Manatee groups strive to open financial resource center

nwilliams@bradenton.comFebruary 4, 2013 

BRADENTON -- By October, Manatee County residents may have a full functioning financial resource center that will assist them with maximizing their income.

Manatee Community Federal Credit Union is in the process of applying for a $750,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions program. The money would be used to support the asset-building and financial literacy portion of the center.

The center, to be located at the Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency and Suncoast Community Capital facility at 302 Manatee Ave. E., would offer income tax assistance, microbusiness and personal coaching, and home ownership and job readiness training. All of the services would be free of charge.

"We're trying to bringfinancial resources backto the community, said Sherod Halliburton, executivevice president of Manatee Community Federal Credit Union.

Halliburton said the application will be submitted to the federal government in the next few weeks with approval, or denial, expected by July. He said the center would be up and running by October.

The services and programming of the center will involve a number of entities, including Suncoast Community Capital, the Bradenton CCRA, Bradenton City Hall, University of Florida, State College of Florida, Enterprise Car Sales and the IRS.

"What we hope to achieve is to have a center for residents to improve credit scores, balance budgets -- all aspects to balance the financial budget of their home," Halliburton said. "Create a one-stop place to where those services are integrated."

Mike Kennedy, chief executive officer of Suncoast Community Capital, said plans for the center have been in the works for the last nine months. The SCC, a nonprofit created to spur economic opportunities in underserved and economically distressed areas of Manatee and Sarasota counties, was created by the Bradenton CCRA. Since its creation in 2011, the CCRA has contributed more than $100,000 through grants.

"The driving force of this is making products and services to help people find financial stability more successful," Kennedy said.

The $750,000 grant would support the program for up to three years and would also aid in expansion of the facility if needed. There is currently $165 million available in the CDFI fund. Manatee Community Federal Credit Union can request for up to $2 million and can apply each year, Halliburton said.

"All free services, all designed to help working families build their income," Kennedy said.

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