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Ybor City proponent joins board of cannabis company

Major Gen. USAF (Retired) David Scott has joined the board of directors of United Cannabis Corp. (OTCBB: CNAB). Scott has served as a member of the company’s advisory board since 2017 and said in a news release that he’s observed how the company’s cannabis and hemp-derived products help people with pain and sleep disorders. Scott lives in Tampa, where he operates three small businesses and promotes community development within the Ybor City National Historic Landmark District. 

United Way taps local leader for national role

United Way Worldwide has appointed Suzanne McCormick as the organization’s incoming U.S. president. She will assume her new role on July 31, a news release said. McCormick  currently serves as president and CEO of United Way Suncoast, which serves Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties. In her new role, McCormick will be responsible for building the modern United Way and leading the continued digital transformation through the organization’s enterprise technology platform adoption.

St. Petersburg man indicted on fraud charges

St. Petersburg resident Marc Lawrence is one of two men facing securities fraud and wire fraud charges filed by federal prosecutors in New York. Lawrence and David Wagner, of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, are accused of a Ponzi-like scheme involving several corporate entities, collectively referred to as Downing, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. They are accused of soliciting more than $8 million from investors through misleading and false statement, then misappropriating a significant portion of those funds, the news release said.

‘Best Hospital’ designation comes with an asterisk for St. Pete facility

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg ranks No. 44 in two specialty areas — cancer and pulmonology — on the new U.S. News & World Report 2019-2020 Best Children’s Hospitals list. Johns Hopkins All Children’s was the only children’s hospital on Florida’s West Coast to make the list, it said in a news release. The designation comes with an asterisk. U.S. News cited reporting by the Tampa Bay Times and confirmed by hospital leadership that Johns Hopkins All Children’s has suspended all pediatric heart surgeries until “all involved are confident that the care being delivered meets the high standards set by this organization."

HR outsourcing firm opens Tampa office

Insperity Inc. has opened a new district office in Tampa and promoted Kevin Howe to district manager of the new office. Insperity (NYSE: NSP), provides human resources and business performance solutions for other companies. The expansion into Tampa reflects the company's continued optimism about the growth of business in America and reinforces Insperity’s commitment to helping small and medium-sized companies succeed, Jay Mincks, executive vice president of sales and marketing, said in a news release.

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.

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