TUPELO, Miss., March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- BancorpSouth (NYSE: BXS) today announced the creation of the "Grow Mississippi" 2013 loan pool to help support the state's efforts in soliciting and encouraging business expansion and job creation for Mississippi. In announcing the initiative, BancorpSouth CEO Dan Rollins said, "This initial commitment of $500 million is being allocated for the specific purpose of funding loans to businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to locate in our state, as well as for existing businesses looking to expand operations. Additional funding will be added to the loan pool during the year if needed, depending on our success in identifying qualified candidates." "Attracting the best jobs to Mississippi requires teamwork," Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement from the Governor's office. "Ensuring that businesses have access to capital is a critical element in positioning Mississippi as the top spot for economic development, and I applaud BancorpSouth for taking a leadership role in this new effort. We look forward to working with additional partners who want to show the world that 'Mississippi Works' and is open for business." Potential candidates, including corporations, small businesses, and entrepreneurs, will be identified through collaborative efforts with the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and through BancorpSouth's local community bank lenders across the state. Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Brent Christensen said, in a statement from MDA headquarters in Jackson, "When the private and public sectors work together on initiatives such as BancorpSouth's new 'Grow Mississippi' loan pool, the state's growth opportunities in economic development become stronger. We are pleased to offer our full support to the 'Grow Mississippi' initiative, which assists with recruiting new business to Mississippi and offers valuable financial services to the state's existing industries. MDA will work with BancorpSouth to provide the necessary resources and support to make this development initiative successful." Underwriting criteria for the loans will include compliance with traditional BancorpSouth loan policies, procedures and credit standards with loan structure and terms designed to take advantage of existing state and local economic development programs and incentives, as well as SBA and other federal loan programs.