LUMBERTON — The recent decision by BB&T to raise its minimum wage from $12 to $15 an hour and give $1,200 bonuses to employees who have not received them historically will benefit “the majority” of the bank’s 550 or so employees in Robeson County, according to a high-ranking official with the company.
The county has a strong BB&T presence because the Winston-Salem-based bank is a product of a merger with Southern National Bank, which had deep roots in Lumberton, in the mid-1990s. BB&T operates two branches, a call center and an operations center in Lumberton, and also has branches in Fairmont, St. Pauls, Red Springs and Rowland.
Citing federal tax reform adopted last week that drops from 35 to 21 percent the nation’s corporate tax, BB&T said it would give 27,000 “associates” the pay hike, effective on Monday, which is the first day of 2018, and the one-time bonus to be paid in January.
Phil Marion, region vice president of Southeastern North Carolina for BB&T, told The Robesonian that “most of those associates do not receive incentives or commissions. This will likely affect the majority of our approximately 550 associates in Robeson County.”
He said that 75 percent of the bank’s employees company-wide would benefit.
The company also said it would set aside $100 million for charity, making the total investment one of $152 million.
”The decision of our executive management team to increase the minimum pay rate and distribute bonuses to so many of our employees and add to BB&T’s philanthropic fund is so uplifting and is consistent with the mission of BB&T — helping our associates and making the communities where we live a better place to be,” Marion said.
Marion pointed out that the company already does a lot of charity in its communities, through BB&T Lighthouse Projects, as well as through United Way, Red Cross and other nonprofits.
Marion said Robeson County’s local economy will benefit as employees spend their bonuses and extra income.
“We think that this move and the tax reform package as a whole will be good for the local and national economy and will hopefully allow business owners to invest back into their businesses and employees,” he said.
Marion said it was “too early to predict” where the $100 million earmarked for charity will be directed, but said, “We have always found ways to support the communities we serve and I’m encouraged we will continue to do so.”
In a statement last week announcing the decision, Kelly King, chairman and chief executive officer of BB&T, said, “By far and away, our associates are our most important asset. They’re the biggest reason we’re able to serve our clients each and every day in an extraordinary way. They’ve worked so hard, especially over the last few years, to position BB&T for continued success. So, I’m delighted to reward them for all of their hard work and dedication.”
BB&T join several other large corporations that followed the passage of the tax reform legislation with announcements of increased pay and bonuses for their employees, including AT&T, Boeing, Wells Fargo and Comcast.
Eric Dent, a former business professor at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke who now teaches at Florida Gulf Coast in Florida, said the legislation “will benefit the entire county as that additional compensation gets spent.”
BB&T, which had $220.3 billion in assets as of Sept. 30, operates more than 2,100 financial centers in 15 states and Washington, D.C. A Fortune 500 company, it offers a wide range of financial services including retail and commercial banking, investments, insurance, wealth management, asset management, mortgage, corporate banking, capital markets and specialized lending.
Donnie Douglas can be reached at 910-416-5649 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.