Mid-America Payment Exchange and Payments Central, not-for-profit trade associations headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and Columbus, Ohio, respectively, have merged, incorporating under the new name of EPCOR.
EPCOR, serving 14 percent of all U.S. financial institutions, will provide electronic payments and risk management education and support to more than 2,300 financial institutions and affiliated organizations in 12 states in the central U.S.
“EPCOR is unique among associations serving banks, credit unions and thrifts in that our members come from all types and sizes of financial institutions,” said EPCOR CEO Ann-Marie Bartels. “EPCOR provides electronic payments and risk management information, education, support and national industry representation to financial institutions regardless of their charter.”
“Maintaining compliance with payments system rules and regulations, reducing risk and improving operational efficiencies are not the exclusive domain of any specific segment of financial institutions. These are ongoing challenges for all institutions, which is why EPCOR will play an important role in the industry’s framework,” said EPCOR President Jerry Woessner.
Both MPX and Payments Central trace their roots back to the early 1970s and the birth of the automated clearing house (ACH) network, when their primary roles were to assist financial institutions in implementing Direct Deposit. Both organizations evolved to serve as a resource on broader payment systems rules, regulations, operational processes and risk management for member financial institutions.
The board of directors includes 22 officers of member institutions from throughout EPCOR’s 12-state region, including Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Southern Illinois, Southwestern Iowa, Western Pennsylvania and the panhandle of West Virginia.
Paula Barrington, senior vice president of Bank of Oklahoma Financial Services, will serve as a director representing members from Oklahoma.
Federal Tax Incentive Decoder Gives Insight Into Credits
If you are confused about how to qualify for the green tax credits available to homeowners under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, GREENandSAVE, a free green home and office remodeling resource, has created a Federal Tax Incentive Decoder for download at no charge.
The ARRA provides tremendous opportunities for homeowners to save money if they weatherize their homes. Green building efficiency expert Charlie Szoradi and his team spent the last several months reading and deciphering the 400-page legislation. They have distilled it down to 11 pages of easy-to-read information so homeowners can focus on next steps instead of wading through the official language of the ARRA.
GREENandSAVE is offering the decoder for download at: http://www.greenandsave.com/homecheckup/free_federal_tax_incentive_decoder.
The decoder helps homeowners uncover information regarding various energy efficiency improvement tactics they want to pursue including reducing utility costs, producing power, financing options, buying their first home and/or buying a new car.
Szoradi, a member of the Green Economy Task Force, explained, “Our research team has decoded the act to find the most cost-effective ways for homeowners to save on their utility bills. We may have read more of the details than the politicians who voted for it and, given our focus on Green Return on Investment, there is some great news, but there are also pitfalls. For example, you may be considering replacing an exterior door. You are eligible for a $1,500 tax credit, but the new door must have both a U-Factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of 0.03 or lower to qualify.”
REI Minority Business Assistance Impact More Than $19 Million
At mid-year, the economic impact from services provided by the Oklahoma Native American Business Enterprise Center is more than $19 million.
The impact report was released by Tom Seth Smith, president & CEO, Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc. NABEC is a joint effort of REI and the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. REI opened the NABEC office in Tulsa two years ago.
According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, there are approximately 34,845 Native American and ethnic minority-owned businesses in Oklahoma. These minority firms generated over $5 billion in gross receipts in Oklahoma, and employed nearly 42,000 workers.
NABEC provides business advisory services and other critical resources to ensure the continued success and growth of Oklahoma’s minority-owned businesses. Through strategic partnerships with leading Oklahoma organizations, NABEC strives to assist minority business owners in reaching the next stage of growth for their companies with a special focus on procurement of government contracts.
“Much of the reported impact is from small businesses securing government contracts and matching them with other opportunities,” said James Ray, NABEC coordinator. “We’ve simply broadened our client base and put more opportunities within their reach and the businesses have pursued those opportunities with success. It speaks well of the tenacity of our small businesses.”
NABEC’s complete line of services includes training workshops, client assessment, access to capital, counseling, marketing and bid assistance for contracting and procurement opportunities.
After receiving assistance with opportunities in the construction field and securing bonding, Broken Arrow-based Mechanical Air Systems, a heating and air conditioning contractor, doubled in revenue after becoming a NABEC client and over 100 jobs were created.
NABEC assisted Mid- Plains Construction of Durant by matching the company to qualified sub-contracts for the projects it manages and constructs. This market expansion by the company resulted in the creation of 27 jobs.
“In addition to the services NABEC provides, stimulus money is also in the mix,” Ray said. “ I believe we will see a positive impact in opportunities related to construction and infrastructure projects since that’s a big focus of the stimulus incentive.”
OBA Graduates 20 Bankers From Development Program
Bankers from across the state recently participated in the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s sixth and final session of the OBA Leadership & Management Development Program. The third class of this unique program consisted of 20 bankers who were nominated by their bank to participate.
Area bankers who participated in this class include: Amy Dallis and Kelli Sowell, AVB in Broken Arrow; Gina McFadden, Citizens Security Bank & Trust in Broken Arrow, and Erin Melton, Stacy Melton and Jared Stone, Citizens Security Bank & Trust in Bixby.