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Catalina innovation profiled in Wall Street Journal

Catalina, a St. Petersburg-based digital market firm, was cited as one of the companies that relied on technology to bounce back after a bankruptcy in the Sept. 12 CIO Journal in the Wall Street Journal. The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2018 and completed its financial restructuring in February. The period after bankruptcy was "a great time for innovation," Michael Bailey, chief technology officer at Catalina, told the Journal. The restructuring removed budgetary constraints that were slowing IT progress, allowing the company to think more broadly about its use of technology, he told the Journal.

Tampa-St. Pete bank industry shrinks in 2019

The number of bank offices in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area dropped slightly in the past year, reflecting national trends. A deposit market share report released Friday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said 55 banks had 670 local offices as of June 30, 2019, compared to 56 banks with 695 offices on the same day a year earlier. Bank of America, the retail market leader, had five fewer branches this year than last year, while No. 2  Wells Fargo Bank had two fewer offices.  The amount of local deposits jumped 2.3 percent, to $87.1 billion. 

Massachusetts startup plans move to Tampa

Hear Now Systems, a Massachusetts company with a a meditation aid designed to reduce stress and anxiety, plans to move to Tampa. The company has been accepted into Embarc Collective, according to a profile in The Martha's Vineyard Times.   They "have started working through our onboarding process," a spokeswoman for Embarc told the St. Pete Catalyst. The company sells a hardware device, the N.O.W. Tone Therapy System, now in its fourth production run. Michael Joly and Alene Sibley created the system, which won the Perfect Pitch MV competition in 2017. The company has generated revenue and profit every month since launch, MV Times said.

Embarc Collective highlights women founders, investors

Embarc Collective has created an open-source list to recognize women founders and investors throughout Florida. It's an effort to narrow the gender investing gap in the state, according to a blog post by Embarc, the Jeff Vinik-backed initiative in downtown Tampa to elevate the startup community. Embarc's research found that 25.5 percent of Florida firms include at least one women in an investment position, and nearly 18 percent hold a senior investment position, such as partner or managing director, compared to the national average of 11 percent. See the full list here.

USF welcomes strongest freshman class

The 3,773 students who make up the freshman class in the University of South Florida system are the academically strongest in the school's history, officials said. The freshmen carry an average ACT score of 29, an average SAT score of 1286 and an average high school GPA of 4.13, a news release said.  The group includes about 100 high school valedictorians and salutatorians, along with 34 National Merit Scholars. The news release also highlighted an increase in minority enrollment, with black student enrollment up nearly 33 percent from last year, Asian student enrollment upy nearly 23 percent and Hispanic student enrollment up more than 14 percent.

Chicago firm buys Largo apartments

Providence Real Estate has  bought the Enclave on East apartments in Largo. The purchase price was not disclosed in a news release, but a deed filed in Pinellas County on Sept. 10 indicates the apartments sold for $29.5 million. Enclave on East is a 196-unit suburban garden-style townhome apartment community built in 1986, with 16 buildings, including a clubhouse, on 14 acres. The exterior and common areas have been renovated, and Chicago-based Providence plans a significant interior upgrade.

Feds wrap up healthcare fraud case with Pinellas ties

A five-year federal fraud investigation that involved millions of dollars in claims to U.S. military healthcare insurer TRICARE has concluded with guilty pleas from the owners of a Pasco County marketing firm. Frank Monte and Kimberley Anderson, owners of Centurion Compounding Inc., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay healthcare kickbacks and each agreed to forfeit $1.7 million in assets, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida. They were accused of conspiring with the owners of LifeCare Pharmacy in Pinellas County and a Pinellas physician in the scheme. As a result of this investigation, $58 million in TRICARE claims were repaid or reversed and an additional $6 million was repaid to TRICARE by the conspirators, prosecutors said.

Neptune Flood, AXA XL strike partnership

Neptune Flood, a St. Petersburg-based all-digital flood insurance program administrator, and AXA XL, a division of AXA, have entered a strategic underwriting partnership designed to expand Neptune Flood Insurance's capacity to homeowners throughout the United States. "The additional capacity and underwriting expertise of AXA XL will expand the availability of private flood and ultimately change the way homeowners buy flood insurance," Jim Albert, CEO of Neptune, said in a news release. Private residential flood insurance is a growth opportunity in a crowded property and casualty insurance market, said Chris Bressette, senior vice  president and head of AXA XL's North America program business.

First Home Bancorp raises capital

First Home Bancorp Inc. raised $2.55 million in a capital raise earlier this month. The St. Petersburg banking company, the parent of First Home Bank, sold equity to nine investors, a Sept. 9 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said. Skyway Capital Markets in Tampa and Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis helped with the capital raise. First Home Bank had 5 offices and $460.4 million in assets as of June 30.

Baker McKenzie opens Tampa center

Baker McKenzie, a global law firm, has opened a Class A+ office space that occupies a full floor at the SunTrust Financial Centre in downtown Tampa. The Tampa center currently employs about 120 people in legal services, finance, IT, knowledge management, operations, business development, marketing and communications, and talent. The office will eventually grow to 300 employees, a news release said. Jamie Lawless is executive director of the Tampa center.

Vinik Family Foundation gives $5M to IDEA Public Schools

The Vinik Family Foundation gave $5 million to help IDEA Public Schools launch new schools in Hillsborough, Polk and Pinellas Counties. IDEA, a network of tuition-free, college preparatory public charter schools, plans to launch four new schools in Tampa-St. Pete area in 2021, eventually growing to 20 schools at 10 campuses in Tampa Bay by 2028. At full scale, IDEA will serve almost 15,000 K-12 students in Tampa Bay annually, a news release said. The Vinik Family Foundation is a private foundation created and managed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny.

USF advances to Top 50 in U.S. News rankings

The University of South Florida is ranked No. 44 on U.S. News and World Report’s new list of best public universities. It’s the highest position USF has ever held on the list. USF has been raising rapidly, climbing 44 spots from No. 88 in 2015. U.S. News also measured schools for the first time this year on “social mobility,” or success in enrolling, retaining and graduating students who receive Pell grants and are from low-income families. USF ranked No. 9 in this category.

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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