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First Home Bank continues its earnings streak

Margie Manning

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Anthony Leo, CEO, First Home Bank

First Home Bancorp, the only community bank currently headquartered in St. Petersburg, has carried the strong momentum it had in 2020 into the first quarter of 2021.

First Home (OTCQX: FHBI), the parent company of First Home Bank, reported record earnings for the three months ended March 31. 

“We had another very strong quarter in residential mortgage production. That, together with our participation in the Paycheck Protection Program as well as overall growth in our community bank, were the primary contributing factors to what was really an extraordinary quarter,” said Anthony Leo, CEO.

First Home originated $287 million in PPP loans in the first quarter of 2021, and has originated over $1.2 billion in PPP loans over the course of the program.

The bank’s CreditBench division, which focuses on Small Business Administration lending, currently is reaching out to companies in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and nationwide to provide fresh capital under the SBA recovery program. That program carries a 90 percent guarantee on SBA 7(a) loans originated through Sept. 30, 2021, or until the appropriations are depleted.

“We are a Tampa Bay community bank, serving all of Tampa Bay, but we are supported by national business lines in residential mortgage and SBA lending. Those national business lines provide us the revenue support to be able to grow our community bank,” Leo said.

The bank ended Q1 2021 with $1.72 billion in total assets, an 11.14 percent increase from a year ago.

First Home has six offices, including its headquarters at 700 Central Ave. While national and regional banks also have downtown St. Petersburg offices, First Home and Bank of Tampa currently are the only locally-based banks with downtown offices. That will change soon. Flagship Bank, based in Clearwater, expects to open an office at 965 Central Ave. by the end of the month, followed by Tampa-based First Citrus Bank, which will open an office at 300 1st Ave. S. in June.

Tampa-based Pilot Bank opened an office just outside downtown, at 2180 4th St. N., in 2018.  Climate First Bank has targeted a June 1 opening at 5301 Central Ave., which will be its headquarters location.

St. Petersburg used to be home to many more community banks. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. records show at least 42 St. Petersburg-based banks have become inactive since 1977, most all due to acquisitions by larger institutions.

Leo credited the vibrant nature of St. Petersburg for the latest influx of community banks.

“Downtown St. Pete is a microcosm of what is happening throughout Tampa Bay and that’s why we chose to be here,” he said.

First Home also is making some changes to its headquarters office. The bank is building a collaboration and training room, which Leo described as “a work center for the 21st century.”

“We are adapting to changing workplace trends, many of which were in place before the pandemic and have been accelerated by the pandemic,” he said. “People from different departments or within departments will be able to sit down in a relaxed and inviting environment and discuss ideas and work together in a collaborative fashion, versus sitting in a conference room in a traditional and formal setting. This allows for more free flow of ideas.”

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