St. Petersburg's C1 Bank raises its minimum wage to $15

Published July 24, 2015

As protesters in 30 cities this week marked the third anniversary of the last increase of the federal minimum wage, St. Petersburg-based C1 Bank confirmed Thursday that it is hiking its minimum "living wage" from $14 to $15 per hour starting Oct. 1.

That's more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and far higher than Florida's $8.05.

The community bank with 31 Florida branches, one of the fastest-growing banks in the nation with $1.6 billion in assets, first established a living wage in April. That generated national publicity for C1 and helped focus attention on low teller pay in an industry that pays top executives multimillion-dollar bonuses and salaries.

C1 CEO Trevor Burgess said the bank is doing well, so he said raising his bank's minimum salary was the right thing to do.

He said the wage increase, announced to employees last week, will affect 30 of his bank's 247 employees, generally tellers and entry-level employees. When the $14 living wage was implemented in 2014, the workers who got the raise were all women, Burgess said. This time out, a few men qualified.

"I was raised by a single mother who made minimum wage," said Burgess, whose mother was a secretary. "So I have a very personal understanding of what it's like not being paid a living wage."

Burgess said that employees who earn the minimum wage often are forced to rely on government assistance such as food stamps even though they have a job.

"If employees also have to take food stamps, that doesn't seem like the right thing to me," he said.

Burgess has built C1 into Florida's 18th largest bank with more than $1.6 billion in assets, up from $260 million in 2009. The bank's net income for the six months ending June 30 was $7.92 million compared with $2.76 million for same period in 2014.

A living wage is typically defined as the wage rate required to meet minimum living standards within a community, taking into account the cost of housing, groceries and other expenses. Burgess said he used a living-wage calculator created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help come up with an appropriate salary for his employees.

In interviews, Burgess said the higher wages have helped recruit and retain top talent.

Contact William R. Levesque at or (813) 226-3432. Follow @Times_Levesque.