“It was a great day,” Keith Costello says of the January day when Locality Bank received its bank charter from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. “We also had the FDIC involved to provide our insurance certificate,” adds Costello, the bank’s cofounder and CEO. “You hear people complain about regulatory agencies, but, I’ll tell you, they were great to work with, and we got the charter and insurance in 8½ months, which, in the scheme of things, is not a lot of time to start a bank.” It's safe to say that Costello saw an opening in the market and grabbed it. Locality Bank is “the first community bank to open in more than 10 years in South Florida with the capital to lend,” he says, noting that Broward County once had 11 community banks—now, it has two. Locality Bank’s starting capital hit $35 million, far more than the cofounders expected. Costello didn’t do it alone. He is quick to praise the contributions of his cofounders, Drew Saito, chief lending officer; and Corey LeBlanc, chief operating officer and chief technology officer. Saito, who holds degrees from Florida State (bachelor of science) and Nova Southeastern (MBA), served as senior vice president at Pacific National Bank. LeBlanc, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Trident University International, was the chief digital and innovation officer and senior vice president at Origin Bank. Before this ambitious endeavor, Costello, who was educated at the University of Tampa (bachelor of science) and University of Miami (MBA), was the president and CEO of First Green Bank. For the soft launch in January, Locality began servicing friends and family, employees, board members and shareholders. Now the bank is opening up to the general public. So why the beta test? That’s because Locality is a digital-first bank, intended primarily for users of the app and website. “Since we are using a lot of technology,” Saito says, “we wanted to make sure that the customer experience was very good—and the rollout was smooth.” A brick-and-mortar space is slated to open on Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale over the summer. “We’re a digital-first community bank, but we still realize that people want to come and see us,” Costello says. Currently, the bank’s founders are set up in the General Provision coworking space in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s filled with entrepreneurs and startup companies, so we feel right at home,” he adds.

[caption id="attachment_90785" align="alignleft" width="300"] Photo Credit: World Red Eye[/caption] Eat Me Guilt Free, a health-focused line of bread, brownies, snacks and tortilla wraps, recently launched its 2022 “You Glow Girl” grant program to help empower business leaders. The program began in 2021 after Eat Me Guilt Free CEO and founder Cristie Besu wanted to further her commitment to empowering female founders like herself to glow and grow professionally and personally. Besu established the grant program to enhance the female empowerment community by bringing together women entrepreneurs and leaders who will uplift one another and continually rewrite the traditional business narrative. She invites all “glow-getters” to apply for the grant for a chance to level up their business in 2022. The grant’s debut in 2021 resulted in more than 320 applicants, spanning several industries, including food and beverage, skincare and cosmetics, health and fitness, education, technology and software, marketing, fine art and hospitality. After a comprehensive review process, BagValet founder Amanda Sheridan was chosen as the winner. Her entrepreneurial spirit, savvy business plan and “boss babe” mentality captured the attention of Besu. BagValet assists travelers in bridging the gap between lodging accommodations and flight times by providing daily luggage storage with the convenience of door-to-door service. This year Eat Me Guilt Free hopes to reach even more women by making it easier to apply. Aspiring women can apply for the 2022 “You Glow Girl” grant by uploading a 30-60 second video to https://www.eatmeguiltfree.com/pages/youglowgirl by July 1. After an initial review process, 25 semi-finalists will be selected and invited to submit a video submission by July 25. Then, on Aug. 1, ten finalists will be announced and participate in virtual interviews with Besu and a panel of business experts. The grant winner will be announced on Aug. 19.