100 years after founding of Sarasota's Newtown community, first bank opens its doors

At the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Way and Osprey Avenue, a grand opening brings hope for the Newtown community's future in Sarasota County.

"We once had a nice, thriving community here and I want to go back to those days," said Carlos Yancy, a business developer with First Home Bank who grew up in Newtown.

After playing football in the NFL, he returned home. Now he's working to better his community with First Home Bank – Newtown's first bank since the town was established in 1914.

"I understand a lot of the needs, and I want to be able to assist with those needs and help people reach the American dream which is homeownership," he said.

Reaching that dream is a struggle without a financial institution nearby. The community has gone more than 100 years without a bank, until now.

"We hope to help the community thrive, prosper, grow and make a better life for everybody. We are eager to meet with everybody," said Tom Quale, the market president and chief lending officer for First Home Bank.

There are a few businesses along Newtown's corridor. This branch hopes to expand opportunities for residents and business owners.

"This is to help the residents here. The un-banked. Possibly going to their first business, increase homeownership and things of that nature. It was imperative we did this," said Sarasota vice-mayor Kyle Battie.

The bank will do more than handle money. It will hold classes on personal finance and loans, and help educate a community that's needed the services.

"I grew up coming into this building. My family operated a laundry mat here for years, and to come here and see the building turning into another center of the community in a different way of course it warms my heart," said Walter Gilbert.

The first step starts with those who walk through the doors.

"The key step will be the community using this institution to benefit them. The bank has to be open and welcoming, and let people know what they can do for them and what they can’t," said Gilbert.