An Ally in Success: The Synergy Between South Carolina MBDA Business Center and Optus Bank

4 mins read
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(Columbia, SC) – In the heart of the business district in downtown Columbia, mere steps from the South Carolina Capitol building, a financial institution stands tall, rewriting its narrative and redefining success against all odds. Optus Bank, the only Black-owned federally designated Minority Depository Institution in the state, has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving from a challenging past to becoming one of the fastest-growing and most successful banks nationwide.

The Triumph of Transformation

In 2012, Paul Mitchell, owner of South Coast Paper and the largest investor in South Carolina Community Bank, made a bold move by acquiring and taking over a struggling bank. South Carolina Community Bank, heir to the original Victory Savings Bank, faced adversity during the 2007 recession, losing over $10 million. Mitchell’s high-risk gamble paid off as, within five years, the bank began a journey of recovery.

In 2017, Mitchell appointed Dominik Mjartan as President and CEO of the rebranded Optus Bank. Mjartan, a significant investor in the venture, led the bank through a remarkable turnaround. By the end of 2022, Optus Bank not only amassed over $415 million in assets but also found itself ranked among the fastest-growing and most likely to succeed financial institutions. Optus Bank, once on the FDIC “watch list,” now stands as a testament to resilience and strategic vision.

Partnership with the South Carolina MBDA Business Center

The pivotal moment for Optus Bank came during the Biden Administration’s Covid-19 relief efforts when it formed a strategic alliance with the South Carolina MBDA Business Center. This partnership marked a significant turning point, aligning with Optus Bank’s commitment to offering banking and lending services that empower individuals to build wealth and improve their lives.

Working in tandem, Optus Bank and the SC MBDA Business Center facilitated nearly 2,000 loans with a total value of $84 million, with over half directed to minority and women-owned businesses. This collaboration showcased the power of customer service orientation and relationship banking, allowing Optus Bank to not only weather the storm but to emerge stronger, more resilient, and deeply connected to its community.

Achieving Milestones

Optus Bank’s success story is not just about financial figures; it’s about a renewed mission and impact. The bank moved from being in the red to the black, all while adhering to its core values. The focus on offering banking and lending services that uplift communities and promote financial well-being has been unwavering.

The FDIC-insured Optus Bank operates within regulatory limits, ensuring the security of deposits up to $250,000. The bank has not only safeguarded its customers but has demonstrated flexibility by offering additional insurance for accounts exceeding the limit on a case-by-case basis.

Looking to the Future

As Optus Bank continues its journey of growth and positive impact, the role of the South Carolina MBDA Business Center remains paramount. The collaborative efforts between the bank and the Center have not only secured financial milestones but have also fostered a community-oriented approach to banking.

In rewriting the narrative of a bank once on the brink, Optus Bank and the South Carolina MBDA Business Center have demonstrated the potential for transformative change when strategic vision, community commitment, and partnerships converge. This success story serves as an inspiration, not just for the banking industry but for minority-owned businesses striving to build wealth, improve lives, and create lasting legacies.

Learn more about the SC MBDA Business Center

For businesses interested in learning more about the South Carolina MBDA Business Center and how it can contribute to their growth, please contact SC MBDA at 803-743-1152 or email Discover how the center can be the catalyst for your business success.

I’m Michael Bailey, a multimedia journalist with a passion for showcasing the vibrant life of South Carolina. I use my journalistic skills to highlight the exciting places, sites, and people in this great state, with a special focus on the cultural, social, and economic experiences of minorities. My extensive background in media and business allows me to bring attention to the historical cultural sites and events that define South Carolina's rich heritage.

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