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Allegiant adds new routes at St. Pete-Clearwater

Allegiant will launch two new non-stop routes at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. The airline will add service to Traverse City, Michigan via Cherry City Airport beginning Oct. 16, and  State College, Pennsylvania via University Park Airport beginning Oct. 18. The new non-stop routes will operate twice weekly, year-round, and bring nearly 36,000 passengers to the Tampa Bay area annually, a news release said.

Bed tax sets record

Visitors to Pinellas County brought in $6.7 million in tourist development taxes in April, an 11 percent year-over-year increase, according to Visit St. Pete Clearwater. There’s been $38.6 million collected in tourist development taxes between the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 and the end of April, a 5.1 percent gain over the prior year. The tourist development tax, also called a bed tax, is a 6 percent tax collected on accommodations in Pinellas County rented for less than six month. Proceeds fund tourism marketing programs, as well as beach nourishment, construction on stadiums and museums, and reserves to be used in the event of an emergency.   

AT&T invests $175M in Tampa area network

AT&T said it invested more than $175 million in its wireless and wired networks from 2016 to 2018. The company said in a news release that it made nearly 450 wireless network upgrades in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, including adding a new distributed antenna system in Pinellas. The investment support plans to expand 5G Evolution and LTE-LAA technologies, the company said.

Centene discloses WellCare execs’ next moves

Ken Burdick, CEO of WellCare Health Plans Inc., and Drew Asher, WellCare’s CFO, will become executive vice presidents of Centene (NYSE: CNC), after Centene completes its $17 billion purchase of WellCare (NYSE: WCG), a Tampa-based managed healthcare firm. Burdick will get an annual base salary of $1.4 million and stock worth $4.4 million if he stays for the full two years of his contract, along with annual stock grants and cash bonuses. Asher’s base salary will be $750,000 and he’ll get a cash bonus of $1.25 million, as well as other cash and stock awards as part of his two-year contract, Centene said in a regulatory filing late Friday.

Greenpeace ranks Publix, other grocers on plastic use

Several grocers with a presence in the Tampa Bay area are ranked on their efforts to address the global plastics pollution crisis in a new report from Greenpeace. This report assesses 20 U.S. retailers and  none of them retailers achieved a passing score. Aldi scored highest with a specific target to cut plastics use. Trader Joe's was No. 4, Whole Foods was No. 11, Southeastern Grocers, the parent of Winn-Dixie, was No. 14, and Publix was No. 15. Read the full report here.

USF has a new trustee

The Florida Board of Governors has appointed Michael Griffin to the University of South Florida Board of Trustees. Griffin fills the position vacated by Fifth Third Bank's Brian Lamb, who was named to the board of governors in March. Griffin is a Tampa real estate executive who chaired USF’s Consolidation Planning Study and Implementation Task Force. His appointment is effective immediately and runs through Jan. 6, 2020, Florida Politics reported.

Local companies speak out against tariffs

Two area entertainment companies are among the more than 600 companies that have signed a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to resolve the trade dispute with China. “Tariffs are taxes paid directly by U.S. companies, including those listed below — not China,” said the letter, which was coordinated by a group called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. Major retailers, including Walmart Inc. and Target Corp., signed the letter, as did Feld Entertainment in Palmetto and Galaxy Fireworks in Tampa. Read the letter here.

Tampa engineering firm sells for $10.7M

Albeck Gerken Inc., a professional transportation engineering firm with offices in Tampa, Orlando, Virginia and Pennsylvania, agreed to sell to Iteris, a Santa Ana, California-based data analytics company focused on transportation and agriculture. Iteris will pay $10.7 million for Albeck Gerken, including $6.2 million in cash and $4.5 million in stock, a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said. The deal is expected to close next month. Albeck Gerken helps cities maximize the effectiveness of their existing transportation networks.

Tampa companies face suit alleging fraud

Two law firms have filed a class action complaint against Health Insurance Innovations Inc. and its subsidiary, Health Plan Intermediaries Holdings LLC. The lawsuit alleges the firms defrauded customers out of millions of dollars by misrepresenting the benefits of their insurance policies, according to Their complaints underscore problems with some types of cheaper health insurance alternatives that were expanded under the Trump administration, the New York Times reported. Health Insurance Innovations (Nasadaq: HIIQ), based in Tampa, is among the larger publicly traded companies in the Tampa Bay area.

Disston Plaza has new owner

Preferred Apartment Communities Inc. has bought Disston Plaza, a 129,150 square foot, Publix-anchored shopping center at 49th Street and 38th Avenue North in St. Petersburg. More than 134,000 people live within three miles of Disston Plaza and the intersection has traffic counts of 40,000 vehicles a day, a news release said. The purchase price was not disclosed. Preferred Apartment Communities (NYSE: APTS), based in Atlanta, made the purchase through its subsidiary, New Market Properties and now owns 25 Publix-anchored centers in Florida.

BB&T, SunTrust unveil new name

BB&T Corp. (NYSE: BBT) and SunTrust Banks Inc., (NYSE: STI) announced Truist as the name for the combined company to be created through their merger of equals. Truist will be the sixth-largest U.S. bank holding company serving more than 10 million households in the U.S. Combined, the two banks will be No. 2 among retail banks in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, behind Bank of America (NYSE: BAC).

Tampa software firm raises $20.05 million

Actio Analytics Inc. has completed a $20.05 million equity raise. The Tampa software firm got backing from 25 investors, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ACTIO is a modular based, Software-as-a-Service analytics platform that leverages mobile technology to deliver alerts and actionable insights in real time, the company said on its website. It was designed and built by restaurant industry operators for restaurant industry operators, the website said. A call to the company for comment was not immediately returned.

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