The banking landscape will grow more crowded as two Florida institutions look to add branches on James L. Redman Parkway, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares.
MidFlorida Credit Union is set to take over a former Regions Bank this week, about a mile north from where Florida Traditions Bank is building a branch that will open early next year.
Both companies say Plant City is a good fit, but for different reasons.
"Our original business plan was to locate branches along the I-4 corridor and I-75 going north and south within 100 miles of where we started," Florida Traditions chief executive James "Bud" Stalnaker Jr. said.
Plant City fits both companies' target area and community-based philosophy. The city's mix of small- to medium-sized retailers, manufacturers and agri-businesses was representative of much of Florida Traditions' clientele. One other factor also came into play: the cost of doing business in Plant City compared with larger cities along the interstate.
"We don't have the resources to compete in Tampa, Orlando and St. Pete. The land costs are too high and the labor costs are too high," Stalnaker said. "If we go to a smaller community, we'll have a better chance of being noticed."
Florida Traditions opened in December 2007 in Dade City and has since expanded to Lakeland, Spring Hill, Winter Haven and Zephyrhills.
In addition to Plant City, it looks to expand into Kissimmee and St. Cloud by early next year. Florida Traditions lists $250 million in assets and, according to Stalnaker, is aiming to hit $500 million to $1 billion in five years.
Meanwhile, MidFlorida Credit Union, based in Lakeland, with assets of $1.5 billion and 36 branches, is expanding as well.
The company's Plant City branch at 2903 James L. Redman Parkway — a Regions branch that closed in December — was set to open Wednesday with a grand opening Aug. 17. In addition, the company built another location at the site of the former Village Inn restaurant at State Road 60 and Buckingham Place in Brandon.
MidFlorida entered Hillsborough County a year ago in a merger with Tampa-based Bay Gulf Credit Union, a deal approved by regulators in August 2010. Spokeswoman Jill Davis said the Plant City branch will link the credit union's existing west coast and Central Florida members.
"It just made sense for us to be in Plant City. We have a lot of members who live there. It was just a nice in-fill, having branches in both Lakeland and Hillsborough," she said.
The two institutions are entering what already is a crowded market for banks in Plant City, with nine financial institutions and 13 branches vying for customers.
SunTrust Bank, with four offices, is the largest with $181 million in deposits and 31 percent of the Plant City market, according to a June 30, 2011, market share report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Matt Buzza, senior vice president at Platinum Bank and chairman of the Plant City Chamber of Commerce, said tight competition and a flagging economy will be tough obstacles for the newcomers to overcome.
"I think the area is over-banked and the economy is still pretty flat," he said. "I haven't seen a whole bunch of growth. There are still a lot of folks in a holding pattern, not investing in equipment or hiring folks. I think they want to wait and see what happens with the (presidential) election."
In addition to two new banks coming to Plant City, one existing bank will undergo a name change. Effective Aug. 10, Valrico State Bank will become CenterState Bank. Changing the signs will take a couple months to complete, a Valrico spokeswoman said. The merger was completed June 1.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2454.