FORT SMITH, Ark.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas, is getting a boost with the help of $29,900 in Partnership Grant Program (PGP) funds, presented today to Strategic Community Investments (SCI). The grant funds will be used for research and studies related to the urban development plan for downtown Fort Smith.
“Through the Partnership Grant Program, these six banks exemplify the true meaning of partnership and commitment to community. I look forward to the changes that will occur as a result of the grants.”
Mayor Sandy Sanders joined representatives from Arvest Bank, Bank of the Ozarks, Centennial Bank, First National Bank, Simmons Bank, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas), as well as other project stakeholders, to award the grant.
“Great change cannot occur without great partnerships,” said Mayor Sanders. “Through the Partnership Grant Program, these six banks exemplify the true meaning of partnership and commitment to community. I look forward to the changes that will occur as a result of the grants.”
SCI Development Officer Talicia Richardson worked with the banks during the grant application process. Through project collaborator 64.6 Downtown, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the economic development of Fort Smith, SCI is funding the services of Gateway Planning, an urban design, planning, and development consulting firm, to finalize the plans to revitalize downtown Fort Smith. The Dallas-based urban planning company also spearheaded revitalization projects in Rogers, Arkansas, and McKinney, Texas.
Ms. Richardson learned about the grant through a community investment workshop in January hosted by FHLB Dallas. She then approached five of FHLB Dallas’ member institutions to pursue funding.
“We wanted to leverage the fact that we’re a community and we’re connected,” Ms. Richardson said. “Our goal is to build communities that are vibrant, sustainable, and most of all united.”
Arvest Bank is one of the five FHLB Dallas member institutions Ms. Richardson approached.
“These grants will make a lasting impact on many individuals and families for years to come,” said Rodney Shepard, president of Arvest Bank in Fort Smith. “When we invest in our community, we invest in our future, and Arvest is honored to be part of this project.”
Through the PGP, member institutions contribute $500 up to $4,000 to a community-based organization (CBO). FHLB Dallas matches the contributions at a 3:1 ratio, which provide up to $12,000 in grant money to a CBO. In 2016, FHLB Dallas awarded $225,000 in PGP funds to assist 23 CBOs. Combined with the $96,200 from member institutions, a total of $321,200 was awarded this year.
“The involvement of each bank in this effort is a testament to the true intention of the PGP,” said Greg Hettrick, first vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas. “We’re happy to have played a role in giving our members a chance to connect with the community through the PGP.”
Ms. Richardson said that without the grant, she would have had to seek other sources of funding for the $257,000 project. While she is confident she would have found the additional capital to fund the project, she is grateful for PGP funds.
“We’re very blessed to have been able to receive this grant through FHLB Dallas because it allowed things to go a lot faster to have those guaranteed funds coming our way,” said Ms. Richardson.
PGP grants are offered annually through FHLB Dallas’ member institutions via a lottery system. Funds may be used for research, organizational capacity-building, grant- and funding-application assistance, or contractual services.
Morgan Farmer from the office of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (AR), Janice Scaggs from the office of U.S. Representative Steve Womack (AR-3), and Kelsey Kelton from the office of U.S. Senator John Boozman (AR) also attended today’s event.
About Arvest Bank
Arvest Bank operates more than 260 bank branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas through a group of 16 locally managed banks, each with its own board and management team. These banks serve customers in more than 120 communities, with extended weekday banking hours at many locations. Arvest also provides a wide range of banking services including loans, deposits, treasury management, credit cards, mortgage loans and mortgage servicing. Arvest is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC.
About Bank of the Ozarks
Bank of the Ozarks is a state-chartered wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of the Ozarks, Inc. that conducts banking operations through 255 offices in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, and New York. The Company was chartered in March 1903 and is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas and may be contacted at (501) 978-2265 or P.O. Box 8811, Little Rock, Arkansas 72231-8811. The Company’s website is: bankozarks.com.
About Centennial Bank
Centennial Bank is a customer focused bank that provides a broad range of commercial and retail banking and related financial services to businesses, investors, individuals and municipalities. Centennial Bank has locations in Arkansas, Florida, South Alabama, and New York. Home Bancshares acquired and integrated Centennial Bank in 2008. For more information, visit: my100bank.com.
About First National Bank of Fort Smith
The First National Bank of Fort Smith was organized February 29, 1872, as “The National Bank of Western Arkansas.” A charter was issued by the Comptroller of the Currency, authorizing the bank to commence business on March 22, 1872. We offer our customers a complete array of financial services including banking, insurance, trust, and investments services throughout the Arkansas River Valley, Northwest Arkansas, and Eastern Oklahoma. Visit fnbfs.com for more information.
About Simmons Bank
Simmons Bank was founded in 1903 in Pine Bluff, Ark. The bank has grown steadily through the decades with more than 150 locations in four states – Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee – while always being mindful of where it started. Simmons is committed to providing its customers with the best banking experience possible. Visit simmonsbank.com for more information.
About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 11 district banks in the FHLBank system created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $58.4 billion as of September 30, 2016, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced advances and other credit products to approximately 850 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. Visit fhlb.com for more information.