Crowning a year of tremendous growth and industry recognition, Miami Lakes, Fla.-based BankUnited (NYSE: BKU) opened four new branches in Florida during December that will give it a presence of 98 branches operating in 15 Florida counties in the state, and claimed the tenth spot on the Forbes 2012 list of Best Banks in America, published this month. "BankUnited is both benefitting from and fueling the rebounding Florida economy," said BankUnited Chairman, President and CEO John Kanas. "For the first nine months of the year, BankUnited experienced an annual growth rate in total demand deposits of 55 percent while new loans grew by a staggering annualized growth rate of 121 percent during the same period." BankUnited branches at 1099 N.W. 42 Ave. in Miami and 12290 Biscayne Blvd. in North Miami opened in the first two weeks of December followed by a new branch at 620 W. Indiantown Road in Jupiter and a newly relocated branch that opened at 2500 North Federal Highway in Lighthouse Point. Additionally, in the fourth quarter of 2012, BankUnited began preparations for new 2013 branch locations in Fort Lauderdale, Hialeah, Pompano Beach, Altamonte Springs and Sarasota. Named the most profitable Florida-chartered bank by the FDIC for the third quarter of 2012, BankUnited also gained national recognition in 2012 when Bank Director magazine ranked it number 2 in the $5 billion to $50 billion category in its annual national survey of the largest U.S. banks based on a combination of profitability, capitalization and asset quality. Also during the year, BankUnited continued, without interruption, to earn superior five-star ratings from the independent bank research firm BauerFinancial and was for the first time assigned ratings by Moody's Investors Service. BankUnited's dominance in commercial lending was recognized when it became South Florida’s fourth largest producer of SBA 7(a) loans as of September 30, 2012, making it one of the most active lenders in the South Florida District of the Small Business Administration based on number of 7(a) loans approved.