By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
RIDGELAND – BancorpSouth announced Thursday it will be joining forces with the state to attract new jobs to Mississippi.
The eight-state regional bank based in Tupelo has established a “Grow Mississippi” $500 million loan pool to provide capital for economic development opportunities in the state.
“It is intended to show the confidence BancorpSouth has in Mississippi as an ideal market place for businesses to grow and prosper,” said Aubrey Patterson of Tupelo, chairman of the board for BancorpSouth Inc.
Patterson, along with Dan Rollins, BancorpSouth chief executive officer, were joined by Gov. Phil Bryant and Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Brent Christensen to announce the Grow Mississippi program at the CSpire Wireless headquarters. CSpire, a national wireless communications provider, employs more than 1,200 people in Mississippi and worked with BancorpSouth on innovative financing to build its Ridgeland headquarters.
Christensen described the BancorpSouth program as “another tool in the economic development toolbox” for MDA and said the state agency and BancorpSouth would work together on jobs creation efforts.
He said it would not be unusual for a company to take advantage of both MDA’s state incentives and the BancorpSouth loan program. But Bryant said it is good that companies will have options other than turning to the state for financial help with their start-up efforts or expansions.
“Ensuring that businesses have access to capital is a critical element in positioning Mississippi as the top spot for economic development, and I applaud BancorpSouth for taking a leadership role in the new effort,” the governor said.
The goal, the participants at the news conference said, is for additional entities to join and grow the size of the loan pool. Rollins said BancorpSouth also would be willing to increase its investment in the loan pool if the demand is there.
Bryant said he and Patterson discussed the program, and the bank’s board of directors acted quickly to develop it.
Rollins, also a Tupelo resident, said the program would be available for new businesses and for existing companies to expand. He said creating new jobs is important, but added so is retaining existing jobs.
While the program would be available to an out-of-state company wanting to expand to Mississippi, Patterson stressed the importance to the state’s economy of Mississippi-headquartered companies, such as BancorpSouth and CSpire.
“This is a historical moment for this bank,” Bryant said
BancorpSouth has assets of $13.4 billion and has 292 locations where it provides a wide range of financial services.