Organizers propose 'values-based' bank in Florida

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Ken LaRoe is looking to form another bank built around protecting the environment.

LaRoe, who sold First Green Bancorp to Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida in 2018, is leading a group that applied with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday to form Climate First Bank in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Organizers hope to open the bank next year. Like First Green, the proposed bank would implement “a values-based business model,” the group said in a Monday press release.

A group led by Ken LaRoe is looking to form Climate First Bank in Florida.
A group led by Ken LaRoe is looking to form Climate First Bank in Florida.

“My experience has shown there is a strong need and significant customer demand for an impact-based financial institution,” LaRoe, who would serve as the proposed bank's chairman and CEO, said in the release.

“The St. Pete community is already moving toward green initiatives, and I want to propel that movement with the opening of Climate First … as a new and conscious way of banking," LaRoe added.

Organizers plan to raise $17 million in initial capital through a private placement, according to its FDIC application.

Michele Glorie, a former director of operations at Harbor Community Bank, will serve as Climate First's chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Harbor was sold to CenterState Banks in early 2018.

Dominik Mjartan, president and CEO of Optus Bank, a community development financial institution based in Columbia, S.C., is expected to join Climate First's board.

Climate First would serve retail and commercial clients, including an emphasis on nongovernmental organizations and businesses committed to sustainability efforts. The bank would offer loans for solar photovoltaic, energy retrofits and infrastructure to help combat climate change.

“Many people feel they have no choice but to turn to the country’s largest banks who do not practice values or impact-based financing, and I want to change that with Climate First,” LaRoe said.

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Consumer banking De novo institutions Growth strategies Florida Climate change