On March 6, 1888, a young Mississippi legislature granted a "handwritten" charter to a group of businessmen and farmers who would raise $50,000 to open Citizens Savings Bank. From their first location in a store on a dirt street in downtown Meridian, Citizens National's early directors and officers began building a foundation of trust with new customers and a new and growing community—a trust that would be severely tested years later in the Great Depression. While The Great Depression took its toll on this country's young banking community, Citizens National stood firm. And when the nation's remaining banks reopened following President Franklin Roosevelt's emergency "bank holiday" on March 14, 1933, Citizens National was one of only six banks in the state of Mississippi to begin serving the public immediately. Excluding the federally imposed holiday, Citizens National has never closed its doors or broken its trust with depositors, even during the most challenging days of the Depression. Since those early days, we've steadily grown by staying focused on our customers and the communities where they live. Today, Citizens National serves 15 communities throughout Mississippi, and most of our growth to over $1 billion in assets has come from our internal operations. In other words, we haven't purchased the majority of our growth by simply acquiring other community banks, but have gained our growth "the old-fashioned way" - we've earned it from our customers! While the dark days of the Depression are hopefully behind us forever, we see another threat to the economy of Mississippi as more and more community banks are disappearing, being acquired by large regional banking institutions. Many of these institutions have moved both ownership and resources out of the state of Mississippi and have become too big to be caring and responsive to their customers. In spite of this trend, we intend to stay true to our century-old heritage as an independent community bank—to remain independent and keep our vision fixed on our customers and the communities we serve. We feel so strongly about this commitment we have established our own Declaration of Independence. We hope you will read it and be encouraged by it! While we hope our Declaration of Independence illustrates our total commitment to being here for you in the future, we also want you to know that we are dedicated to being the bank of choice for you—both now and in the future. Come see us and experience the commitment we have when it comes to caring for our clients and fulfilling their financial dreams.
Community banks are the economic engines that create growth and development in our heartlands. Every day, community bankers across our country help first-time homebuyers, donate time and money for community service, or take credit risk others wouldn’t due to their local knowledge of people and business. Community banks have been the foundation of a healthy and diversified local economy across our country and especially in Mississippi. Prior to the mid-1980s, banks were “joined at the hip” to their communities. About that time, however, things began to change. The banking industry started experiencing an unprecedented consolidation, resulting in the number of banking organizations being reduced from 15,000 to just fewer than 8,000 – a nearly 50% reduction in banking organizations. And the trend continues today. It is alarming to think that a few extremely large financial institutions own 73% of the banking industry’s assets. We don’t think this is a healthy trend for Mississippi and its future economic growth. These large financial institutions have acquired a substantial number of community banks in Mississippi and are redeploying the financial assets of Mississippi elsewhere – in more lucrative or profitable markets. We think it’s critical to Mississippi’s future for there to be financial assets owned by Mississippians for Mississippians. If Mississippi wants the core values embodied in civic and community leadership to continue in everyday life, political and business leaders and, most importantly, the general public need look no further than ensuring that we support our local community banks. As one of Mississippi’s community banks, we have talked among ourselves, to consultants, and with many of our valued customers. The obvious question for us as a Mississippi-owned community bank is, "Can we survive and prosper in this climate?" Our answer is unequivocally "YES." We believe becoming Mississippi’s Community Bank is our destiny. We encourage personal, business, and community economic development that finances the dreams of Mississippians. We aspire to build a statewide franchise that delights customers and creates unequaled loyalty. We want to earn the right to be Mississippi’s Community Bank by being financially successful and independent. This will enable us to listen to, understand, and serve Mississippians – that is, to fulfill their dreams. Something we’ve been doing consistently since 1888. While doing that, we aspire to teach our own employees how to increase their confidence, tackle daily challenges, live and work with passion and purpose, and realize their ambitions – just as all Mississippians aspire to do in their own lives. If we’re successful, we’ll become Mississippi’s Community Bank by assisting at least 20% of Mississippi businesses and individuals to become financially successful and fulfill their dreams.