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Part 2 of ‘Skyway’ art exhibit bows Thursday

The second part of the collaborative art exhibit Skyway 20/21, featuring 18 area artists, opens Thursday at the Tampa Museum of Art, and will be on view through Oct. 10. The first part is now on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art St. Petersburg (through Aug 22); the other participants are Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art (June 20-Sept. 26) and USF Contemporary Art Museum (June 14-Sept. 1). More information.

Former congressman, mental health advocate joins St. Pete company as strategic advisor

Patrick Kennedy, founder of the national mental health nonprofit, The Kennedy Forum, has joined Ascellus as a strategic advisor. Ascellus, which recently changed its name from IMCS Group, is a St. Petersburg-based behavioral health provider focused on helping injured workers restore their physical and emotional wellbeing. Kennedy is a former U.S. congressman who served 16 years in the House of Representatives, where he co-authored a federal parity law that requires insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders no more restrictively than for illnesses of the body.  

Collins advances to second round at French Open

Pro tennis player Danielle Collins, a St. Petersburg native, has advanced to the second round of the French Open in Paris, defeating China’s Wang Xiyu 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Sunday, the first day of the red-clay Grand Slam. It was the first win since March for Collins, who recently underwent surgery to treat endometriosis, a condition that affects women’s ovaries and fallopian tubes and can cause severe pain and even infertility. The 50th-ranked Collins’ next opponent is Anhelina Kilinina of Ukraine, currently ranked No. 123 in the world.

Second bidder wants to buy Welbilt

Ali Holding, an Italian company with North American operations in Chicago, has offered $23 a share in cash to buy Welbilt, a commercial food equipment manufacturer in New Port Richey. Ali Holding is the second bidder for Welbilt. In April, Middleby Corp., an Elgin, Illinois food service equipment company, proposed an all-stock deal in which Welbilt shareholders would receive 0.1240 shares of Middleby common stock for each share of Welbilt common stock they own. Ali Holding said in a news release that its proposal represents a premium of about 13.9 percent to the implied value of the Middleby transaction as of May 24. The company said it has substantial cash on hand and has received a "highly confident letter" from Goldman Sachs International for new financing to fund the proposed transaction. Welbilt (NYSE: WBT) is one of the larger publicly traded companies headquartered in the area, with $1.15 billion in net sales in 2020.

The Catalyst team thanks all those who have served, and the family and friends that supported them.

The St Pete Catalyst will be closed Memorial Day to remember, mourn and celebrate those that made the greatest sacrifice for our country so that we need only make the smallest for it.   Thank you to our Catalyst community for putting ideas over ego in reading, commenting and adding your voices.  

Seán Kinane is WMNF’s new news director

WMNF-FM announced Friday that Seán Kinane has been hired as Director of News and Public Affairs, replacing Rob Lorei, who was let go by the community radio station in April after 43 years. Kinane has been the station’s Assistant Director of News and Public Affairs since 2009, and before that was WMNF’s senior reporter.

St. Pete finetunes proposed community benefits agreement

St. Petersburg development officials have updated a draft community benefits agreement, after getting feedback from City Council members and community leaders. The CBA applies to certain public-private partnership projects and generally requires additional investment by a developer in the community. Development officials outlined about a dozen updates to the City Council's Health, Energy, Resiliency & Sustainability Committee Thursday including an exemption for historic preservation projects and clarification that the Tropicana Field site redevelopment cannot receive exemptions. There's also a financial hardship waiver for projects in some low-income areas and revised langaug regarding an advisory council. The committee voted 3-to-1 to send the draft to the full City Council for consideration. Council Vice Chair Gina Driscoll and Council members Brandi Gabbard and Darden Rice voted to advance the plan, while Council Chairman Ed Montanari voted no.

