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General News & Events

In addition to the support we provide in our individual communities, we also make an effort to support larger, more global endeavors that involve ALL of our branches.

SGBC Announces 2022 Hester Memorial Scholarship Winner

Emma McCard of Ashburn is the 2022 local recipient of the Julian and Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship from South Georgia Banking Company.

McCard was chosen by a regional panel of judges who considered her outstanding application highlighting her academic achievements, school involvement and community engagement, along with an essay submission on the role of community banking.  She is a BETA club member, made honor roll all four years of high school, and won the award for Highest GPA in AP English this year. She has also been a varsity cheerleader for four years and currently serves as squad captain. Additionally, McCard volunteers with Operation Christmas Child and Cheerleading Kiddie Camp, holding leadership positions in both organizations.

A senior at Crisp Academy and dual-enrolled at Brewton Parker College, McCard, the daughter of SGBC employee Chris McCard, plans to continue her education at University of North Georgia in the fall.  She will receive the $500 cash scholarship from South Georgia Banking Company and her application has been submitted consideration of four Hester Memorial $1,000 scholarships chosen by the Community Banking Association (CBA).

The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship program awards $1,000 annually to four deserving high school seniors planning to attend a Georgia college, university or technical school beginning the fall semester after graduation from high school.

Margaret Harris of Sylvester is the runner up for the local award and she will also be considered for the $1,000 CBA scholarship.  Harris, a student at Tiftarea Academy, submitted an outstanding application noting her many academic and community accomplishments, including dual enrollment at three institutions including ABAC, Brewton-Parker, and Southern Regional Technical College. She plans to attend the University of Georgia in the fall.  

The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship is named after long-time CBA Chief Executive Officer, the late Julian Hester and his late daughter, Jan Hester.

Jan was a senior at the University of Georgia when she died in an automobile accident in April of 1990. In addition to supporting community banking, this scholarship is an opportunity to pass on the positive qualities both Julian and Jan Hester exemplified to further the development of tomorrow’s generations.

Applications are open each spring; if you know a deserving senior in 2023, please watch for information from South Georgia Banking Company next year.

SGBC Now Accepting 2022 Hester Scholarship Applications

South Georgia Banking Company is accepting applications for the 2022 Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship program, sponsored by the Community Bankers Association (CBA), awards $1,000 annually to four deserving high school seniors who plan to attend a Georgia college, university, or technical school beginning the fall semester after graduation.

SGBC will select one applicant as the local winner, who will be awarded a $500 cash scholarship before moving on to the CBA selection process.  The bank will also name a local runner-up, who will also be considered for one of the four $1,000 prizes.

The goal of The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship is to assist deserving high school seniors in their first year of college and to promote community banking. The scholarship is named after long-time CBA Chief Executive Officer, the late Julian Hester and his late daughter, Jan Hester. Jan was a senior at the University of Georgia when she died in an auto accident in April of 1990. In addition to supporting community banking, this scholarship is an opportunity to pass on the positive qualities both Julian and Jan Hester exemplified to further the development of tomorrow’s generations.

You can find additional details about the scholarship and the requirements for applicants and download the application at:

Please help spread the word about this scholarship and encourage qualifying high school seniors in your community and schools to fill out an application and return it to their nearest South Georgia Banking Company branch or mail it to SGBC, P.O. Box 1505, Tifton GA 31793 to be received before Friday April 8, 2022.

South Georgia Banking Company Announces Staff Promotions

The leadership team at South Georgia Banking Company is excited to announce internal promotions of six SGBC team members including Erika Culpepper, Chris McCard, Mike Rice, Jennifer Castleberry, Adam Simmons and Kelly Johnston.

“Our bank continues to expand, adding services along with adding new consumer and business customers,” said Sam McCard, president, South Georgia Banking Company. “To ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers, we’ve made staff changes, increasing the areas of responsibility for six team members. We are fortunate to have qualified staff dedicated to our mission of being the best community bank in South Georgia; our people are what sets SGBC apart.”

Erika Culpepper, with 20 years of banking leadership experience, has been promoted to Chief Credit Officer. Erika will manage and oversee all facets of the bank’s lending and credit administrative functions company-wide.  She will be responsible for the supervision of loan operations and loan administration, ensuring high quality in the bank’s process, policies, structure, and personnel.  

