OCC: Comptroller Tours Memphis to Discuss Community Reinvestment

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting and Operation HOPE Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer John Hope Bryant today led a community tour of Memphis to highlight successful examples of and opportunities for financing community reinvestment, economic revitalization, and financial empowerment.

The community tour brought together more than 60 bankers and community leaders, including Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, to discuss a proposed rulemaking that would modernize Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations. The group discussed how the proposal could spur increased bank financing for small business, community development, and activities that financially educate and empower low-income residents in Memphis and struggling communities across the nation.

Attendees visited with local Operation HOPE clients and met with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to learn about the city’s program to bring HOPE Inside financial coaching and education to city employees and their families. Attendees also toured the housing restoration efforts in Klondike-Smokey City neighborhood and visited a recently expanded food bank facility financed with bank sponsored New Markets Tax Credit investment capital. The tour ended with a discussion at and tour of the historic Withers Gallery and Collection.

“Today’s tour of Memphis confirmed for me how much more we can do to help Memphis and other communities if we strengthen and modernize CRA regulations,” said Comptroller Otting.

“Banks and communities can achieve much more if regulatory uncertainty regarding CRA rules is eliminated,” Mr. Otting said. “We can do this by clarifying what counts, updating where we evaluate activity, measuring CRA performance objectively, and making reporting more transparent and timely.”

The Memphis tour is the latest in a series of outreach events and meetings by the OCC to highlight the value of CRA investments and raise awareness about the joint proposed rulemaking issued on December 12 by the OCC and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The proposed rulemaking seeks to strengthen CRA regulations and encourage greater bank lending and investment in communities that banks serve, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Stakeholders are encouraged to submit comments on the proposed rulemaking by April 8, 2020.

The Memphis tour was the second that Bryant co-hosted with the Comptroller. The first occurred in Atlanta last summer. “Operation HOPE is pleased to work with Comptroller Otting to highlight the need for greater bank financing for community revitalization in communities across America,” Bryant said. “Our goal is to educate stakeholders and to dispel misperceptions about CRA modernization, while extending the conversation around opportunity and uplift to ensure the empowerment of our underserved communities.”

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