One door closes, another to open

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, May 28, 2013

JACKSON – The county seat of Northampton will soon lose its commercial bank, but not for long.

Despite the planned closure of Jackson’s PNC branch effective July 19, Southern Bank & Trust officials have announced their intentions to open a new branch, signing the paperwork this week on an option to purchase land on the northern outskirts of the town.

The announcement was made Friday morning by Jerry Alexander, Senior Vice President and Regional Supervisor of Southern Bank’s Northeast Region. He said the new facility will replace the bank’s office in nearby Seaboard, which will relocate its daily branch operations into the Jackson office upon completion of that building.

Alexander stated there were several determining factors leading to the decision of constructing a new facility and relocating the Seaboard branch operations.

“Over the years we have enjoyed continued growth in Northampton County and the surrounding region as our business activity and clientele have continued to expand,” he said. “We really have outgrown our current branch network in Northampton County and building a brand new full-service facility in Jackson will not only allow us to update our branch network in the county, but also enable us to more efficiently serve the needs of the entire county by relocating our Seaboard branch operations into the Jackson office.”

Alexander said the decision of relocating the Seaboard branch operations was a difficult one, but ultimately balancing the greater financial needs of the entire county with the bank’s need to update and maintain a profitable branch network in the region led to the decision.

“This new facility will not only provide our customers in the region with a more comfortable banking environment, but it also represents a long-term investment and commitment by Southern Bank to Northampton County and its citizens,” Alexander noted. “We are certainly sensitive to the needs of our customers and neighbors in the Seaboard community and look forward to serving them in our Jackson office or at any of our other locations in the region.”

Tentative plans call for the new bank to be built on NC 305 north of Jackson, in an area that is currently the home of numerous Northampton County local government and state government facilities.

“On behalf of our town board, we’re very pleased and delighted with respect to this announcement by Southern Bank to locate here,” said Jackson Mayor Jim Gossip. “We have felt all along that based on their corporate culture, Southern Bank is a perfect fit for our town and for this area of Northampton County. Southern Bank understands what makes small towns tick and they also understand the important role that agriculture plays in our area and region.”

While Gossip tipped his hat to the town’s other financial institution – the State Employees Credit Union which made a significant investment in Jackson by building a new facility – he stressed the need for a commercial bank.

“Being the county seat, we need a commercial banking entity that can handle accounts that the Credit Union cannot under law,” he noted. “We’re looking forward to having Southern Bank as a partner moving forward. They will find the Jackson community very welcoming.”

The news should be pleasing as well to Northampton County local government officials. They currently bank with PNC’s Jackson branch and face a decision on where to take their business once that office closes.

That issue was discussed at a recent meeting of the county’s Board of Commissioners. Northampton County Finance Officer Dot Vick noted Southern Bank’s Seaboard branch has been doing business with the county for several years and has financed equipment and land purchases for the county. She added the manager from First Citizens Bank in Conway has expressed interest in doing business with the county.

While it’s unclear at this point on which financial institution will receive the business of the local government entity, County Manager Wayne Jenkins has made it clear he would like to see the county deal with a commercial bank inside Northampton’s borders.

Jenkins was out of the office on Friday and was unavailable for comment on Southern Bank’s announcement.

Alexander said no timetable has officially been established for when the Jackson office will be open for business.

“We will make that announcement just as soon as we have established an official timeline for the Jackson office,” he stated.

With its corporate office in Mt. Olive, Southern Bank has a broad footprint in eastern North Carolina, to include the Roanoke-Chowan area. Locally, there are 10 branch locations – Woodland and Seaboard in Northampton County; Ahoskie and Murfreesboro in Hertford County; Askewville, Aulander, Lewiston, Roxobel and Windsor in Bertie County; and Gatesville in Gates County.

Founded in 1901, Southern Bank is the state’s third oldest commercial bank. It currently boasts total assets of over $2 billion and operates 65 branches in North Carolina and Virginia.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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