When Hancock Bank opened in 1899, William McKinley was our President. Against major obstacles, Hancock Bank celebrated its 115th birthday on Thursday. The bank’s first major obstacle was surviving the Great Depression.
John Hairston, C.E.O. of Hancock Bank, says, “Leo Sr., who was the fourth president of the bank, literally hid in the woods to keep the U.S. marshals from serving papers to him, from Washington, that was requiring all banks to close, and he didn’t want to close his bank because he knew people needed to know it was open because it gave them hope and confidence that all would not be lost.”
Hancock Bank went on to help people sell their homes on the land that would become Stennis Space Center. The bank also became a beacon of light after Hurricane Katrina. Hairston also says, “We got generators to turn the lights on at the top of the building, just so people saw that there was going to be hope, that I know it’s going to be a bad year, tough to rebuild the Coast, but at least one company was going to be on its feet and going to show the community that we’re here to take care of you.”
After Katrina, Hancock Bank spent nearly $40 million renovating this corporate headquarters to not only show how successful their business has been over the years, but to show their commitment to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. George Schloegel, former Mayor of Gulfport and C.E.O. of Hancock Bank, says, “That’s recovery and we’re glad to see it. Now we’re not finished, we’ve only just begun.”
Hancock’s most recent step towards helping the community was giving away $90,000 to the United Way at their celebration on Thursday. That money will go towards making Gulfport an even better place. Sue Sutter, C.E.O. of United Way, says, “Our United Way has really prioritized school readiness and 3rd grade reading as our primary focus. We also fund programs in income and heath as well.”
As Hancock Bank continues to grow, they hope to keep their focus on the people who run the bank and trust Hancock with their hard earned dollars. A special guest at Thursday’s event was one of the granddaughters of an original Hancock Bank founder, Louis Bertano