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Chevrolet dealership fully operates on solar power

The Dimmitt Chevrolet Clearwater dealership announced Wednesday that it has completed a nearly year-long project to convert the 13-acre facility to fully operate on solar power. "Dimmitt partnered with ESA Solar and Duke Energy to go green in anticipation of the company’s own future energy demands, due to the growth in sales and service of electric vehicles," according to the Tampa Bay Business and Wealth publication. The solar energy system is expected to generate more than one million kilowatts of power per year. 

Rays sell out another home opener

Thursday’s Opening Day game will mark the 17th consecutive year the Tampa Bay Rays have sold out their home opener at Tropicana Field. The team takes on the Detroit Tigers at 3:10 p.m., and former pitcher James “Big Game” Shields will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and symbolically retire as a Ray. While no tickets are available, fans can watch the game on Bally Sports Sun.  

City asks residents for input on stormwater plan

The City of St. Petersburg is asking the public to weigh in on the stormwater master plan, a multi-year plan that aims to improve stormwater quality, reduce flooding, and mitigate the impacts of sea level rise in St. Pete. Input on the plan and corresponding maps is being accepted until May 5. A virtual public meeting will be held Wednesday, April 12 from 6-7 p.m. Residents can also visit www.stpete.org/stormwatermasterplan to provide input through an online form or visit one of four pop-up locations at a city recreation center. 

Junior Achievement launches local entrepreneurial competition

Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay will bring together high school students from its 3DE four launch schools (St. Petersburg High School, Dunedin High School, Chamberlain High School and Hillsborough High School) to compete in its inaugural Innovators Showcase event on April 5 at Raymond James' Carillon office. As part of the national 3DE curriculum, 11th grade students work passionately on a yearlong project centered around entrepreneurship, which consists of developing a tangible business, product or service. The students will pitch their business ideas to business leaders at the, according to Junior Achievement's announcement. 

Local Habitat affiliate wins federal environmental award

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy named Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties a 2023 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year. The federal program annually recognizes businesses and organizations for significantly contributing to a clean energy economy. The local Habitat affiliate recently built its 800th energy-efficient home.

Florida Funders invests in conversational AI platform

Tampa-based venture capital firm Florida Funders has invested in Dashbot, a California-based startup that's developed a conversational data artificial intelligence platform.  Florida Funders invested in Dashbot’s $6 million Series A round from the Florida FundersFund 2 LLC alongside Bessemer Venture Partners and returning and new investors. Dashbot, which has raised a total of $14 million, helps enterprises leverage the 90% of “dark data” in customer messages across the communication channels, including phone calls, customer service interactions and social media chats, according to the funding announcement. 

Frontier adds Phoenix flights from Tampa

Denver-based Frontier Airlines is adding daily nonstop flights from Tampa to Phoenix starting May 11. Frontier also announced its fights from Tampa to Punta Cana and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic will start in May. The airline will launch two weekly frequencies to Punta Cana starting May 21 and Santo Domingo starting the following day. 

Pinellas approves Innovation Center lease

Pinellas County Commissioners approved the master lease and master operations agreement for the ARK Innovation Center (also referred to as the Tampa Bay Innovation Center) during a Tuesday commission meeting. The lease for the 45,000-square-foot facility is between Tampa Bay Innovation Center's entity STAR-TEC and the Pinellas County Industrial Development Authority. The lease term will commence Oct. 1 and will terminate Sept. 30, 2033. STAR-TEC may request up to four, five-year additional successive terms, according to the agreement. 

St. Pete incentivizes tree planting in neighborhoods

The City of St. Petersburg is offering grants up to $10,000 each to neighborhood and business associations or organizations interested in planting more trees in their community. The application deadline for the new Neighborhood Tree Matching Mini-Grant Program is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12, according to the city's Tuesday announcement. 

Pinellas among the most disaster-prone counties

Forbes Advisor analyzed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster declarations for the 200 most populated counties and found Florida was home to 13 of the top 25 most susceptible areas. Pinellas County tied with Hillsborough County and nine others for 13th “most at risk,” with 11 disaster declarations in the last decade. Duval and Manatee County led the state with 12, tied for ninth nationally.

Winnebago acquires Clearwater battery manufacturer

Officials with Winnebago Industries announced Monday that they reached a definitive agreement to purchase Clearwater-based Lithionics Battery. Founded in 2010, Lithionics provides lithium-ion battery solutions that provide “house power” for recreational vehicles and industrial applications. The announcement did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Hillsborough transit agency CEO suspended

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) CEO Adelee Le Grand, who's held the role since 2021, has been suspended from her position. The board's Monday afternoon decision to place Le Grand on paid administrative leave follows an ongoing investigation stemming from claims that Le Grand created a hostile work environment and mismanagement. HART's Chief of Transportation and Maintenance Scott Drainville will serve as the interim CEO.

The St. Pete Catalyst

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