Southern Bancorp: an economic engine fueling Delta communities. In the mid-1980s, when the national economy was experiencing a recovery period marked by increasing employment rates and rising personal incomes, empty storefronts, dilapidated buildings, and crumbling infrastructure were sights all too familiar in the Delta region of Arkansas. Along with the physical decay of the region’s small towns, the human price of economic decline was written on the faces of many Delta residents who faced a bleak future of rising unemployment, little access to health care, substandard housing, and failing schools.
In 1986, in an unprecedented move that would change the course of the region’s future, then Governor Bill Clinton and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation announced an initiative to help stem the tide of economic decline in rural Arkansas with a creative and passionate approach to rural development banking. Southern Bancorp and its nonprofit affiliates, was incorporated as a result of this effort and has set a standard for rural development banking that has made it the largest and most profitable rural development institution in the nation, with over $1.1 billion in assets.
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