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Banking Department looking for new home in metro area

Downtown Jackson could lose a state agency with the pending move of the Mississippi Department of Banking & Consumer Finance from the Woolfolk Building next store to the capital.

Banking Commissioner Jerry Wilson said the agency is willing to remain downtown if a suitable space of around 12,000 square feet and 85 parking spaces is available.  However, the department has no special need to be near the Capitol, Wilson said.

A Request for Proposals with a deadline of 5 p.m. May 6 specifies space available in Hinds, Ranking or Madison counties.

Sherri Hilton, spokeswoman for the state Department of Finance & Administration, said only about 4,000 square feet of usable office space is available in state-owned buildings.

The 63-member Department of Banking & Finance occupies 6,000 square feet but needs to double that to accommodate the work of state bank examiners who will be reviewing banking records and documents remotely. Until now, the examiners would visit the individual state-chartered banks and spend several days at a time at them, often alongside examiners from the FDIC.

“We plan to do more offsite exams,” Wilson said in an interview last week.

With the remote exams, Wilson needs more office space and parking for examiners, as well as visitors.

Wilson said for the security of the sensitive banking materials under review, the agency wants either a building of its own or its own secured floor.

The department expects to be in its new quarters within the next four months. Wherever it ends up, lease rates must be in line with rates other state agencies nearby are paying, according to Wilson.

As the regulator of state-chartered banks, the Department of Banking & Consumer Finance has become the nation’s 17th largest state banking agency. That came with the state’s two largest banks – Hancock Bank and BancorpSouth – being state chartered and a third, Renasant Bank, giving recently expanded with the acquisition of Merchants & Farmers Bank in Kosciusko.

“We’ve got $10 billion more in assets than last year,” Wilson said of his department’s expanded realm.

Two other banks, FNB Oxford and Commerce National Bank in Corinth, have applied for conversion to state banks.

While downtown could lose the banking department, it has gained an annex office of the Secretary of State and up to 90 new office workers. The annex office moved from 700 North St. and reopened April 29 at Capital Towers, 125 South Congress St.

Moved to the new location are the Business Services, Regulation and Enforcement, Public Lands, Securities and Charities divisions of the agency.



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