Banks’ merger leads to questions
Groups that got support from both SunTrust and BB&T wait to see how it affects them.
Both SunTrust and BB&T have supported Tampa Bay area economic development organizations, so how will the banks’ merger affect that support? The banks haven’t said, and nonprofit leaders say it’s too soon to guess.
When the CEOs of SunTrust and BB&T got on the phone with stock analysts this week, one of the first things they said was banking is changing, so to grow they must be ready to shake up their own companies.
“The ultimate disrupt to thrive,” BB&T chairman and chief executive officer Kelly King said of the $66 billion BB&T-SunTrust merger announced Thursday. “This will be a great combination for our clients, for our associates, for our communities and for our shareholders.”
But among the questions to be worked out — and there are a lot of them — is whether the merger’s disruption will extend to the Tampa Bay area economic development organizations. The banks have supported them with substantial amounts of money, volunteer hours and leadership.
At the nonprofit Tampa Bay Partnership, a regional business-supported organization that focuses on big issues like building a skilled work force, SunTrust contributes at
the $50,000 or more level. The bank’s regional president, Tim Schar, sits on the board of governors, and Schar’s predecessor, Allen Brinkman, chaired the organization. BB&T contributes at least $25,000 and Jim Daly, Schar’s counterpart, serves on the partnership’s leadership council.
Both also provide financial support — at least $25,000 from SunTrust and $5,000 from BB&T — to the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp. On Thursday night, SunTrust St. Petersburg market president Jill Wilkinson was named the group’s secretary-treasurer. SunTrust supports the TampaHillsborough Economic Development Corp. with another $50,000. Both banks likewise have executives serving as nonvoting members on the board of governors at the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.
Will this kind and level of support change with one bank instead of two? The banks haven’t said, and nonprofit leaders say it’s too soon to guess.
At the Tampa Bay Partnership, where the $1.6 million budget comes entirely from the private sector, “we expect a certain amount of this during the year and we adjust to it as we go forward,” president and CEO Rick Homans said.
“This merger is going to take a while to work itself out and for changes to be made,” so “our take on it is it’s likely those kinds of decisions haven’t been made yet,” St. Petersburg Economic Development Corp. president J.P. DuBuque said. “Since they’re both already great supporters of the community, I would think that what the combined bank would do would be good.”