Regions Bank cuts ribbon for loan operation center

By HASKEL BURNS,

The addition of 90 upcoming jobs, current and future growth, and a milestone for Regions Bank were all celebrated last Thursday during a ribbon cutting at the recently-opened Regions Bank Loan Operation Center at the corner of Lincoln Road and Lamar Boulevard.

City, county and bank officials gathered at the 60,000-square-foot facility to cut the ribbon and tour the new space that primarily houses associates from the bank’s Real Estate Servicing Division. In addition to the 90 expected new jobs, approximately 320 employees relocated this spring to the new office from the Forrest Tower and Kress buildings in downtown Hattiesburg.

“This is so much more than a grand opening,” said Greg Garraway, Hattiesburg market executive for Regions. “This demonstrates our company’s commitment to the Hattiesburg area, and it is a testament to our workforce here.

“This operation provides service not just for Hattiesburg, and not just Mississippi, but for our 15-state footprint and beyond that. We could have put this anywhere in our 15-state footprint, so I’m proud of our company for listening and following the recommendation of the local team, believing in the local team and the workforce here, to locate here.”

The $23 million project is spread out over a 10-acre site, with the building taking up approximately 2 acres and the remainder dedicated to parking and a walking facility for employees. The project also leaves room for future development and expansion.

“This is a great day for our city,” Mayor Toby Barker said. “The temptation, when you’re dealing with a company as big as Regions, is to think of them as cold and far-off and aloof and impersonal, and that couldn’t be more opposite of what we have here.

“Regions is a local company, and they’re run by two local Hattiesburg folks in Morgan and Greg – themselves from two long-standing Hattiesburg families. We appreciate you advocating for this city, because we know this could have gone to Pensacola or Birmingham or Memphis. But we’re very honored that you fought for your hometown, because there’s not a better choice that you guys from Regions could have made than right here in Hattiesburg.”

The new facility will be instrumental in Regions Bank’s long-term growth plans, including that of the mortgage solutions team that serves customers across the southeast and midwest portions of the United States, as well as Texas.

Regions will continue to provide a full-service location downtown, as the employees from the Front Street location recently moved into a new spot in the Carter Building on Main Street. Meanwhile, local developer Rob Tatum purchased Regions’ vacated downtown buildings and leased them back to the bank while construction of the new facility was underway.

Tatum – who also developed the Hub City Lofts and The District at Midtown – has initial plans to turn the Forrest Tower and Kress buildings into mixed-use facilities, with mainly studio and one-bedroom apartments along with commercial/retail space.

“We were downtown for 30 years, and we were in a number of buildings,” said Morgan McCarty, Head of Loan Servicing for Regions. “We were running out of space over the last five years, and we knew we had to do something, but we really didn’t want to leave downtown without a new alternative or something that could take our place down there.

“(Tatum and his staff) have great plans for downtown, and I think it’s going to be a new beginning – probably better than us downtown. So I think it’s a win for everybody.”

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