Hope Credit Union making Utica stay permanent

Utica residents will soon be banking at a familiar location – the former BancorpSouth building at 106 W. Main St.

BancorpSouth left the Hinds County town last August as part of a branch reorganization that involved closing 23 locations. Hope Credit Union (HOPE) stepped in soon after and set up account-opening services in City Hall before later moving to a nearby modular building.

Now HOPE will soon set up shop just around the corner in the former Bancorp South location in West Main Street. The larger facility will support access to a broader range of HOPE’s financial products and services, CEO Bill Bynum said.

“When the community welcomed us last year, we said that we were here for the long haul,” Bynum said in a press statement. “The investment in this branch is a statement of commitment to our member-owners, and of our dedication to the Utica community.”

Utica Mayor Mark Morgan said he is pleased to see the building get a new occupant . “Having a vibrant and well-populated downtown is a great boost to any town and it helps us retain and attract more businesses and residents to the area.”

The new office will offer more amenities and allow HOPE to expand services. With an additional 3,000 square feet, the branch will have space for members to meet with small business lenders and mortgage originators. The building will house a night deposit drop and an ATM—the first for a local financial institution.

“We consistently hear from residents about how much it means to be able to have local access to their finances,” said LuxAnna Buckley, HOPE’s Utica branch manager. “The addition of an ATM is going to make a real difference for people. Our members will have 24-hour access to their funds.”

HOPE has worked with a local Advisory Council and other leaders to connect residents with the credit union’s financial products and services. As a result, the credit union has had a steady increase in the number of individuals and businesses establishing deposit accounts and securing loans.

In January, the credit union increased branch hours to keep up with growing demand.

Over the coming weeks HOPE will undertake minor renovations, and plans to hold a grand opening later this spring.

HOPE is a regional financial institution, community development intermediary and policy center that provides affordable financial services. It leverages private, public and philanthropic resources to strengthen economic conditions in economically distressed parts of the Mid South.

Tupelo-based regional bank BancorpSouth said it closed the Utica branch and others because the volume of business at the locations had been limited and growth was insufficient to support expenses.

The closings in Utica and Edwards left residents having to make a 45-minute drive to obtain financial services, said U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, in a press statement last summer criticizing BancorpSouth’s departure.

The mayors of Utica and Edwards said the announcement of plans for last summer’s closings occurred with “little or no correspondence from BancorpSouth,” according to Thompson’s press release.

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