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Spanning the Region

Monday, October 1, 2007

New UCA Institute Provides Consulting Services Nationwide

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) now offers community development consulting to cities nationwide through its new Strategic Growth Institute (SGI).

The institute will work with communities in Arkansas and other states to produce strategic plans for development. A few of the services SGI offers are: customized community and economic development plans, analysis of a community’s strengths and weaknesses, community marketing plans, and target industry studies.

SGI is an outgrowth of the university’s Community Development Institute and Master of Science program in Community and Economic Development. More than 2,500 participants from 35 states have taken courses at UCA’s Community Development Institute, which prepares practitioners for certification as a community developer.

For more information about SGI, contact Jennifer Tanner, managing director, at


2005 Payday Lending Law Saves Illinoisans Millions

Less than two years after the Payday Loan Reform Act was signed into law, a new report says the law has saved Illinois consumers millions of dollars in interest and fees.

Enacted on Dec. 6, 2005, the law limits interest on payday loans and on the amount consumers can borrow. A report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation found that, under the law, consumers were charged $15.35 per $100 dollars borrowed or a 350 percent APR (annual percentage rate) for a 16-day loan. A 2002 survey found that the average cost of a short-term loan was 525 percent APR.

Previously, borrowers who rolled over a loan had to pay additional interest and penalties. Under the new law, consumers caught in the pattern of continually rolling over loans have an option of a no-interest payment plan that allows them to catch up without adding additional fees and interest.

The study also shows that Illinois consumers take out between 45,000 and 65,000 payday loans each month, with the average loan amount being $350 with finance charges of $54. Using those figures, the state estimates that Illinois consumers have saved more than $20.5 million in finance charges since the bill was implemented.


Brookings Study Highlights Cost of Being Poor in Kentucky

Following up on a national report last year on a similar theme, a new Brookings Institution report focuses specifically on the high cost of being poor in Kentucky.

According to The High Price of Being Poor in Kentucky: How To Put The Market To Work For Kentucky’s Lower-Income Families, not only are lower incomes a constraint, but people with lower incomes face higher prices for services they buy.

Among the added expenses faced by Kentucky residents making $20,000 or less a year, car insurance, on average, costs $384 more and cars of comparable quality $500 more than higher-income residents pay. Low-income Kentuckians pay an average of $363 a year more in home insurance. They also receive less favorable rates for financial services and loans.

To reduce these cost burdens, the study recommends developing financial services targeted for low-income residents and creating insurance pools that can help balance the scales. To read the report, visit


FHLBCin Program Protects Homeowners from Foreclosure

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati (FHLBCin) has developed a new program to help member banks offer refinancing to homeowners who are at risk of default or foreclosure.

The HomeProtect Program will provide up to $250 million to its lenders to refinance first mortgages for primary residences in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio and other states served by member banks. Cities in the FHLBCin territory reporting higher foreclosure rates in recent years—such as Memphis, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.—could see lower rates using the program.

To be eligible, borrowers must be at or less than 115 percent of area median income. Loans are subject to Freddie Mac conforming loan limits; reasonable points and fees will apply.

Under the HomeProtect Program, borrowers will be able to pay off a mortgage balance and all delinquent payments and fees, but must complete a home-buyer counseling program. Borrowers will not be able to borrow cash for other needs.

The funds can be used with other mortgage programs or related grants if those programs permit it within their guidelines. Member institutions applying for funds should contact FHLBCin at 513-852-7615 or e-mail Carol Peterson, senior vice president, at or W. Jeff Reynolds, vice president, at