Thinking of Opening a Bank?

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There's one thing that Florida residents, investors and bankers all want or have and that's money in the bank.

Whether it's in deposits, bank branches, capital, startup banks or acquisitions, Florida's financial institutions have continued to flourish and are projected to expand further in 2007, making Florida the largest growing banking industry in the United States.

Some national banks will be physically expanding in Northeast Florida as many area startup banks and community banks are quickly advancing in a competitive market.

Florida has the most institutions that filed for new bank status during the last six months of 2006 with 16, according to SNL Financial, a financial industry research company based in Virginia. Texas was next with 12 startup banks.

BB&T Corp. has placed a large focus on the Jacksonville market because "it's a great place to do business," Daly said. The bank jumped from 16th largest deposit market share in 2005 to 10th by June 30 with $332.3 million in area deposits, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The third-largest area deposit holder, Jacksonville-based EverBank Financial Corp., expects to finish moving its headquarters to a 13-story building off Riverside Avenue in February and its branch should open there in April, said Curt Cunkle, community bank president.

Community banks will continue to branch out, said Bob Chassman, vice president of mergers and acquisitions for Allen C. Ewing & Co., a local investment banking firm.

Many do not plan to sell but that could change, he said. "At this point, there are a lot of successful smaller banks on the radar screen of larger banks."

The 16 banks that started organizing in Florida in the second half of 2006 projected to raise up to $227.3 million, according to SNL Financial. That is an average of about $14.2 million in capital per new bank in 2007 and is the highest total in the country.

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