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Tampa-based Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Financial Advisor Recognized on Forbes

Tampa-based Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Financial Advisor Robert Weiss was recently recognized on the Forbes “Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors” 2019 list. In total, 86 Merrill advisors were recognized this year, the most of any firm.

USF increases supplier diversity

The University of South Florida said it spent nearly $35 million with diverse suppliers in 2018-2019, its most recent fiscal year. That's an increase of nearly $8 million from the previous year and almost double the amount from 2016-17, when it spent $18 million, according to a news release.  Overall, 8.7 percent of the university’s competitively sourced purchases last year were made with businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans, the news release said. USF plans a supplier diversity day on Friday, Oct. 4.

Oscar Health expands to Tampa market

Oscar Health, a technology-driven health insurance startup, said it is expanding to 12 new markets in 2020, including the Tampa market, pending regulatory approval. The company initially focused on providing Obamacare coverage and earlier this year announced plans to enter the business of selling private Medicare Advantage plans for seniors, according to a report in Forbes.

Raymond James boosts assets

Raymond James Financial posted gains in two categories of assets in July. Client assets under administration were $831.1 billion, up 8 percent over July 2018 and up 1 percent over June 2019. Financial assets  under management were $144 billion, up 4 percent from July 2018 and 1 percent from June 2019. The growth of client assets was driven by equity market appreciation and the net addition of financial advisors in the Private Client Group, St. Petersburg-based Raymond James (NYSE: RJF) said in a news release.

Tampa XFL team now has a name and a logo

Professional football league XFL has announced names and logos for the eight teams that will begin play next year. In Tampa, the team's name is the Vipers, and the logo is a stylized green and yellow capital V. (See names and logos for all eight teams here.) Josh Bullock, former vice president of corporate partnerships at the Tampa Bay Rays, was hired earlier this year as president of the Tampa Bay Vipers. 

CareerSource Pinellas CEO gets county commission backing

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with negotiations for a new contract with Jennifer Brackney, CEO of CareerSource Pinellas. Brackney stepped in last year to head the workforce development agency after former CEO Ed Peachey was fired. The CareerSource Pinellas board of directors earlier this month recommended Brackney continue in the job. It’s now up to the CareerSource Pinellas board to proceed with contract negotiations, and submit a new contract for Pinellas commissioners’ approval no later than Oct. 31.

Cross-Bay Ferry contract advances

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners approved a two-year funding plan for the Cross-Bay Ferry service between downtown St. Petersburg and downtown Tampa. The vote came two weeks after a presentation by Mayor Rick Kriseman, who said ridership grew during the just-ended second season of service compared to the pilot year. Pinellas commissioners voted four-to-two to continue funding the ferry, with commissioners Dave Eggers and Kathleen Peters voting no. There was no discussion before the vote. The St. Petersburg City Council unanimously approved the deal last week, with votes expected today in the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and tomorrow in the Tampa City Council. Each local government is being asked to contribute $286,063 over two years.

USF, St. Petersburg College programs get Duke Energy grants

Duke Energy awarded more than $715,000 in grants to support 18 projects in Florida. The grants, from the Duke Energy Foundation, support workforce education and training programs. One of the grant recipients is St. Petersburg College Foundation's engineering in energy program, which addresses the growing shortage of energy industry workers in Tampa-St. Pete. Two summer programs at University of South Florida Foundation also got grant funding. Those programs advance learning in engineering, science and the environment, a news release said.

Digital summit planned for Clearwater

Information Services Group will host the ISG Digital Business Summit at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach Resort next month.  The summit will explore how digital disruption is impacting technology infrastructure, business operating models and organization strategies. The Clearwater event, on Sept. 23-Sept. 24, follows earlier summits in London and in Sydney, according to a news release from ISG (Nasdaq: III), a global technology research and advisory firm.

Largo philanthropists donate $10M to USF School of Pharmacy

The University of South Florida received a $10 million gift from the Taneja Family Foundation to name the USF Health Taneja College of Pharmacy. The donation, made through the USF Foundation, is the largest philanthropic gift to a pharmacy school in Florida, USF said in a news release. As result of the gift, the Taneja College of Pharmacy will move into the new USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute facility under construction in downtown Tampa.  The building is scheduled to open in late 2019, with pharmacy students tentatively expected to start classes there in fall of 2021. Jugal and Manju Taneja and their family own Belcher Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmacy company in Largo, and last year were the major financial donors behind a  $256 million surgical and patient tower at Florida Hospital Tampa.

Unemployment drops in Tampa-St. Pete

The unemployment rate in July in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area was 3.4 percent, down 0.3 percentage point from one year ago, and down 0.1 percentage point from June. The area added 31,200 new private-sector jobs in the last year, a news release from Gov. Ron DeSantis' office said. The industries with the highest growth over the year in the area were education and health services with 7,300 new jobs and professional and business services with 6,700 new jobs. There were 57,835 job openings in the area in July, making the Tampa area first among the state metro areas in job demand.

Raymond James plans $750M stock buyback

The board of directors of Raymond James Financial has authorized the repurchase of up to $750 million of company stock. The authorization, approved Aug. 15, replaces the previous stock buyback announced in March. The repurchases may be made from time to time at prices that the company deems appropriate and subject to market conditions, and there's no fixed expiration date on the buyback. Raymond James (NYSE: RJF) is a financial services company headquartered in St. Petersburg.

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