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Dynasty Financial launches program to invest in clients

 Dynasty Financial Partners, a St. Petersburg company that offers wealth management and technology platforms for independent financial advisory firms, has launched a program to make minority investments in client companies. The new minority investment program adds to Dynasty’s existing programs offering traditional debt financing as well as non-controlling revenue interests, a news release said. Minority equity is a valuable capital solution for a variety of strategic needs, including owner liquidity, mergers and acquisitions, and succession, and minority capital can help institutionalize a brand and enhance credibility with clients and advisor recruits alike, according to Dynasty's news release. Dynasty also added Rebecca Zeitels Alcalay, vice president at GF Investments, to its board of directors. Alcalay has provided significant input to the design of Dynasty's investment programs, the news release said.

Dance instructor arrested, charged with battery and molestation

St. Petersburg police arrested a 52-year-old dance instructor at the St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory on charges stemming from what police said was an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student. The dance instructor, Servy Gallardo, is charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious battery and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation today, police said in a news release. Detectives are concerned that there could be additional victims. The Police Department is asking anyone with information to come forward and/or anyone. who has been victimized by Gallardo to call the St. Petersburg Police Department at 727-893-7780. Anonymous tips can be sent by texting the letters SPPD and the tip, to TIP411.

Pinellas County rescinds mask mandate

Pinellas County has rescinded an ordinance requiring face coverings and certain Covid-19 safety protocols at businesses, following Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order ending local Covid-19 restrictions. A Pinellas County order requiring safety plans requirements for large events is also rescinded, a news release from the county said. Private businesses and organizations in Pinellas may still require face coverings and/or any other safety protocols as part of their own business operation. The Pinellas County School Board is not affected by the governor’s order, and masking and social distancing protocols remain in effect in Pinellas County Schools through the end of the 2020-2021 school year. A May 11 meeting of the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners no longer will include the state of local emergency and public hearing on the face covering ordinance.

First Home Bank raises minimum wage for employees

First Home Bank in St. Petersburg has raised its minimum wage to $18 an hour. First Home is establishing the $18 minimum wage to ensure responsible growth of the institution while best serving the needs of its customers and diverse workforce, a news release said. “An $18 per hour minimum wage ensures that every employee, regardless of position, is paid a living wage. We feel that is the responsibility of corporations to help build a better society for all," Anthony Leo, CEO, said in the release. The new minimum wage applies to all employees across the organization except those who are paid on a commission basis or have production incentive plans whose earnings are typically above the minimum wage. The move follows other community initiatives by First Home, a $1.7 billion bank, including a focus on minority lending and a $100,000 donation to Arts Conservatory for Teens.

Crist announces bid to return to governor’s office

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, released a video Tuesday morning in which he declares his candidacy for governor of Florida in the 2022 election. Crist, who served as governor from 2007 to 2011, when he was a Republican, will detail his vision for the future of the state at an event scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday in the historic Deuces neighborhood in South St. Petersburg. “We can build a Florida for all Floridians,” Crist said in a statement excerpted from the speech he is expected to deliver at the event. “We can create a society that values every person. We can break the fever of division and hatred that has afflicted our politics.”

Agencies unveil plan to speed travel between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

Buses will soon be driving on the shoulders of Interstate 275 from 5th Avenue North to Gandy Boulevard in St. Petersburg. It's part of a project by the Florida Department of Transportation and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority to enhance reliable transit travel times between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties on PSTA's Route 100x, a news release said. When travel speeds on I-275 fall below 35 miles per hour, the bus will have the option to enter the outside shoulder in authorized locations to avoid the slower interstate traffic. The bus will travel at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour and will never travel at a speed higher than 15 miles per hour over general traffic, the news release said. Vehicles entering I-275 via on-ramps will need to yield to the bus if it is riding on the shoulder. Bus on shoulder signals have been installed at the 38th Avenue and 54th Avenue interchange on-ramps in the northbound and southbound directions. When a bus is approaching on the shoulder, the signal will turn red, stopping oncoming ramp traffic for a few seconds. Once the bus safely passes the on ramp, the BOSS will go dark and traffic can proceed as normal.

Tampa mayor says she’ll listen to CDC, not DeSantis

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has joined St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in pushing back against Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order, issued on Monday at a St. Pete restaurant, that suspends Covid-19 restrictions at the local level. "The best decisions are made by local authorities who are closest to the unique health and welfare needs of our communities,” Castor said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to follow CDC guidelines and encourage all of our residents to get vaccinated so that we can safely return to a sense of normalcy."

Toronto tech firm moves headquarters to St. Pete

RabbitRun Technologies has opened an office in St. Petersburg that will be the tech firm’s North American headquarters. Based in Toronto, RabbitRun is a provider of business networking and cloud computing solutions to managed service providers and IT service providers. “This is an incredibly exciting time for RabbitRun as we focus on North American sales growth anchored in the U.S.,” CEO Eric Hernaez stated in a news release. “St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area make for an ideal locale to grow our capabilities as we bring on new hires.”

CEO steps down at Oragenics

Dr. Alan Joslyn resigned as chief executive officer, president and director of Oragenics, a Tampa-based biotech firm. Joslyn resigned effective May 2 to pursue other opportunities, according to a news release from the company. Before a new CEO is hired, the board of directors will provide direction to the company, with Dr. Frederick Telling transitioning from chairman of the board to the newly established position of executive chairman, effective immediately. Mike Sullivan, the company’s current chief financial officer, will serve as the company’s interim principal executive officer to address the vacancy created by Joslyn’s resignation. Oragenics recently raised $20 million from the sale of common stock and will use some of the funding to boost its research into a Covid-19 vaccine.

St. Pete bank holding company changes its name

Shareholders of First Home Bancorp in St. Petersburg approved changing the company’s name to BayFirst Financial Corp. The name change is effective immediately, a news release said. BayFirst Financial Corp. trades on the OTCQX Best Market under the symbol “FHBI.” First Home Bank, the company's subsidiary, will keep its name. As of March 31, BayFirst Financial Corp. $1.7 billion in total assets, of which $967 million consisted of loans made under the Payroll Protection Program. The company reported record earnings for the first quarter of 2021.

Crist expected to announce run for governor

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has scheduled an event for 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in St. Pete at which he is widely expected to launch a gubernatorial bid. Crist, 64, served as governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, when he was a Republican. He then left the GOP to become an independent and unsuccessfully challenged Republican Marcio Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek for a U.S. Senate seat. In 2012, he joined the Democratic Party and challenged then-Gov. Rick Scott for the governorship, narrowly losing in 2014. Two years later, he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives when he defeated 13th District incumbent David Jolly. Members of Crist’s campaign fundraising team were seen last week at Clear Labs, a co-working space in St. Pete’s Grand Central District, making calls to donors.

USF holds in-person graduation at Tropicana Field

The University of South Florida will hold in-person commencement ceremonies this weekend at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. USF President Steven Currall will preside over spring commencement ceremonies scheduled for 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, a news release said.  About 7,200 degrees will be awarded in the spring 2021 class, including 5,206 undergraduate, 1,691 master’s, 289 doctoral and 12 specialist’s degrees. They will be the first in-person graduations since December 2019, as Covid-19 forced ceremonies to be held virtually in spring, summer and fall of 2020. Saturday's ceremonies will have Covid-19 protocols in place for safety purposes, the news release said.  All graduates and attendees are required to wear face coverings and graduates will be seated six feet apart to accommodate for physical distancing. Each graduate is permitted to bring two guests to their ceremony with live streaming available for those who can’t be there in person.  

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