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New SunTrust president wants to increase share of construction, development business

The SunTrust Tower in Orlando, where the financial institution's new president is based.
The SunTrust Tower in Orlando, where the financial institution's new president is based. (Bobby Coker / Orlando Sentinel)

The new president of SunTrust Bank's Central Florida division said he feels the financial institution could be doing more when it comes to being involved in the construction scene in Orlando, where he is based.

"We're not where I would like to be," said Arnold Evans in his first interview since taking the reins of his new position in late spring. Before coming to Orlando Evans was president of SunTrust's Jacksonville region.

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The main reason is what is going on in the Orlando area, as building is booming.

"The commercial development business is part of what is going on here," Evans said. "We absolutely want to capture our market share, if not more." 

Evans estimates the bank works with about 100 companies related to the Orlando-area construction industry and it is now looking for "prospects." A representative of the bank said it did not disclose what kinds of loans and their typical size.

SunTrust wants to "identify companies as early as possible to establish relationships with them and let them know about our skills and capabilities," Evans said.

The bank wants to help those in the building industry "see the full picture," Evans said. "We want them to take a step back and get an idea of how they look relative to peers and to the industry and how we can help them meet their goals."

Developers are in the bank's growth plans. After the recession, SunTrust, like many banks, narrowed the number of developers it would work with. Now it is going after them again.
"We had an easy time picking major developers and there might be some that missed our radar," Arnold said.

And in this market, with certain developers, the bank has a willingness "to stretch in particular deals," Evans said. In other words, the bank may not be as stringent with its credit constraints.

So far, he has recommended three development companies to the roster the bank will finance. "They might be community developers that missed our radar," Evans said.
The bank "has to recognize we don't want to be outside a market where so much is going on," Evans said.

To be sure, the spigot isn't open to all of those in the construction industry. There is a pace that should be followed. "No one wants to be ahead of the curve when there is too much absorption," Evans said.

But the building that is occurring is creating a new Orlando that will be better able to handle economic pullbacks.

"Things like tech and health care that are coming in will give us a much longer window of attractive growth," Evans said. "They will also better position us during a downturn."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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