Regional community development financial institution Hope Enterprise Corporation and Credit Union opened a new branch Tuesday at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Economic Research and Development Center at 615 Main St.
About 60 people attended a ERDC public event in which the alliance between Hope and UAPB and its potential impact on the area was highlighted.
“We’re pleased that we have an opportunity to partner with Hope,” said UAPB Chancellor Laurence Alexander. “That’s what the organization is all about — hope.
“The university is proud to be part of this community building collaboration and we look forward to the economic opportunities it will create for people,” Alexander said. “UAPB knows that strong communities lead to better educational opportunities.”
Supporting the UAPB/Hope union is a network of community development groups, including the Delta Regional Authority, NeighborWorks America and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
Hope has partnered with private industry, public agencies and community organizations since 1994 in assisting over 400,000 individuals and generating nearly $2 billion in financing for entrepreneurs, home buyers and community enhancement projects across the mid-South, according to a news release. Hope’s efforts are directed at assisting “disenfranchised people and places.”
DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, who called UAPB “a treasure,” said the UAPB/Hope affiliation is “good for people, business and the community” and will help “move the entire region forward.”
Hope Chief Executive Officer Bill Bynum said he’s proud that his company — initially designed to aid only businesses — has expanded its service scope. Noting that Arkansas has the nation’s second-largest gap in white and black business ownership, he said Hope is bringing a “full menu of services into Pine Bluff” and UAPB students will be staffing the firm’s local office.
“We’ll be working on investments on and around (the UAPB) campus,” Bynum said, pointing out that students will also be performing outreach duties.
Hope will be employing the latest available technology in its services, which are to include free financial education and counseling.
The public is also invited to a Saturday, Dec. 7, community fair at ERDC from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Activities will include entertainment, financial seminars, health screenings, giveaways and, for children, face painting and space jumps. Free food will also be available.