updated 11/19/2010 6:45:58 AM ET 2010-11-19T11:45:58

HELENA, Ark., Nov. 18, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Helena National Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) are pleased to announce that they have awarded a $4,000 Partnership Grant Program (PGP) award to Main Street Helena. Representatives from the banks joined Main Street Helena officials for a check presentation Tuesday in historic downtown Helena.

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=8351

Main Street Helena, a local nonprofit that promotes the preservation and economic revitalization of the historic downtown business district in the city of Helena, Arkansas, will use the partnership grant in conjunction with its mini-grants program. Mini-grants are available to owners of businesses within Helena's Main Street District, said Paula Oliver, executive director of Main Street Helena. The mini-grants program is primarily funded by a downtown revitalization grant that Main Street Helena receives through Main Street Arkansas, but the amount of funds the organization receives varies from year to year, Ms. Oliver said. The funds can be used for exterior improvements to buildings, including awnings, signage, and new paint.

"We will use the AHP funds exclusively with the mini-grants program. It has been amazing the way the mini-grants program has affected the way people perceive downtown Helena," Ms. Oliver said. "The program has generated a lot of interest from other property owners. A lot of our Main Street property owners are mom and pop operations and they don't have a big budget for improvements, so this program really helps them."

Phylis Stiedle, the owner of the Cherry Street Shoppe, a consignment store in downtown Helena, was able to replace the awning of her store using a previous mini-grant from Main Street Helena.

"The awning has really made a difference in the appearance of my store. It really makes my building stand out, and it gives the store the look of an older town, like it used to be when I was growing up here," said Ms. Stiedle, who is 82 years old. "The awnings aren't cheap, but getting the help from the mini-grant enabled me to purchase a new one. I wouldn't have done it otherwise. I would have just kept what I had."

Ms. Oliver said she learned of the PGP through Les Seals, executive vice president at Helena National Bank, and a member of the Main Street Helena board. "Helena National Bank has been very supportive of the Main Street Program," Ms. Oliver said. "They jumped on board right away."

Mr. Seals said Helena National Bank was excited to learn of the grant opportunities through FHLB Dallas's PGP.

"Main Street Helena plays an important role in promoting local business, historic preservation, and economic development, and Helena National Bank is proud to partner with FHLB Dallas in this program," said Mr. Seals. "It was a great opportunity for us to increase our participation with Main Street Helena and a way to help provide additional funding for such a worthy project as the revitalization of downtown Helena." 

PGP awards are offered through FHLB Dallas member institutions, such as Helena National Bank, on a first-come, first-served basis. The funds provide funding for operational needs of community-based organizations involved in affordable housing and community development. FHLB Dallas matches members' cash contributions to a community-based organization of $500 up to $5,000 at a 3:1 ratio.

"It is our hope that the $4,000 grant will give Main Street Helena and their mini-grants program a major boost this year," Mr. Seals added. "We enjoy the positive relationship that we currently have with Main Street Helena and look forward to our continued partnership in helping to effect positive change in downtown Helena."   

Main Street Helena was founded in 1984 as one of the original Main Street Arkansas communities. Main Street Helena utilizes the support of government, local businesses, and private individuals to restore buildings, make street improvements, and host special events in the community.

About Helena National Bank

Helena National Bank was established in 1940, and as of September 30, 2010 had total assets of $173 million with 6 locations. HNB is the only locally owned and operated bank in Phillips County and for over 70 years worked for the businesses and people of Phillips County where our motto is "Our Prime Interest Is You."  

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 12 district banks in the FHLBankSystem created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $51.6 billion as of September 30, 2010, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to more than 900 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas. For more information, visit the FHLB Dallas web site at fhlb.com.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=3013

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

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