Last year was tough for many Georgia banks as the economic slowdown hammered profits and increased loan losses.
Only five community banks that operate in the four counties covered by MainStreet Newspapers turned a profit in 2008. Perhaps not coincidentally, all five are based farthest away from the high-growth housing bubble corridor that ensnared some other financial institutions in a tide of faltering loans.
Statewide, some 46 percent of banks were unprofitable in 2008, according to the FDIC. A number of banks in the state have been closed by regulators in early 2009, including Freedom Bank, which was based in Commerce and had branches in Jackson, Banks and Barrow counties. Deposits of the closed bank were acquired by Northeast Georgia Bank, which has other branches in the area as well.