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St. Pete Free Clinic names interim CEO

Michael O. Bice, a former chairman of the board of directors of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, has been named interim CEO, effective Aug. 1. Bice will replace Beth Houghton will be leaving the Free Clinic to become CEO of the Juvenile Welfare Board. Under Houghton’s leadership, the Free Clinic opened a dedicated health center and health education program, created the Client Choice Food Pantry, opened the Jared S. Hechtkopf Community Food Bank, and expanded residential services by opening the Baldwin Women's Residence and a new Men's Residence. The Free Clinic’s Board of Directors has formed a search committee to recruit a permanent CEO.

Feds award $7.5 million for Tampa Bay Innovation Center

The U.S. Department of Commerce is awarding $7.5 million to Pinellas County to help build the Tampa Bay Innovation Center Incubator, a 45,000 square foot state-of-the-art business facility that will be located in St. Petersburg's Innovation District. The project will be matched with $4.5 million in local funds, as the St. Petersburg Catalyst reported earlier. It is expected to create more than 460 jobs and spur more than $66 million in private investment, a news release said.

Where local airports rank on a new list of average fares

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport has the 8th lowest average fare compared to 416 airports nationwide, according to a new list from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The average round-trip fare from PIE was $126.14 for the first quarter of 2019, compared to the national average of $352.06. Allegiant Travel operates 54 nonstop destinations to and from PIE out of the airport's 55 domestic destinations. Tampa International Airport had an average round-trip fare of $311.32 and ranked No. 65.

Local radio stations trade hands

Salem Communications Holdings Corp. is selling a business-focused radio station and a Spanish Christian station to Immaculate Heart Media. Trading hands are “Radio Luz” 760 WLCC Brandon/104.3 W282CI Tampa and Business “1380 The Biz” WWMI St. Petersburg, RadioInsight reported. Salem also is selling the construction permit for 99.9 W260DM/St. Petersburg, as well as three properties in Miami, for a total sales price of $8.2 million. 

PSCU calculates impact of Amazon Prime

Credit unions experienced a 31 percent growth in total transactions year over year and a 46 percent increase in total sales volume during this year's Amazon Prime Day, according to PSCU, a St. Petersburg-based credit union service organization. The banner results  were helped by promotional programs offered through PSCU’s Advisors Plus, Credit Union Times reported. "We wanted to help our owner credit unions better compete and benefit from events like Amazon Prime Day,” Glynn Frechette, senior vice president of PSCU’s Advisors Plus, told Credit Union Times.

PE firm picks Tampa HQ for home and commercial services platform

Apex Service Partners in Tampa is the newly established HVAC, plumbing and electrical services platform for Alpine Investors, a San Francisco-based private equity firm. Alpine bought Frank Gay Services in Orlando and combined it with Best Home Services in Naples to serve as the foundation of Apex, a news release said. Alpine said it plans to invest at least $100 million of equity capital in founder-owned companies over the next five years to build Apex into a national leader.

Ironman parent Wanda Sports goes public

Wanda Sports Group Co. Ltd., a company that includes Tampa-based World Endurance Holdings, raised $190 million in an initial public offering. The IPO was smaller than the $500 million the company initially hoped to raise. World Endurance Holdings owns the Ironman triathlon competition and brand. It was bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in 2015 for $650 million, and since then has increased the number of sports events offered and participating athletes, adding running, mountain biking, road cycling and trail running events to its portfolio.

Bandit Coffee launches food program

Following a friends and family preview on July 18, Bandit Coffee announced the launch of its new "grab and go" food program on July 19. The new menu introduced breakfast items like egg sandwiches, vegan breakfast burritos, and a selection of toasts and bowls. The food program launch is another in Bandit's many recent expanded offerings. In April, Bandit began serving beer and natural wine. 

M2Gen gives $3M for cancer research

M2Gen, a health informatics solutions company in Tampa, is donating $3 million to fund seven team science research projects as part of the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network New Oncologic Visionary Awards program. Each project will bring together researchers from cancer centers around the country, including Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and other founding members of ORIEN.  The ORIEN NOVA program was designed to break down barriers between institutions to enable rapid learning, and accelerate research efforts and discovery to bring new treatments to patients, Dr. William Dalton, executive chair of M2Gen, said in a news release.

Exec: ConnectWise was prepared for recent attack

ConnectWise, a Tampa-based IT services management company, dealt with a recent cyber attack "within seconds," according to John Ford, the company's chief information security officer. "We did have a ransomware event that did impact our cloud in the European Union. Had it not been for the ability to detect and respond to that literally in seconds, that would have impacted all of Australia and all of North America as well," Ford told  in a wide-ranging interview. 

ReliaQuest plans second Tampa office

ReliaQuest, a Tampa technology firm that helps big companies manage their IT security, will open a second location in Tampa this fall. The new office, at 5426 Bay Center Drive, will house the company’s administrative and business functions. That gives the current office at One Harbour Place more room for its security operations center and technical teams, a news release said. The company also is opening a cybersecurity technology center in Salt Lake City to support its new "GreyMatter" platform.

MarineMax posts sales, profit gains

MarineMax (NYSE: HZO), a Clearwater-based boat and yacht retailer, reported net income of $19.1 million, or 84 cents a share, on revenue of $383.5 million for the third quarter of its fiscal year. Net income was up 4.5 percent and revenue was up 6 percent compared to the same period a year ago, a news release said. The company "outperformed" during a challenging quarter for the industry, said Brett McGill, president and CEO. Still, citing current business conditions and retail trends, the company lowered its guidance for fiscal 2019. It now expects earnings per share to range from $1.60 to $1.70, compared to the previous range of $1.75 to $1.85.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

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