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Why the CEO of Regions Financial visited Tampa-St. Pete

Margie Manning

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Regions Bank at 510 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg

Regions Financial Inc., one of the largest banking companies in the United States, wants to play a role in the growth of the Tampa Bay area.

John Turner, CEO, Regions Financial

John Turner Jr., CEO of Regions, and the company’s 20-person leadership team got a first-hand look at that growth when they spent two and a half days in the Tampa Bay area last week. They met with key bank clients and spent time with local bankers, said Jim Donatelli, the bank’s executive vice president for the St. Petersburg/Clearwater market.

Turner and the executive leadership team get together on a regular basis for updates on operations and hold these meetings in key markets, rather than the bank’s Birmingham, Alabama headquarters.

“We view Tampa Bay as a key growth market throughout the company’s 15-state footprint,” Donatelli said. “Regions sees the growth of the opportunities here and wants to participate in that and be successful here.”

The area is seeing population growth and a number of significant infrastructure investments on both sides of the bay. Donatelli cited expansions at Tampa International Airport and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, construction of the Gateway Expressway and the Selmon extension, and the St. Pete Pier as among those opportunities.

“The Tropicana Field redevelopment is a huge redevelopment that will take place in the middle of St. Pete’s urban core, and the same thing in Tampa with Water Street,” Donatelli said.

The local Regions Bank executive team (from left): Jim Donatelli, executive vice president, St. Petersburg/Clearwater; Sandra Young, senior vice president, West Florida, consumer banking executive; Amy Cherry, branch manager; and Steven Mitchell, vice president, consumer sales manager.

Regions (NYSE: RF), based in Birmingham and with $126 billion in total assets, has more branches in Florida than any other state, including about 69 offices in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area. Regions is the fourth largest retail bank in the market, with nearly 5 percent of the total deposits in the area, about $4.2 billion in local deposits as of June 30, 2018, the most recent date for which data is available from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The bank last month unveiled a three-year strategic growth plan designed to make banking easier for customers, expand the bank’s reach to serve more consumers and businesses, and deliver attractive and sustainable returns to shareholders. Overall, the bank plans to reduce the number of branches by 16 percent, while increasing the bankable households within its branch trade area by 10 percent, said Scott Peters, senior executive vice president and head of the consumer banking group, at a Feb. 27 investor presentation.

The strategy plays out differently in each market. “In Orlando and Tampa, it’s largely an optimization exercise, getting our branches and our sites in the right places,” Peters said. “We’ll actually be down in total across those two markets by 30 branches from start to finish, but will have increased the bankable individuals within our branch trade area by roughly a quarter of a million individuals.”

Last week’s visit, which included full days on Tuesday and Wednesday and a half-day on Thursday, gave Regions’ top leadership a chance to see some of the growth in Tampa Bay first-hand.

“It was really good for those executives to be able to experience this market and hear from the local team about what’s going on here as they think about investing resources to get the best outcomes. The local team did a great job telling that story,” Donatelli said.

Part of that story was the 2018 Inner City Capital Connection, when Regions and community partners supported cost-free business training for local entrepreneurs.

“When the community grows, the bank grows at the same time,” Donatelli said.

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