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Ascentra Credit Union has been selected as one of seven financial institutions competing for $15,000 to promote economic development opportunities. 

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines chose Ascentra as a finalist because of its collaboration with the Diversity Service Center of Iowa to launch the Newcomers Initiative. The project is aimed at helping immigrants and refugees pay for the cost of residency, naturalization and other fees, according to a news release. 

Ascentra president and CEO Dale Owen said in the release newcomers add to the workforce, tax base and are more likely to start a business. 

"I'm proud to say the Newcomers Initiative has been a great success for everyone involved," Owen said in the release. "The immigrants and refugees in our community face unique financial challenges and are too often preyed upon by unscrupulous lenders. This project's efforts help them overcome many of these barriers and introduces them to a trusted not-for-profit financial institution."

The Strong Communities Award honors projects, people and programs that promote small business growth and retention. The winners will be determined through a public vote.

"We are excited to announce Ascentra Credit Union as a finalist for our Strong Communities Award," said Mike Wilson, president and CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. "Ascentra Credit Union's residency project demonstrated a strong commitment to their community, and we wish them the best of luck as we enter the public voting period."

Voting is now open through Friday, by visiting the Strong Communities Award website. Winners will be awarded $15,000 each, and runner-ups will be awarded $3,000, according to the release. 

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