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Ernest S. Pinner

Distinguished Alumnus December 1992


PinnerErnest S. “Ernie” Pinner, was born and raised in Haines City, and graduated from Haines City High School in 1965. While at Polk (known then as Polk Junior College), he was an outstanding student and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Pinner received his Associate in Arts degree in Business with honors in 1969. He went on to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Florida in 1971. Additionally, he received his Banking Certificate from the Louisiana State University School of Banking in 1979, and holds Series 7 and Series 63 investment licenses from the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).

Few people know the banking business from the bottom to the top the way Ernie Pinner does. He diligently worked his way up in banking, beginning as a janitor at State Bank of Haines City in 1964. The bank offered a co-op work scholarship program, which allowed Ernie to attend college while working.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Ernie returned home and held a number of management positions at Flagship Bank of Haines City. From 1974-1984, he was President/Chairman of Flagship Bank of Haines City, Davenport, Lake Alfred and Polk and Osceola Counties. He served as president of First Bankers from 1984 to 1986, and when the bank was acquired by First Union, he was named president of First Union-Polk County.

He worked for First Union for 14 years, eventually becoming Area President for the South Central Region, which covered Polk and four surrounding counties.

In 1999, Ernie left First Union to found CenterState Bank, which began with one location in Winter Haven. The bank is now one of the top five largest banks in Florida, with $4 billion of business annually and locations in 20 Florida counties.

From 2004 until June 2015, Pinner served as Chairman, President and CEO of CenterState Banks, Inc. He is currently Executive Chairman of CenterState Banks, Inc.

Ernie Pinner has contributed much to his community. Past service includes President of the Central Florida Economic Development Council, past president of the Haines City Chamber of Commerce, board chairman of the Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center Board and Haines City Rotary Club. Other civic involvement includes the board of Governors for the Polk Museum of Art and the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, as well as serving on the boards of the Heart of Florida Education Foundation, Polk County Industrial Revenue Authority, Polk Education Foundation, and the Winter Haven Hospital Foundation.

In addition to being recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Polk State College, Pinner has received the Rotary District Governors Distinguished Service Award, and was awarded an Honorary Ph.D. in Business from Landmark Baptist College.

His community service also extended to playing vital roles at his alma mater. Pinner was a long-time member of the Polk State College Foundation board of directors. In 1999, Pinner was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Polk State College District Board of Trustees, where he served until 2013.