Chris McCard is being promoted from Regional Credit Officer of SGBC’s northern region to Chief Lending Officer for South Georgia Banking Company.  As Chief Lending Officer, Chris will manage and oversee company-wide loan production as well as supervise the lending staff and lending activities of city presidents in each region. Chris and Erika will work closely together on all aspects of the lending process.  

Additional promotions include:

  • Mike Rice is the bank’s new Regional Credit Officer for the northern region which includes Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna, and Sylvester.
  • Jennifer Castleberry, Loan Operations Manager, in which she will be responsible for the overall supervision and operation of the Centralized Loan Process.
  • Adam Simmons is now in the role of Credit Services Manager. In this position, Adam will manage and monitor credit exposures across industry classes and underwrite credit requests.
  • Kelly Johnston is the bank’s new Image Specialist in addition to her position as Teller Operations Manager.  

South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna and Sylvester. 

[Pictured (left to right) are Jennifer Castleberry, Mike Rice, Erika Culpepper, Chris McCard, and Kelly Johnston. Not pictured: Adam Simmons]

Pires Joins South Georgia Banking Company in Newly Created Role

South Georgia Banking Company announces the addition of Victor M. Pires in the newly created position of Senior Vice President and Retail Banking Manager. Pires joins SGBC with over 20 years of banking experience including working with the development of new banking products. His role at SGBC will utilize this experience as he drives new retail banking opportunities and implements new products to enhance services for customers. 

“We are excited to have Victor join our team,” said Sam McCard, president of South Georgia Banking Company. “His leadership will be invaluable as we continue to grow as a bank, offering the latest in technology paired with local customer service.”

Most recently, Pires led a banking team in Valdosta, Georgia.  Born in Brazil and raised in Massachusetts just outside of Boston, Pires graduated Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree and received his master’s degree from American Public University. 

“I’m looking forward to working with the entire SGBC team,” said Pires. “The forward-thinking vision the leadership team and staff have for banking in this area is incredible.”

Pires and his wife Whitney relocated to Tifton in 2015 from Savannah, Georgia. Victor is passionate about literacy and serving his community. He has previously served as president of the Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County and the Tifton Merchants Association. 

South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna, and Sylvester. Learn more at

Community Impact: CDFI Certification Means Accessible Personal and Business Loans

Being one of only four banks in Georgia that is CDFI-certified is one way South Georgia Banking Company lives the bank’s commitment to community impact. Banks with the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) designation have a mission of community development, focusing on the underserved communities, and striving to improve the social and economic conditions in their service area.

The goal of CDFI is to expand economic opportunity in low-income communities by providing access to financial products and services for local residents and businesses. Why this is a big deal: Because South Georgia Banking Company has a focus on serving financially distressed areas, the bank is designated as a CDFI certified institution which means SGBC is able to process loans for people and businesses who may not otherwise qualify, leading to more opportunities and improved lives.

“We believe investing in local businesses and local residents by providing opportunities to grow and improve their quality of life is part of our mission as a community bank,” said Sam McCard, president of South Georgia Banking Company. “The CDFI certification aligns with our values and provides the financial structure for our bank to work with people and businesses who may not otherwise qualify for loans.”

In addition to being able to provide business and personal loans with CDFI backing, South Georgia Banking Company delivers quick decisions on loans for all customers.  “Because our loan decisions are made by our local team, our process is streamlined from start to finish,” said McCard.

South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna and Sylvester. Learn more at

South Georgia Banking Company is proud to support community and our teams!  From personal finances and small business management to winning football games, we are here to invest in your success every step of the way!  Our Cordele location recently sponsored a meal for the Crisp Academy Football team.  Pictured here are the SENIOR football players with SGBC City President, Chris McCard.  Go Wildcats!!

South Georgia Banking Company does not make it a practice to comment on politics, legislation, or any other matters in Washington, DC. However, we feel compelled to inform our customers about a troubling proposed provision buried in the American Families Plan that would impact your financial privacy.

The provision would require all financial institutions to report the inflows and outflows of all personal and business accounts to the IRS. South Georgia Banking Company, along with other banks, would be under federal mandate to report this information on every account to the IRS.

Banking relationships have always been protected by a level of privacy, which is currently required by federal and state laws. The proposal in question would be in direct conflict with existing privacy regulations and furthermore, would provide previously confidential information and personal data directly to the IRS.

