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St. Pete City Council approves Rays redevelopment agreements

The St. Petersburg City Council approved several development agreements Thursday afternoon that will keep the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. Councilmembers advanced plans for a new ballpark to anchor the Historic Gas Plant’s redevelopment in a widely expected 5-3 vote. The Pinellas County Commission must now approve dedicating $312.5 million to the $6.5 billion project at a July 30 meeting.

USF launches blue economy MBA program

The University of South Florida’s College of Business has partnered with the College of Marine Science to offer a blue economy-focused MBA degree this fall. School officials tailored the online program for maritime trade, coastal tourism and fisheries management professionals. The marine economy generated $777 billion in sales and supported 2.4 million jobs nationwide in 2022.

Habitat adds six new board members

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas & West Pasco Counties has announced six new board members, as of July 1: 

  • Jim Kirkpatrick, Florida Market President at Republic Bank
  • Danielle Mauck, VP of Sponsored Programs & Research at BayCare Health System
  • Amber Okoye, Founder & CEO at Rubicon International LLC
  • Jason Russek, Managing Senior VP, Market President West Florida at City National Bank
  • Jon Thiele, Senior Manager, Business Performance Corporate Services at AMGEN, Inc.
  • Heidi Tuttle-Beisner, Licensed Commercial Real Estate Broker / Owner at Commercial Asset Partners Realty

Application portal closes for home-hardening program

State officials will no longer accept My Safe Florida applications after exhausting funding in less than a month. The program offered inspections and grants of up to $10,000 to help residents storm-harden homes and receive property insurance discounts. The state received 3,212 initial inspection applications since July 1 after the Legislature revamped and infused the initiative with $200 million.

Times Chairman and CEO joins Cityverse board of advisors

Tampa Bay Times CEO Conan Gallaty joins Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld and ARK Invest Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood on the Cityverse board of advisors.  Gallaty will lend his insight to the journalism elements of Cityverse, including the on-platform news software which is a key piece of the civic media startup's scaling strategy.  Gallaty sees Cityverse as a vehicle to "help great journalism reach communities that need it most," adding that "there are numerous opportunities here for smart collaboration."

Duke Energy cuts rate hike by over half

St. Petersburg-based Duke Energy Florida has reached a settlement agreement with consumer advocates to substantially reduce proposed rate hikes and eliminate electricity shutoffs when temperatures exceed 94 degrees. The utility’s requested $820 million increase over three years is now about $262 million. The Florida Public Service Commission must approve the changes, which include only charging for planned solar energy plants once the projects are complete.

Beach Drive restaurant announces opening date

Juno & the Peacock and its adjoining cocktail bar, Pluma, will begin hosting grand opening celebrations Aug. 23 in downtown St. Petersburg. Shawn and Jeanna Damkoehler, owners of the acclaimed Mediterranean restaurant Allelo, will open their latest concept in the space that once housed 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House. Juno & the Peacock will offer New American coastal cuisine.

Allegiant announces new nonstop flight from St. Pete-Clearwater

Allegiant Airlines officials announced Tuesday that it will offer nonstop flights from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Savannah, Georgia. The trips start Nov. 15 for just $39. Allegiant’s chief revenue officer said the service begins “just in time to plan warm winter getaways to sought-after coastal destinations.”

St. Pete restaurant shutters after 30 years

Portofino’s Italian Ristorante recently closed after 30 years of serving diners in South St. Petersburg. Christopher and Patricia Conley bought the restaurant from its original owners in 2018 and blamed the closure on the pandemic and inflation in an interview with WTSP. The husband-and-wife duo faced eviction from their space in the Bay Pointe Plaza at 5035 34th St. S. after falling behind on rent payments to Publix.

Condo firm doubles St. Pete office space

Condominium Associates will nearly double its north St. Petersburg office space with a move across the street. The firm has signed a lease for a 23,500-square-foot space at 570 Carillon Pkwy. in the Gateway area. Raymond James Financial anchors the Carillon Office Park.

How educated are Tampa Bay residents?

WalletHub recently compared the 150 largest metropolitan areas across 11 metrics - including the percentage of residents over 25 with a bachelor's degree or higher and public school system quality - to determine 2024’s “most and least educated cities.” The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area placed in the bottom half at No. 79. While the region’s educational attainment ranking was 84th, education quality and the local gender gap placed 28th.

SPPD partners with FDOT to increase road safety

The St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD) has partnered with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to implement an Enhanced Law Enforcement Engagement program through March 31, 2025. Officers will expand their presence on local state-operated roadways with high crash rates to increase public awareness of the importance of safe driving. Focus areas include Gandy Boulevard, Roosevelt Boulevard, 4th Street North and South and the Pinellas Bayway.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

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