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Southern Bancorp Grants Total More Than $10 Million

Funding Creates Opportunities to Fight Poverty and Economic Decline in Rural South

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Jan. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Southern Bancorp ("Southern"), the nation's 5th largest community development bank with more than $1 billion in assets, has reached the $10 million mark in grants to local communities.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130103/CG36803)

A family of a holding company, a nonprofit and a strong community bank with more than 40 branch locations throughout rural Arkansas and Mississippi, Southern provides critical financial products and services in areas largely underserved by traditional banks. Profits from banking services support rural development to reduce poverty, decrease unemployment and improve educational opportunities.

In addition to providing targeted grants of $10 million from bank profits for support of local community development goals, Southern has originated more than $3 billion in loans in the high-poverty rural markets it has served since 1988.

"Southern Bancorp is a dynamic financial institution," said John Olaimey, leader of Southern's banking operations. "Because of our rural development focus and the partnership with our nonprofit affiliate, we can plow bank profits back with a multiplier effect into our communities, significantly improving opportunities by providing a combination of traditional and non-traditional capital to drive fundamental change."

Southern focuses philanthropic efforts in Clark County, Phillips County and Mississippi County in Arkansas and Coahoma County in Mississippi.

"All of the investments Southern makes are at the local level," said Walter Smiley, chairman and CEO of Southern Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Southern's nonprofit and community bank affiliates. "Supporting local communities to develop and implement their own vision of comprehensive change works much better than importing ideas from the outside."

Southern concentrates its grantmaking on projects and organizations in its target markets that improve educational and economic opportunities. "We have long recognized the benefits of focusing our grantmaking," said Tanya Wright, group president of Southern Bancorp Inc. and CEO of Southern Bancorp Community Partners. "Through targeted philanthropic investments in specific counties, we magnify the collective impact of our resources toward positive community change."

Southern's rural development grantmaking and lending provide opportunities for children and families in rural communities, including:

These efforts and others have put Southern in a position of national prominence, earning the National Innovation Award from the Council on Foundations, the National Bank Award from the American Bankers' Association, an award for entrepreneurial leadership from the U.S. Small Business Administration District Directors, and recognition as one of America's top social entrepreneurs by Bloomberg Business Week.

Southern Bancorp, one of America's largest and most profitable community development banks, seeks to reduce poverty by improving education and economic opportunities for individuals and families. For more information visit  www.banksouthern.com.

Media Contact: karen martin, southern bancorp inc., 501-850-8981, karen.martin@banksouthern.com

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SOURCE Southern Bancorp

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