By STEVEN NALLEY
Renasant Bank announced plans Tuesday to enter the Starkville market with help from its new Starkville Division President, Tommy Tomlinson.
Scott Cochran, Mississippi Division President with Renasant, said the time was right to expand into Starkville now Tomlinson has joined the company. He said it would be the latest in a series of expansions into the Golden Triangle area, including an entry into Columbus last November.
‚ÄúThat has been an area we have long wanted to be in, as we are located now in Columbus, West Point and Louisville,‚ÄĚ Cochran said. ‚ÄúWith the strong economy in Starkville and the abilities Tommy brings to the table, it was a perfect marriage for us.‚ÄĚ
Because regulatory procedures for the new location are still ongoing, Cochran said he could not yet confirm a location for the bank or a timetable for its opening. He said Renasant does have a location in mind, however, and that location should be revealed within a week.
Cochran said Tomlinson‚Äôs experience as an executive banker with another regional bank would be an invaluable asset at Renasant.
‚ÄúStarkville is a growing market, and with Tommy Tomlinson joining us to lead Renasant‚Äôs entrance, the opportunity for us is tremendous,‚ÄĚ Cochran said. ‚ÄúWith Tommy, we have an experienced and well respected professional who knows the Golden Triangle area, and with his ties to Mississippi State and his 30-plus years of experience in community banking, we are poised for a successful entrance into the Starkville banking market.‚ÄĚ
Tomlinson said there were two reasons for his move to Renasant. First, he said, Renasant and its staff are as committed to the communities they serve as he is.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve admired Renasant for many, many years,‚ÄĚ Tomlinson said. ‚ÄúTheir people in their executive offices have the same philosophy I‚Äôve always had as far as community banking. Renasant is a community-oriented bank where decisions are made on the local level. You get the products of a big bank with the service of a local community bank, and relationships are the foundation for success.‚ÄĚ
Second, Tomlinson said, because of Renasant‚Äôs community commitment, he felt his experience would be a good fit for the company, allowing him to continue serving the Golden Triangle community.
‚ÄúFor me, this has been a very lengthy process, and it just kept pointing to the fact that I‚Äôve got 36-plus years in the banking industry, including 28 years with my previous employer,‚ÄĚ Tomlinson said. ‚ÄúEven with that longevity with them, it was a good fit for me personally to join with Renasant.‚ÄĚ
Cochran said he agreed Tomlinson‚Äôs background fit Renasant‚Äôs business model.
‚ÄúTommy is a definite relationship banker who possesses the qualities and characteristics that represent Renasant Bank and obviously allows us to fulfill our mission statement,‚ÄĚ Cochran said, ‚Äúwhich is to be the best financial services provider for markets that we serve.‚ÄĚ
Tomlinson will not be the only local element helping to bring Renasant to Starkville. Jeff Overstreet, who graduated from Mississippi State University as the Mississippi Bankers‚Äô Association‚Äôs 2008 Swayze Scholar, will serve as commercial lender and banking officer for Renasant‚Äôs new bank. Jim Ferguson, who served with Tomlinson at his former bank as senior vice president and trust department manager, will join Renasant as senior vice president and trust officer.
According to a press release, Renasant‚Äôs entry into Starkville is the bank‚Äôs eighth expansion in the past 12 months. Other recent expansions include Renasant‚Äôs entry into the Montgomery, Ala., market, its acquisition of RBC Bank USA‚Äôs trust division in Birmingham and its acquisition of American Trust Bank in Roswell, Ga. With these expansions, Cochran said, Renasant stands in contrast with other banks weathering the Great Recession.
‚ÄúThis is kind of swimming against the current,‚ÄĚ Cochran said. ‚ÄúIn the current banking environment we‚Äôre in, you‚Äôre not seeing banks expand like Renasant Bank is. It‚Äôs a sign of the strength of Renasant Bank that we‚Äôre able to expand in spite of the economic downturn.‚ÄĚ