Southwest Georgia Bank Leverages Full-Service Advantage
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
High unemployment and low economic growth is nothing new in rural southern Georgia, according to President and CEO of Southwest Georgia Bank DeWitt Drew. Yet the bank continues to grow, reaching $320 million in assets and 127 employees in 2012.
"We provide multiple services including retail brokerage, trust and insurance products and that helps us capture more of our customer's pocketbook," Drew explained. "A majority of our customers use more than one service."
Southwest Georgia Bank has also captured business from banks that closed during the recession, particularly in Valdosta. Its Valdosta branch has grown to $70 million in assets in only three years.
"The most recent bank failure in Valdosta was this time last year. We brought on some of the key customer contact professionals from that bank," he said.
The Park Avenue Bank of Valdosta, Ga. was closed by regulators on April 29, 2011 and was acquired by Bank of the Ozarks, which is headquartered in Little Rock, Ark. According to bankrate.com, 22 banks in Georgia failed in 2011.
Offering 84 Years of Stability
Southwest Georgia Bank, which is the primary subsidiary of Southwest Georgia Financial Corporation, was established 84 years ago and according to Drew, it has paid a dividend to its investors without fail every year. The bank is headquartered in Moultrie and has six branches throughout the region.
"I think that's one of the things that is most important to customers is stability. When they need us, they can count on us being here," Drew said.
The bank has a broad mix of customers with a primary focus on businesses in the area and agriculture. Although business has been slow in southern Georgia over the past year, Drew believes Valdosta is the best market in the region.
"Growth in Valdosta has been very resilient for us partly because the banking industry in this market took a hit during the recession," Drew said.
"Major growth drivers in the area include Valdosta State University, the air base and the fact that Valdosta is on a major transportation corridor."
Furthering Growth in the Southern Georgia
Drew believes local leaders in Valdosta should "keep doing what they're doing. They've done a great job in making the city's economy resilient."
At the state level, Drew believes the immigration law potentially could have a large impact on the agriculture industry in Georgia.
"We're going to find out this year what the impact is going to be. I'm not sure what the solution is but I know the agriculture industry relies on migrant labor."
The Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge by the Obama administration to Arizona's immigration law. The ruling, expected later this year, could redefine the role of the federal government and states in immigration enforcement and have implications for immigration law in Georgia.
More information on Southwest Georgia Bank is available at www.sgfc.com.