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5 local banks receive grants to invest in communities

Bank of Brookhaven is one of five banks in the area to receive a grant of $1.82 million dollars recently.

The grants — intended to spur more private-sector investments in local communities — are part of the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Rapid Response Program, funded through the FY2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

Community Development Financial Institutions are private financial institutions dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. As CDFIs, Bank of Brookhaven, BankPlus, Pike National Bank, First Bank and Bank of Franklin — along with 47 other institutions across Mississippi — each received an equal grant, meaning more than $9 million has been invested through grants into the Lincoln County area, and $94.96 million across the state.

“In real terms, it means their having more capital on hand to help businesses and community facilities remain viable as we rebuild after a very difficult economic year,” said Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, of Brookhaven.

Federal studies have shown that for every dollar injected into a CDFI, it injects eight more dollars into the private sector, Bank of Brookhaven CEO Robb Massengill said.

“They have placed funds into these CDFIs that will help with lending, to support operational activities that have had to be invested in as a result of COVID, and that can help build capital,” Massengill said. “What we do best is lend money and we will continue to do that.”

The bank has recently lent monies that have shown investment in the community, he said, like construction of a new spec building in the Linbrook Industrial Park and the 48-home Mill Creek subdivision on South First Street.

“It would mean new lending opportunities in a couple of areas, for capital purposes and operational purposes,” said Massengill.

“The Rapid Response Program will allow these financial institutions in Mississippi to withstand the stresses of the pandemic and provide flexibility to support more private-sector investments in rural and under-served communities,” said Hyde-Smith, the ranking member of the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee.

“We at the Chamber are excited that our local banks, including our home-owned bank, have received these monies,” said Garrick Combs, executive director of the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and Lincoln County Economic Development Alliance. “It’s our hope that as we continue to recover from the past year-and-a-half that these funds will be reinvested in our community and hopefully with our Chamber members.”

The full nationwide list of grant recipients can be downloaded at www.dailyleader.com.