Southeast Florida Roundup
Cheryl Miller makes history as first woman CEO of publicly traded auto retailer
Auto retailer AutoNation promoted CFO Cheryl Miller to CEO and president, making AutoNation the largest Florida company with a woman CEO. She’s also the first woman CEO of a publicly traded auto retailer.
Miller got the job just a few months after longtime CEO Mike Jackson moved up to executive chairman and the Fort Lauderdale company hired financial services executive Carl Liebert, an outsider to the auto industry, as CEO. AutoNation now says Liebert wasn’t a good fit, and the two agreed to part.
Miller has been with AutoNation since 2009 and CFO since 2014. Before that she was with Deerfield Beach automotive company JM Family Enterprises, one of Florida’s largest private companies, and with car rental brands Alamo/National. She’s on the board of Tyson Foods. Jim Bender, executive vice president of sales, becomes COO. Christopher Cade, chief accounting officer, becomes temporary CFO.
- Commcare Specialty Pharmacy closed a Plantation facility, laying off 47.
- Beacon of Hope CRO, a clinical research company, is opening a Boca Raton office, creating 10 jobs.
- Specialty pharma company Capzer Pharmaceuticals is expanding its Lake Worth site and adding 10 jobs.
- Startup tele-health company 20Lighter, a company focused on weight loss and ailments associated with unhealthy weights, relocated its headquarters to Boca Raton from Wyoming.
- The Broward County Convention Center will close for 19 months starting February 2020 as it increases its exhibition space by 75% to 350,000 square feet and adds an 800-room hotel and waterfront plaza. The $1-billion project will stretch into 2023.
- Riviera Beach agreed to pay $600,000 to extortionist hackers after the city lost control of its computer system to ransomware for three weeks. The city council also voted to spend nearly $1 million to upgrade its systems. Lake City in North Florida, meanwhile, will pay $460,000 in ransom in a separate attack.
- Orbcomm will expand its Boca Raton location into a regional headquarters and add 32 jobs as it develops its internet-of-things business.
- The city of Fort Pierce chose Audubon Development to redevelop the seven-acre site of the former H.D. King Power Plant, which was decommissioned in 2008. Audubon’s plan is for 40,000 square feet of retail space, a 120-room Marriott hotel, 60 condos, restaurants and a smattering of single-family homes and space for a Virgin Trains station. Virgin Trains hasn’t decided where to build a Treasure Coast station.
Mental Health App
Mental health and certified rehabilitation counselor Elise Gates created Fort Lauderdale-based Nothing But Advice and its mental health app.
Consumers contact mental health counselors via audio, video or text. The free app displays counselors by specialty and who’s available at the time. Cost is $40 for a 20-minute session and $80 for a 40-minute session. Counselors take a 70% share; Nothing But Advice takes 30%.
South Florida angel investor Deberi Group, which likes to back women- and minority-owned tech companies, provided the initial funding.
Read more in Florida Trend's September issue.
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