The following is a press release from the City of Hattiesburg.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The City of Hattiesburg, local banks, credit unions, and non-profit organizations have joined forces to increase wealth and financial literacy among area families.
The group introduced the Bank On Hattiesburg Initiative, a program designed to assist unbanked and under-banked households. Hattiesburg is the first city in Mississippi to launch the program which also aims to increase the supply of starter account products for the low-income market.
“Bank On Hattiesburg is an awareness campaign to introduce mainstream financial services that are either low cost or no cost services as long as you are a customer. It is also designed to avoid alternative check cashing businesses and pay day advance businesses because of the high fees associated with them,” said Jerome Brown, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Development for The First, A National Banking Association and the Co-Chair of the initiative’s steering committee.
“Partners of the program are committed to walking community members through the process of opening and maintaining a checking and savings account as well as creating solid budgets and savings plans,” said Brown.
Participating agencies also believe the program provides a unique opportunity to build trust and strengthen relationships within the community. “We ultimately want to see families succeed and make the most of their money,” said Mayor Johnny DuPree. “The key to financial success is education and proper guidance,” DuPree said. “I am so proud of the determination of these agencies to unite and offer their expertise to struggling community members. I believe we have to be the change we want to see.”
Banks and credit unions involved with the program will offer no or low-cost accounts, wave monthly balance requirements, issue free ATM and Debit cards, provide free online banking, low initial deposits, and access to financial education.
President/CEO of United Way of Southeast Mississippi, Tracie Fowler, added, “We are excited about this initiative because the benefits are two-fold in that it is helping individuals become more financially stable as well as building a stronger community economically.”
Bank On Hattiesburg financial partners include BancorpSouth, Central Sunbelt FCU, Citizen National Bank, Community Bank, Hancock Bank, Keesler Federal Credit Union, Magnolia State Bank, PriorityOne Bank, Regions, The First, A National Banking Association, Trustmark Bank, USM Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo.
Bank On Hattiesburg community partners are: Aids Services Coalition, Bethesda Project, Inc., Christian Services, Inc., Community Connections, KidsMart/Moneymart, Pearl River Valley Opportunity, Inc., Renaissance Corporation, R3SM, Inc., The Salvation Army, United Way of SEMS and MS State Extension Services.
Citizens seeking more information about the program may visit www.unitedwaysems.org/bankonhattiesburg, or call the City of Hattiesburg’s Federal and State Programs Department at 601.554.1006.