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Bank On Shreveport aims to improve financial health of residents

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The city of Shreveport has signed on to a nationwide initiative to encourage residents to open checking accounts and use them to their full advantage, even if they’ve had banking problems in the past. Bank On Shreveport aims to help local residents move toward financial stability and reduce the reliance on high-cost check cashers and payday lenders, according to Ebony Mapp, the city’s economic development special projects manager.

“It’s a real loss for our community. It’s those types of services -- some of them are predatory -- that can dilute the wealth of a city," Mapp said.

Bank On Shreveport has partnered with 13 local banks and credit unions to offer affordable checking accounts that meet Bank On standards. Some criteria: Banks can’t charge more than $12 a month for the account, and a minimum opening balance can’t top $100. Mapp said more than 25 percent of Shreveport’s population is what’s called "under-banked." They hold a checking account but still rely on payday lenders and pawn shops for basic financial needs.

“We don’t want people to just go get bank accounts. We want people to get bank accounts, know how to properly use them, and change their financial future," Mapp said.

The city aims to have 2,700 Bank On accounts open over the next three years. The city is hosting a family fun day at Bill Cockrell Park on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. to celebrate the launch of Bank On Shreveport. The 13 banks will be there, and Mapp said people will be able to open checking accounts on the spot.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.