Community banks are the economic engines that create growth and development in our heartlands. Every day, community bankers across our country help first-time homebuyers, donate time and money for community service, or take credit risk others wouldn’t due to their local knowledge of people and business. Community banks have been the foundation of a healthy and diversified local economy across our country and especially in Mississippi.
Prior to the mid-1980s, banks were “joined at the hip” to their communities. About that time, however, things began to change. The banking industry started experiencing an unprecedented consolidation, resulting in the number of banking organizations being reduced from 15,000 to just fewer than 8,000 – a nearly 50% reduction in banking organizations. And the trend continues today. It is alarming to think that a few extremely large financial institutions own 73% of the banking industry’s assets. We don’t think this is a healthy trend for Mississippi and its future economic growth. These large financial institutions have acquired a substantial number of community banks in Mississippi and are redeploying the financial assets of Mississippi elsewhere – in more lucrative or profitable markets.
We think it’s critical to Mississippi’s future for there to be financial assets owned by Mississippians for Mississippians. If Mississippi wants the core values embodied in civic and community leadership to continue in everyday life, political and business leaders and, most importantly, the general public need look no further than ensuring that we support our local community banks. As one of Mississippi’s community banks, we have talked among ourselves, to consultants, and with many of our valued customers. The obvious question for us as a Mississippi-owned community bank is, "Can we survive and prosper in this climate?" Our answer is unequivocally "YES." We believe becoming Mississippi’s Community Bank is our destiny.
We encourage personal, business, and community economic development that finances the dreams of Mississippians. We aspire to build a statewide franchise that delights customers and creates unequaled loyalty. We want to earn the right to be Mississippi’s Community Bank by being financially successful and independent. This will enable us to listen to, understand, and serve Mississippians – that is, to fulfill their dreams. Something we’ve been doing consistently since 1888. While doing that, we aspire to teach our own employees how to increase their confidence, tackle daily challenges, live and work with passion and purpose, and realize their ambitions – just as all Mississippians aspire to do in their own lives.
If we’re successful, we’ll become Mississippi’s Community Bank by assisting at least 20% of Mississippi businesses and individuals to become financially successful and fulfill their dreams.