Citizens Bank & Trust
If the walls of the original building for Citizens Bank & Trust could speak, they would tell a fascinating, almost-century-old story of Polk County business and economics. The story would include shorter tales about booms and busts, rip-roaring construction and building blips, citrus heydays and agricultural challenges, tourism peaks and valleys, depression and recession, and example after example of economic resiliency and recovery.
To be complete, the story would also have to include a tale about transition — the transformation of the Polk County economy from one dominated by agriculture and quiet tourism to one that is much more diverse in industry, services, and employment opportunities.
Citizens Bank & Trust (CBT) itself is a prime example of transition and resiliency. Family owned from the start, CBT was founded in 1920 by Latt Maxcy and a group of local businessmen to serve and grow the Frostproof area in southeast Polk County. In the beginning, the bank’s business customers were mostly those involved in citrus, cattle, ranching, and real estate. Today, CBT is a countywide bank with 12 locations — including its very first office in downtown Frostproof — and with a commercial clientele that runs from A to Z in business types.
At 95 years old, Citizens Bank & Trust is the oldest Polk County bank still in existence, a success story that management attributes to stability, a commitment to high-quality financial products and customer service, and conservative business values. The company’s slogan is “Safe. Sound. Just Smart Banking Since 1920.”
According to Greg Littleton, CBT’s President and Chief Executive Officer, smart banking includes being deeply involved in local and regional economic development efforts. CBT has been a financial investor with the Central Florida Development Council (CFDC) for the past 15 years.
Investing and participating in the work of the CFDC can yield dividends in many ways, Littleton says.
“There are benefits to the bank itself,” he says. “A bank is essential for any company thinking about coming to Polk County; there’s always some kind of financial need. But, even if a company comes in and doesn’t become a client, a side benefit is that it will be good for all of us.”
“In respect to competition, no one has a monopoly,” he says. “Any company looking to move here can benefit from good financial advice, whether they end up being a client of that bank or not.”
But, Littleton says, “If a company coming in is bringing 50 new employees, I’ve got a good shot at getting some of those 50 as banking members, customers who might eventually be buying a house, a flower shop, a grocery store, or what have you.
“It’s good for the entire community, whether you bank that entire company or not.”