Receiving NCUA assistance, the $135 million Hope Credit Union of Jackson, Miss. said Friday it is completing a merger effective today of the struggling, low income East Central FCU of Louisville, Miss.
Hope, which said it has merged two other ailing community development CUs in the last two years in Arkansas and Louisiana, said the takeover of the $3 million East Central would permit Hope leverage to serve economically stressed areas on the state's east side.
"We think it is very important to preserve those struggling communities and we are doing what we can with merger being an option" said Bill Bynum, Hope's president/CEO.
Bynum declined comment on the amount of NCUA financial aid but said East Central management had approached Hope months ago about a merger following loan losses.
The consolidation, he said, will add East Central's branches in Louisville and Macon to Hope's existing branch network, said Bynum.
The Hope CEO noted also his CU was one of 50 community development CU recipients to receive special Treasury grants this week from leftover Troubled Asset Relief Funds. Hope received $4.5 million "and that will help us tremendously in furthering our mission," he said.
Regarding the merger, Earl Dew, chairman of East Central, said the consolidation encompassing the CU's 3,000 members represents "a shared commitment to community, access to affordable financial services, and an earnest interest in improving the lives of our members."
East Central was founded 30 years ago as United Woodcutters FCU serving timber industry employees. HOPE was started in 1995 as a small church project. Over the past 15 years, HOPE and its nonprofit sponsor, the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, have assisted more than 75,000 individuals and generated over $1.4 billion in financing for entrepreneurs, homebuyers, and community development projects across the Mid South.