Southern Bancorp (Southern), a development bank holding company, was formed in 1986 as the brainchild of then Governor Bill Clinton and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to end decades of economic decline in rural Arkansas. They are committed to helping transform rural economics by creating new trends of investment in people, jobs, business, and property.
The organization combines the vision, passion, and creativity of nonprofit organizations with the fiscal discipline, financial capacity, and permanence of the FDIC- insured banks. Southern's family of companies include three commercial banks and three 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations.
"Because of the unique public-private partnership, Southern is able to access both the grassroots individuals most affected by regional change as well as the community leadership base of professional, civic, and governmental institutions that traditional nonprofit organizations are unable to reach. Southern's goal is to organize all of the above in a manner that promotes action and stimulates fundamental community change.
Southern believes that successful regional change must be initiated by communities and that such change will be driven by anchor communities in the region. Anchor communities maintain critical mass of business, industry, and population and have the potential to attract and promote economic activity and growth. Anchor communities are an economic and cultural force within a 50-mile radius that support and transform smaller communities in their sphere of influence. Regional change is possible only when several anchor communities can combine to drive revitalization in the larger region."
Their methods include:
- Asset Building: Southern Good Faith Fund- established in 1988 as a microloan fund, modeled after Grameen Bank. Over time the mission has evolved to better meet the needs of Delta residents. This now includes asset building, business development center, career pathways, and public policy programming.
- Community Banking
- Community Planning
- Development Lending
- Property Development
- Funded more than $1.7 billion in development loans
- Created or saved 7,000 jobs
- Assisted 930 individuals in obtaining a certificate or degree with 88% landing a job upon graduation.
- Developed more than 175 high quality housing units throughout the Delta.