The First, a National Banking Association, has announced a merger with Gulf Coast Community Bank. M. Ray “Hoppy” Cole, president and chief executive officer of The First, said, “Our two community banks have come together sharing in a common purpose, delivering extraordinary personal service to our customers.”

The combination of the banks will allow us to serve customers with 48 convenient locations in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. The combined company will have approximately $ 1.6 billion in total assets, $1.4 billion in total deposits, and $1.1 billion in total loans.

Buzz Ritchie, president and chief executive officer of GCCB, said, “We are pleased to have the opportunity to join The First. We are convinced that they are fully committed to the values of community banking with an emphasis placed upon long term relationships. This is a strategic move for us as we will strengthen and expand our core products and services and will better serve existing and future customers. We believe this merger also provides strong value for our shareholders who have been committed and loyal to us over the years.”

Commenting on the merger, Cole said, “We are thrilled to join forces as both institutions share a common set of core values and Gulf Coast Community Bank has distinguished itself by being totally focused on serving their clients and community, delivering exemplary service and being good corporate citizens. Their culture aligns perfectly with ours, focusing on safe, sound, profitable growth.”

The consolidation of these institutions is a continuation of The First’s strategic plan to create a regional community bank in the Gulf South. The resulting company will offer additional products, services, locations and capacity which will allow The First to better serve existing clients and provide opportunities for growth in the gulf coast area.

The First has achieved 68 consecutive quarters of profitability and earned a 5 Star Rating (the highest given) by BauerFinancial, “the nation’s bank rating service.”

About The First Bancshares, Inc.

The First Bancshares, Inc., headquartered in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the parent company of The First, A National Banking Association. Founded in 1996, the First has operations in south Mississippi, Louisiana and south Alabama. The Company’s stock is traded on NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol FBMS. Information is available on the Company’s website: