Southern Bank named Community Bank of the Year!

Pictured receiving the Community Bank of the Year Award on behalf of Southern Bank are (l to r): Mike Bryant, Executive Vice President & Regional Executive; Mike Stellar, Senior Vice President & Raleigh Area Executive; Suzanne Burrows, Vice President & Community Reinvestment Act Manager; Lara Moore, Senior Vice President & Credit Risk Manager; Taylor Harrell, President; and Wally Lam, Vice President & Raleigh Commercial Banker.

Southern Bank of Mount Olive has been recognized as the Community Bank of the Year by the NC Rural Center.

This award is given to a Rural Center lending partner that provides excellent customer service to North Carolina's small businesses. The winner of this award also works with the Rural Center's Loan Participation Program, which reduces private lenders' loan risk to help fund the creation and expansion of small businesses throughout North Carolina. 

Southern Bank partnered with the Rural Center since 2022 and made $5.2 million in loans through the program in that short time.

The bank received the award March 21 during the Rural Center's annual Rural Summit in Raleigh. The award was presented by Bill Stallings, chief revenue officer of the Rural Center's Small Business Capital Division, and Armeer Kenchen, executive vice president of the Small Business Capital Division, as part of the Center's Rural Excellence Awards program.

“It is an honor to recognize Southern Bank, a homegrown financial institution, as this year’s recipient of the Community Bank of the Year award,” said Stallings.  “Since 1901, Southern Bank has stayed true to its roots by serving rural North Carolina.  The NC Rural Center and Southern Bank clearly have a shared mission, vision and values, which has resulted in an effective and impactful partnership. We both seek to improve the quality of life of rural communities in the State of North Carolina. We both operate with the core belief that our rural communities are vital to the overall economic health of our great State. And we both call North Carolina home.”

Southern Bank President Taylor Harrell accepted the award on behalf of the bank, joined by Executive Vice President Michael Bryant, Vice President Suzanne M. Burrows, Commercial Relationship Manager Wally Lam, and other members of the Southern Bank team.

“Southern Bank is extremely honored to be recognized by the NC Rural Center as the Community Bank of the Year,” according to Harrell. “This award has special meaning for our organization, as serving rural communities in eastern North Carolina represents such a rich part of our company’s legacy.”

Southern Bank Chairman and CEO Drew Covert echoed Harrell’s sentiments. “It’s a testament to our commitment to investing in the betterment of the businesses and communities we serve and we could not be more thankful to be recognized in this way. We truly appreciate the partnership and values that we share with the NC Rural Center.”

About the NC Rural Center

The NC Rural Center has worked since 1987 to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The Rural Center serves the state's 78 rural counties, with a special focus on people with low-to-moderate incomes and communities with limited resources. To learn more about how the NC Rural Center is developing and supporting rural leaders across the state, visit

About Southern Bank Founded in 1901, Southern Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern BancShares (N.C.), Inc. With its headquarters located in Mount Olive, North Carolina, the regional community bank serves eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia with approximately 60 locations and has total assets of approximately $5 billion. For more information about the bank, visit

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