Concordia Bank celebrates first century in area

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

VIDALIA &045; From written ledgers to computerized account tracking, from $25,000 to $387 million in assets, Concordia Bank & Trust has seen a host of changes in its first 100 years.

This week, the bank celebrates its 100th anniversary with open houses at all of its branches through the end of the week, giving away prizes at each of the five locations, said President and CEO Pat Biglane.

Ceremonial ribbon cuttings will also be held at each location &045; Vidalia, Ferriday, Monterey, Natchez and Woodville &045; on Friday with both current and retired bank directors.

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Together, those directors, drawn from throughout the Miss-Lou, have accumulated many memories about how banking was done throughout the years.

&uot;You used to have two ledgers, and (two employees) would have to sit down and check them against each other,&uot; said Willie Smith, who came to work for the bank in 1964 and has been on its Board of Directors since 1988.

&uot;If you added accounts, you just had to add more people&uot; to keep track of those accounts, Smith said.

Then things became really high tech.

&uot;American Typewriter Company made a machine with magnetic tape&uot; to record accounts, Smith said with a laugh. &uot;Now, you have computers, and you could hardly run a bank without them.&uot;

The bank’s name and location &045; make that locations &045; have also changed quite a bit in the last 100 years.

The institution was founded in 1903, with just $25,000 in assets, as the Bank of Vidalia.

In 1918, the institution changed its name to the Vidalia Bank & Trust Co. and bought Ferriday State Bank for $5,000 with capital of $50,000. In 1926, the name of the bank was changed to Concordia Bank & Trust Co.

Meanwhile, the bank moved from its first location &045; near the riverfront, where the town’s &uot;mat field&uot; is now &045; then to the site of the current Town Hall and, finally, to its main branch location on Carter Street.

A Monterey was then added in the early 1970s. &uot;With the importance of farming to this area, we thought it was important to have a location in Monterey,&uot; the heart of farming country, Biglane said.

And with the passage of the Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act, Concordia Bank first expanded into Mississippi in May 1999 by purchasing Woodville-based Wilkinson County Savings Bank.

The bank’s latest addition is its Natchez branch, which opened on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive last year.

It’s a perfect fit, since the two sides of the Mississippi River are closely tied through families and business associations, Biglane said.

&uot;What’s good for one side (of the river) is good for the other,&uot; he said.

But Biglane said that while the bank’s locations, technology and even name have changed many times over, its soundness and customer-centered philosophy haven’t changed.

In addition, he said, Concordia Bank takes pride in employees who have stuck with the institution for many years and know their customers by heart.

&uot;People want to see the same faces all the time, people they know and trust,&uot; Biglane said.