February 25, 2024
Locality Bank in Fort Lauderdale stands out for being a rare bank startup

Photo: Locality Bank

Co-founders Corey LeBlanc, Keith Costello and Drew Saito (from left) plan to focus Locality Bank on commercial lending, SBA lending and small-and-medium-sized businesses.

Economic Backbone: Banking

Locality Bank in Fort Lauderdale stands out for being a rare bank startup

Locality Bank founders see an opening in the market.

Mike Vogel | 4/20/2022

From 2000 until the financial crisis in 2009, Florida saw the creation of 133 banks — de novos — second only to California, according to data analysis company Banking Strategist. In the years following the meltdown, Florida led the nation in de novo creations — but with a grand total of only 11.

Among the newcomers is Locality Bank, which opened in a shared workspace in Fort Lauderdale in January and online and by mobile app.

Co-founder Keith Costello says that five years ago, 11 community banks were based in Broward. Acquisitions cut the number to two. (Rising regulatory compliance costs thanks to the federal Dodd-Frank legislation made adequate returns hard to come by for investors in small banks.)

Costello, former CEO of Orlando-based First Green Bank, and his cofounders, CTO and COO Corey LeBlanc and chief lender Drew Saito, believed demand remained for a local community bank. Broward has $111 billion in GDP, 2 million people and $70 billion in deposits. “There are states that don’t have those numbers,” Costello says.

Locality will focus on commercial lending, SBA lending and small- and medium-sized businesses. For its online platform, it relies on Nymbus, a fintech provider started in Miami that announced a move to Jacksonville last year to be near major investor and customer VyStar Credit Union. Nymbus received government incentives from Jacksonville in return for a pledge to hire 673.

Locality’s headquarters should be ready this summer. “You have to be a missionary, not a mercenary,” Costello says of starting a bank now. “You have to want to do something that makes a difference.”

Tags: Southeast, Banking & Finance, Economic Backbone, Feature

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