Regarding expansion activity, Dorminey noted that the Company recently signed a definitive agreement to purchase a branch office in Auburn, Alabama, marking the Company's initial entry into that state. When completed, the purchase is expected to add approximately $13 million in loans and approximately $20 million in deposits. While this acquisition is small, we view the Auburn-Opelika area as one of the most attractive markets in the state of Alabama, characterized by low unemployment and a dynamic economic environment, and it is home to Auburn University and is in close proximity to two automobile manufacturing plants, along with their related suppliers in the area. The Company also recently announced that it will open a new commercial banking office in Macon, Georgia, after entering that market in August 2011 with a mortgage loan office. The Company considers Macon to be a strategically important and vibrant market and an attractive expansion opportunity.
During the first quarter, the Company also closed the single branch it acquired in Statesboro in connection with the August 2011 FDIC-assisted acquisition of First Southern National Bank. Management was pleased to see continued strong and loyal support from its new First Southern customers during and following this consolidation effort to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
In closing, Dorminey added, "We were pleased with our company's overall progress in the first quarter and consider it a solid start to the new year. Importantly, we saw meaningful improvements in credit quality and, thus, were able to reduce our provision for loan losses. While the first quarter did include some acquisition-related expenses associated with the closing of the First Southern office, it marked the beginning of a return to a more normalized level of noninterest expenses following two years of heightened expansion activity. Throughout the remainder of the year, we will continue to focus aggressively on efforts to reduce our operating expenses. We also are taking steps to enhance revenue through loan growth, as evidenced by our core portfolio growth and our entrance into the Auburn and Macon markets."
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