Southwest Florida Roundup
Economic development shake-up in Tampa Bay
Since 2011, Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay and several economic development groups have gotten new leaders. And now another group involved in regional development is undergoing a shake-up. The Tampa Bay Partnership’s founding CEO, Stuart Rogel, resigned in late November, saying he was ready for a change after more than 20 years promoting development in an eight county area.
COO John Schueler has taken over the day-to-day responsibilities as a national search for a new CEO proceeds.
The November elections were disappointing for the partnership, which has made boosting regional transportation a top priority. Voters in Pinellas and Polk counties overwhelmingly rejected a pair of partnership-backed initiatives that would have raised the local sales tax by a penny to pay for transit improvements.
Meanwhile, the airport has landed several new airlines under CEO Joe Lopano. The port, under Paul Anderson, is spending $24 million on two new post-Panamax cranes to grow its cargo container business. And economic development groups in the area have enjoyed recent successes. The Tampa Bay Export Alliance, for example, a new collaboration between the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and Pinellas County Economic Development, led a trade mission to Chile in December.
Bill Carlson, a Tampa public relations executive, says the partnership can regain its footing by playing a key role in matters of regional importance, particularly when it comes to global trade.
Tampa Bay’s export economy accounts for only about 8% of the gross regional product, ranking it 88th in export intensity among large U.S. metros, according to a report released last year by the partnership. Greater cooperation between major players like Port Tampa Bay and Port Manatee would help increase exports, Carlson says.
“There’s still a tremendous need to bring together the disparate interests of each county and city in the region,” he says.
> Joe Lopano left Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where he was executive vice president of marketing, to run Tampa International Airport in January 2011. TIA recently began construction on a $943-million expansion and renovation project that will be completed in 2017.
> Paul Anderson stepped down as CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority in December 2012 to become Tampa’s port director. Port Tampa Bay is spending about $24 million on two new post-Panamax cranes to grow its cargo container business.
> Rick Homans, a former economic development official in New Mexico, joined the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. as president and CEO in January 2012. The EDC aims to attract a Fortune 500-type headquarters to downtown Tampa.
> David Downing was named executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater in January, replacing D. T. Minich, who left last summer to lead Osceola County’s tourism arm.
> Santiago Corrada, formerly chief of staff for the city of Tampa, was hired as president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay in May 2013.
> Chris Steinocher became president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce in February 2011 after serving as COO of the Tampa Bay Partnership.
BRADENTON — Liberty Ammunition, which makes lead-free bullets, won more than $15 million in a patent infringement lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense.
CLEARWATER — Silver Airways will begin air service in March to Fort Lauderdale and Key West from St. Pete- Clearwater International Airport.
CLEARWATER BEACH — Construction is under way on a 450-room Wyndham Grand Resort that’s scheduled to open in early 2017. Plans call for a pair of 15-story towers on three acres of beachfront property, which Tampa entrepreneur and philanthropist Kiran Patel purchased for $40 million in 2004.
FORT MYERS — Sun Country Airlines will offer two weekly fights to Puerto Rico from Southwest Florida International Airport starting in May. The new non-stop service is the first of its kind between Fort Myers and Puerto Rico.
RUSKIN — Gannon University of Erie, Pa., bought three acres for $1.35 million to build a satellite campus offering graduate professional programs in health care.
SARASOTA — Cleveland- based financial services firm Redwood Financial Network opened an office in Sarasota run by Nathan Maciejowski, who previously owned a wealth management firm.
SEMINOLE — Superior Uniform Group’s board of directors authorized a 2-for-1 stock split.
ST. PETE BEACH — Georgia-based TRC Environmental is surveying the city’s Pass-a-Grille neighborhood to determine how many historic structures it still has. The neighborhood’s last historic structure survey was in 2003.
ST. PETERSBURG — Valpak moved from its headquarters space in Largo to about 50,000 square feet of new office space in St. Petersburg.
TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board terminated Superintendent MaryEllen Elia without cause. The decision will cost taxpayers more than $1 million. Elia, who sometimes clashed with board members, was honored as 2015 Florida Superintendent of the Year by her peers. Dow Electronics is buying Louisiana-based Eagle Distributors, which distributes consumer electronics to retailers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. The purchase gives Tampa-based Dow three additional distribution centers in the south. Bluepearl Veterinary Partners plans a $1-million expansion of its Tampa headquarters, where it employs 50. The expansion is expected to result in up to 50 additional jobs within three years. > Tampa Bay Downs struck a deal to buy the Tampa Greyhound Track in Seminole Heights from Associated Outdoor Clubs. It plans to continue operating dog racing at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg and keep simulcast and poker operations at the Tampa facility. > Busch Gardens closed its Gwazi wooden roller coaster, once the largest of its kind in the Southeast. > Alabamabased law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings expanded to Florida with the addition of 12 lawyers from Glenn Rasmussen in Tampa. > The city council pledged about $15 million in reimbursements for infrastructure improvements to Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s $1-billion downtown redevelopment plan. > Virginia Barnett, co-founder and former CEO of computer coding instructor gr8code, sued investor Steven Brickner and two related firms, saying they failed to deliver an initial round of seed money as promised last fall. Gr8code announced in November that it received a four-year, $5.4-million venture capital investment from Omni Elite Financial Group. Restoration Hardware will open a 37,000-sq.-ft gallery store at International Plaza by the end of 2015. > Cookware retailer Sur La Table will open its first Tampa store this year in space formerly occupied by Restoration Hardware at Hyde Park Village.
WESLEY CHAPEL — Software developer Care- Sync Medical Group received $4.3 million in venture capital during the fourth quarter.
> St. Petersburg General Hospital hired Janice Balzano, previously COO of Brandon Regional Hospital, to take over for retired CEO Robert Conroy Jr.
> Commercial real estate firm JLL tapped Senior Vice Presidents Brent Miller and Gary Godsey to manageits Tampa office, replacing previous managing directors Chad Rupp and Chris Butler.
> Charles Masters retired as president and CEO of manufactured home builder Deer Valley Corp.
> Shumaker Loop & Kendrick’s Julio Esquivel was promoted to managing partner of the law firm’s Tampa office, replacing J. Todd Timmerman.