SVP winners, tariffs impact on Superior and other business news briefs

Shepherd’s Village, which provides housing and education for single mothers, won the $25,000 first place prize in Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch Thursday night.

The competition is designed to recognize and support social enterprises, or revenue-generating businesses that achieve social, cultural, community economic and environmental outcomes.

Shepherd’s Village operates Shabby 2 Chic, a boutique in Belleair Bluffs, that supports scholarships and teaches business skills.

Sewn Apart, which focuses on reducing textile waste by repurposing discarded clothes into bowties and other fashion accessories, was the second-place winner. Third place went to Indi-Ed, a school that individualizes curriculum for each student.

SailFuture, which provides a comprehensive system for care for teenage foster youth in crisis, received the audience choice award, while Keep St. Pete Lit was the alumni impact award winner.

Click here for videos with all the SVP Fast Pitch participants.

Tariff impact

Superior Group of Companies is taking steps to reduce the impact of tariffs on some of the products it makes in China.

Belts and headwear made in China are impacted by the tariffs, said Michael Benstock, CEO of Seminole-based company (NASDAQ: SGC), which recently changed its name from Superior Uniform Group. The company had $266.8 million in 2017 sales and those products make up less than $6 million in sales, Benstock said on an earnings call Thursday.

There’s been little impact under the first phase of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in July, but another phase of tariffs that becomes effective in January could cost Superior nearly $2.8 million on a pretax basis if Superior took no action to mitigate it, Benstock said.

“We will utilize all options in front of us, either use our leverage in sourcing for better pricing, move manufacturing to other countries outside of the tariff mandates or through price adjustments to our customers,” he said.

Less than 24 percent of Superior’s uniforms were made in China in the third quarter of 2018.

“We have, in anticipation, already been moving much of that product to other countries. In fact, planning is already underway, and well underway, to reduce this product exposure by more than half by the end of [the first quarter of 2019]. We expect that we can reduce our exposure of $2.8 million by more than 75 percent,” Benstock said.

Grow Smarter

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce wants to know what you think about St. Petersburg in advance of a Dec. 7 summit on the Grow Smarter economic development strategy.

Grow Smarter Summit, 2017

The strategy targets specific job sectors for growth and development. The sectors are marine and life sciences, data analytics, specialized manufacturing, creative arts and design, and financial services.

The strategy was developed four years ago, based in part on input from more than 1,500 residents and stakeholders.

Now, a new survey is asking about what has changed, what hasn’t, and how the community feels about the direction of the city. Click here to participate.

The survey closes Nov. 19. The summit is Dec. 7, and more information is here.


Legacy gift

University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the USF Nelson Poynter Memorial Library will split a $2 million gift from the estate of Josephine Hall, a St. Petersburg woman noted for her love of music and cultural experiences.

Martin Tadlock, regional chancellor of USF St. Petersburg, announced the gift at the USFSP campus board meeting Thursday, and said he would allocate the $1 million gift to the campus to support the arts program at the school.

Tadlock also issued a challenge for the university to raise a matching $1 million for both the arts and the library at USFSP, to follow Hall’s gifts.


Five well-known business leaders have joined a newly created advisory board for Skyway Capital Markets, the Tampa-based investment banking firm led by veteran dealmaker Marty Traber.

Dr. Kiran Patel

The new board is chaired by entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Kiran Patel. “By partnering with Skyway, I expect to apply my 40 years of business experience in healthcare, technology and real estate to support Skyway’s goal,” Patel said in a statement.

Other advisory board members are: Jack Murray III, partner at Murray-Bertron LLC; Greg Friedman, CEO at Peachtree Hotel Group; Linda Olson, president and CEO of Tampa Bay Wave; and Ken Cherven, chairman of The Bank of Tampa Pinellas County Advisory Board.

Skyway recently led a $16 million Series A investment round for Tampa biotech Morphogenesis. That investment was backed by Patel and his investment firm, KP Biotech Group.









Margie Manning

Margie started her journalism career as a radio news reporter in St. Louis, before putting down her microphone and picking up a pen to work at the St. Louis Business Journal. Unable to resist the call of warm weather and beaches, Margie took an entrepreneurial detour to run an ice cream shop in Treasure Island with her husband. Before joining the Catalyst, Margie spent 14 years at the Tampa Bay Business Journal where she wrote about business successes, failures and the exciting world of innovation and start-ups. Her writing coaches are Bonnie the Dog and Coffee the Cat, joined recently by a new edition, Jack the Cat. Margie can be contacted at

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