banking and Leasing. Michielsen leads the Business Banking and Leasing teams at Prospera, with responsibility for relationship, sales and portfolio management, operations, and more. He brings more than 30 years of banking wisdom to his role.
With extensive operations across the Okanagan, Fraser Valley, and Lower Mainland, Michielsen explained that Prospera's strategy stays responsive to each community's distinct needs and opportunities. Major decisions are made locally, reflecting Prospera's identity as a neighborhood credit union invested in cultivating BC's regional economies.
Exploring Prospera's Approach to Key Business Challenges
When discussing key challenges, Michielsen emphasized Prospera's member-centric outlook. As he stated, "What impacts our members impacts the credit union in a meaningful way." External shifts like inflation, rising interest rates, and economic uncertainty affect members first—significantly influencing Prospera's operations.
The competitive labour market presents another pressing challenge in sourcing talent and retaining employees. Prospera focuses on competitive compensation packages, promoting work-life balance, and offering flexible work arrangements to attract top candidates.
Leveraging technology also remains top-of-mind, as Prospera looks to provide convenient digital services while safeguarding member information and privacy. Adapting to a changing technology landscape requires balancing innovation, functionality, and security.
Contributing to a Shared Vision for Surrey
Michielsen highlighted that Surrey's affordability and wealth of amenities play a key role in supporting Prospera’s operations and employees. The community has supported Prospera's growth, evident in high retention rates and partnerships, particularly when it comes to funding and supporting affordable housing projects.
“Surrey gives us a bit of an advantage that we can't take total credit for. It's the City of Surrey,” Michielsen stated.
For businesses considering opportunities in Surrey, Michielsen stressed that clearly defining their purpose and what makes them unique in the market is essential to success. However, he believes collaboration is equally vital, that, "Understanding the challenges and having a shared vision is really important."
Michielsen expressed excitement about Surrey's future growth prospects with the right strategies, highlighting the need for continued infrastructure improvements that enable possibilities. By working together to address pressing challenges, Surrey can unlock its full potential—with Prospera committed to actively empowering this vision.
The Path Forward: Prospera’s Continued Local Impact
Prospera demonstrates how businesses can make a meaningful community impact when empowerment, relationships, and regional growth guide the way. Despite expansions over its 83-year history, Prospera retains a local focus—leveraging expertise to address British Columbians' unique needs over maximizing profits.
Guided by its mission and regional teams, Prospera will continue strengthening Surrey and communities across BC. The future is bright when businesses lead with purpose and community prosperity in mind.
Join us in Showcasing the City of the Future
If your business has an inspiring success story rooted in uplifting Surrey’s community, we want to hear from you! Let’s showcase the diverse businesses and organizations making Surrey a hub of possibility, innovation, growth and opportunity. If you’re looking to start or grow your business in Surrey, get in touch with us today.