- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2001

Southern Financial Bancorp Inc. of Warrenton last week applied for regulatory approval to open its first branch in the District.

The bank has already signed a letter of intent on 1055 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, and is awaiting routine approval from Virginia and Federal Reserve officials, which will take about 30 days.

The branch, in Georgetown, would be the bank's 20th, falling in line with its growth strategy. Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Patricia Ferrick says the move will also allow the bank to make more Small Business Administration loans.

"We do business in D.C. now … We wanted to get more into that market and really try to broaden our SBA lending," she says.

Southern Financial was a leading SBA lender last year. The agency serves economically or socially disadvantaged businesses.

Calvin Jenkins, director of the Washington district office for the SBA, says the bank has frequently partnered with his agency.

"Not all banks are committed to work with small businesses. Southern Financial has made a commitment and made it in a big way," he says.

In one particular project, he says, the institution will provide financing to a class of business development firms that have won government contracts.

Community banking analyst Bryce Rowe of Anderson and Strudwick says opening a D.C. office makes sense given Southern Financial's plans to increase deposits.

Gaining deposits by opening a new branch is cheaper than raising certificates of deposit at existing offices, he says.

It remains to be seen whether the bank, whose primary presence is in Northern and western Virginia, will be able to create brand awareness in the District.

Ms. Ferrick says the bank does not have a specific marketing plan, but will rely on word of mouth and referrals to get business.

Southern Financial has branches in Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Warrenton, and Winchester.

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