Officials with FBT Bank and Mortgage, formerly Fordyce Bank and Trust, were joined by Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington, Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson and the Chamber of Commerce Red Coats as they officially opened the bank’s Neighborhood Loan Office in downtown Pine Bluff Thursday.

The opening furthers development in an area of the city that has seen several new businesses over the past couple of years.

Located at 716-B Main St., the office will serve as office space for loan closing purposes as well as hosting financial literacy classes.

Jim Hulse, president and CEO of FBT Bank and Mortgage, credited Joni Alexander, who is the bank's director of community outreach, with the idea of opening the office downtown. Alexander is also a member of the Pine Bluff City Council.

“Pine Bluff is a second home to FBT, and we couldn’t be more proud to partner in the revitalization of downtown,” Hulse said. “With the new Neighborhood Loan Office, FBT also enhances its focus on being a banking partner to the people of Jefferson County.”

Washington said she was excited about the office opening in downtown because it was one more step to bringing the area back to being a center of commerce and activities.

The mayor also said that Jimmy Dill, who owns the building, had renovated not only the space the bank will be using but also adjacent space. She said she was looking forward to another business occupying that space.

In his brief remarks, Robinson said it was great to see FBT work together with city and county officials and he looked forward to continued growth throughout the city and county.

Alexander, who will work out of the office, said, “Not only will customers be able to come to the Neighborhood Loan Office to finish the loan process, we will also host bi-monthly financial literacy workshops. Our location is convenient, and we’re going to do everything we can to make banking as simple as possible for the people of Jefferson County.”

In addition to the new office, FBT has banking centers at 3400 Camden Road in Pine Bluff and 7199 Sheridan Road in White Hall.