St. Pete’s Growve gets $175 million credit facility

Growve, a St. Petersburg company in the e-commerce marketplace, announced a $175 million credit facility from a syndicate of 10 banks. Growve is a "brand consolidator" that specializes in buying and operating brands in the supplement, body care, food, household and pet categories. The company has a portfolio of more than 20 brands. The credit facility will sustain Growve's long-term growth capital structure , Brian Baer, CEO, said in a news release. The banks that make up the syndicate are: Truist, Compeer Financial, Wells Fargo, First Horizon, JPMorgan Chase, Synovus, South State, Atlantic Capital, HSBC, and Seaside. The bank syndication comes a few days Palm Beach Capital invested an undisclosed amount in Growve. Palm Beach Capital is a private equity firm with offices in West Palm Beach and Sarasota.

St. Pete police investigate hate crime at Florida Holocaust Museum

St. Petersburg police detectives are investigating what the department is calling a hate crime at the Florida Holocaust Museum in downtown St. Petersburg. Officers on patrol at about 4 a.m. Thursday spotted graffiti along the 1st Avenue South side of the museum. The message, sprayed painted in black, included a swastika and "Jews are guilty," according to a news release from the police department. City sanitation workers were called to paint over the graffiti, the news release said. Anyone who may have information is asked to contact the St. Petersburg Police Department at 727-893-7780 or text SPPD+ your tip to TIP411. The Florida Holocaust Museum, at 55 5th St. S., is planning structural upgrades intended to make the museum a safer place to visit, as Anti-Semitic incidents remained at a historically high level across the United States in 2020.

City Council wants to curb administration spending

The St. Petersburg City Council will consider lowering the threshold that the administration can spend without Council approval. The Council's budget committee approved a proposal Thursday from Council Chair Ed Montanari to lower the threshold from $100,000 to $75,000. The measure now advances to the full City Council, which will be asked to approve a change to the city's procurement code. Montanari proposed the lower spending threshold after Mayor Rick Kriseman signed a $99,000 contract with a consultant for Tropicana Field site redevelopment. The contract initially was for $180,000 but the Council delayed approval and the scope of services required dropped during that time, administration officials said. Originally, Montanari wanted to lower the spending limit to $50,000 but he changed that to $75,000 to reduce the work the city's staff would have to do in preparation for council approval. Council member Gina Driscoll said the lower threshold would create additional cost, but said it was the price paid for "broken trust" and a move to circumvent the Council. Council member Darden Rice suggested the lower spending limit be reviewed after six months, and the rest of the budget committee agreed to that. Kriseman will leave office in early 2022 because of term limits. Both Rice and Council member Robert Blackmon, who also sits on the budget committee, are mayoral candidates.

First Citrus, BayFirst rank among top-performing community banks

First Citrus Bancorporation ranked No. 83 and BayFirst Financial Corp. (formerly First Home Bancorp) ranked No. 164 on American Banker's new list of top-performing community banks. The list of 200 community banks nationwide was ranked based on three-year return on average equity (ROAA). First Citrus (OTC: FCIT), based in Tampa and with $528.7 million in total assets on Dec. 31, posted an 11.82 percent three-year ROAA. BayFirst (OTCQX: FHBI), based in St. Petersburg and with $1.5 billion in total assets at year-end, had a 10.31 percent ROAA. "The nation’s top-performing community banks managed to boost profits and minimize loan losses despite fallout from the coronavirus pandemic," American Banker wrote, citing help from the federal government, including leniency with loan deferrals and fees from the Paycheck Protection Program. Top performers were also able to increase revenue at nearly twice the rate of expenses, American Banker said. First Citrus was the top-ranked Florida community bank. It plans to open a St. Petersburg office in June. 

Detectives seek to arrest alleged sexual predator

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office detectives have obtained an arrest warrant for Blas Jose-Hernandez, who has been charged with 15 counts of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation involving a victim under 12. According to a news release, Jose-Hernandez, 39, was last known to be driving a white GMC Yukon but might have obtained a different vehicle. Detectives have reason to believe he’s in the Wimauma area but planning to flee the state to avoid arrest. Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the whereabouts and apprehension of Jose-Hernandez. Tips can be submitted via phone at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477) or online at the Crime Stoppers website.

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