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Tampa Bay Times takes Pulitzer for investigative reporting

Tampa Bay Times reporters Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting Monday, for their series Poisoned, chronicling the dangers at Gopher Resource, a Tampa lead smelting factory. It is the 14th Pulitzer win for the St. Petersburg-based newspaper.

Firm with $1B worth of client assets rejoins Dynasty Financial network

New York-based Ascent Wealth Partners, which has $1 billion in client assets, has rejoined the St. Petersburg-based Dynasty Financial Partners network.  Ascent Wealth Partners originally joined the Dynasty network in 2011. The firm has offices in New Hartford, Saratoga, and Elmira in New York. “Support provided on middle and back-office activities allows us to provide a high level of services to our clients,” Brad Kowalczyk, partner at Ascent Wealth Advisors, said in Dynasty's Monday news release. “Mark and I have been good friends with Shirl [Dynasty CEO Shirl Penney] for a long time and it was clear we all wanted to find a path to partnership again to give us leverage to better care for clients and continue to build a better business.”

SunRunner lane enforcement to begin soon

Drivers may be fined for driving, parking, loading or unloading in the red painted pavement areas. Only PSTA buses and emergency vehicles are allowed to drive in the red lanes, though all drivers may enter the lanes to make a turn. 

Visit Tampa Bay names Les Miller Tourism Ambassador of the Year

Visit Tampa Bay announced Thursday that its 2022 Gonzmart Family Tourism Ambassador of the Year is Tampa native and Shumaker Advisors Principal Les Miller. According to a release, Miller received the award for his unwavering commitment to the Tampa Bay community for the last 50 years. The organization credited Miller for supporting the region’s hospitality industry through his time as a Hillsborough County Commissioner and as a state senator and representative. “Since leaving public office, Les has continued to be an integral part of our board and is fully deserving of this accolade,” said Santiago C. Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.

Staff recommends Vinik Sports Group manage Imagine Clearwater

The City of Clearwater announced Thursday the recommendation of a partnership between Tampa-based Vinik Sports Group (VSG) and OVG360, a division of L.A.-based Oak View Group, to manage and operate the Imagine Clearwater development. The $84 million project will transform the city’s Coachman Park into an urban waterfront recreation and entertainment complex. VSG, which owns the Tampa Bay Lightning, and OVG360 will manage a 4,000-seat venue, produce events, book talent and provide concessions. The city will operate the rest of the park.

USF awards over 6,400 degrees during spring commencement

Beginning Friday, May 6, through Sunday, May 8, the University of South Florida will award more than 6,400 degrees during its spring commencement ceremonies. The recipients include 95 students that earned a perfect 4.0 GPA, 224 veterans and graduates representing all 50 states and 100 countries. The school is awarding 4,843 undergraduate, 1,295 master's and 297 doctoral degrees. The youngest graduate, at 18 years old, is receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The oldest graduate, who is 68 years old, earned her bachelor's degree in nursing. Charlene Barnes transitioned from a career as an information technologist to pursue nursing following her son’s death from a meningococcal disease in 2015. Other notable graduates include Tyra Brown, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2015 that forced her to relearn how to breathe, walk and eat again, and Alexander Mercier, USF’s first Rhodes Scholarship Finalist. University President Rhea Law will preside over all ceremonies, which take place at the Yuengling Center on the Tampa campus.

Tampa Bay ranks as the 15th best area for small businesses

As part of National Small Business Week, lending platform Biz2Credit recently released its Top 25 Small Business Cities in America list. For the second consecutive year, Tampa-St. Petersburg placed 15th. The region ranked 8th in 2020. According to a release, Biz2Credit determines its “best small business cities” based on a weighted average that includes revenues, labor costs, profitability, credit score, business age, tax rates and other data from 82,000 companies that applied for small business funding. Topping the list was San Jose, and Tampa Bay finished above Austin (17) and Nashville (21.)

Pinellas transit authority begins pouring asphalt for SunRunner route

This week, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will begin pouring red asphalt on selected lanes on 1st Avenue North and South, and Pasadena Avenue for the SunRunner route. The red lanes for the SunRunner, the region’s first bus rapid transit line, will be used to mark "bus-and-turn" online areas. Only PSTA buses and emergency vehicles are allowed to drive in the lanes. Drivers are only allowed to make a turn within the lane. The pour is expected to be completed by May 26. 

Raymond James names new Financial Chief Economist

The St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial has named a new Financial Chief Economist as the current longtime executive Scott Brown will be retiring. Brown, who informed the board last year he planned to retire, will retire on May 6. Following a comprehensive search, joining Raymond James as Brown’s successor is Eugenio Alemán. He comes to Raymond James from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) where he was also a chief economist. His official start date is May 9. 

Pinellas County hosts hurricane simulation

Local governments and partnering personnel across Pinellas are gauging their preparation and response to a simulated Category 2 hurricane this week. The five-day exercise began on Monday and concludes Friday, May 6. In the simulation, hosted by Pinellas County Emergency Management, “Hurricane Amaranth” hits the county on Friday with 100 mph winds and a six to eight feet storm surge. Multiple agencies and jurisdictions will test emergency communications equipment, online collaboration tools and emergency response procedures. Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. For more information on how to prepare, visit the county website here.

Tampa-based property insurance company liquidated

A Louisiana judge recently ordered the liquidation of Tampa-based Lighthouse Property Insurance, calling any further attempts at solvency “futile.” According to the order posted on the Lighthouse website, the insurer must cancel all of its policies within 30 days. Lighthouse became the third Florida property insurance company to reach insolvency since February. St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes has repeatedly sounded the alarm that the property insurance market has reached a tipping point, and Gov. Ron DeSantis recently heeded the warnings. The governor called a special session starting May 23 to address the issue.

Frontier adds nonstop service from Tampa to Caribbean

Frontier Airlines (NASDAQ: ULCC) will launch the first nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to Punta Cana and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic as well as Montego Bay, Jamaica. Frontier will also begin offering daily nonstop service to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The new routes, plus the previously announced nonstop service to Cancun, Mexico, will begin this summer, according to Frontier's news release. The introductory fares start at $99.“We are pleased to significantly expand our international service from Tampa,” Daniel Shurz, senior vice president of commercial at Frontier Airlines, said in the release. “We will now offer more nonstop flights from Tampa to destinations in Latin America than any other carrier. The new service to San Juan will provide robust options for those heading to Puerto Rico to visit friends and family or to enjoy the island’s beautiful beaches and warm hospitality.”  The service to the destinations will begin on the following dates: San Juan, Puerto Rico service will start June 23 and will be daily; Montego Bay, Jamaica service will start June 24 and will be offered twice weekly; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic service will start June 30 and will be offered twice weekly; and Punta, Cana service will start July 2 and will be offered once per week. 

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