De novo activity continues to gain traction across more states.

Organizers want to open the first new bank in Michigan in nearly a decade, while another group has filed a de novo application for Florida.

New banks opened in January in California and South Carolina, while groups in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee all have at least one application pending.

There will be more geographic diversity as other efforts take shape, industry experts said.

Activity “will be spread pretty evenly,” said Lee Bradley, senior managing director at Community Capital Advisors, which is working with the organizers of Community Bank of the Carolinas in Winston-Salem, N.C. Bradley said he expects most initial efforts to focus on metro areas where many community banks have been acquired.

Rural markets could also get more attention, said Robert Kafafian, president and CEO of Kafafian Group. “There are folks in those areas that might see opportunities, or a need, for a community bank,” he said.

The effort in Michigan aligns with the trend of activity in more urban markets.

MiCommunity Bank, which aims to become Michigan’s first de novo since April 2009, would be based in Bloomfield Township, about 25 miles northwest of Detroit.

The effort is being led by Rob Farr, who would become the bank’s president and CEO. Farr held the same posts at Birmingham Bloomfield Bancshares, which was sold last year to Arbor Bancorp.

Farr would like to see MiCommunity open later this year. It will serve small businesses and their owners throughout the Detroit area. Organizers are planning to raise $25 million to $30 million over the next four to five months.

Florida, meanwhile, keeps getting looks for startup banks.

A group recently filed an application for Tarpon Coast Bank in Port Charlotte, following the lead of Winter Park National Bank, which opened last year, and an effort to launch Coastal Community Bank in Hollywood.

The push for Tarpon Coast is being led by Todd Katz, who would be the bank’s president and CEO. Katz recently emerged from a two-year noncompete agreement after Calusa Bank, where he was vice chairman, was sold to Achieva Credit Union.

Port Charlotte has been "almost a lost area" between Sarasota and Naples in terms of development, Katz said, though a number of recent projects in the area have him optimistic about lending opportunities over the next decade. "We have 11 very well connected board members who are leaders and experts in each of their industries."

Tarpon Coast aims to raise $15 million to $18 million in capital, with a targeting opening in the fourth quarter.

While the amount of initial capital is less than what many industry experts believe should be targeted, Katz said regulators have yet to scoff at their goal.

"We've seen a much friendlier tone from both the FDIC and the state," Katz said. "It is very refreshing."

While highly unlikely that de novo activity will come anywhere close to pre-crisis levels, industry experts are excited to see increased interest. A surge in startup efforts will also provide more clarity as to regulators’ expectations.

“I think the challenges … can go into three broad categories,” Kafafian said, noting that capital is a big hurdle.

“It might also be tough for these startups to keep technology current,” Kafafian added. “Then you add in the long-term return and illiquidity of the stock. Having said that, the economy is strong enough and enough banks have consolidated that investors in various markets around the country are starting to consider this the time to [form] a new bank.”

Indeed, more people are expressing an interest in opening banks.

Kafafian and Bradley said they have been getting more calls in recent months.

“I just met with a potential group in Danielsville, Ga., which is northeast of Atlanta,” Bradley said. “It is … a town that had a locally owned bank but it was acquired. Some of the business leaders want to come together and have a locally owned bank.”

John Reosti and Jackie Stewart contributed to this article.

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