Hope Credit Union hosts ribbon cutting and community fair

Hope Credit Union hosts ribbon cutting
Staff Writer

Hope Credit Union, the West Point Clay County Community Growth Alliance and local officials will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. today for the new Hope Credit Union Branch in West Point, located at 470 Commerce St. Everyone is invited to attend.

The new branch was formerly B & W Mississippi Employees Federal Credit Union. After serving the east Mississippi community for 45 years, B & W merged with Hope earlier this year, continuing for its members the benefits of a strong financial partner offering a diverse line of products.

Hope will host a community fair at the branch from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. The fair will feature food and entertainment as Hope team members engage with residents and credit union members.

Hope will also provide information on financial services and offer onsite financial counseling. The event is free and open to the public.

The community fair will offer free hotdogs and hamburgers, popcorn cotton candy and snow cones, face painting, space jumps and music.

There will be local entertainment, and informative fire safety and crime prevention tips. Hope invites the West Point community to come and have fun Saturday.

"We are very excited about opening our new branch in West Point," Sheila Byrd, of Hope Enterprise Corporation said. "We want to offer ourselves as a new and innovative banking partner.Hope serves more than 34,000 members in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee."

Hope (Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union and Hope Policy Institute) provides affordable financial services; leverages private, public and philanthropic resources; and engages in policy analysis to fulfill its mission of strengthening communities, building assets, and improving lives in economically distressed parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Since 1994, Hope has generated over $2 billion in financing that has benefitted more than one million in of the nation’s most impoverished regions.

Hope began in 1994 as the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta with a fund originally designed to provide capital and technical assistance to businesses in the Mississippi Delta region. Around the same time, Bill Bynum was approached by his church pastor to start a credit union for the congregation in response to lenders who preyed on low-income neighborhoods.

Bynum said he worked to bring the two entities together, and in 2001 ECD became the credit union’s primary sponsor. In the two decades since, Hope has grown into a $300 million community development financial institution with more than 34,000 members, providing more than $406 million in business loans. Since 2007, Hope has provided more than $163.3 million in mortgage loans.

Hope has financed medical centers, schools and manufacturing facility expansions. Most importantly, these doors were opened in a region where 37 percent of its members were unbanked before they joined Hope.

“The region we serve has a painful past of racial injustice with vestiges that continue to deny too many people the tools they need for economic mobility. Hope fills the gap,” Bynum
said. “For some, a car loan may not seem significant, but in a persistently poor community, where there is no public transportation, receiving a car loan can help a person keep a job
or see a doctor or purchase healthy food. It makes all the difference.”

Bynum said in the impoverished Delta regions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and parts of Tennessee, Hope has touched the lives of more than 1 million people, offering them access to capital to start or expand businesses or to build wealth through homeownership. In the Delta, where the scarcity of resources hampers economic growth, Hope has invested in the creation of an infrastructure designed to place dying communities on a path to revitalization.

"While other financial institutions across the nation are closing in low-income communities, particularly communities of color, Hope has bucked the trend," Bynum said. "In 2015, Hope completed an expansion into the Mississippi Delta that included the opening of four full service branches in small towns facing significant economic distress. The move immediately expanded access to financial services and served as a catalyst for local engagement and community infrastructure development."

Bynum is a member of the US Partnership for Mobility from Poverty, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and serves on the boards of the Aspen Institute, Corporation for Enterprise Development, Fannie Mae Affordable Housing Advisory Council, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Bynum previously chaired the Treasury Department’s Community Development Advisory Board (as a Presidential appointee), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Consumer Advisory Board.

Among his honors are the Aspen Global Leadership Network John P. McNulty Prize, Credit Union National Association Herb Wegner Award, Opportunity Finance Network Ned Gramlich Award, National Rural Assembly Rural Hero Award, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions Annie Vamper Award and Ernst & Young/ Kauffman Foundation National Entrepreneur of the Year