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UMB extends footprint into Vidalia with branch

Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Rebecca Caldwell, from left, Josh Wilson and Revé Thompson are the faces of the new United Mississippi Bank branch in Vidalia.

VIDALIA — United Mississippi Bank has extended its services across the river into Vidalia with a new full service branch on Carter Street, but CEO Samuel Porter said that’s just the beginning.

The bank, which has been serving the Natchez and Adams County area since 1973 when it began as First Natchez Bank, decided to cross state lines in 2011 with the purchase of a bank charter in Melville, La., near Baton Rouge.

Purchasing the charter from a former bank in Louisiana, Porter said, allowed the company to begin opening branches across the state with approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Rod Guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — The branch on Carter Street is an interim facility until the new building is built in between Walmart and the Vidalia Municipal Complex.

“We’ve always felt like we had a strong customer base in Vidalia and Concordia Parish, but this was a way to make it more convenient for those customers to not have to drive across the river every time they want to go to the bank,” Porter said. “We’re growing our market consistently and this was dual purpose of expanding our footprint into Louisiana and providing our customers with more convenient access.”

The Vidalia branch, located in the shopping center next to Weeks Furniture, is an interim location for the bank however, said Chris Hutchins, senior vice president.

The bank leased that location while its new 3,000-square-foot facility is developed and constructed in the lot between Walmart and the Vidalia municipal complex.

Porter said finalized plans for the building will be approved within the next two weeks in hopes of breaking ground on construction by March.

“Obviously it’s going to depend a lot on the weather, but we feel pretty good about having the branch opened in nine months,” Porter said. “We’re ready to go and excited to be going over into Vidalia.”

Even though Porter said the bank has always had a strong customer base in Vidalia, he also said the company didn’t want to go through with building the new branch until they had found a qualified person to lead the branch.

Luckily, Porter said, the company found that person and wasted no time in getting him acclimated with the Vidalia and Concordia Parish community.

Josh Wilson, who was recently named a vice president at UMB, is located at the interim branch and will also be heading the new branch once it is built, Porter said.

“(Wilson) was exactly what we were looking for in a qualified person to start getting things up and running over in Vidalia,” Porter said. “It’s all about finding the right person, and we are very excited with what he’s bringing to the table.”

Wilson, a Vidalia native and graduate of Louisiana College, said he’s looking forward to working with the people of Vidalia and Concordia Parish.

“I’m excited to bring the UMB community bank tradition across the river into Vidalia,” Wilson said. “Community banking is what I’m all about because I want to be able to sit across from the people of this community and find a way to help them.

“That’s what it’s all about.”