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Spanning the Region

Sunday, April 1, 2007

St. Patrick Center Project Nets $3.5 Million Award

The Economic Development Administration presented a $3.5 million award to St. Patrick Center in downtown St. Louis on Dec. 19, 2006, for Project BEGIN, the center’s new initiative to help the homeless. This is the first faith-based community project that has received an award from the Economic Development Administration.

Project BEGIN will bring together public and private partners to create employment opportunities and skill-trade preparation for St. Patrick Center’s clients, who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The project will develop a small business incubator and trades training center.

“We know a good project when we see it, but government assistance is only part of the solution,” said Sandy Baruah, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, at the awards ceremony. “Unless the private sector is willing to invest in the community—economic growth simply will not occur regardless how much government spends.”

The Excellence in Economic Development Award for Community and Faith-Based Social Entrepreneurship is given to nonprofit organizations that advance community and faith-based social entrepreneurship through redevelopment strategies for areas of chronic economic distress.

Health Insurance Available for Arkansas Small Businesses

It’s new, it’s affordable and it’s specifically designed for Arkansas’ small businesses. ARHealthNet is a new insurance program designed to help qualified small businesses with low-income workers provide health benefits to their employees.

The program is a partnership between the federal government, the state government and private business to offer health benefits to uninsured workers. Premiums for low-income workers with annual earnings at or below 200 per cent of the federal poverty level will be subsidized using tobacco settlement funds and existing Medicaid dollars.

Businesses can apply if they have not offered a group health plan in the past 12 months or longer and have two to 500 employees. Only qualified employers can participate. The plan is not available as an individual plan. Spouses of participating employees may also be eligible.

For more information, visit the NovaSys Health web site at or call 1-800-294-3557.

The concept for ARHealthNet was developed by the Arkansas Health Insurance Expansion Initiative Roundtable and the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information on the history and development of ARHealthNet, visit

Missouri Power Company Offers Training Scholarships

Northeast Missouri Electric Power Cooperative (Northeast Power) is offering scholarships for economic development training and educational events for those involved in development in the cooperative’s service area.

The matching scholarships, which will pay for up to 50 percent of allowable expenses, are part of Northeast Power’s newly created economic development program. Examples of eligible applicants include electric cooperative board members and staff, elected officials, professional economic development staff and local economic development organization board members.

The scholarships may be used for programs such as the Heartland Basic Economic Development Course, Economic Development Institute, Professional Developers of Iowa or Missouri Economic Development Council conferences, International Economic Development Council courses and National Development Council financing training.

For 2007, Northeast Power has $5,000 available for scholarships. To meet as many needs as possible, scholarships in 2007 will be limited to a maximum of $650 for any one request.

“We consider this an investment in the leadership base of the service areas of our eight Member-Distribution Cooperatives in Iowa and Missouri,” a statement from the company said.

Further information and scholarship applications are available from Gordon Ipson of Northeast Power at or 573-769-8215.

Casey Foundation Honors Arkansas, Mississippi Groups

Two organizations in the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District are among the four recipients of the 2007 Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Families Count: National Honors Program” awards. The program recognizes the important role organizations play in strengthening families and communities. Each honoree receives an unrestricted $500,000 award.

Recipients that serve Eighth District communities are Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/Hope Community Credit Union (ECD/HOPE) in Jackson, Miss., and Southern Good Faith Fund in Pine Bluff, Ark.

ECD is a private, nonprofit, community development financial institution that provides commercial financing, mortgage loans and technical assistance to support businesses, entrepreneurs, home buyers and community development projects in economically distressed areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Memphis, Tenn. ECD also sponsors Hope Community Credit Union, which provides a range of financial services to low- and moderate-income residents in its three-state service area. Since 1994, ECD/HOPE has generated over $300 million in financing for entrepreneurs, home buyers and community development projects and assisted more than 30,000 individuals in low-income communities throughout the mid-South. For more information about ECD/HOPE, visit

Southern Good Faith Fund is a nonprofit affiliate of Southern Bancorp. Its mission is to increase the income and assets of low-income and low-skilled residents of the Delta in Arkansas and Mississippi. Since 1988, the fund has started, expanded or retained 511 businesses; assisted 818 students through the Career Pathways program; helped 75 children save over $100,000 for college in SEED accounts; processed 200 individual development accounts; and processed 344 tax refunds through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site. For more information, visit

To learn more about the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the other 2007 award recipients, visit

Louisville To Use Grant for Financial Education

The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ National Dollar Wise Campaign recently awarded Louisville, Ky., a $25,000 Capacity Grant sponsored by Countrywide Financial Corp.

The city of Louisville will use the grant to expand financial literacy and money management programs and to support an asset-building summit. Louisville has been an active member of the Dollar Wise campaign through the Louisville Asset Building Coalition. The campaign endorses programs that educate Americans about the value of a dollar, pitfalls in spending and the benefits of saving.

For more information, visit