Spotlight On: Brian Parks, Regional President, Ameris Bank

Spotlight On: Brian Parks, Regional President, Ameris Bank

2021-11-04T12:09:58+00:00November 4th, 2021|Banking & Finance, Jacksonville, Spotlight On|

2 min read November 2021 Brian Parks, regional president of Ameris Bank, spoke to Invest: about the opportunities for Jacksonville’s future and about the challenges overcome during the year of pandemic. The PPP loan program was a huge success for the bank, he said. Parks also explains why Jacksonville is poised to take advantage of nearshoring manufacturing opportunities.

What role does the Jacksonville market play in the bank’s overall Florida scope?

Jacksonville is an important market for Ameris. It’s our largest market in the state and the second-largest market for the company outside of Atlanta. We have a significant investment in this market. In Northeast Florida, we have 20 branches and 15 commercial bankers along with an extensive network of local operations and compliance. Not only do we have a wide range of client-facing teammates, we have a lot of talented operational staff here. Our company call center, one of our major loan closing hubs and our training and development department are all here. That allows us to be efficient and to accommodate our clients quickly. 

We also underwrite, approve and close all our commercial loans locally. We’re the largest community bank in Northeast Florida, and we can help clients of all sizes to achieve their goals. We routinely support clients with lending needs upwards of $50 million. 

We’re a significant player in the market in terms of market share, as well. According to the most recent FDIC market share report, we have over $2.4 billion in deposits in Northeast Florida. If you look at the entire state, that number is closer to $5 billion, putting us in the top 15% of all the banks in Florida. 

How much of your growth has been influenced by the low interest environment?

I think some of it has been a result of the low-rate environment. If you look at some of the composition of the growth, it’s a nice mix of commercial and industrial (C&I) and commercial real estate. Our C&I business is up almost 67% for the year and we are also seeing tremendous growth in areas like multifamily housing. The multifamily segment has been unprecedented in terms of valuations, so there’s a lot of capital in that sector. Part of the growth is driven by the favorable economic environment in Northeast Florida as well as the number of people who are moving, not just to Jacksonville, but to Florida. We’re certainly participating in the growth of the region.

What will be the legacy of PPP loans in the local banking industry?

I think it was a proud moment for our industry. When the last recession hit in 2008, the banking sector was in pretty rough shape. That wasn’t the case this time around. The banking sector is in tremendous financial shape, so we were well positioned to be able to administer this kind of program. 

It was very hectic in the beginning. When the first CARES Act was passed and the PPP became available, we had bankers working 24 hours per day, six or seven days per week, to try to secure funding for as many clients as we could. We learned a lot from that and we are very proud of our results. We helped more than 14,600 businesses with more than $1.5 billion in funding. Given our asset size, that was a huge effort on our part. For the second round of funding, we also intentionally reached out to 400,000 minority and woman-owned businesses. 

What investments has Ameris recently made in technology?

Both consumers and businesses have learned a lot during the pandemic and having strong digital platforms has been essential. While digital banking cannot replace the personal touch of a banker, we are leveraging the Terafina platform to satisfy our clients’ needs for omnichannel touchpoints. It allows us to be more efficient and to more easily detect fraud, all with a strong user interface (UI) experience and seamless flow.

The other thing that Ameris has done over the last few years is we have expanded our C&I business. We’ve really spent the last couple of years defining and growing a C&I market platform through hiring bankers, credit officers and portfolio officers. With that expansion in C&I, we also made significant investments in our technology platforms. 

Which industries in Jacksonville do you see growing in the near future?

We’re experiencing tremendous growth in Jacksonville and I think there will continue to be strong growth in a number of areas. Dun & Bradstreet, for example, is relocating its corporate headquarters to Jacksonville, bringing 500 new high-paying jobs to the area. There’s a big talent migration to Northeast Florida. LinkedIn economic data shows there was a 19% migration gain in Jacksonville from November 2020 to April 2021, which ranked first in the country. Manufacturing is growing in Northeast Florida and I think that trend will continue. There has been a tremendous amount of disruption in the supply chain, primarily due to COVID, and that is making domestic manufacturing much more attractive. Jacksonville is uniquely positioned to benefit from that; we have a strong inventory of industrial real estate, super-efficient transportation infrastructure and a strong labor force. Couple all that with a relatively low cost of living and we are well-positioned to take advantage of manufacturing opportunities. 

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