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United Bank taps branch winners

United Bank announced the winners for its annual branch and employee awards last week, including Branch of the Year, Employee of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

United Bank’s Jay Branch, led by Vice President and Branch Manager Al Holley, was named Branch of the Year. Amanda Foster, special assets officer, was named Employee of the Year. Jane Woods, assistant vice president and branch manager for

Flomaton, was named Volunteer of the Year. In addition, the bank’s Commercial Lending Division was named Division of the Year. Recipients are selected based on 2015 financial performance and staff nominations as well as community impact.

“These are special awards every year,” said Bob Jones, president and CEO of United Bank. “While performance can be an early indicator of our division winner, our individual winners are often completely surprised. To them, the work for which they are recognized is simply part of their daily commitment toward living the mission and vision of the bank. I am incredibly proud of all of our winners and how they embrace our community banking spirit.”

As Branch of the Year, the Jay Branch saw its loans grow by $2.9 million and deposits grow by $2.3 million in one of the bank’s most rural areas.

Holley, who led the branch in 2015 and became community bank business lender for that area in January, attributed the branch’s award to a team effort and spirit of accountability.

“Each staff member bought in to the idea that they could make a difference,” Holley said. “They recognized opportunities, encouraged each other and understood that they all needed to work together.”

As Employee of the Year, Foster played a critical role in significantly reducing the bank’s ORE and special asset credits while strengthening United’s collection efforts. Before joining United Bank in 2007 as a commercial lending assistant, Foster served as a legal assistant with a law firm in Montgomery, client service representative

with Holloway Credit Solutions and as corporate compliance/security coordinator with Colonial BancGroup.

Outside of the bank, Amanda serves on the Board of Directors of Baldwin County Foster and Adoptive Parents Association, is a cheerleader coach and serves as a foster parent.

“When they were making the announcement, I thought ‘wow, someone else is also a foster parent.’ I had no idea,” Foster said.

Jane Woods, who began her career with United Bank in August of 1988, is the recipient of the bank’s Volunteer of the Year Award. The award was organized by United Bank’s CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) team and is designed to recognize individual efforts that have a direct impact on community development and improvement.

“I’ve waited on people all of my banking career who’ve depended on me. I’ve seen customers who’ve done very well and others who struggle. I want to be sure they don’t struggle,” Woods said. “These are people right here. It makes a difference where we live.”

While Woods was honored for her efforts in 2015, she has most recently led United Bank’s disaster relief effort in gathering funds and supplies for tornado victims in Flomaton and Century, following February storms there.

United Bank’s Commercial Lending Division was chosen as Division of the Year for its contributions to the bank’s 2015 balance sheet and revenue growth and for the expansion of United Bank’s participation in regional economic development efforts. For 2015, the division grew its loan portfolio by $16.3 million and launched the bank’s first-ever revolving loan fund. The $12 million loan fund brought the advantage of New Market Tax Credits to smaller businesses and organizations across the region that would not typically have access. The fund helped multiple businesses in local markets grow or maintain a workforce of more than 450 employees while providing long-term stability for local economies. Mike Vincent, executive vice president and chief credit officer, said the commercial lending team should be proud that their work impacts more than just the success of United Bank.