Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hometown Man Heads Up Bank; Executive Sees Endless Growth Possibilities for Bank and City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hometown Man Heads Up Bank; Executive Sees Endless Growth Possibilities for Bank and City

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BASCH

After eight years away, Jacksonville native Nathaniel Herring is pretty happy to be back in his hometown.

"Being away, you can really see all the pluses of the city," said Herring, who returned to Jacksonville last month as city president for Fifth Third Bank.

"It's nice to come back to a city so well positioned for growth," he said.

Herring, 38, had been working for Wachovia Corp. for 15 years. But the graduate of Ribault High School, Florida Community College at Jacksonville and the University of North Florida, left Jacksonville eight years ago to run Wachovia's business banking group in the Tampa Bay area. And he later moved on to Savannah, Ga., as senior vice president and retail banking director for the bank's East Georgia region.

But his time away made him appreciate what Jacksonville has to offer.

"This opportunity presented itself and I was just so excited to come back to Florida and come back to Jacksonville," he said.

He's also happy to join Fifth Third, which is relatively new to the Jacksonville market but is looking to grow in Northeast Florida. Fifth Third entered the market in 2007 by acquiring R-G Crown Bank, which has nine local branches. But the company owns property in other parts of town where it hopes to expand.

"We're going to be a very visible employer," Herring said. "You're going to see the [number of Fifth Third] signs growing."

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third is an established institution with a 150-year history, he said. The bank got its name by the merger of the Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank in Cincinnati.

Like other major banks, it's been suffering from the nation's financial crisis. Last week, it reported a 2008 net loss of $2.2 billion and it recently received a $3.4 billion capital investment under the U.S. Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program. But Herring said the bank is in a good position to grow in the Jacksonville market.

"We're a very large and very well-capitalized commercial bank," he said. …

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