For immediate release: February 15, 2018
Contact: Andrew Walker, Foundation President & CEO, 941 809-7805 or [email protected]
From time to time, the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida sits down with its supporters to better understand what compels their interest in wildlife conservation. One such donor is Hancock Whitney Bank, a principal sponsor of the Foundation’s annual BlueGreen gala. Foundation President and CEO Andrew Walker spoke recently with Hancock Whitney Senior Regional President Eric Obeck in Tampa about the Bank’s history, values and motivations as a corporate citizen in Florida and elsewhere in the Gulf South.
Hancock Whitney Bank has deep roots throughout the Gulf South. Formed by the 2010 merger of two storied financial institutions, New Orleans’ Whitney Bank and Gulfport’s Hancock Bank and enlarged by other acquisitions over the years, Hancock Whitney has become a prominent regional commercial and consumer bank, with $28 billion in assets and more than 270 branches from east Texas to Florida.
Its size and reach allow Hancock Whitney to provide “big bank capacity with a small bank feel,” says Eric Obeck, senior regional president. That small bank feel is rooted in its 135-year-old traditions of community and customer service and investment. “There’s a high degree of connectivity between our people and the communities in which they live and work,” Obeck says. “Our corporate values of service, teamwork, honor and integrity influence all of our dealings as an institution and as individual representatives of the bank. Rarely a day goes by in which we aren’t discussing how these values guide us going forward.”
Supporting the work of the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a natural outcome, as it were, of Hancock Whitney’s philosophy. The Gulf Coast environment is at the heart of the region’s economy. “Nature and outdoor recreation are top reasons people choose to live and start businesses in Florida and other Gulf States,” Obeck says. “At the same time, continued development of the region puts pressure on the natural resources that attract us all. That’s why we as a bank choose to invest in the wise management of our natural resources to ensure their long-term vitality.”
Obeck has a deep personal connection to nature. An Eagle Scout, he grew up in the Chesapeake Bay region and watched the slow decline of its water quality and fisheries in the 1970’s and 1980’s. “I had unbelievable experiences growing up on the Bay, harvesting shellfish, fishing for striped bass, but I witnessed the changes. I want to be sure Hancock Whitney is doing its part to prevent similar losses from occurring here.”
He’s optimistic about our long-term chances in Florida. “Tampa Bay has improved considerably in the 32 years I’ve lived here after being recruited out of school by Barnett Bank. The sea grass beds have returned, and with them the fisheries have rebounded. This is all the more remarkable given how Tampa and St. Pete have grown over those years.”
Hancock Whitney Bank has also supported the creation and financing of wetland mitigation banks, an interest it has in common with our Foundation. Wetland mitigation – protecting or restoring wetlands to make up for their loss elsewhere – has proven a very successful strategy to increase the quality and quantity of wetlands nationwide, he notes. “As a bank, we like the idea of conserving important natural areas via mitigation; it’s really capitalism at its best, creating businesses and jobs by doing good,” he says.
And why support FWFF? “We really like what the Foundation and FWC are doing to maintain the beauty and quality of life in Florida,” he said. “And we like how you do it – working with landowners, creating and funding public-private conservation partnerships. That mirrors our own positive approach to community building and investment. And we appreciate your joint efforts to educate the public about the fragility and importance of the Gulf Coast environment. Spending time out of doors is really a privilege we all can share and only by cherishing it can we hope to safeguard it for present and future generations.”
For more information about Hancock Whitney Bank, visit www.hancockwhitney.com.
About the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida
The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other public and private partners to conserve Florida’s outstanding fish and wildlife. The charity watchdog Guidestar rates the Foundation as a “Gold” organization; more information can be found at http://wildlifeflorida.org. More information on Saturday’s BlueGreen 2017 benefit can be found at http://www.BlueGreen2017.org or by calling 813 391-8361.