BancorpSouth Announces Creation of "Grow Mississippi" 2013 Loan Pool Initiative - Mississippi-based regional bank earmarks $500 million in initial funding for loans to Mississippi businesses

- Initiates a collaborative effort in support of State of Mississippi's economic development efforts

TUPELO, Miss., March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- BancorpSouth (NYSE: BXS) today announced the creation of the "Grow Mississippi" 2013 loan pool to help support the state's efforts in soliciting and encouraging business expansion and job creation for Mississippi.

In announcing the initiative, BancorpSouth CEO Dan Rollins said, "This initial commitment of $500 million is being allocated for the specific purpose of funding loans to businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to locate in our state, as well as for existing businesses looking to expand operations. Additional funding will be added to the loan pool during the year if needed, depending on our success in identifying qualified candidates."

"Attracting the best jobs to Mississippi requires teamwork," Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement from the Governor's office.  "Ensuring that businesses have access to capital is a critical element in positioning Mississippi as the top spot for economic development, and I applaud BancorpSouth for taking a leadership role in this new effort. We look forward to working with additional partners who want to show the world that 'Mississippi Works' and is open for business."

Potential candidates, including corporations, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, will be identified through collaborative efforts with the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and through BancorpSouth's local community bank lenders across the state.

Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Brent Christensen said, in a statement from MDA headquarters in Jackson, "When the private and public sectors work together on initiatives such as BancorpSouth's new 'Grow Mississippi' loan pool, the state's growth opportunities in economic development become stronger. We are pleased to offer our full support to the 'Grow Mississippi' initiative, which assists with recruiting new business to Mississippi and offers valuable financial services to the state's existing industries.  MDA will work with BancorpSouth to provide the necessary resources and support to make this development initiative successful."

Underwriting criteria for the loans will include compliance with traditional BancorpSouth loan policies, procedures and credit standards with loan structure and terms designed to take advantage of existing state and local economic development programs and incentives, as well as SBA and other federal loan programs.

In conjunction with the creation of the loan pool and related business solicitation program for prospects, BancorpSouth will make available its full resources and state-of-the industry products and services to participating businesses. These include BancorpSouth's nationally ranked insurance and mortgage banking lines of business, as well as treasury management, asset management and trust, corporate banking and equipment financing.

C Spire Wireless, the nation's largest continuously owned and operated, privately held wireless communications provider and a major employer with over 1,200 workers, is an example of a Mississippi-based company supporting the economic growth of its home state through job creation. C Spire worked through BancorpSouth to acquire financing for the company's new eight-story corporate headquarters building located in Ridgeland. Utilizing innovative, privately placed taxable bond financing in conjunction with a State of Mississippi economic development program, BancorpSouth lenders put together financing arrangements which resulted in a significant cost savings for the wireless communications and technology services company, the first and only U.S. provider to offer consumers and businesses a suite of personalized services. 

The restoration and development of the Duling Elementary School building located in Jackson, Mississippi, is another example of the type of partnerships the loan pool resources are intended to support. BancorpSouth provided the construction and permanent financing for an urban, mixed-use development of the former Duling Elementary School building located in the historic Fondren District of Jackson. The developer turned to BancorpSouth when his company partnered with the Jackson Public School District to take advantage of a new statute allowing school districts to make use of surplus property. Two economic development programs were utilized in this project. The sale of tax exempt Go Zone Bonds backed by a BancorpSouth Letter of Credit were coupled with tax increment financing approved by the City of Jackson. As a result, the construction and permanent financing provided by BancorpSouth restored the vacant Duling Elementary School into a center of activity. The property is now back on the tax rolls, while supporting corporate businesses, entertainment and restaurants.

Providing creativity and expertise in financing, as well as the purchase of new markets tax credits, were important factors as Southern Bone and Joint Specialists, P.A. and Forrest General Hospital planned and developed The Orthopedic Institute of Forrest Health in Hattiesburg.  BancorpSouth's direct purchase of Go Zone Bonds was part of the solution for the institute's construction and permanent financing needs.  The completed Orthopedic Institute now employs 150 professionals in a 74,000 square ft. facility serving the orthopedic care needs of South Mississippi.

"The objective of BancorpSouth's loan pool initiative is not only to provide the start-up and working capital needed for businesses to grow, but it is also intended to show the confidence BancorpSouth has in Mississippi as an ideal market place for businesses to grow and prosper," said BancorpSouth, Inc. Chairman of the Board Aubrey Patterson. As the past chairman of the Mississippi Economic Council and the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development, Patterson is a longtime supporter of the state's economic development efforts.

Businesses and entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the "Grow Mississippi" loan pool should contact a BancorpSouth Bank office in Mississippi, or call 1-888-797-7711 to be directed to a business lender.  For an online listing of BancorpSouth locations go to www.bancorpsouth.com.

BancorpSouth, Inc. is a financial holding company headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi, with $13.4 billion in assets. BancorpSouth Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BancorpSouth, Inc., operates 292 commercial banking, mortgage, insurance, trust and broker/dealer locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas, including an insurance location in Illinois.                                            

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this news release may not be based on historical facts and are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements may be identified by their reference to a future period or periods or by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "expect," "may," "might," "will," "would," "could" or "intend."  These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements relating to additional funding for the "Grow Mississippi" loan pool, identification of potential candidates for loans, underwriting criteria for loans, the availability of BancorpSouth's resources, products and services to participants, the types of partnerships supported by the loan pool and the ability of participants to grow and prosper.

BancorpSouth cautions you not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this news release in that actual results could differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements because of a variety of factors. These factors may include those factors detailed from time to time in BancorpSouth's press releases and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.         

SOURCE BancorpSouth



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