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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 2 years ago

Bank on it

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Timing might be right for new community bank.

New community banks in Florida have been nonexistent for close to a decade, due to both the economic downturn and regulatory resistance.

A group of business leaders in the Sarasota-Bradenton market hopes to enter that dry market in 2018, with a new, yet-unnamed, community bank. The proposed president and CEO is Dennis Murphy, who had been one of the top executives at Sarasota-based Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida for a decade. Winter Haven-based CenterState acquired Gateway for $142 million in a deal that closed earlier this year.

“We think the timing is right on this,” Murphy tells Coffee Talk. “With all the recent bank consolidations, we think there aren't a lot of banks left offering the products and services a community bank offers. We want to be a relationship-based bank.”

Murphy, 38, began to think about starting a community bank five or six years ago. His thoughts turned closer to reality earlier this year, when he met with advertising industry entrepreneur Tim Clarke and area attorney Jennifer Compton. Clarke, a onetime board member at two other banks in Sarasota that have since been sold, and Compton, a Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick partner, told Murphy they, too, wanted to start a bank. The trio agreed that the lack of community banks in the market — there are two in the area, Bradenton-based Premier Community Bank and Sarasota-based Sabal Palm — presents a strong opportunity.

Murphy, who began his career on the retail side of banking, managing branches for AmSouth, jumped at the chance to launch a bank with Clarke and Compton. Murphy left CenterState in October, and has since focused full-time on the new bank. Pending regulatory approvals, the bank could open in fall 2018. Due to regulations, Murphy isn't allowed to disclose how much he and the board seek to raise to launch the bank.

The proposed board for the bank is a list of high-level, prominent executives in the area. In addition to Clarke and Compton, it includes Drayton Saunders, president of Michael Saunders & Co.; Rogan Donelly, president of Tervis Tumbler; Compton Cramer, former owner of the Cramer Auto Group; Teri Hansen, president and CEO of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation; Dr. Charles Rush, orthopedic surgeon with Kennedy White Orthopedic Center; and John LaCivita, executive vice president of Willis Smith Construction.

Murphy says the plan is to open a full-service community bank, with commercial loans, residential loans, equity lines of credit and more. “A lot of businesses can get overlooked by the big regionals,” Murphy says. “Our bank is going to focus on relationships that take years and years to build.”

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