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CEO Rick Saunders Named to College of Charleston School of Business Board of Governors

Rick Saunders, CEO
Rick Saunders, CEO

Rick Saunders, CEO of First Reliance Bank in Florence, has joined the Board of Governors at the College of Charleston School of Business.

“We are pleased to welcome Rick as the newest member of our Board of Governors,” said Buddy Darby, chairman of the College of Charleston School of Business Board of Governors. “Rick is a well-respected community and business leader in South Carolina, and his expertise in commercial banking will bring fresh insights and perspectives for the students and for the program at large.”

In 1999, with 19 years of banking experience, Saunders founded First Reliance Bank, which has since grown to nearly $711 million in assets. First Reliance employs 175 associates with branches in Florence, West Columbia, Lexington, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, Greenville, Taylors, Simpsonville, Myrtle Beach and a loan production office in Columbia in South Carolina. The bank also has a branch in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Mooresville, N.C.

The bank has a robust mortgage operation and specializes in serving middle-income households and small businesses. First Reliance has received multiple awards as a “Best Places to Work” and for its commitment to community banking. The staff donates more than 1,500 hours of volunteer service annually and the bank donates approximately 1% of its net income to charity every year.

Saunders, who in 1980 began his career in Finance and in 1983 joined Pee Dee State Bank, has received numerous state and local honors, including the Order of the Palmetto in 2019 for his contributions to South Carolina and its communities.

The School of Business Board of Governors was formed in 1992. The Board plays a vital leadership and advisory role, by contributing business community insights, resources, and strategic vision for the School of Business. The diverse board members represent varying backgrounds, industry experiences, and leadership roles which serve the needs of the students in and out of the classroom. Saunders joins as the only community banking executive on the Board.


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