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Birmingham Business Conference Raises BAR for Community Change

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From left: Ed Gorman, Managing Director of the National Community Reinvestment Community (NCRC) Housing Rehab Fund; Katy Crosby- NCRC Chief of Community Engagement and Bob Dickerson, executive director of BAR and board chair of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) discuss the importance of partnerships. (Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson, For The Birmingham Times)

By Keisa Sharpe | For The Birmingham Times

Dozens of business and community leaders gathered Thursday at the UAB Hilton Hotel on Birmingham’s Southside for Building Alabama Reinvestment (BAR) Conference’s “Banking on Change: Uncovering Opportunities in the South.”

The daylong meeting centered on conversations and collaborations with speakers and panel discussions – in which tools and information were shared to develop strategies for improving underserved communities and serving low-to-moderate income families.

Attendees also had the opportunity to network at the event.

Bob Dickerson, executive director of BAR and board chair of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), said he was pleased by the turnout and points that were made.

He highlighted The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) which requires the Federal Reserve and other federal banking regulators to encourage financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, including low-and-moderate income (LMI) neighborhoods.

“We are on the verge of making the CRA compliance more impactful … so we see more houses, more home improvement, (and) more businesses in the communities that we care about,” he said.

He added, “… and we still tell the truth about some of the things that are and are not happening in our communities.

Dickerson said he wants to build on this year’s conference and “go deeper into these conversations about community development and gain greater understanding (on how to carry it out through collaborative efforts).”

Other speakers and panelists included David Jackson, Assistant Vice President, of Community & Economic Development for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Taurie Grant, Community Affairs Specialist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); April Atkins, Community Affairs Officer, bank supervision policy for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Also, Mary Ellen Judah, Executive Director/CEO of Neighborhood Concepts, Inc.; Teresa Fox-Bettis, Executive Director for the Center for Fair Housing; and Ed Gorman, Managing Director of the National Community Reinvestment Community (NCRC) Housing Rehab Fund.