Six Banks Collaborate to Award $29K in Grant Funds to Revitalize Downtown Fort Smith, Ark.

Monday, December 12 at 06:25 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Grant funds to be used for urban planning development plans.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Downtown Fort Smith, Ark., 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 development of the urban planning development plan for downtown Fort Smith. 

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 Senator John Boozman (AR) also attended today’s event. 

Tags: Arkansas, Community Support, Fort Smith
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