2014 Entrepreneur of the Year: ENVIRONMENTALISM

Ken LaRoe – First Green Bank

Though he could have continued the successful arc of building profitable banks with the very lucrative sale of Florida Choice Bank in 2006, Ken LaRoe chose instead to go on a social  searching journey with his wife Cindy across the U.S. During the trip he read the book Let My People Go Surfing, by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. Chouinard’s approach to business as more than a profit center, but a platform for positive social change, revolutionized his thinking.

LaRoe wondered if his expertise in banking could be successfully blended with his commitment to environmentalism. The result was First GREEN Bank, founded in 2009. Not only are First GREEN’s buildings the most environmentally-sustainable and energy-efficient bank buildings in the southeast, the Bank also works to invest in green businesses and to incentivize their customers to make environmentally-prudent financial decisions. This ranges from discounted interest rates for commercial and residential projects that meet green building criteria of LEED certification, to a solar loan program, which offers long-term fixed rates to encourage customers and employees to install solar panels.

First GREEN Bank was invited to be the 20th member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values in 2013, the first of its kind in the eastern U.S. LaRoe’s bank was also profitable in a remarkably short period of 19 months while amassing assets of over $250 million, and opening branches in Mt. Dora, Clermont, Ormond Beach, Orlando and Winter Park.

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of i4 Business.
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i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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