Southern Bancorp, Inc. is one of America’s largest rural development banks with approximately $1.1 billion in assets, serving over 80,000 customers at 39 branches in both Arkansas and Mississippi. Southern was founded in 1986 by then Governor Bill Clinton, Wal-Mart Chair Rob Walton, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and others who were concerned about the economic decline of rural Arkansas. Southern invests in people and businesses in rural communities, empowers them to improve their lives and helps them transform their communities.
Arkadelphia's Southern Bancorp Inc. has joined the ranks of Certified B Corporations, an Arkansas first. The $1.4 billion-asset lender is among 10 banks and thrifts in the nation to gain the designation, which denotes the highest standards of social performance, transparency and legal accountability, balancing profit and purpose. Southern Bancorp changed its legal structure to become a benefit corporation in 2017. The move solidified its legal empowerment to pursue societal impact alongside profit. Arkansas was among seven states to enact B Corporation legislation in 2013.
Few of us think about how our banking affects the environment but, in reality, putting your money with a green-minded financial institution may be one of the best things you can do to help conserve land, protect air and water, save endangered wildlife and mitigate climate change. Banks (owned by shareholders) and credit unions (owned by the customers) lend and invest some of the deposited funds they are holding, which is how they're able to pay interest back to you. A bank or credit union that limits its investments to sustainability-oriented companies and institutions is well on its way to being considered green. Responsible options include Amalgamated Bank, Sunrise Banks, City First Bank of DC, Beneficial State Bank, and Southern Bancorp.
The Mississippi Delta faces a myriad of financial struggles that will need innovative solutions to resolve. Southern Bancorp is one of the forces doing important work to meet that need. When Bubba O'Keefe, the official tourism director of the small town of Clarksdale, wanted to acquire a local theater, Southern Bancorp stepped in to finance it. And then when the theater's roof fell through and required servicing, Southern's CEO Darren Williams stood by O'Keefe's side. With ventures like this, the financing of a new local hotel, and financial literacy classes, Southern Bancorp goes above and beyond to uplift this small town, and the greater Mississippi area.