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By Jackie Stewart
This article reprinted from American Banker magazine.  Published October 19 2017, 11:00am EDT

First Reliance Bancshares in Florence, S.C., has finally gotten involved in the consolidation wave sweeping the Carolinas.

The $435 million-asset company recently announced the first acquisition in its 20-year history, agreeing to buy Independence Bancshares in Greenville, S.C.

Sellers in the CarolinasThe deal and the company's recent entry into a North Carolina market are designed to help the company stake a claim to independence. While some risk is involved, the strategies are good ones if they are well executed, industry experts said.

Rick Saunders, First Reliance’s president and CEO, is convinced the company will succeed due to a culture that places a high value on employees.

“We’re big believers that associates come first, customers are second and shareholders are third,” Saunders said. “We believe engaged associates equal loyal customers. With those two working well, then the shareholder ...

Jack McEleveen, Chief Credit OfficerOctober 16, 2017, Florence, S.C. — Jack McElveen has joined First Reliance Bank as Chief Credit Officer. As Chief Credit Officer, McElveen is responsible for the management and oversight of the bank’s loan portfolio.  He will oversee all credit administration functions and will provide direct supervision and accountability for Credit Administration, Loan Operations, Special Assets and Loss Mitigation & Recovery.

Mr. McElveen has over 30 years experience in credit administration in the banking industry. He began his career in the financial services industry with Bankers Trust of SC/NCNB.  Over the following years McElveen served in various credit administration roles with increased levels of responsibility with the last being Chief Credit Officer, EVP, of Horry County State Bank where he was responsible for management and oversight of the bank’s Credit Administration function.

McElveen is a graduate of Clemson University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Financial Management.

“Jack is ...

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