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Survey finds strong support for Cross-Bay Ferry

Seventy-two percent of the people who rode the Cross-Bay Ferry between St. Petersburg and Tampa in the past few months believe that creating a permanent regional ferry system is very important, according to a survey of 3,300 passengers by HMS Ferries. Ninety-six percent of riders rated their experience as either excellent or very good, a news release said. HMS provided the results to local governments, including the Hillsborough County Commission, which will talk about permanent ferry service at a meeting May 15. 

Clearwater clean tech company fights delisting

Taronis Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: TRNX) said it will request a hearing before Nasdaq to prevent the company's stock from being delisted. Nasdaq initially notified the Clearwater company, formerly MagneGas Corp., a year ago that it did not comply with the listing rules, because its stock had closed at less than $1 a share over the previous 30 business days. It still does not comply, according to a May 7 letter from Nasdaq. Taronis has until May 16 to appeal the decision and present a plan to regain compliance.

Safety company wins Florida venture pitch competition

SaferWatch in Boca Raton was the top winner in the pitch competition at the 2019 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference. The company, which provides the ability for citizens to send in photos, videos, audio files and text messages directly to local law enforcement and public safety organizations, won $50,000, a news release said. Three Tampa Bay companies — RxLive, Alpha UMi and Phonism — also presented at the conference.

Central Florida bank expands to Tampa

Cogent Bank, a $200 million-asset bank headquartered in Orange City, Florida, is opening a Tampa office. The office will be at 1715 N. Westshore Blvd., according to a LinkedIn post by Wade Faircloth, a local banking veteran who is market president for Cogent Bank.  

Kriseman joins mayoral delegation in Israel

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is one of five mayors who are part of a bipartisan delegation visiting Israel.

Credit agency expects slower growth at Masonite

Moody’s Investors Service changed the outlook for Masonite International (NYSE: DOOR) to stable from positive. Moody’s expects slower organic volume growth for the Tampa-based door manufacturer and higher material and labor costs, a news release said. Masonite is expected to benefit from new housing construction, repairs and remodeling. Moody’s affirmed Masonite’s Ba2 corporate family rating, just below investment grade, and other existing ratings.

Lakshmi Shenoy to speak at Smart Cities NY Conference

Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective, will speak at the Smart Cities NY Conference May 14 & May 15 at Pier 36 in New York. Shenoy will serve as a panelist on Co-working, Capital, and Collaboration: A Path to Diversifying Economies. According to the conference's website, "SCNY is North America's leading global conference for innovators and decision-makers who are improving life in the cities of tomorrow." More details here. 

Iron Bow closes Tampa office

IT company Iron Bow Technologies will close its Tampa office and lay off 178 workers, mostly call center representatives. The Herndon, Virginia-based company did not say give a reason for the closure in a May 8 notice to state. The layoffs will take place starting June 28 and continue through July 15. The Tampa office opened in September 2016. As of Friday morning, Iron Bow’s website featured a video from the City of Tampa highlighting the office opening.

Zillow Offers coming to Tampa

Zillow plans to launch its Zillow Offers program in Tampa and five other cities by the end of the first quarter of 2020. Under the program, launched last year,  Zillow directly buys a house, prepares it for showings, and lists it for sale. Agents from local brokerages represent Zillow in the transaction, a news release said.

Raytheon wins defense contract for St. Pete plant

Raytheon was awarded a $15.3 million contract for design and engineering services to support the Cooperative Engagement Capability. The CEC program uses a sensor network to improve battle force effectiveness, a news release said. About 95 percent of the work will be performed in St. Petersburg and about 5 percent in Largo, with completion scheduled for September 2022. If all options are exercised the contract would be worth $279.3 million and work would continue through April 2024.

Masonite discloses pay for new CEO

Howard Heckes, who will take over as CEO of Masonite International (NYSE: DOOR) on June 3, will get a pay package worth nearly $3 million. He will get an $850,000 base salary, a $150,000 sign-on bonus, a target incentive award of up to $977,500, and restricted stock and stock appreciation rights with a fair market value of $1 million, a regulatory filing said. Heckes will succeed Fred Lynch, who previously said he would retire from the Tampa-based door manufacturer. Lynch's total compensation for 2018 was $4.1 million.

Jacksonville firm buys St. Pete Moving & Storage

Suddath, a leading global transportation, relocation and logistics company, has acquired St. Pete Moving & Storage, a residential local and long-distance mover. The acquisition expands Suddath’s presence in the market, complementing its existing Tampa branch operations. St. Pete Moving & Storage will continue operating under its own name. The St. Pete and Tampa Suddath branches will both report to JP Eschbacher, vice president and general manager of Suddath’s Tampa area business.

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