First National Bank of South Miami and United Community Bank Merge


First National Bank of South Miami and United Community Bank Merge

(Photos to follow courtesy of FNBSM & UCB)

United Community Bank leadership team meet with First National Bank of South Miami leadership and staff for a merger “welcome” luncheon in the bank’s lobby on Friday, July 21, 2023. Pictured above: Holly Berry, Chief Human Resources Officer, Richard Bradshaw, President & Chief Banking Officer, Lynn Harton, Chairman & CEO, Veronica Flores, President, Miami-Dade County, Sharon Thompson, President, State of Florida, Rob Edwards, Chief Risk Officer.

Mercedes Cruz and Veronica Birch Flores

In July a landmark business and long-time community partner in the City of South Miami, the First National Bank of South Miami merged with United Community Bank.  FNBSM will fully transition to the United brand in late October of this year. 

According to United’s news release, United Community Banks, Inc. completed its merger with First Miami Bancorp, Inc., effective July 1, 2023. In this transaction, First Miami’s bank subsidiary, FNBSM, was also merged into United’s bank subsidiary, United Community Bank. 

FNBSM has been operating in the Town Center for just over 70 years, first opening its doors at 5750 Sunset Drive as the Bank of South Miami in 1952. The South Miami location is the bank’s headquarters. They offer traditional banking services,  private banking, trust, and wealth


management services with approximately $320 million in assets under management. The bank’s total assets as of March 2023 were $945 million, total loans of $605 million, and total deposits of $823 million. FNBSM’s excellent reputation, skilled banking team, and superior customer service are well-recognized in the community and among banking institutions.

“We built FNBSM focused on growth, getting there with a fierce commitment to the delivery of preeminent customer service. These are the same virtues 

The senior leadership in Miami with top executives form United Community Bank. Ed Vargas, Renee Reichling, Barry Givner, Richard Bradshaw, Veronica Flores, Sharon Thompson, Lynn Harton, Lourdes Rey Wilson, Claudia Cancio, Angel medina, Holly Berry, Rob Edwards

Rob Edwards, Renee Reichling, Claudia Cancio
and Richard Bradsha

that United Community is known for. We are delighted and excited to join forces with an organization and a group of professionals that share the same values and integrity,” said W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz, Chairman and President of First Miami Bancorp (FNBSM Chairman of the Board). 

United Community Banks, Inc. is a top 100 U.S. financial institution with $25.9 billion in assets, and through its subsidiaries, provides a full range of banking, wealth management, and mortgage services. It is the financial holding company for United Community Bank that has 207 offices across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The award-winning United Community is a nine-time winner of the J.D. Power award that ranked the bank #1 in customer satisfaction with consumer banking in the southeast and was recognized in 2023 by


Forbes as one of the World’s Best Banks and one of America’s best banks, among other honors.

“We are thrilled to welcome this group of talented bankers to the United Community team. While we have been acquainted for some time, we’ve had the opportunity to really get to know the FNBSM team since announcing the merger. Their culture and approach to community engagement, customer service, and the employee experience is very similar to ours at United Community,” said Lynn Harton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of United. “This partnership with FNBSM meaningfully expands our presence in the vibrant Miami market, which continues to be one of the most attractive metropolitan markets in the country. We look forward to working with our new team to continue growing in Miami, providing enhanced products and services with the attention and local service that customers deserve.”

“We believe FNBSM’s culture is a great fit with our culture at United. We are focused on building talented, service-minded teams who are empowered to build communities one customer at a time. We also appreciate FNBSM’s strong credit focus and their ability to maintain a 

solid core deposit base despite a very competitive market.”

Florida’s Rising Financial Health Via Economic Migration

Lynn Harton of United referred to Florida’s upturn in net economic migration numbers when speaking of the recent merger of the two banking institutions. Florida is becoming a top 10 global economy and one of the top 10 in the nation, according to statistics cited by the Florida Chamber of Commerce in its publication “The Florida Scorecard” earlier this year.  As one of the country’s 10 largest economies, Florida has had the fastest real growth in GDP for the four years ending in the first quarter of 2023, when adjusted for inflation. Our state continues to outdistance such states as fifth-ranked Illinois, growing more than four times faster, and is growing more than twice as fast as third-ranked New York state. Florida is competing successfully among states with larger economies like New York, Texas, and California.

Florida welcomes 122.4 million visitors annually. New residents attracted to the state in 2021 numbered 260,000, surpassing all other states. Based on the latest annual tax return data available from the IRS, Florida


realized $23.7 billion in net economic migration. This works out to roughly $2.7 million per hour, every hour of every day. It requires the combined economic inflow of six states: Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Nevada at $23.7 billion to match the power of Florida’s inflow numbers. It is likely no surprise to residents of the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach that their areas gained the largest number of new residents throughout 2022, fueling high demand for housing.

Our loan underwriting team enjoying the program

First National Bank Retrospective

Priding itself as the city’s “hometown bank,” the First National Bank of South Miami partnered with the community from its inception and continued to contribute time and talent, event sponsorships, and funding to non-profit organizations. It has been a major sponsor and partner in South Miami’s long-running events, The Parade of the Elves, the Rotary Arts and Crafts Festival, and the traditional Fourth of July 

Some of the finest community bankers in Miami celebrating the merger


Fireworks. The bank has been a great community partner in building up our town center and the South Miami community.

On April 3, 1952, FNBSM opened for business, located in a modest building on Sunset with two tellers, an officer, and two bookkeepers. By the end of its first year, the bank held deposits totaling $4.77 million. Assets had grown to more than $21 million by 1960. In 1955, the bank built a new addition to its “storefront” location that tripled the bank’s size. In the early 60s, Jim Norris, a successful sports promoter became the chairman of the board. His business partner Arthur M. Wirtz was named as the chairman of the bank’s executive committee, ushering in the successful business talents of the Chicago-based Wirtz family. 

In 1963, due to expanded banking services, the assets exceeded $25 million, qualifying the bank for a National Charter and the backing of the Federal Reserve System. This occasioned the name change to the First National Bank of South Miami. The bank building was again expanded, including an impressive hallway linking the existing structure to the new construction.

The expanded bank facility’s new hallway proved to be the ideal place for an art gallery. The Wirtz Gallery was opened in 1986 to the public and for the public’s use. Named in honor of Arthur M. Wirtz, the mission of the non-profit gallery was to provide a professional setting for all levels of artists to display and sell their artwork, with no fee due to the gallery. It was the country’s first art gallery to be located in a community bank. 

Expanding its services, the bank continued to grow by offering investment opportunities in the 1980s. Other innovations included express banking in 1982 (ATM) and a drive-through ATM in 1983—the first in the state of Florida.  FNBSM remained on the cutting edge of banking innovations such as 24-hour banking, online banking, and bank-issued credit cards for the convenience of its customers. 

South Miami prepares to bid farewell to one of the longest-operating businesses in the city’s history. It welcomes the Community Bank as it transitions to its new home at 5750 Sunset Drive.

Article by Donna Shelley


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