BayFirst National Bank Appoints Cesar Jimenez and Jeff Smith VPs

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — St. Petersburg-based BayFirst National Bank, the wholly-owned subsidiary of BayFirst Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: BAFN), has hired two SBA-lending experts and industry veterans who previously served as vice presidents at GBank, a Las Vegas-based community bank and top 20 SBA lender.

Land-O-Lakes, Florida-based Cesar Jimenez and Summerville, Georgia-based Jeff Smith both assume the role of vice president and SBA lending officer within BayFirst’s government-guaranteed lending division, CreditBench, which is one of the top producing SBA 7(a) lenders in the US, ranked No. 8 in the country by loan volume for SBA Fiscal Year 2022.

Jimenez brings 23 years of commercial lending experience having specialized in both SBA 7(a) and 504 loans. Prior to joining BayFirst, he held the role of vice president, business development officer at GBank where he brought $23 million into the SBA loan pipeline in a six-month timeframe. Smith, who also served as vice president, business development officer at GBank, brings more than 20 years of commercial and SBA lending experience.

“Both Cesar and Jeff have extensive experience overseeing all facets of SBA loans and originating considerable loan volume, which will benefit not only the BayFirst team but also the business customers we support,” said BayFirst SVP, Director of SBA Loan Originations Chris Hackney. “We are fortunate to bring on two experts with more than 40 years’ experience combined, who have proven themselves at a notable and nationally ranked SBA lender.”

Jimenez’s previous roles include vice president, SBA lending at First Business Bank, senior business development officer at Evolve Bank and Trust, and vice president, business development officer, south region at Northeast Bank. Smith has served as vice president, SBA lending at First Business Bank. Prior to that, he held the title of vice president, business development officer at both Radius Bank and Ameris Bank.

“As one of the nation’s top small business lenders, I am confident that with the addition of Cesar and Jeff our nationwide SBA team is well positioned to continue its ascension,” added Tom Zernick, president of BayFirst. “Cesar and Jeff are proven lenders with the knowledge required to drive results and greatly increase our overall impact.”

Jimenez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a Major in Accounting from Seton Hall University. He is currently a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay. Smith majored in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. He also holds a degree from Prairie State College and is a veteran of the United States Navy, having served in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

About CreditBench
CreditBench has originated more than $1.7 billion in SBA 7(a) loans since 2016. Its expert team utilizes streamlined processes and a technology-driven approach to provide loans under $350,000 and as large as $5 million. As an SBA Preferred Lender, CreditBench also delivers competitive rates, flexible requirements, fast closing times, and the personalized support small businesses need to reach their goals. It was the eighth largest SBA 7(a) lender nationwide and the No. 1 SBA 7(a) lender in the five-county Tampa Bay market in the SBA’s 2022 fiscal year.

About BayFirst National Bank
Headquartered in St. Petersburg, BayFirst National Bank, the principal subsidiary of BayFirst Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: BAFN), operates nine banking centers in the Tampa Bay area. In addition, BayFirst offers a broad range of retail and business banking services. Since it opened in 1999, BayFirst has grown exponentially without losing sight of its commitment to making an impact in the community and being Here for What’s Next® in the lives of its customers. For more information visit:

About BayFirst Financial Corp.
BayFirst Financial Corp. is a registered bank holding company based in St. Petersburg, Florida which commenced operations on September 1, 2000. Its primary source of income is derived from its wholly owned subsidiary, BayFirst National Bank, a national banking association. As of December 31, 2022, BayFirst Financial Corp. had $939 million in total assets.