If there is one thing that brings us to agreement in a world full of controversy, it just may be that this provision is intrusive and creates a clear invasion of privacy. We are contacting our legislators to express our extreme concern about the negative repercussions of this proposed provision. If you would like your voice to be heard, we strongly encourage you to contact your legislators and let them know this provision should be struck from the American Families Plan.

South Georgia Banking Company is committed to our customers and our communities; we believe this provision is too far-reaching and detrimental to individuals, families, and businesses. To contact your legislators, use the contact information below or click here

Raphael Warnock, US Senator, Georgia


Atlanta Office: 770.694.7828

DC Office:202.224.3643

Jon Ossoff, US Senator, Georgia


Atlanta Office: 470.786.7800

DC Office:202.224.3521

Austin Scott, US Congressman, Georgia, 8th District


Tifton Office: 229.396.5175

DC Office: 202.225.6531

Sandford Bishop, US Congressman, Georgia, 2nd District


Albany Office: 229.439.8067

DC Office:202.225.3631

Melissa Johnson is the assistant head teller at South Georgia Banking Company’s Moultrie location and has been a part of the team since the branch was built 21 years ago. She is known for her infectious positivity and happy personality - not to mention the way she always makes herself available to assist customers and coworkers.

“We are very proud to have Melissa on our team,” says branch manager, Tonia Nesbitt. “She lends many hands to all of her coworkers and always has a great attitude. Customers will wait in line (doesn’t matter how long) just so she can help them with their banking needs!”

In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband, Kyle, and daughters, Kylie and Parker. She also loves fishing, tubing, canning vegetables, and front porch sitting with friends and family.

While Melissa isn’t a fan of being in the spotlight, (this one or any other spotlight ;0), SGBC places a priority on recognizing those who go above and beyond for our customers, so we didn’t want to miss the chance to recognize her for a job well done! Stop by our Moultrie branch and say hello to Melissa and the entire SGBC team.

Mindy Layfield has a passion for helping others. She is the Head Teller at our Ashburn branch and enjoys everything about her job simply because her role encompasses what she loves to do – motivate and encourage others. Mindy excels in cash handling, customer engagement and training employees at South Georgia Banking Company.

“Training is very special to me,” Mindy tells. “I enjoy being a hands-on trainer because I’m able to motivate co-workers to be confident in themselves and their roles, which in return produces outstanding representatives of our bank.” Although training holds a special place in Mindy’s heart, building relationships and serving customers through the teller window makes her job all the more enjoyable. Some of her favorite memories of working at South Georgia Banking Company involve conversations with customers.

Mindy is known for being honest, caring and having a sense of humor. Outside of work, you can find Mindy enjoying time with family and friends, spending time outdoors, shopping, or thrifting. Mindy and her husband, David, are always on-the-go raising four boys – her pride and joys!

“My goal in this position is to strengthen customer relations to be the best they can possibly be,” says Mindy. South Georgia Banking Company places a premium on staff members like Mindy, who demonstrate daily what truly sets us apart. Stop by our Ashburn branch soon and say hello to Mindy and the rest of the team!

Community Impact: Local Businesses Benefit from PPP via SGBC

It’s no secret many businesses took a hit thanks to COVID. From completely shutting down, scaling back services, or going online to difficulties around staffing due to employees or their families testing positive, there have been no shortage of challenges faced by businesses due to COVID.

The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) offered welcome relief, but many businesses found roadblocks or a lack of engagement at their bank. Not at SGBC. Our commitment to community impact drove our team to streamline the process and work with not only our customers, but also with businesses who banked elsewhere but couldn’t get the help they needed. The result? 1,102 PPP Loans were processed by South Georgia Banking Company.

“Not only did our staff help existing business customers apply for PPP loans, they were able to assist many businesses who encountered unenthusiastic responses from their own banks,” said Sam McCard, president of South Georgia Banking Company. “I’m so proud of the way our lenders jumped in with both feet to learn how to best process PPP loans and stayed on top of the ever-changing rules and guidelines. They understood the how critical PPP assistance was to our local businesses and did everything in their power to process the applications so these people could keep the doors open.”

South Georgia Banking Company’s commitment to community impact came to full fruition during the different rounds of the PPP program.  “We had the opportunity to truly serve our customers and businesses in our area by fully embracing PPP and developing an internal structure around the guidelines to meet the needs of our community.”

South Georgia Banking Company has locations in Omega, Tifton, Moultrie, Ashburn, Cordele, Vienna and Sylvester. Learn more at