By DENNIS SEID / Daily Journal

TUPELO • Last week, BancorpSouth put the finishing touches on its seventh bank acquisition since 2018, further expanding its footprint in eight states.

With that growth comes the need to add more to the “back office” staff that helps keep the nearly $20 billion financial institution running smoothly.

A more than $15 million project will add at least 100 jobs to BancorpSouth’s Jackson Street operations campus, which houses the bank’s core data infrastructure, including its mainframe hardware and software, open system serve and networking routing system.

Joining in a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the expansion was Gov. Phil Bryant, who lavished praise on the BancorpSouth team.

“These are data jobs, the type of jobs we look to for our younger people who are staying here, coming out of our universities and wanting to work in data systems,” he said. “These are the IT jobs of the future and they’re right here in Tupelo … we continue to grow the banking and finance industry here, and that was a plan long ago to see how we could bring these financial services to Mississippi.”

BancorpSouth employs more than 4,500 people in some 300 locations in eight states. Approximately 1,000 of those are employed in Tupelo with 717 employed at the Jackson Street Campus.

“We’ve got to continue to grow ,” said Dan Rollins, the bank’s chairman and CEO. “It’s grow or don’t, and the don’t isn’t the fun part. With the 1,000 people we have in Tupelo and Lee County and the more than 700 on this campus …. over the next three years, we plan to increase employment here by more than 100 positions. We anticipate that to include network engineers, data and software analysts, systems engineers, programmers, call center managers, customer service representatives and the hot topic of today, information security administrators.”

The jobs that will open up will be posted at bancorpsouth.com in the coming months, Rollins said.

The bank also has spent nearly $5 million on its headquarters building downtown the past few years. That work includes an expanded drive-through, a new HVAC system, renovated and additional offices on nearly every floor, enhanced building security, a sprinkler system to meet code and the replacement of three elevators.

The latest investment goes hand-in-hand with the bank’s mission to support its growth in the community where it planted its roots 140 years ago, Rollins said.

The bank services more than $20 billion in loans at the Jackson Street operations center, as well as ensures that the 500,000 debit and credit cards used system-wide are secure.

“Our multimillion dollar investment exemplifies our long-term commitment to sustainable economic growth into this area,” he said. “We believe our commitment to north Mississippi will positively impact our efforts to serve our customers in the communities we serve across our footprint.”

Home to two of the state’s largest banks in BancorpSouth and Renasant, Tupelo has long been the financial hub of Northeast Mississippi. American Banker magazine recently profiled the city, calling it “Bank City USA” in a profile.

“We have tremendous banking and financial impact not just on the region around Tupelo, but in the entire southeast,” Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said. “We’re very proud of that.”

dennis.seid@journalinc.com Twitter: @dennisseid