Portfolio Partner Profile
In 1986, then Governor Bill Clinton and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation announced an initiative to end decades of economic decline in rural Arkansas by spurring new investment in people, jobs, business and property. Southern Bancorp Inc. (SBI), a community development bank holding company, and its family of nonprofit development affiliates emerged from this initiative, created by a consortium of private foundations, governmental entities, corporations and concerned individuals. SBI adapted from its initial urban-oriented development approach, applied by ShoreBank in Chicago, and began focusing on community planning and development efforts within 50 miles of its bank branches. SBI also evolved its lending products, practices, and standards to the markets it serves. Along the way, SBI acquired four community banks and numerous bank branches throughout its service area. SBI is the largest and most profitable rural development banking organization in the United States. As such, it has the physical presence, infrastructure, and capacity to drive regional change. SBI’s revitalization initiatives are advanced through its family of community development banks and non-profit affiliates, known collectively as Southern. SBI’s focus on rural development is best indicated by the fact that its offices are in small rural communities, most with populations of 15,000 or less and 75 percent of loans it originates are for less than $25,000. Calvert Impact Capital has invested $100k in the equity of this community development bank.