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Tampa airport breaks passenger record

Tampa International Airport served 22.166 million passengers in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year. The performance comes on the heels of strong domestic service growth led by Frontier and Spirit, and new international service, including nonstop flights to London on Norwegian Airlines and to Amsterdam on Delta Air Lines, the airport said in a news release. Domestic passengers were up 4.8 percent, while international passenger traffic jumped 19.3 percent. The passenger gains occurred during a major construction project, Phase 2 of the airport's master plan expansion, including 16 new express curbsides.

Tampa General deploys OnMed telehealth center

Tampa General Hospital said it is the first institution in the world to deploy the OnMed Station, a telemedicine station that is designed to provide affordable access to quality health care. OnMed, a Clearwater company, unveiled the technology earlier this year. TGH staff members have access to the OnMed Station for virtual life-sized consultations with physicians and advanced practice providers, and for automated pharmaceutical services, a news release said.

ConnectWise details plans for center of excellence

ConnectWise,  a managed IT services provider and software developer in Tampa, is significantly expanding its operations and building out new office space, according to an in-depth profile in industry publication Channel Futures. ConnectWise, acquired by private equity group Thoma Bravo earlier this year, plans a center of excellence that will provide soft-skills training and house about 150 employees. "We want to be able to bring partners here and conduct workshops on the product. We want to conduct business maturity sessions. It’s more than just education,” Craig Fulton, chief customer officer, told Channel Futures. “We want to give our partners a place to come and give them a sense that they do belong to a community.” Read the full story here.

Parking lot sale clears way for downtown St. Pete condo development

Ashford Hospitality Trust (NYSE: AHT) said it has sold a  1.65-acre parking lot adjacent to its Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel in St. Petersburg for $17.5 million. The lot is the future site of Saltaire, a 35-story luxury condominium being developed by The Kolter Group. The St. Petersburg City Council approved the project in August. After the project is completed, Ashford will have ownership rights to 205 covered parking spaces in the new parking garage for use by Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront guests, a news release said.

St. Petersburg manufacturer advances in industry ranking

Cavaform International LLC, a St. Petersburg company that manufactures precision injection molds and components for the plastics industry, is No. 48 in a new ranking of mold and tool makers by Plastics News. Cavaform, with $11 million in mold making and tool sales in 2018, advanced 20 spots in the ranking, the biggest jump of any firm on the list, the industry publication said. Also on the list is Precision Tool & Mold in Clearwater, which ranked No. 136 with an estimated $350,000 in sales last year.

Where Tampa, St. Pete, Clearwater land on this fastest-growing cities list

Personal finance website WalletHub has released a new fastest-growing cities list, based on 17 key measures of both growth and decline over a period of seven years. Among the 515 U.S. cities on the list, St. Petersburg ranked No. 157, Tampa was No. 67 and Clearwater was No. 323.  The top city on the list was Lehigh Acres, part of the Fort Myers metro area in southwest Florida. See the complete list and WalletHub's methodology here.

Tampa insurer sets terms for IPO

BRP Group Inc., the Tampa insurance distribution firm that does business as Baldwin Risk Partners LLC, could raise $246 million in its initial public offering. The company, which filed a preliminary prospectus last month, set terms for the IPO on Friday, saying it would offer 16.4 million shares priced at $14 to $16 each. BRP Group expects to begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange with the ticker symbol BRP the week of Oct. 21, according to MarketWatch.

Cracker Barrel buys Maple Street Biscuit

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. (Nasdaq: CBRL) acquired Maple Street Biscuit Co. for $36 million in cash. Maple Street, founded by Scott Moore and Gus Evans in Jacksonville in 2012, currently has 28 company-owned and five franchised fast casual locations across seven states, including a restaurant at 662 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg. The brands share many similarities such as scratch cooking and an emphasis on hospitality,  Moore said in a news release. Moore will remain CEO of Maple Street. Cracker Barrel plans to convert its Holler & Dash Biscuit House units into Maple Street locations in the coming months.

St. Pete, Pinellas County get FEMA funding

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded the city of St. Petersburg $3.8 million for debris removal from Hurricane Irma, according to an announcement from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Pinellas County received two awards — $4 million for debris removal and $3.1 million for emergency protective measures. Hillsborough County received $4.9 million for debris removal. The local governments are among several in Florida that will receive a total of $143.6 million to recover from the 2017 storm, Rubio's office said.

Weatherford Capital gets backing for new investment fund

Weatherford Capital raised $26 million in equity for Weatherford VC III LLC. It’s the most recent of several investment funds raised by Weatherford Capital, a family-owned private investment firm in Tampa managed by former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and his brothers, Sam Weatherford and Drew Weatherford. Forty-three investors have participated to date in the latest offering, which is seeking a total of $35 million, according to an Oct. 10 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company did not respond to requests for additional information about the fund.

UT boosts revenue in FY 2019

The University of Tampa Inc. reported $245 million in operating revenue for the 12 months ended May 31, a 6.3 percent increase in operating revenue from the prior year, according to financial statements filed for bond holders. The increase in net assets, or surplus, in fiscal year 2019 was $42.3 million, down 3.9 percent from FY 2018.  A surplus at not-for-profit organizations such as UT is similar to net income at for-profit companies. UT reported a $5.7 million loss on the disposal of assets in its most recent fiscal year. That's the result of the complete renovation of the Riverside Center to create the new Southard Family Building and the demolition of the Edison Building to make way for construction of the new Ferman Center for the Arts, a spokesman said. UT also renovated half of the Bailey Arts Studio to make way for the new digital fabrication lab (Fab Lab) during the year. Total enrollment for the fall semester of the 2018-19 school year was 9,335, compared to 8,839 in the fall semester a year earlier.

Tampa cannabinoids company sells consumer products division

Canavation Product Group acquired the consumer products division of Teewinot Life Sciences, a Tampa company involved in the biosynthetic development and production of cannabinoids and their derivatives. Terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed. Canavation also acquired a patent issues to Teewinot. The deal allows Teewinot to focus on commercialization of its CannSynthesis platform, as well as the advancement of its pharmaceutical pipeline, a news release said.

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