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Business briefs: Vology pushes diversity in tech, regulators cite Tampa man in fraud scheme and more

Margie Manning

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

A program by Vology, a Clearwater IT managed services firm, will give women and minority students a chance to earn scholarships at St. Petersburg College.

The technology industry has been widely criticized for its lack of gender and racial diversity. The Vology for Diversity in Technology Scholarship Fund is intended to help balance that disparity, Julie Clement, chief people officer at Vology, said in a press release.

Vology awarded five scholarships that can be applied to the cost of tuition, fees, books and other expenses, through its Vology for Diversity in Technology Scholarship Fund. Recipients are enrolled in certificate programs such as cybersecurity, Cisco certified network associate, Linux system administrator, Microsoft certified solutions associate, computer support and help desk support specialist.

Investment scheme

A Tampa man is one of a dozen internet marketers charged with fraud in a scheme that regulators said conned investors out of tens of millions of dollars through rags-to-riches infomercials.

Travis Stephenson, who lives in Tampa, partnered with Ronald Montano of St. Cloud on fraudulent marketing campaigns, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Montano and Stephenson, along with other defendants, created and disseminated elaborate videos to trick retirees and other retail investors into opening brokerage accounts and trading high-risk securities known as binary options, the SEC said in a news release. The video ads were simply a ruse to persuade investors to open brokerage accounts, the release said.

Stephenson and six other defendants have agreed to settle, without admitting or denying the charges, and agreed to pay a combined total of $4.1 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, the release said.

Free and clear

Bovie Medical Corp. now owns its 60,000-square-foot headquarters in Clearwater outright.

Bovie headquarters from Google maps

Bovie (NYSEMKT: BVX) paid off a $2.5 million mortgage loan to The Bank of Tampa on Aug. 30, the company said in a regulatory filing. The company borrowed $3.6 million from the bank in March 2014 for the purchase.

The headquarters, at 5115 Ulmerton Rd., includes office, warehousing, manufacturing and research space for Bovie, a medical device manufacturer and one of the larger publicly traded companies headquartered in Tampa Bay. The company sold its legacy electrosurgical business and the Bovie brand earlier this year and plans to rename itself as it focuses on a new technology and the cosmetic surgery market.

Gentrification

Gentrification is not a bad thing, but displacement is, a top expert with the Urban Land Institute told a St. Petersburg meeting of the nonprofit research and education group.

Panelists at ULI’s Nov. 1 meeting in St. Petersburg were (from left): Barbara Wilks, founding principal, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture; Juanita Hardy, senior visiting fellow for creative placemaking at ULI; and John Collins, executive director of the St. Pete Arts Alliance. Keith Greminger Sr., planning and urban design manager at Kimley-Horn, was the moderator.

During a discussion about the role arts and culture play in redevelopment projects, Juanita Hardy, senior visiting fellow for creative placemaking at ULI, addressed concerns that come up when an area undergoes a resurgence, property values rise, and longtime residents are forced to leave.

Successful projects are designed from the outset to avoid pushing long-time residents out of the area, Hardy said.

“I consider gentrification to be a good thing. Many people see it as a bad word. What we want in these communities is we want to bring new energy into the community. We want to bring investment dollars into the community. We want to make it a better place for everybody, where everybody gets to enjoy the amenities and things that comes with it,” Hardy said.

“So let’s think clearly about what we are doing to keep people there. It’s a national issue that we have to solve to make our communities better, our country better, and the world better if we figure it out.”

Hardy joined John Collins, executive director of the St. Pete Arts Alliance, and Barbara Wilks, founding principal, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, in making the business case for creative placemaking — the strategy of bringing art and cultural assets to real estate development from the beginning of the process.

Restaurant alert

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has identified a positive case of hepatitis A in a food service worker in St. Pete Beach.

Anyone who ate at Toasted Monkey at 6110 Gulf Blvd. between Oct. 17-Oct. 28 and has not previously been vaccinated for hepatitis A should get a vaccination, the department said.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver. There’s been a rise in hepatitis A cases throughout Pinellas County and nearby areas, the health department reported last month.

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