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Cross-Bay Ferry ridership up 36% year over year

The Cross-Bay Ferry is well on pace to eclipse last year's record ridership of nearly 53,000 riders. Ferry ridership in December 2019 was nearly 50 percent higher than in December 2018, a news release said, and overall, the ferry has seen a 36 percent increase in ridership year-over-year in the first two months of the seasons. The ferry carried 22,510 passengers in November and December 2019, compared to 16,566 in the same months in 2018.  A move back to the Tampa Convention Center gets some of the credit for the increase, because it allows HMS Ferries to operate free from conflicts with cruise ships, which had limited its operations in previous years, according to the news release.

Private equity group Thomas Lee buys major stake in Clearwater’s AmeriLife

AmeriLife, a Clearwater-based company that markets and distributes life, health and retirement products, has entered into a recapitalization agreement with an investor group led by Thomas H. Lee, a private equity firm. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Barrons cited sources who said the deal was worth more than $1 billion. The investors are buying a majority stake from J.C. Flowers & Co. "We are excited to partner with THL in the next phase of our growth, building upon the success of our more than four-year relationship with J.C. Flowers & Co.,"  Scott R. Perry, CEO of AmeriLife, said in a news release.

JPMorgan Chase gives $500,000 to the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council for affordable housing initiative

As the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council gathered for its leadership summit, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced a $500,000 investment to support the organization's new initiative “Resilient and Energy Assessment of Communities and Housing” (REACH), REACH will seek to bring together experts, community leaders and elected officials to assess the potential risks to local communities from sea level rise and extreme weather events. The project will help to create strategies and policies to increase affordable and resilient housing development. The two-year initiative aims to weave affordable housing and development with climate change and resilience planning.

Cross-Bay Ferry plans special MLK Day runs

The Cross-Bay Ferry will alter its schedule and offer service on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The ferry does not normally run on Mondays, but plans special runs on Jan. 20 to allow more people to enjoy the day off and the events offered, including St. Petersburg’s Annual MLK National Parade & Family Fun Day, a news release said. The special Monday schedule will begin with an 11 a.m departure from St. Petersburg’s dock in the Vinoy Yacht Basin, followed by a 12:30 p.m. departure from Tampa at the Tampa Convention Center. The remaining schedule will include a departure from St. Petersburg at 2 p.m, depart Tampa at 3:30 p.m., depart St. Petersburg at 7 p.m. and depart Tampa at 8:30 p.m. Tickets and more information are available through the Cross-Bay Ferry website.

Tampa’s Valet Living acquires waste and recycling company

Valet Living, a Tampa-based company that provides amenities for the multifamily housing industry, has acquired Trojan Waste Solutions, a Texas firm that offering doorstep waste and recycle pick up. Financial terms were not disclosed in a news release announcing the deal. With the purchase, Valet Living adds more than 10,000 apartment homes to its portfolio, primarily in San Antonio and Austin, Texas.  Trojan Waste also serves communities in FloridaNorth Carolina and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Valet Living said it would expand its full suite of amenity services to apartment communities in the Trojan Waste portfolio. 

HCA buys majority stake in local nursing school

HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA) has acquired majority ownership of the parent company of Galen College of Nursing. Galen College, based in Louisville, Kentucky and one of the largest private nursing schools in the United States, provides nursing education to about 1,200 students in St. Petersburg. Galen opened an expanded 70,000-square-foot St. Pete campus at 10200 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. last year, complete with a a simulated hospital setting and advanced technology. HCA has not disclosed how much it spent on the deal. HCA is one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, with local hospitals that include St. Petersburg General, Northside, Palms of Pasadena and Largo Medical Center in Pinellas County.

Tech Data sets date for shareholder vote on sale

Tech Data Corp. (Nasdaq: TECD) shareholders will vote Feb. 12 on the $6 billion acquisition of the company by funds associated with Apollo Global Management. The Tech Data board of directors set the date for the special meeting, which will be held at the Clearwater headquarters of the IT distributor. The board also determined that the close of business on Jan. 9 would be the record date for the determination of shareholders entitled to receive notice of and vote at the meeting. Tech Data, the largest company based on revenue that is headquartered in the Tampa-St. Pete area, will become a private firm if shareholders approve the deal.

Mayweather Boxing plans St. Pete, Largo locations

Mayweather Boxing + Fitness, a group fitness and boxing experience created by legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather, will open two Pinellas County sites. The St. Petersburg location at 447 99th Ave. N. will open Jan. 11 at 447 99th Ave N., followed by a second location in Largo in April. Both are owned by franchisee Dan Page, who has led several sales operations teams and has deep experience in marketing and project and organizational management. He also served in the Army as a combat engineer. The St. Petersburg location has already signed 250 members and is on track to have over 300 members by the time it opens, a news release said. 

Republic Bank opens tech-equipped branch in New Port Richey

Republic Bank has brought Interactive Teller Machine technology to its new branch in New Port Richey. The newly opened office, at 10577 State Road 54, has ITMs that feature live customer service representatives available through real-time video. "The opening of this new banking center is just one way we make banking ‘easier’ for our clients through the combination of both bank lobby service and extended drive-thru service hours offered by our Interactive Teller Machine," Jim Kirkpatrick, Republic Bank’s Florida market president, said in a news release. The new branch replaces a Republic Bank office that was in Port Richey, at 9037 US Highway 19. The bank's parent company, Republic Bancorp (Nasdaq: RBCAA), is based in Louisville, Kentucky and has seven banking centers in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area.

Tampa General sets transplant record in 2019

Doctors at Tampa General Hospital performed 585 organ transplants in 2019. It was the largest number ever performed in the hospital's history, surpassing the 500 transplants performed in 2011, and made Tampa General among the 10 busiest organ transplant centers in the United States. Last year's procedures included 358 kidney transplants, including 91 from living donors; 145 liver transplants; 37 heart transplants; 35 lung transplants; and 10 kidney-pancreas transplants. About 80 of the 2019 transplants were linked to a new partnership with Lee Health in the Fort Myers area, a news release said. In addition, TGH credited improved organ recovery techniques and technology, as well as an increased participation by living kidney donors.

Unemployment continues to drop in Tampa-St. Pete

The unemployment rate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area in November was 2.7 percent, down from 2.9 percent in October and from 3.2 percent in November 2018. The number of unemployed people in the metro area dropped from 45,318 in October to 42,767 in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The metro area's civilian workforce in November stood at 1,562,597. Florida's unemployment rate in November also was 2.7 percent. Logan, Utah, and Ames, Iowa had the lowest unemployment rates, at 1.5 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively, while El Centro, California, and Yuma, Arizona, had the highest unemployment rates, 20.6 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively.

Where Florida ranks on new national movers study

Florida ranked No. 7 among the 50 states in a new report on most popular moving destinations. More people moved to Florida for retirement (40.5 percent) and for lifestyle change (22.97 percent) in 2019 than any other state, according to United Van Lines' 43rd Annual National Movers Study. It's the first time Florida has been on the list of top 10 inbound states since 2015. The study, which tracks customers' state-to-state migration patterns over the past year, found that Idaho saw the highest percentage of inbound migration among states experiencing more than 250 moves with United Van Lines. The study also found more residents moved out of New Jersey than any other state last year.

The St. Pete Catalyst

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