updated 6/17/2011 6:46:48 PM ET 2011-06-17T22:46:48

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., June 17, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Better Community Development, Inc. (BCD, Inc.) today broke ground on its EmPowerment Center, a new state-of-the-art, LEED-certified residential and substance abuse treatment facility in Little Rock, Arkansas.

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=9864

The 25,000-square-foot, environmentally green complex will house men's and women's residential facilities, which will contain 30 rooms for special needs individuals, and 24 treatment beds for individuals enrolled in substance addiction treatment. The EmPowerment Center will also contain office, conference, and classroom space, and will provide life skills training, career and technology training, community programs, and other empowerment services.

"We are truly excited because one of the things we've had to do is raise the money for the EmPowerment Center in a non-traditional way," said Deborah Bell, director of programs for BCD, Inc. "We didn't have a campaign consultant come in and map out our strategy. We realized we had to be patient, we kept moving along and kept the faith in our vision of making this happen."

BCD, Inc. is a nonprofit, faith- and community-based organization that serves low-income, underserved, disadvantaged, and at risk individuals. For years, the organization has been providing outpatient services at a local church facility, but the EmPowerment Center will allow BCD, Inc. to have a much greater impact on meeting the housing needs of the individuals it serves.

"This is our 30th year of providing services in the Midtown community," Ms. Bell said. "Hoover United Methodist Church has allowed us to use its multipurpose building for many years to house our programming. We realized we needed to move forward. The facilities at the church are not designed with the residential component. Through the EmPowerment Center, we can provide affordable housing for persons with special needs."

Representatives from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) attended today's groundbreaking celebration. FHLB Dallas, through Bank of the Ozarks (a member institution), awarded two grants totaling nearly $624,000 to assist BCD, Inc. with the construction of the two residential housing facilities within the EmPowerment Center.

"FHLB Dallas supports the expansion of affordable housing opportunities and community revitalization through our specialized grant programs," said FHLB Dallas President and CEO Terry Smith. "The EmPowerment Center truly represents a project that is designed to spur revitalization in the Little Rock community, and create much needed housing. We are pleased that our Affordable Housing Program was able to assist BCD, Inc. with such a worthwhile project."

Bank of the Ozarks Community Development Officer Eric Gustafson says Bank of the Ozarks was attracted to the mission of the EmPowerment Center.

"We are pleased to be able to play a role in its development," Mr. Gustafson said. "In addition, the EmPowerment Center is an important part of the redevelopment of the 12th Street Corridor, an effort the bank wholeheartedly supports."

The EmPowerment Center will be located in Little Rock's 12th Street Corridor, at 3600 W. 12th Street. The 12th Street Corridor is one of Little Rock's older neighborhoods and is currently being redeveloped by the city. The $6 million center is expected to stimulate growth in the area and attract private sector development, which city leaders are excited about, so much so that the city awarded stimulus funds to the project.

"The city of Little Rock is pleased to participate in the development of the BCD EmPowerment Center," said Little Rock City Manager Bruce T. Moore. "The center will further enhance the overall redevelopment efforts along the 12th Street Corridor.  Utilization of Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 funds through the city of Little Rock Consortium is an excellent example of the revitalization partnerships occurring in the city of Little Rock.  The city is proud to work with BCD to continue to improve the core of our community and promote the enhancement of human capital."

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodala also believes the EmPowerment Center will have a positive impact on the 12th Street Corridor.

"I am excited to get this project underway," Mayor Stodala said. "The EmPowerment Center will fulfill a vital need in our community and also serve as an important catalyst for the redevelopment of the 12th Street Corridor. My hat is off to BCD for their long standing commitment toward revitalizing core areas of our city."

Now that work is underway on the center, Ms. Bell says it will spur more citizen involvement in the transformation of the community.

"When the people who live in the communities see services they can walk to, they are more willing to assist and feel like they are part of something," Ms. Bell said. "They are proud. It's not just BCD doing this. It's about the total community having buy-in. This project encourages a spirit of serving."

State Senator Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, whose district includes the 12th Street Corridor, shares that sentiment.

"The 12th Street Corridor/Oak Forest area is undergoing a renaissance," Senator Elliott said. "As a resident of the area, I view this development as an act of community that will help some of our most vulnerable neighbors while simultaneously serving the community at large. I am grateful to all those who have contributed to making this project a reality."

State Representative Darrin Williams, D-Little Rock, who spoke at the groundbreaking, served on the Little Rock Planning Commission prior to being elected to the Arkansas Legislature. He was instrumental in assisting BCD's efforts to obtain rezoning approval for the EmPowerment Center site.

"For years, BCD, Inc. has been a beacon of light in our community, helping to transform the lives of so many people who were struggling with homelessness or addiction," Representative Williams said. "The EmPowerment Center may be the boldest venture to date for BCD, and I know it will be successful.  I was a member of the Little Rock Planning Commission when BCD received approval to build, so it gives me great pleasure to be here today as a state representative to witness the groundbreaking."

Each year, FHLB Dallas returns 10 percent of its profits to the communities served by its member institutions in the form of AHP grants. AHP grants are used to purchase, construct, and/or rehabilitate single-family, transitional, and multifamily projects for very low- to moderate-income families. In 2010, FHLB Dallas awarded $18.5 million in AHP grants to help create, renovate, or purchase 2,632 housing units, including $1.5 million to assist with 187 housing units in Arkansas. In 2011, FHLB Dallas has offered $10.5 million in AHP grants through its member institutions. Grant recipients will be announced this summer.

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 12 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932.  FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $33.2 billion as of March 31, 2011, 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 website 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.

CONTACT: Corporate Communications
         Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
         www.fhlb.com
         (214) 441-8445

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