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Florida adds water quality dashboard

Florida officials have launched ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov, the state's first ever comprehensive water quality dashboard. The dashboard provides real-time information on water restoration projects and water quality via an interactive state map. The initial version of the Protecting Florida Together water quality status map focuses on blue-green algae, red tide and nutrient concentrations in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and their respective estuaries, and Lake Okeechobee. Additional features will include an expanded statewide map to be added over the next year, a news release said.

Mosaic posts $44M loss for Q3

Falling sales cut into profit at the Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS),  a crop nutrient producer and marketer that recently relocated its headquarters to Tampa. Mosaic reported a net loss of $44 million, or 11 cents a share, for the third quarter of 2019, on sales of $2.75 billion. Sales dipped nearly 6 percent from the year-ago quarter, amid what Joc O’Rourke, president and CEO, called a "challenging market environment" in a news release.

Super Bowl organizers look for diverse businesses

 The Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee, in conjunction with the National Football League, launched the Super Bowl LV Business Connect program. The program works to create opportunities for experienced, qualified and certified business owners from local, diverse communities to compete for contracting opportunities related to Super Bowl. The program also offers mentoring, networking, educational and business development opportunities to encourage greater business success for each participant, a news release said. LaKendria Robinson is the director of Business Connect and Community Outreach to the host committee. Joining Robinson will be Bemetra Simmons as the chair of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Business Connect advisory board. The Tampa Bay area will host its fifth Super Bowl in 2021.

Digital Media Solutions buys insuretech firm UE.co

Digital Media Solutions in Clearwater has created a new insurance division, DMS Insurance, after acquiring UE.co, an insuretech company based in San Diego. UE.co includes ZipQuote, an insurance leads provider for agents, and the Comanche click platform. DMS Insurance offers products that connect high-intent consumers with the largest auto, home, health and life insurance providers, a news release said. Financial terms were not announced but a spokeswoman for DMS said it is the largest deal in the company's history.  Consolidation within the digital insurance marketplace is quickening, said Joe Marinucci, CEO of DMS, citing Prudential's acquisition of Assurance and Lending Tree's purchase of QuoteWizard. The DMS deal for UE.co allows DMS to capitalize on growth in the market, he said.

TD Bank puts its name on Dunedin ballpark

The Toronto Blue Jays spring training home in Dunedin has been renamed TD Ballpark. The new name builds on a five-year sponsor relationship announced in early 2019,  and highlights TD Bank's growing commitment to the Tampa Bay market, a news release said. TD Ballpark is currently undergoing a large-scale renovation. The ballpark plans a grand opening on Monday, Feb. 24 for the Blue Jays’ spring training home opener versus the Atlanta Braves. The ballpark also is home to the team’s Class A-Advanced Minor League affiliate, the Dunedin Blue Jays.

JLabs accepts local medtech firm

Oracle Health, a local medtech company developing a tiny insertable cardiac monitor to prevent heart failure hospitalization, was accepted into JLabs-Houston. The program, part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, is one of the most competitive and exclusive incubators in the world, said Jaeson Bang, founder of Oracle Health. The incubator only accepts one or two companies on a rolling basis. Bang expects to start sometime in December. In general, the duration is two to four years depending on the success of the individual companies, he said.

Verapy takes second place in pitch competition

Verapy, a Tampa technology company, placed No. 2 and won $3,500 in the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization's pitch contest. The global pitch competition was among the highlights of the CEO annual conference at the Tampa Marriott Water Street over the weekend. Verapy has a HIPAA-compliant physical and occupational therapy platform that turns standard exercises into fun and immersive virtual reality games. The company, headed by CEO Jonathan Truong, also is participating in the Tampa Bay Innovation Center's Entrepreneurship and Investment Challenge.

Bill Edwards unveils next move for Sundial

Developers of the Armature Works in Tampa plan to bring a 25,000-square-foot food hall to Sundial in St. Petersburg, in a move that Sundial developer Bill Edwards says will further elevate the downtown center as a destination. The new concept will encompass the areas currently occupied by LOCALE Market, Jackie Z Style Co., Wellness Center at Sundial, D-Gallerie Fine Arts and additional vacant spaces on the lower level, as well as the space currently occupied by FarmTable Cucina, on the second level, a news release said. Michael Mina, chef/founder of MINA Group, which developed LOCALE Market and FarmTable Cucina, said it was time to pass the torch. The project will begin in early 2020 and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020. The timeline is ambitious, said Chas Bruck, co-owner for Armature Works and BE1 Concepts, adding he is very excited to extend the brand across the bay. "When I first developed Sundial, I intended it to be a catalyst for growth in downtown St. Pete. Chas and his team created Armature Works to do the same thing for Tampa. I know that in joining forces we will create an incredible gathering place for residents and visitors alike,” Edwards, CEO for The Edwards Group, said. Jackie Z Style will move to the east side of the center, and two new tenants, The Man Cave men’s grooming salon and Italian Idea, an Italian leather goods retailer, also are coming to Sundial, Edwards said.

Publix profit drops, sales jump in Q3

Publix Super Markets Inc. reported net earnings of $574 million on sales of $9.3 billion in sales for the third quarter of 2019, compared to net earnings of $677.7 million on sales of $8.8 billion in the same quarter in 2018. Hurricane Dorian contributed about 0.9 percent to the sales increase for the just-ended quarter, a news release said, while net unrealized gains and losses on equity securities were the reason for the profit drop. Comparable store sales for the three months ended Sept. 28 increased 4.3 percent. The stock price increased from $44.10  a share to $47.10 a share, effective Nov. 1. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

Tampa woman pleads guilty to immigration fraud

Erika Paola Intriago of Tampa pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a fraud scheme involving her posing as an immigration attorney to victims in Chicago and Tampa. She advertised her services on social media, targeting immigrants and immigrant families from Spanish-speaking countries, but was not a licensed attorney in any state, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida said. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

House, Rep. Charlie Crist vote to formalize impeachment inquiry

The House of Representatives voted Thursday morning to formalize proceedings in its impeachment inquiry of President Trump. The vote, 232-196 included two no votes from Democrats - Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. Rep. Charlie Crist, who represents St. Petersburg and most of Pinellas County voted in favor of the resolution.  “Testimony in recent weeks by senior Trump Administration officials has only heightened concerns that the President sought to leverage military aid to an ally under attack, in exchange for investigating a political opponent,” Rep. Crist said in a statement. “A President putting personal political interest above our country’s national security interests is unacceptable. It rises to the level whereby impeachment must be considered. As the Founding Fathers designed, the House will continue to follow the facts where they lead as a co-equal branch of government. No one is above the law – not even the President. The American people deserve the truth, and we will uphold our Oath of Office to protect and defend the Constitution.”

Moody’s downgrades credit rating for Anchor Glass

Anchor Glass Container Corp. continues to struggle to restore key metrics, according to Moody’s Investor’s Service. The credit agency downgraded the corporate family rating of the Tampa-based glass packaging manufacturer to B3 from B2. Both are highly speculative, non-investment grade ratings. In its Oct. 30 report, Moody’s cited several extraordinary events that impacted Anchor, including an explosion, a lightning strike and a fire at its facilities, and the loss of a major brand from a customer that converted to plastic. The ratings outlook is negative, reflecting uncertainty around free cash generation, Moody’s said. Anchor, a portfolio company of CVC Capital Partners, operates six manufacturing plants in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, New York and Oklahoma and generated about $569 million in revenue for the 12 months ended June 30, 2019, Moody’s said.

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