HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the City of Hattiesburg.
The City of Hattiesburg is among eight cities across the nation competitively selected to participate in the National League of Cities' (NLC) Financial Inclusion Systems and City Leadership (FISCL) initiative. The two-year project has afforded Hattiesburg a $32,500 grant—$10,000 of which to be allocated to the Bank On Hattiesburg Initiative, a key component of Mayor Johnny DuPree's Financial Master Plan.
Supported by MetLife Foundation, FISCL is designed to help cities build sustainable city-wide systems that improve residents' financial health and stability. Leaders of competing cities were required to attend the Mayors' Institute on Financial Inclusion in Chicago in April to engage national experts and peers on the development of practical solutions to local challenges, and new and existing opportunities to help residents gain a solid financial foothold.
"While many cities across the country are experiencing economic recovery and growth, this prosperity has not reached residents across all rungs of the economic ladder," said NLC President Melodee Colbert-Kean, councilmember and former mayor, Joplin, Mo. "This project will give mayors a unique opportunity to implement and strengthen innovative strategies to address the financial challenges many residents face on a daily basis."
"This initiative will certainly increase our capacity to develop more initiatives such as Bank On Hattiesburg and the Mayor's Financial Education Initiative that grant residents access to safe, affordable financial services and education, and help families accumulate savings, reduce debt, and build assets," said Mayor DuPree. In addition to the Mayors' Institute, NLC has pledged to provide ongoing technical assistance, peer-learning and exchange opportunities, and support with securing additional grants. The City of Hattiesburg will have a chance to showcase local strategies during NLC's National Summit on Financial Inclusion in early 2017. Hattiesburg will be joined by seven other cities in the project cohort: Boston, Massachusetts; Dubuque, Iowa; Durham, North Carolina; Lansing, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and St. Petersburg, Florida
Last October, city officials, financial institutions, and non-profit organizations partnered to launch Bank On Hattiesburg, the first of its kind in Mississippi, to assist unbanked and under-banked households. The program offers participants no or low-cost accounts, waves monthly balance requirements, and provides free ATM and Debit cards, free online banking, low initial deposits, and access to financial education.
Bank On Hattiesburg financial partners include The First, A National Banking Association, BancorpSouth, Central Sunbelt FCU, Citizens National Bank, Community Bank, Hancock Bank, Keesler Federal Credit Union, Magnolia State Bank, PriorityOne Bank, Regions, Trustmark Bank, USM Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo.
Bank On Hattiesburg community partners are: United Way of SEMS and MS State Extension Services, Aids Services Coalition, Bethesda Project, Inc., Christian Services, Inc., Community Connections, KidsMart/Moneymart, Pearl River Valley Opportunity, Inc., Renaissance Corporation, R3SM, Inc., and The Salvation Army. Citizens seeking more information about the program may contact the City of Hattiesburg's Federal and State Programs Department at 601.554.1006.
The Mayor's Financial Education Initiative continues to lift families out of poverty via programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit program which affords the City of Hattiesburg and Forrest County the opportunity to provide free tax preparation and financial education. Within eight years, families have earned $16,353,475 in federal tax refunds. For more information on this program, citizens may contact City of Hattiesburg Neighborhood Development Coordinator Maxine Coleman at 601.554.1005.