Investor Spotlight: CenterState Bank

October 19, 2018

Born out of Polk County, CenterState Bank has grown to be Florida’s largest Community Bank with over $10 billion in assets. CenterState was founded on the belief that local ownership and local management translated into a better bank and is still guided by a group of core values that focus on sustainability, relationships, and local decisions. The Bank provides traditional retail, commercial, mortgage, wealth management and SBA services throughout its Florida branch network and customer relationships in neighboring states. They also have a national footprint, serving clients coast to coast through its correspondent banking division.
Angel Gonzalez, Hillsborough Market President
Angel Gonzalez joined CenterState in 2007 where he began his career as a Management Trainee. As he rose through the ranks, Gonzalez exceeded expectations in production and leadership. He was responsible for the successful launch of the bank’s current underwriting and approval software. As a Commercial Loan Officer, he was consistently a top performer finishing in the top three year after year. During his short time as the Marion County Market President, Gonzalez successfully restructured the leadership team, met the market’s production goals for the first time in five years, and doubled its ROA in a single year.
Why did you feel it was important to get involved with the EDC?
It’s important that the economies we’re serving are strong, and we want to be a part of helping the economic growth of our communities, so we’re partnering with EDCs across the state. Not all EDCs have the same mission, but after meeting with the Tampa team, I was intrigued by their focus.
Our involvement in the EDC goes beyond looking for business referrals. It’s much bigger than that. For one, we’re leaning on the EDC for market intelligence, so we can make qualified credit decisions. We want to know what industries are doing well and where the areas of growth are. That information will help us make better decisions. Secondly, the Tampa EDC provides us a platform to do more than just write a check but also allows our bankers to give their time and talent. At our investment level, we have the opportunity to assign bankers to subcommittees, so they can help drive our area’s growth and ensure a healthy economy.
You’re a relatively new Investor, but you’ve jumped right in with your involvement, attending the EDC’s business mission trip to New Jersey and New York last month. Why did you take the opportunity to attend the mission and what were your expectations going into the trip?
The trip was a perfect introduction to not only understanding what the EDC does, but to also experience it firsthand. I was able to learn more about Tampa and what makes it a special place, particularly to out-of-market companies that have chosen Tampa for expansion efforts. Understanding those intangibles will help me become a better advocate for not only the EDC, but for Tampa as well.
What were your biggest takeaways from the trip? Did the experience meet your expectations?
My expectations were definitely met. I learned quite a bit about our market from the other ambassadors and why they’ve chosen to headquarter their companies in Tampa. I gained a lot of perspective from the bigger corporations on why they chose Florida, let alone Hillsborough County, against the metros we rival. Most importantly, the trip gave me a lot of knowledge to communicate back to our bankers and therefore our customers, so they can leverage their position in Hillsborough County.
What would you say to other Investors that maybe haven’t been on a mission trip before?
I would encourage all investors to participate in a mission trip regardless of their time and experience in Tampa. I found that as we had conversations with prospects, I was able to bring knowledge to the table from my own experience expanding into Tampa and my experience with the EDC.
How do economic development efforts impact your company and vice versa?
Being in the banking industry, economic development directly impacts our customers ability to pay back their debts. They rely on the local economy to be successful, which directly impacts our banks’ ability to grow.