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Southern Bancorp opens Mount Ida branch

MOUNT IDA – Building communities and providing opportunity for those who may get passed over by the bigger banks is what Southern Bancorp hopes to bring to Mount Ida with the grand opening of their newest branch.

While Southern Bancorp has been open for business for a couple months in Mount Ida they officially opened at their permanent location at 1017 Highway 270 East with a ribbon cutting Friday, August 30.

They celebrated the grand opening with fresh grilled burgers and hot dogs and the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed them to town with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Several local business leaders, students from Caddo Hills High School, Mount Ida High School and Mayor Jo Childress were on hand to welcome them to town at the ribbon cutting.

Greg Black cuts the ribbon as the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce welcomes Southern Bancorp to Mount Ida. Bank staff, regional officers, Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce members, local business owners, students from Caddo Hills and Mount Ida joined in the festivities Friday at Southern Bancorp’s ribbon cutting. – Photo by Dewayne Holloway

Bill Wright, the CEO of Southern Bancorp’s West Region, shared that he has had Mount Ida on his radar for quite some time. He explained that Mount Ida had been a part of his circuit while working as a lawyer in the region. Once he turned his attention to banking Dan Horton became a mentor for him. 

He stated that he got to know Greg Black when he went to banking school and was excited to get the opportunity to work with him now with the Southern Bancorp branch in Mount Ida.

He shared that while many banks work to expand into larger cities, Southern Bancorp works to expand into rural areas, as well as underserved communities.

He pointed to the bank’s mission statement on the wall as evidence of what their goal is. 

It reads. “Our Mission: Southern Bancorp’s mission is to create economic opportunity in rural and underserved communities by providing responsible and responsive financial products and services that balance profits with purpose.”

Wright was first involved with Southern Bancorp as a lawyer when they purchased Elkhorn Bank in Arkadelphia in 1987. He would later become the CEO of that branch in 2002.

The thing he seems most proud of is that Southern Bancorp doesn’t just look at the dollars. When evaluating a loan they look at both mission and margin.

He explained that national statistics state that only 20 percent of people born into poverty rise above the poverty level. Wright stated that the only way a person can escape poverty is to acquire equity. Southern Bancorp works to help people gain equity through home ownership, vehicle ownership, or small business.

A high concentration of their loans are home loans. He explained that home ownership provides individuals and families with equity to send children to college, or to start a small business.

By focusing on rural and underserved communities they are also able to help revitalize communities where home ownership is on the decline.

While loans are a big part of what Southern Bancorps does, they do provide several other helpful benefits. They offer free credit reports, credit counseling and  home ownership counseling.

Wright is also proud of the fact that Southern Bancorp is able to help a lot of people start their own small business. Small business start ups not only help the owner improve their economic standing, it helps bring economic growth to a community.

“We try to be a wealth builder for all, not just the wealthy.” Wright stated.

Southern Bancorp is located at 1017 Highway 270 East in Mount Ida.

Article Written by Dewayne Holloway

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