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Business briefs: Buckhorn on corporate relocations, best places to work for women and more

Margie Manning



Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

A decade after the recession, Tampa is undergoing a transformation and it’s about more than bricks and mortar, said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

“It’s the attitude,” Buckhorn said at the Dreamit-Bisnow Innovation Summit. “It’s about moving from a service economy to creating the jobs of the future, not just being happy with the jobs of the past. It’s about not being dependent upon selling the state based on cheap land and cheap labor and cheap taxes. It’s about creating a future for our kids.”

Tampa is in conversations, around the country, that it’s never been in before, Buckhorn said. “We are in the conversation for almost every corporate relocation or expansion that’s being contemplated. That didn’t happen before, but it’s happening now.”

The mayor also was a cheering squad for the startups and tech firms attending the summit: “What you are doing here matters, the companies you create matter. Those are the jobs of the future.”

Fortune smiles

Five Tampa Bay area companies made Fortune Magazine’s new list of Best Places to Work for Women.

Publix Super Markets Inc. in Lakeland ranked No. 29 and BayCare Health System in Clearwater was No. 37 on the list of best large workplaces.

Among small and medium-size workplaces, KnowBe4, a cybersecurity training firm in Clearwater, was No. 2. Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners (BKS-Partners), an insurance brokerage and risk management firm in Tampa, was No. 12, and AnswerFirst Communications, a professional services firm in Tampa, was No. 22.

Bigger slice of PIE

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport recorded the most passengers ever for October, with 182,378 passengers in the just-ended month, a two percent increase over October 2017. Year-to-date, passengers are up 12 percent at the airport, known by its airport code PIE.

The airport announced two new destinations last month. Allegiant will fly to Albany, New York, and a new low-cost international airline, Flair Airlines, will begin serving Winnipeg beginning Dec. 15.

The airport will have 59 non-stop destinations with the new flights.


Updegraff Laser Vision in St. Petersburg has a new owner.

Eye Health America acquired Updegraff in its sixth deal this year, a press release said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of the EHA network, Updegraff will have  continued access to the latest technology and treatments, as well as an extensive network of trusted and qualified providers, said Dr. Stephen Updegraff, owner and medical director.

Eye Health America, a practice management company headquartered in Atlanta, was formed earlier this year by LLR Partners, a lower middle market private equity firm.

Pilot project

The Tampa area is one of five communities for a pilot digital finance project by American Express and GreenSky Inc., an Atlanta-based digital lending platform.

Development and integration of the GreenSky technology needed to launch the Amex consumer direct installment loan pilot is on track to kick off in the first quarter of fiscal 2019 in Tampa, as well as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles. Amex will be marketing a promotional home improvement loan “powered by GreenSky” to select pre-approved American Express card members with such loans to be funded by American Express Bank, a press release said.

American Express (NYSE: AXP) began cross-marketing the technology platform from GreenSky (NASDAQ: GSKY) to Amex card-accepting home improvement merchants in early September, with more than 1,000 Amex merchant referrals in the past eight weeks.


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