Customers who walk into the Bank of Trumann Wednesday will be greeted by the same familiar faces of the bankers they have come to know and trust. However, the name will have changed.
As of Sept. 30, Bank of Trumann officially merged with Southern Bancorp.
Southern Bancorp, which is headquartered in Arkadelphia, is the largest Rural Development Bank in the United States. Southern Bancorp president and CEO Phillip Baldwin was on hand Wednesday to share with the Trumann Lions Club what being a rural development bank is all about.
“We’re not a big banking organization,” said Baldwin, who noted the companies 40 branches are mostly located in towns with a population of less than 15,000. “We’re just a group of small banks partnering together and trying to do the best we can for our communities.”
Since its formation in 1986, Southern Bancorp has originated over $1.7 billion in development loans–primarily to individuals and organizations in the poorest areas of the United States. The $1 billion milestone is unmatched in rural development, but Southern Bancorp considers it to be just the beginning.
“What we do is try to work in these communities where we have a banking presence and work to make a difference in those towns,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin told the crowd about the banks flagship community development program in Helena (Phillip’s County.) The Delta Bridge Project has already brought over $52 million into Phillips County for projects with real impact in the lives of residents.
Baldwin said nearly 1,000 people worked together to establish a strategic plan and goals for Helena.
“One of the goals, merging Helena-West Helena into one city, has already been accomplished,” he said. “A second goal, to build a bio fuels plant, is also now a reality. They have a 40 million gallon bio diesel plant up and running.”
Baldwin said the $35 million biodiesel plant is the largest facility of its type in the southern United States. And, by developing a strategic plan, Baldwin said he hopes to help Trumann achieve goals of its own.
“We are here to work with the local folks,” Baldwin said. “That’s what it means to be a development bank. Our mission is to help revitalize rural communities and help make your dreams come true. We want to help. ”
Rick Gillette, president of the Bank of Trumann, said he is looking forward to working with a bank that shares the Bank of Trumann’s heart for the community in which it serves.
The slogan of the bank is ‘building community, changing lives,'” said Gillette. “Our mission is to improve the quality of life for those of us who live and work in the Delta.”
“We will continue to be a local, community bank,” Gillette said. “Bank of Trumann, which has been around for 98 years, will become Southern Bancorp, which has been around 126 years.”
Baldwin said the board of directors, management team and employees will continue to serve their customers.
“They will continue to be the bankers you all know,” he said. “Being a small town guy myself, I know how important that is.”
For more information about Southern Bancorp and their nonprofit work, log onto their website at www.southernbancorp.com.