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Pinellas issues scam alert

Pinellas County Consumer Protection is advising citizens to be wary of solicitations for charitable contributions on behalf of Hurricane Dorian victims in the Bahamas or elsewhere. All charities soliciting within Florida – excluding religions, educational and government entities – are required to register and file financial information with the with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. To check whether a charitable organization is properly registered, visit Check-A-Charity, a resource that provides the information reported to the department.

Tampa investment fund buys local manufacturer

Pursuant Capital has bought Patio Products Manufacturing, a Tampa company that manufactures aluminum screen doors and accessories. Financial terms were not disclosed in a news release. Patio Products was established in 1991 by Larry Stephens and Lynda McClure and has continued to grow and branch out, covering 5 states in the southeastern region. Pursuant Capital is a privately-financed fund that searches for, buys and operates profitable small businesses in West Central Florida. Generational Equity, a mergers and acquisitions advisor for privately held businesses, represented Patio Products.

Activist investor wants a second bite at Bloomin’ Brands

Jana Partners, an activist hedge fund, wants to talk to the board of directors and management at Bloomin' Brands Inc. about steps to increase shareholder value, including a potential sale or divestiture. "We appreciate the views of stockholders and will consider all perspectives shared with us," said a spokeswoman for Bloomin' (NYSE: BLMN), the Tampa-based parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's, Bonefish and Fleming's. Jana disclosed its intentions in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Aug. 30 that showed it owned 9 percent of Bloomin's shares. Jana previously held a big stake in Bloomin' but trimmed that after Bloomin' added a board member Jana proposed.

Bisk, University of Notre Dame partner on leadership program for women

The University of Notre Dame's Stayer Center for Executive Education is launching an online Women in Leadership course. The four-week program, powered by Tampa-based Bisk Education Inc., prepares women to build strategic leadership skills, lead effective change, practice ethical decision making, negotiate and resolve conflict, and build relationships through mentorship and networking, a news release said.

Duke stages repair crews in Clearwater

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) has put nearly 6,500 transmission and distribution personnel in place to support power restoration in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. That's nearly three times the typical number of crews in the state, a news release said. Crew resources are being staged in safe locations in The Villages, Davenport and Clearwater to be ready to respond to outages. TECO's Peoples Gas also said it remains "vigilant" in preparing for the potential effects of Hurricane Dorian. If needed, Peoples Gas employees from other parts of Florida can help restore gas service after the storm.

Dorian impacts USF, SPC, Stetson

All University of South Florida campuses and facilities are closed and all classes are cancelled today due to Hurricane Dorian. However, the USF St. Petersburg Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, Student Life Center and Campus Recreation Center will open today from 5 p.m. -  10 p.m. USF said it plans to resume normal business operations on Wednesday, Sept. 4. St. Petersburg College also is closed today. Stetson University's College of Law Gulfport and Tampa campuses are closed through Wednesday, Sept. 4 and will reopen Thursday, Sept. 5. Operations are normal at Eckerd College.

St. Pete offers storm alerts

The city of St. Petersburg is urging residents to sign up for storm-related alerts. The free services allows the city to communicate directly with residents during emergency situations. Signups are here.The city is also distributing sandbags at three locations: Northeast Park, 875 62nd Avenue NE; James “JC” Turner Fields, 643 22nd Avenue S.; and Northwest Pool, 2331 60th Street N. Sandbag distribution is scheduled until 5 pm Friday, Aug. 30, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. More information and resources are available at St. Pete Prepares.

AAA reports gasoline outages

Surging demand ahead of Hurricane Dorian has left some gas stations without fuel, according to AAA. Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked port terminals to stay open as long as possible so tanker trucks can pick up gasoline for transport to gas stations, as well as waived weight restrictions on tanker truck and hours of service limitations for drivers. DeSantis earlier declared a state of emergency throughout Florida, which means retailers are not allowed to raise rates significantly higher than charges in the past month. Suspected price gouging can be reported at 1-866-966-7226 or the Florida Attorney General’s website.

TOPS Software plans HQ expansion in Clearwater

TOPS Software will move to a new, expanded corporate headquarters by the first quarter of 2020. The company is selling its current building at 2495 Enterprise Rd. to a Pinellas County area school, a news release said. The tech company, which provides community association management software, said it has outgrown its current office. The company has added 35 employees since mid-2018 and plans similar growth over the next 12 to 18 months.     

Tampa tech company picked for startup summit

Verapy, a Tampa medtech firm, is among the startups from around the U.S. that will be taking part in the Startup of the Year Global Competition and Summit in Memphis in October. Verapy builds virtual reality games for physical and occupational therapy. The annual competition, produced by Established and Start Co., will feature up to 100 startups showcase their products and services as they compete for up to $100,000 in potential investments. It's scheduled Oct. 14-Oct. 16.

St. Pete health tech firm preps for Dorian

Synzi, a St. Petersburg healthcare technology firm, is  providing Florida home health agencies free use of its automated messaging to contact all of their patients during Hurricane Dorian. Many Florida-based home health agencies are already sending out a notification message to their patients using the Synzi communication platform, the company said. More information is available by emailing



With storm approaching, Pinellas opens Citizen Information Center

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for all 67 Florida counties because of Hurricane Dorian. Although neither Pinellas nor Hillsborough counties were in the original order, they now are included, due to the storm's uncertain path, DeSantis said. The expanded order provides state and local governments ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare as the exact landfall location of Hurricane Dorian continues to fluctuate. Pinellas County is monitoring the forecast and has opened the Citizen Information Center, which is available from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. for preparedness questions at 727-464-4333. Social media updates will used hashtag #PinellasDorian

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