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First State chosen for national recognition

First State chosen for national recognition

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2008 10:15 am

The Messenger 12.22.08

First State Bank received the 2008 Community Impact Award during the recent 2008 CRA and Fair Lending Colloquium in Orlando, Fla.
First State is the first recipient of this award from Tennessee and the Southeast U.S.
This is a national award, honoring dedicated compliance professionals and their institutions, to encourage innovative community lending and to provide the financial industry with examples of programs that work.
“The project would not have been such a success without the leadership and innovative spirit of First State Bank and the United Way Metropolitan Nashville,” said Marc Ferguson, president and CEO of Nets To Ladders Inc.
“We are excited that these accounts remain open today and dozens of previously unbanked families have a banking relationship with an outstanding financial institution. It is an honor to have worked with First State to help successfully connect individuals to free or low-cost accounts and help Nashville residents avoid predatory practices that are so rampant in communities today. Looking forward, we are excited to continue our relationship into 2009 and beyond as we offer more asset-building opportunities to hard working people.”
First State Bank partnered with the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and the United Way of America to launch “SavingsPoint,” the nation’s first and only community pilot during the 2008 tax season.
SavingsPoint is a user-friendly, low-cost Web-based application that volunteers or staff can use to easily open bank accounts for low-income clients. The goal of the program is to provide “second chance” bank accounts to low-income individuals and families at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) free tax preparation sites.
The accounts were opened just prior to tax preparation and the newly-opened accounts could be immediately used for the direct deposit information on the IRS tax form. First State created new checking and savings account products specifically for SavingsPoint and the new VITA clientele.
Although these accounts start out as limited ATM accounts with waived fees, the clients are able to request checks after 90 days of favorable activity.
This year’s award was sponsored by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Presenting the award on behalf of LISC was Greta Harris, program vice president.
“First State Bank is commended for its role in helping low-income families establish a relationship with a mainstream financial institution which is such a critical first step in decreasing vulnerability to predatory lenders, establishing credit and building assets,” Ms. Harris said. “The Savings Point program not only links low-income, un-banked taxpayers with ‘second chance’ bank accounts, it also provides mainstream financial institutions with unique access to low-income working families who might not otherwise seek them out.”
Accepting this year’s Com-munity Impact Award on behalf of First State Bank was Barry Matthews, vice president of community relations and business development officer from First State. Key team members involved in the project at First State were Barry Matthews, Sandra Joyner and Rhonda Mansfield.
“It was a pleasure to see the professionals at First State Bank honored for their innovative community lending program,” said Raffi Festekjian, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services|PCi. “We hope that the award will highlight a successful program and serve as an option for others in the financial services industry who may want to replicate it.”
First State Bank has 28 full-service banking locations in 24 communities throughout West and Middle Tennessee. It is owned by Community First Bancshares Inc., a holding company headquartered in Union City.

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