Chuck Hardy, a credit counselor with Money Management International, visited Bristol Bay this week to meet with individuals and host community sessions on how to improve personal finances.
Since 2009, the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation has partnered with nonprofit credit counseling agencies to provide Bristol Bay residents resources to understand and improve their credit reports. Chuck Hardy, a credit counselor with Money Management International was in Dillingham and Togiak this week.
“I work with the local commercial fishermen and the clients that work with BBEDC to basically look at their credit and look at their budgets and things like that to make sure that they’re going to have a successful fishing career,” Hardy said.
As he works with clients, Hardy sees a number of pitfalls that trip up people in the region.
“I think the biggest thing is struggling to keep your credit current. You know, fishing season is only so many months out of the year. Falling into the trap of not paying the bills is something that I see more frequently. Getting too much credit is another issue or not having any credit. Those are really the things that I see a lot of,” said Hardy.
BBEDC began bringing credit counselors to Bristol Bay because it saw credit problems posing serious issues for area residents who wanted loans to purchase commercial fishing permits.
“We’ve seen some successes,” said Alice Ruby, the BBEDC economic development and brokerage director. “By working with MMI, the organization that we partner with, they’ve, over a period of time, been able to resolve the issues and then qualify for a loan in order to purchase a permit. It’s usually not a quick process. Sometimes it can take months. We’ve had clients that maybe it’s taken about three years to work their way through some credit issues. But it is doable.”
BBEDC aims to bring a credit counselor to the region on a quarterly basis to work with individuals and to provide informational sessions to the community.
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