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Toyota plant will bring new opportunities for banks

Many businesses in North Mississippi hope to cash in on the Toyota plant coming to Blue Springs, and banks are no exception. Although area banks say it’s premature to make definite plans, some are saying they stand ready to serve the needs of the automaker and employees who move into the area.

Bo Collins, president of the Bank of New Albany, says it’s his understanding that Toyota has its own credit union and that may preclude a bank from locating inside the plant as is the case at the Nissan plant in Canton.

“It’s still a ways off — at least a couple of years — and now we’re dealing with construction,” he said, “but we are making plans to make a plan.”

Although he says there isn’t much banks can do for construction, he is talking to companies with contractual services who want to borrow money to start operations.

With the Toyota site half way between Tupelo and New Albany, Collins thinks both areas will benefit from the facility. A Bank of New Albany branch now under construction in the Belden area within the city limits of Tupelo is probably the closest bank to the site, he said, and will open in November. It’s the fifth branch for the bank that was founded in 1896, and Collins didn’t rule out another location closer to the automaker.

“Banks are always looking at sites,” he said. “We’re an old bank, but we’re growing and changing, and now we’re a $350-million bank.”

He said Bank of New Albany is always ready to offer services to newcomers, homeowners and businesses moving in and has studied places where auto plants have located. It was one of four banks that financed the site for the Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties alliance that developed the Toyota industrial site.

‘Exciting times’

“These are exciting times, and we are patiently watching to see how we can be a part of them,” Collins added.

Renasant Bank of Tupelo is another old bank that is preparing to be a part of new happenings in the area. John Oxford, public relations officer, said the 103-year-old bank has 63 locations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.

“The heart of the bank is in Mississippi, and is the fourth-largest bank in the state that’s headquartered in Mississippi,” he said. “We’re acquiring a bank in Nashville now that will make us a $3.2-billion bank.”

He says the Toyota announcement was like a Super Bowl party for the area, and Renasant Bank sees future growth and opportunities there.

“We are now in the listening process and understanding mode to find out what Toyota and their employees will need,” Oxford said. “We’re by no means sitting on our hands, but we’re trying to understand before we plan.”

Blue Springs is a rural area with no banks presently, but Oxford said Renasant’s branch in New Albany may be the closest to the site. “We have over 20 branches within a 20-minute drive of Blue Springs, and that’s our advantage,” he said. “We’re already there and know the area.”

He pointed out that with Toyota’s anticipated average pay of $20 per hour and 2,000 new jobs, plus service provider jobs, Renasant Bank hopes the plant will do for the area what the Nissan plant did for the Canton area.

‘Competition will be intense’

“We’re looking for all opportunities and trying to put together a package for Toyota employees that bundles information about all of our services,” he added. “That includes residential loans, insurance services, cash management services and banking services for businesses. The competition will be intense among banks to provide services.”

He affirmed that Renasant Bank will act when it’s appropriate to take action with Toyota and its employees.

Aubrey Patterson, CEO and chairman of the board of BancorpSouth Bank, issued a statement saying it’s too early for the Tupelo-based bank to announce any plans about working with Toyota, but looks forward to the automaker’s move into the area.

“Obviously, all area banks stand to benefit from a strengthened economy,” he said.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

About Lynn Lofton

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