CLEVELAND — Third Federal Savings and Loan Association plans to more than double its branches in Florida, it announced Wednesday.

The $6.3 billion-asset Cleveland thrift, which entered Florida a year ago, is adding eight branches — four on each coast. It now has five in the Tampa Bay area and one in North Miami Beach.

A branch in New Port Richey opened this month. Three other branches on Florida’s west coast are scheduled to open by the end of October, and the four east coast branches are under construction.

Monica Martines, the spokeswoman for Third Federal, said that these branches are the final step in the thrift’s expansion plan. Third Federal was attracted to these Florida communities, Ms. Martines said, because their customer base is similar to the one it has in Ohio, and because of the communities’ high growth potential.

She added that Third Federal’s thrifts in Florida have been very successful, already exceeding their deposit goals for 2000.

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