Industry executives in New Orleans for trade association meetings gave back to their host community by holding a consumer education workshop Jan. 24 on "The ABCs of Car Financing." The free workshop took place at the Lusher Charter School in New Orleans.   

Supported by industry and local community groups, the workshop covered vehicle financing topics ranging from budgeting to credit reports to the components of an auto loan. The presentation, given by Bill Cheeks, CEO of ABBA & Associates, and sponsored by Toyota Financial Services and GMAC Financial Services, focused on the importance of taking one's financial responsibility seriously and the steps to buying and financing a vehicle within one's means.   

"With economic conditions as tough as they are, it's even more important for car buyers to understand what makes up their credit history and how they can obtain financing," said Chris Stinebert, president and CEO of the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) and chairman of Americans Well-informed on Automobile Retailing Economics (AWARE), both supporters of the event.   

"Dealers across the country are known for their generosity and support of local community organizations," said Ed Tonkin, vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), another of the event's supporters. AFSA and NADA have been collaborating on financial education activities for more than five years. 

Newly elected Louisiana Congressman Ahn “Joseph” Cao welcomed attendees and reinforced the importance of fiscal responsibility by both companies and individuals. Lusher Charter School CEO Kathy Riedlinger shared how she worked diligently after Hurricane Katrina to reopen the school – which had previously been an elementary school – as a charter school with two campuses teaching students from kindergarten through 12th grade. 

After the presentation, industry representatives visited with students, teachers and parents over lunch. Students and residents learned about vehicle financing, while the industry representatives learned about the resilience of New Orleans residents and how they have dealt with the storm's physical and emotional aftermath. Ongoing efforts to reach residents and empower them to make educated decisions are a critical part of the recovery process.

The workshop's supporters included the American Financial Services Association Education Foundation and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, in addition to the AFSA, NADA and AWARE. Other organizations involved in the event were the Greater New Orleans New Car Dealers Association, the Full Gospel Baptist Church, United Way, Liberty Bank and the Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition. Giveaways were provided by Chase, Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, and MyEZ Car Care.