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Robert Smith: Delta Southern Bank Deserves Recognition
Delta Southern Bank, a member bank of Southern Bancorp, has received an increasing amount of ink around here because of its generous investments in the resuscitation of Drew, but neither journalists nor members of the general public seem to ‘get’ how big a story this is.
The fact is that Drew looked like an ugly corpse in a ditch before Delta Southern began making grants that allowed Drew Enterprises, Inc. to begin renovating buildings in the town’s old business district. Drew had become the sort of place one owned a home only if he or she had longstanding personal ties to the community and didn’t want to leave, if he or she would have been willing to sell but the question was who in their right mind would have made an offer, or out of desperation to buy something somewhere.
However, as a result of Delta Southern’s investments and the determination of Drew Enterprises, the city now has a branch location of Mississippi Delta Community College, new businesses are springing up and Drew has a thing or two to brag about. That’s not to say there aren’t still problems; rather, it’s to say there’s reason for hope.
Beyond this, the story that many miss is that Delta Southern Bank, which is a community development financial institution, is a member of Southern Bancorp, a development bank holding company that has a presence in both Mississippi and Arkansas and is helping to offer the little folk in our national economy a better place to turn for financial help and guidance than to pay-day loan specialists or title-loan traffickers.
I noted recently where someone expressed doubt that there’s any real help to be had for the poor. For them, it’s bound to come down to a choice between the high-interest loan leeches, the illegal loan sharks or doing without, this analyst opined.
Well, Southern Bancorp is strong evidence that such opinions are baloney, and the helpfulness of Delta Southern Bank to the city of Drew is proof that communities that are down on their luck don’t have to be left for dead.
That kind of realization is powerful and overdue in a culture where the well-heeled and politically influential have too often in recent decades excused treating the under-educated, ill-trained and confused as pawns to be manipulated rather than as humans capable of taking hold of a well-placed lifeline.
Both Drew and its neighbor to the south, Ruleville, show signs of shaking off their sleepiness and decay, and reshaping themselves into communities that can be viable over the longer term.
It’s a big deal, and something worth giving thanks for in this season of identification with one’s fellow humans.