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iQor names new board members

iQor, a customer support and business solutions company headquartered in St. Petersburg, has announced six new members of the company's board of directors. They are: Gary Praznik, president and CEO of iQor; Christopher Carrington, CEO Omni Interactions and a former executive at Sykes Enterprises; Sue Nokes, a former executive at Asurion and T-Mobile, Ted Russell, an attorney and president of Russell PC and a former executive at Fox Entertainment Group; Satish Raman, chief strategy officer, Fractal.ai; and Scott D Vogel, managing member of Vogel Partners. Carrington was elected board chairman. iQor,one of the larger companies based in St. Pete, recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

PSTA extends service for self-driving shuttle

The board of directors of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority agreed to extend service for its autonomous vehicles in St. Petersburg. The PSTA board voted to allow the fare-free, all-electric shuttle to continue operations through March 28. It had been scheduled to end next week. The St. Petersburg City Council is expected to take up its own vote on the extension on March 4. Since launching in November, the shuttle has been "a great success," said Brad Miller, PSTA CEO. The shuttle, dubbed AVA for Autonomous Vehicle Advantage, operates along Bayshore Drive Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

NFL legends Steve Young, Jerry Rice to speak at innovation conference

The Synapse Summit, an annual conference for the Florida’s tech sector that usually takes place in Tampa but is being held virtually this year, has added NFL Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice to its lineup of guest speakers, along with Cameo founder Steven Galanis, who recently located from Chicago to Tampa. Quarterback Young — who began his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and wide receiver Rice played together for 12 years as members of the San Francisco 49ers, connecting for 85 touchdowns. They've teamed up again to launch 8 to 80 Zones, an initiative to help youth living in underserved communities in Tampa, Atlanta and Miami gain skills that can lead to careers in technology, e-sports, video games and media. The Synapse Summit takes place March 8-11.

Lightning, Jabil, USF team up on workplace diversity program

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Jabil Inc. have partnered with the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business to offer a free, seven-week certificate program that will focus on ways organizations can create a more diverse workplace as well as address equity issues and foster inclusivity. The program, set to run from March 24 to May 5, will highlight the ways that racial, religious, age, gender and sexual orientation diversity can help companies develop novel business practices, increase revenue and improve performance. The Lightning and Jabil helped recruit guest speakers and develop the curriculum for the course, which is geared toward HR professionals and C-suite executives but welcomes people across all levels of their respective companies and organizations.

Pinellas County extends local state of emergency

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to extend the local state of emergency through March 5. The local state of emergency keeps in effect a county ordinance requiring face coverings while in public places. It also requires restaurants and bars to serve only patrons who are seated. The unanimous board vote followed a presentation by public health officials, including Dr. Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. Positive Covid-19 cases are up slightly, with an average of 6.3 percent of tests coming back positive in the past seven days, but hospital capacity remains stable, Choe said. About 132,000 people or 13.4 percent of Pinellas County residents have received one or two doses of the Covid vaccines. As of Tuesday, there was a cumulative total of 65,375 Covid-19 cases reported in Pinellas County and 1,430 deaths.

Georgia woman headed to prison for trafficking drugs through Tampa port

Yolanda Herrera of Rex, Ga., has been sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for her role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin sourced in Mexico and shipped to the Port of Tampa aboard a cargo ship. According to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, Herrera, 43, conspired with two Mexican nationals, Nestor Vazquez-Morales and Adan Martinez-Onofre, in the scheme, which involved smuggling the drugs inside stone blocks. She was arrested in Atlanta in September 2019 and pleaded guilty to the charges levied against her on June 4, 2020. Vazquez-Morales and Martinez-Onofre also entered guilty pleas and were sentenced in July 2020 to federal prison terms of 15 years and eight months and five years and 10 months, respectively.

USF Board of Trustees elects new vice chair

Will Weatherford, a Tampa businessman and former speaker of the Florida House, was elected vice chairman of the University of South Florida Board of Trustees. He will serve a two-year term in the role. Weatherford was appointed to a five-year term on the USF board in January by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Weatherford is a managing partner of Weatherford Capital and recently served as co-chairman of the Super Bowl LV Host Committee.

Pharmacy now open at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

Scripts Pharmacy has opened a new location at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, making it easier and more convenient for patients to pick up prescription medications while on site. The pharmacy will also provide training opportunities for aspiring pharmacists who are part of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg’s pharmacy residency program. The hospital, in a news release, said lack of access to prescribed medication is one of the biggest reasons why patients are readmitted. The Scripts Pharmacy, said Bayfront Health St. Petersburg President John Moore, “provides access to our patients as they are discharged, helping them to continue on their road to recovery.”

Rays commemorate World Series run with ‘Champions Club’ promotion

The Tampa Bay Rays, still basking in the glow of their American League pennant and run to the World Series last year, have established the American League Champions Club for fans who want to remember the 2020 season with some special promotional items. For $199, or $149 for existing season membership holders, fans will be able to take part in a Zoom session with Rays Manager Kevin Cash and General Manger Erik Neander. They will also receive a photo opportunity with the American League Championship Trophy at Tropicana Field, a Randy Arozarena bobblehead, American League Championship replica ring, American League Championship replica trophy and a commemorative wooden coaster.

Breakfast on the Deuces begins March 6

Breakfast on the Deuces, a monthly event bringing breakfast delicacies to the corner of 22nd Ave S & 9th Ave S., begins March 6. A Deuces Live event, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, Breakfast on the Deuces is co-presented by Pop Goes the Waffle and Three Generations Food Truck. The March 6 debut will feature waffle pops, baked goods, fried fish, shrimp, wings and smoked Gouda cheese grits. Additional vendors are expected to be added. 

Former Boeing executive joins Clearwater advertising firm

Vasundara Srenivas, who spent 10 years in executive-level positions at aviation giant Boeing, has been named chief financial officer at Digital Media Solutions, a Clearwater-based provider of technology-enabled digital performance advertising solutions for the insurance industry and other sectors. Srenivas, according to a press release, will oversee the firm’s global finance and accounting teams when she begins work on March 13. She will report to DMS CEO Joe Marinucci, who stated, in the release, that her “experience managing financial portfolios for one of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. will level up the finance team at DMS.”

City seeks consultant for Rays stadium negotiations

After St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman blasted the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday during his final State of the City address, saying that it was time for the team to “pick a partner and get married,” the city has put out a call for help in its stadium negotiations with the Rays. The 42-page request for proposals seeks experts who can “provide substantial evidence of successfully negotiating with a Major League Baseball, or other professional sports [franchise], on behalf of a municipal government.” Stadium financing expertise is the primary criterion for proposals to meet, along with knowledge of the “financial structure of an MLB franchise and their capabilities and limitations.” Proposals are due March 3.

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