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Business briefs: USF St. Pete honors local philanthropists, poverty rates and more

Margie Manning



University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Two business leaders and philanthropists will be in the spotlight during University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s fall commencement ceremonies on Dec. 9.

USF St. Pete will honor Kate Tiedemann and Bill Edwards at the Sunday ceremonies at the Mahaffey Theater. Nearly 500 students are expected to receive degrees.

Kate Tiedemann

Tiedemann will receive an honorary doctor of business degree at ceremonies at 1 p.m. In 2014, she gave $10 million to the school, the largest gift in its history, resulting in the construction of the College of Business that now carries her name.

Tiedemann, who immigrated to the United States from Germany when she was 18, is the founder of Katena (Kate North America Products), which designed and manufactured ophthalmic surgical instruments that were distributed in 110 countries.

Bill Edwards

USF St. Pete also will present the Chancellor’s Community Leadership Award to Edwards, chairman of the Edwards Group, at a 4 p.m. ceremony.

Edwards is a financier, real estate developer, recording company executive, entertainment promoter and civic leader. He created The Edwards Family Foundation, a charitable foundation to provide resources for others, about 15 years ago.

Poverty rates

The 2017 poverty rate in Pinellas County was about 12.2 percent, according to new statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s lower than the U.S. poverty rate of 13.4 percent and the Florida rate of 14.1 percent, the Census Bureau said.

Hillsborough County has a higher poverty rate — 15.5 percent — and also a higher median household income.

The median household income in Hillsborough in 2017 was an estimated $54,741. In Pinellas, it was $51,488, compared to $60,336 nationally and $52,582 in Florida in 2017.


Titan Metal Service 10,000-ton max coil inventory (Credit: Titan Metal Service)

Titan Metal Service Inc. in Tampa has a new owner.

Majestic Steel USA Inc. bought Titan’s business assets. The purchase price was not disclosed in a news release announcing the deal.

Majestic is a privately owned, family owned and operated steel service center headquartered in Cleveland. Adding Titan, a steel service center and processor, enables Majestic to expand its presence and reach in the Southeast U.S., particularly Florida, the news release said.

“We look forward to continuing to support the existing business while pursuing growth opportunities in the Southeast region,” Todd Leebow, Majestic president and CEO, said in the news release.


Najmy Thompson, a Bradenton-based law firm, has opened an office at One World Trade Center in New York, New York.

Matthew Clark, former general counsel for Masonite International and Amana Refrigeration, will lead the new office, a press release said.

With clients in St. Petersburg, Tampa and the surrounding area, Najmy Thompson is a real estate, corporate and wealth management law firm.


Capstone Capital, a commercial mortgage brokerage firm, has changed its name to Sweetwater Capital.

The new name for the financial solutions provider signals a shift in vision and strategy in the corporate market, according to a press release.

The company also is investing to expand and grow its referral and partnership program.

Sweetwater Capital’s main office is based in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It has an office in Tampa, as well as in Nashville and Cincinnati. Founded in 2007, it specializes in permanent, non-recourse debt for commercial real estate and has closed over 220 commercial loans, surpassing $2.1 billion in loan volume.



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