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Jackson, MS-Hope Credit Union (HOPE) and East Central Federal Credit Union (ECFCU) announced today that the two organizations will merge their operations effective October 1.  The merger will extend the services of HOPE, one of the nation's leading community development financial institutions into eastern Mississippi.  ECFCU members will become part of HOPE beginning October 1.

"A shared commitment to community, access to affordable financial services, and an earnest interest in improving the lives of our members are the cornerstones of both ECFCU and HOPE," said ECFCU Chairman, Earl Dew.

East Central was founded 30 years ago as the United Woodcutters Federal Credit Union, serving timber industry employees and their families. Since then, ECFCU has grown to serve more than 3,000 member-owners in the Louisville and Macon area.  HOPE was started in 1995 as a small church project.  Over the past 15 years, HOPE and its nonprofit sponsor, the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, have assisted more than 75,000 individuals and generated over $1.4 billion in financing for entrepreneurs, homebuyers, and community development projects across the Mid South.

The merger will provide greater access to affordable financial services for ECFCU members.  They will be able to take advantage of a significantly increased number of products, including checking, money market, and IRA accounts; online, telephone, and mobile banking; debit and credit cards; and consumer, mortgage, and small business loans.

"This partnership builds on the strengths of both institutions to provide an important resource for people struggling to weather the current financial crisis," said HOPE CEO, Bill Bynum.  "Credit union members have always pooled our resources to help our neighbors through difficult financial times.  That's more important now than ever before."

HOPE has branches in Biloxi, Camden, Jackson, and Robinsonville, Mississippi; in College Station and West Memphis, Arkansas; in Jackson and Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans, Louisiana.  The merger adds to this network ECFCU branches in Louisville and Macon, Mississippi.  With the merger, roughly 30,000 HOPE members will be part of a $200 million regional community development financial institution dedicated to improving lives in one of the most economically distressed parts of the county.

"By working with a range of partners, both public and private, ECD/HOPE has become one of the nation's most effective community development financial institutions," said Donna J. Gambrell, Director of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, an agency of the US Treasury Department.