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Festival of Reading to return virtually

The 2021 Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading has been announced, with the virtual event slated for Nov. 8 – 14. The festival will feature 10 distinguished authors and eight live, virtual discussions. Times book critic Collette Bancroft will host, and the festival headliner is Louise Erdrich. Erdrich won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Night Watchman, and she will also discuss her latest novel, The Sentence. Viewers will be able to ask the speakers questions or just listen to the free author discussions. Erdrich’s talk will be a ticketed event with proceeds benefitting the Times Journalism Fund. While usually held on the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, last year’s event was also held virtually due to the pandemic. The Festival of Reading is in its 29th year, and the Catalyst will provide further updates as they are released. 

Feminine hygiene product company receives top investment from TiE event

KUSHAE, a feminine hygiene product company headquartered in West Palm Beach, has won first place from the TiE ACCESS event where over $400,000 is invested into startups. The TIE ACCESS pitch day event, which was created in conjunction with TiE Tampa Bay, TiE Atlanta and TiE Carolina’s, is where minority and women-owned businesses compete for funding and resources. TiE Tampa Bay has raised over $100,000 for the event. KUSHAE is the first and only OB/GYN created, full-suite of non-toxic feminine hygiene products for every woman, according to the company. Along with the TiE ACCESS investment, CEO Kimba Williams will also represent TiE Atlanta/Tampa Bay in Dubai, UAE for the TiE Women’s Global Pitch Competition in October.

Poshmark to to present at Raymond James 2021 Consumer Conference

Poshmark Inc. (Nasdaq: POSH), a leading social marketplace for new and secondhand consumer items, will participate in Raymond James 2021 Consumer Conference on Sept. 14.  Manish Chandra, Poshmark founder and CEO, will join the fireside chat at the conference. The webcast of the virtual fireside chat will be available live at investors.poshmark.com. The CEO and CFO of The RealReal (Nasdaq: REAL), the world’s largest online marketplace for authenticated resale luxury goods, will also participate in the fireside chat. 

Visit Tampa Bay launches 3D interactive map of downtown Tampa

The destination marketing organization Visit Tampa Bay has launched an interactive 3D model of the downtown Tampa Bay area. The map includes nearly 1,700 buildings, landmarks and attractions such as Tampa Riverwalk, Sparkman Wharf, Amalie Arena, The Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Convention Center, the Tampa Museum of Art and Bayshore Boulevard. VTB says the tool shows meeting and convention planners Tampa Bay's offerings. The map was designed by Tampa Bay-based Imerza and was backed by Water Street Tampa and Armature Works.

Warhol Western exhibit coming to James Museum

Warhol's West, a collection of original works by pop art legend Andy Warhol, will debut Oct. 2 at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art. The exhibit, on view through January, explores  Warhol’s fascination with the American West through a wide range of Western imagery and more by Warhol, including his last major suite Cowboys and Indians (1986).

St. Pete native wins historic gold medal during Paralympic Games

St. Petersburg native Brad Snyder took home the gold medal Saturday during the men’s PTVI (visually impaired) triathlon at the Tokyo Paralympics. Snyder and guide Greg Billington – a 2016 Olympian, led the race from start to finish and crossed the line in 1:01:16, nearly a minute ahead of Spain’s Hector Catala Laparra. Snyder, a Navy Veteran, was blinded when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011. He became the first U.S. man to medal in a paratriathlon and the first visually-impaired man to medal in the sport. Snyder won gold in his first Paralympic contest in swimming nine years ago and has now won his first triathlon event. He is now eight for eight, medaling in every Paralympic event he has entered.

St. Pete Seedfunders investors participate in funding healthtech startup

SeedFundersOrlando, a premier source of seed capital focused on technology startups in Central Florida, announced today that it has invested $195,000 in Kalogon, a Central Florida-based health tech startup founded by Space Coast aerospace engineers.  The engineers are developing smart seating technology to prevent pressure sores for those who sit for long periods of time, typically in wheelchairs. Seedfunders St. Petersburg and Seedfunders Miami investors participated in the investment, according to SeedFunders' announcement. “Thanks to the investment from SeedFundersOrlando, Kalogon is able to disrupt an industry where the current technology hasn’t changed since before the personal computer was invented,” Tim Balz, Founder and CEO of Kalogon, said in the news release. “The impact of pressure sores is preventable. Our Smart Cushion is being used in Central Florida rehab centers and at the Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa where we are already making a difference to their wheelchair-bound patients and veterans." 

Tampa Bay Partnership names United Way exec as its new CEO

The Tampa Bay Partnership has named Bemetra Simmons as its new president and CEO. Simmons will replace Rick Homans, who announced his plans to step down as CEO in March from the regional research and public policy organization. Simmons will assume the top role on Sept.27, according to the Partnership's announcement. Simmons currently serves as the chief strategy and operations officer for United Way Suncoast, where she oversees core operations functions, including facilitating a Covid-19 emergency response process which resulted in the disbursement of $1.6 million in emergency relief to area nonprofits. In assuming the lead role at the Partnership, she will continue to work closely with United Way Suncoast, most notably as collaborating partners on the State of the Region initiative, the release read. 

Man leads police on high-speed chase around Tampa Bay, across Skyway Bridge

A man led police on a high-speed pursuit around the entirety of Tampa Bay on Friday. According to police, the chase originated from a stolen vehicle call. The suspect fled in a white utility van with a ladder on the roof, careening through traffic in Hillsborough County. He continued south until reaching Manatee County, where he then got onto the Skyway Bridge. Video of the chase showed police vehicles trailing far behind the white van on the expansive bridge as police and news helicopters followed overhead. The suspect drove through St. Petersburg, crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge, and began to head north on the Veterans Expressway before officers were able to take him into custody on a grassy shoulder without further incident. The suspect was shirtless and without shoes as when taken into custody, and further information is pending.

Beekeeper electrocuted while removing beehive

A good deed cost a St. Petersburg man his life Wednesday after Jeffrey Johnston was electrocuted while removing a beehive. Johnston, 54, had been a beekeeper since he was 8. He and another went to the home of a fellow church member to retrieve the beehive using a bucket lift. Johnston touched an electrical wire and was pronounced dead on the scene, according to St. Petersburg police. In a 2018 interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Johnston said he averaged about 700 bee removals a year. His son, Jerick Johnston, told the Times that if the church needed a beehive removed, they called his father. Police said they believe the death was an accident.

Mona Patel becomes Tampa Bay TiE’s new executive director

TiE Tampa Bay has named Mona Patel as its first full-time executive director. Former president Karthik Viswanathan, as well as others, referred her. Patel previously worked as a legal assistant and paralegal in Tampa Bay. TiE is a non-profit, global community of entrepreneurs. The organization fosters startup growth by hosting pitch events, and offering mentoring and education workshops. 

St. Pete ranked first for best places to work remotely

The City of St. Petersburg has once again made a “best-of” list, this time taking the top spot in Higher Visibility’s Best Places to Remote Work in America. The list was for cities with under a million residents, and St. Pete edged out second-place Las Vegas and third-place Miami to lead the group of 20. Higher Visibility cited the median home price of $284,709 and almost 5,000 free Wi-Fi spots as deciding factors. Criteria included the number of green spaces, broadband speed, the number of coffee shops, WIFI hotspots, and average rent and home prices. Houston ranked number one for cities with a population of over 1 million.

The St. Pete Catalyst

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