From Foes to Friends, Local Banks Join Forces for Community Action

Published on: June 7, 2018

By Meagan Nichols | Memphis Business Journal

“If we don’t change and shift the economic disparity that exists in some communities in this city, then it impacts the entire city.”

Those were the words of Gerre Currie, community development officer for Financial Federal Bank and the secretary of the Memphis Area Community Reinvestment Act Association (Memphis CRA Association). Financial Federal is one of more than a dozen local financial institutions that have joined forces to try and improve the financial well-being of Memphis residents.

As part of that effort, the Memphis CRA Association will host the “Better Credit, Better Communities” fair Saturday, June 9, at the Fellowship Hall at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. The event is free and open to the public.

The association was founded in 2017 to address the economic needs of low-to-moderate-income people.

“It has always been the promotion that housing should be made available to everyone,” Currie said. “Well, we drilled down into that and said, before we get to the housing, we need to help the community in building their credit.”

Bancorp South, Financial Federal Bank, First Tennessee Bank, Iberia Bank, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Paragon Bank, Patriot BankRenasant Bank, Regions Bank, Simmons Bank, SunTrust Bank, Trustmark Bank and TriState Bank are the 13 institutions that comprise the Memphis CRA Association.

While Currie admits it is a bit odd to have that many competing banks work alongside one another, she said it has gone extremely well and encourages everyone in the city to see that collaboration in action.

People interested in attending will have the chance to learn some of the steps needed to improve their credit, from budgeting to credit counseling. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Interested attendees do not need to bring anything.

“You’ve got to help people understand there is hope — there are opportunities," Currie said. "A lot of times people don’t even recognize there are a lot more opportunities out there — resources — they can utilize to get their credit better. … The only way to get people out of poverty, whether they are employed or not employed, is to help them understand one of the changes they need to make is improving their credit.”