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Spanning the Region

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Bowling Green, Quincy Get Nod from DollarWise

The cities of Bowling Green, Ky., and Quincy, Ill., in the Fed’s Eighth District have been awarded $15,000 grants to teach financial education to consumers.

Countrywide Financial Corp. donated $1 million to sponsor the grants for five years. Made under the auspices of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ National DollarWise Campaign, the grants are intended to expand local programs that promote financial education.

Bowling Green will use its DollarWise Capacity Grant in several ways: to increase home ownership among low- and moderate-income residents by teaching them about credit scores and the home-buying process; to reduce personal bankruptcies by providing financial education classes for residents; and to fund a personal finance program for high school students.

In Quincy, the money will be used to fund the Paycheck Partnership, a program developed by a coalition of employers, educators and city officials working with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The goal is to increase financial literacy among teenagers and college students and to decrease student debt. The Paycheck Partnership also sponsors college students to act as teachers and mentors about financial issues.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the conference by its mayor.

Arkansas SBDC Recognizes Entrepreneurial Support

The City of Arkadelphia is the first recipient of the Arkansas Entrepreneurial Community of the Year Award presented by the Arkansas Small Business Development Center (ASBDC). The award recognizes Arkadelphia’s organized efforts to assist and encourage entrepreneurial activities.

Arkadelphia’s community and economic development strategy includes nurturing new and existing small businesses. A central component of these efforts is the completion of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative survey. In 2005, the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the ASBDC, the Clark County Industrial Council, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Henderson State University and Southern Financial Partners joined forces to conduct the survey. Survey results are being used in economic development planning to encourage business retention and expansion.

The ASBDC created the award to emphasize the economic importance of entrepreneurship and to encourage more communities to engage in economic development planning with a focus on local businesses.

In addition, Paul Shuffield with Southern Financial Partners in Arkadelphia was presented with the District Director’s Award for Service to Small Businesses by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Among his other accomplishments, Shuffield has been involved in the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative in Arkadelphia.

Both awards were presented at the 16th annual Arkansas Small Business Awards Luncheon this past summer.

For more information on the awards or the honorees, contact Linda Nelson at

New Loan Fund Set Up for Tennessee Entrepreneurs

The state of Tennessee and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to launch a new revolving loan program for rural microenterprises in the state. Beginning in October 2006, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s Business Enterprise Resource Office (ECD-BERO) will administer loans of up to $5,000 through the ECD-BERO Micro Loan Program to help with startup or expansion costs.

To apply, potential borrowers will need a business plan and must be willing to attend business training workshops at Tennessee Small Business Development Centers, with locations throughout the state. The centers will provide technical assistance to applicants, including business plan development and business training. Applicants must be located in a rural area as defined by USDA and classified as a microenterprise (a for-profit small business with five or fewer employees, one of whom owns the business).

The ECD-BERO Micro Loan Fund is financed with a $125,000 investment through the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant program. Over the next three years, 25 to 30 loans are expected to be allocated with additional loans made as loans are repaid.

For more information, contact Michelle Proctor of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s Business Services Division by e-mail,

Tax Credits Available to Louisville Companies

Republic Bank and Louisville Metro Government have partnered to create a $4 million New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) Loan Fund to support economic growth in low-income areas. Through this fund, small businesses will be encouraged to expand, add new jobs and improve Louisville’s economically distressed areas.

Proposed projects that demonstrate the greatest positive community impact and the greatest need for funding will qualify for loans, which will range from $250,000 to $1 million. Applications for the funds are available through Republic Bank, Louisville Metro’s Development Authority or at Louisville Development Bancorp’s web site, Click twice on New Markets Tax Credits. For details on this program, contact Andy Powell of Republic Bank at 502-561-7118 or

Trucker Training in Kentucky Helps Fill Industry Void

A new Driving for Inner City Development workforce initiative recently held its first graduation ceremony for disadvantaged students.

The truck-driving workforce program, funded by $619,317 from the state of Kentucky, graduated seven students, who are now full-time employees for C.W. Johnson Xpress trucking company, a vested partner in the training program.

Jefferson Community & Technical Colleges, the Career Academy and other local community development agencies partnered to establish curriculums that prepare West Louisville residents for careers in the truck driving industry. The curriculums combine technical training with a series of “wraparound services,” including assessments, counseling, and job and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The American Trucking Association says the national shortage of drivers is nearly 80,000 and growing. KentuckianaWorks, the region’s workforce investment agency, estimates a need for more than 12,000 tractor-trailer drivers in the region by 2012 and shows that drivers in the area currently make median annual salaries of nearly $32,000, with more than $11,000 in benefits.

To learn more about Driving for Inner City Development, contact Gary Alexander at 502-410-6423.

Local Organizations Receive CDFI Funds

Several organizations in the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District states are among 73 recipients of federal Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund awards.

In August, the CDFI Fund awarded $26,373,900 to organizations across the country that serve economically distressed communities, including:

  • Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, Jackson, Miss., $585,000;
  • Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises, Berea, Ky., $585,000;
  • Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Berea, Ky., $585,000;
  • The Illinois Facilities Fund, Chicago, Ill., $585,000;
  • Southern Financial Partners, Arkadelphia, Ark., $585,000;
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Capital Fund, Jackson, Miss., $100,000; and
  • Kentucky Habitat for Humanity, Louisville, Ky., $99,895.

These institutions are certified by the CDFI Fund as community development financial institutions or CDFIs. They provide capital, credit and basic financial products, such as savings and checking accounts; and technical assistance, such as financial education, to community residents and businesses.

For a list or other information regarding these awards, visit the fund’s web site at