Community Service

Hope FCU: Fueling Companies That Fuel the Delta

CU’s financing helps company more than double its workforce.

February 22, 2012
KEYWORDS credit , delta , louisiana
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The Mississippi Delta’s most pressing need can be summed up in one word: jobs.

As a commercial lender, $137 million asset Hope Federal Credit Union in Jackson, Miss., seeks to work with businesses that have the potential to generate jobs in this economically distressed region.

The credit union tells the story of Delta Fuel, a minority-owned wholesale fuel and oil company that distributes bulk fuel to farmers and ranchers in the Delta region of Louisiana and Mississippi.

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The company wanted to expand, but could find no lender willing to provide the $1 million line of credit needed for growth.

Enter Hope Federal, which recognized the powerful job-producing potential of Delta Fuel and had confidence in the company’s leadership.

Through the New Markets Tax Credit program, Hope Federal provided Delta Fuel with the necessary funds to expand its operations. The credit union helped the fuel company purchase equipment and add locations.

In just over five years, Delta Fuel grew from 28 employees to more than 65. In an area defined by high unemployment and low economic opportunity, this level of job growth makes a significant impact in the community, particularly among minority and low-income populations.  

“Hope Federal’s faith in us allowed us to grow,” says Delta Fuel CEO Clint Vegas. “The growth we’ve experienced would not have been possible without Hope Federal standing behind us.”

HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corp./Hope Credit Union) is a financial institution, community development intermediary, and policy center. It provides affordable financial services; leverages private, public, and philanthropic resources; and engages in policy analysis to fulfill its mission of strengthening communities, building assets, and improving lives in economically distressed parts of the Mid-South.

Since 1994, HOPE’s efforts have generated more than $1.6 billion in financing and benefited more than 90,000 people in the Delta, Katrina-affected areas, and other distressed communities throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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