Spanning the Region

Loan Fund Designed To Boost Helena-West Helena Revitalization

Southern Bancorp Capital Partners, the nonprofit development affiliate of Southern Bancorp, has launched a new loan fund with the goal of encouraging revitalization and growth in downtown Helena-West Helena, Ark. Funds can be used to start a business, expand or relocate an existing business, or buy or renovate a historic home. Historic housing loans can be used for the purchase or renovation of historic housing or commercial buildings in the development district. Property must be listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Small business loans can be used to finance a new business, expand an existing business, develop loft apartments or support activities that stimulate downtown revitalization.

Loans must be repaid in seven to 20 years at interest rates ranging from 3 percent to 4 percent. Borrowers do not need to be residents of Phillips County to qualify. Credit counseling is available for borrowers who do not yet qualify.

The Downtown Loan Fund is supported by a program-related investment (PRI) from the Walton Family Foundation.

Contact Steve Toney at for more information.

Mississippi State Creates Workforce University

The Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU) at Mississippi State University has established the Mississippi Workforce University, a research and outreach organization dedicated to developing the state’s workforce and achieving employers' organizational goals. The RCU studies workforce development in Mississippi and connects education and training to the workforce and workforce providers.

In addition to developing traditional materials such as manuals and videos, the workforce development team has created an online workforce education resource portal that provides access to e-learning materials, curricula and other training materials and resources. Customized training modules for the development of industry-specific, proprietary and nonproprietary training modules are available in a manual, video or technology-based format. Standardized, generic training modules include blueprint reading, basic math, precision measurement and mechanical maintenance. Technology-based training tools, such as podcasts, wikis, blogs, screencasts, demonstration tools, collaboration tools and webinars also are available. The university's Media Library/Media Center is the connection to its training materials as well as those found in other university libraries. Certified trainers are qualified to offer Franklin Covey “Focus,” HRDQ “Flight from Savo” Supervisory Skills simulation and Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Located in Starkville, Miss., Mississippi State University works closely with the Mississippi Workforce Education Program at the State Board of Community and Jr. Colleges, the Mississippi Department of Education, the 15 Mississippi community and junior colleges, statewide training providers and Mississippi companies.

For information, contact Cathy Davis, coordinator, or Lemond Irvin, project manager, at 662-325-2510.


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