When City CarShare launched in 2001, the idea that you could share rather than own a car was novel. The first carsharing service in the Bay Area—and still the only nonprofit in the space—City CarShare was founded by three transportation activists on a mission to improve both the environment and the quality of life in our communities. They had no idea how people in love with personal vehicles would respond to sharing, but they had determination, great partners, and a vision of a world without car dependency.
Twelve years later, the organization offers 420 carshare vehicles and has helped 40,000 members reduce carbon emissions, pollution, and congestion. Its profits are funneled back into the community through a number of programs, including CommunityShare, which brings carsharing to low-income populations, and AccessMobile, the nation’s first wheelchair-accessible carshare fleet.
Growth spurs search for flexible banking partner
City CarShare connected with New Resource in 2007, as competition in the carsharing marketplace was heating up. “We welcome and support competitors who share our goals,” says CEO Rick Hutchinson. “But we also wanted to stay relevant and financially sound.” City CarShare was looking for a bank to enhance, not replace, its relationship with a large institution. However, after talking with New Resource, the organization opted for a complete switch.
“We realized that the bank’s mission wasn’t marketing hype,” says Hutchinson. “And we have a lot in common—we’re local, we have founders and backers who care about this community, and we both have a mission as well as a business to nurture and grow.”
Right away, New Resource proved to be the partner City CarShare had hoped for. The two organizations created a flexible working capital line to suit City CarShare’s changing needs, and when the line’s administration turned out to be time intensive, the bank found ways to simplify and streamline the process. Since then, Hutchinson says, the bank has continued to provide helpful tools, vendor referrals and personalized service that’s rare in the banking industry.
Big plans for a greener Bay Area
City CarShare views its partnership with New Resource as crucial to reaching its ambitious environmental goals: reducing traffic in the Bay Area by 20,000 cars by 2020, lessening pollution by converting half its fleet to electric or alternative fuel vehicles by 2015, and promoting alternative transportation by helping members save $1 billion over car ownership by 2020. Targets on that scale require investment, so a banking partner that understands and values environmental concerns is crucial. That’s exactly what City CarShare has in New Resource. “Our goals are aligned,” Hutchinson says. “New Resource is part of the conversation as we continue to grow, continue to invest.”