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St. Pete Pitch Night postponed

A decision by University of South Florida St. Petersburg to close the campus to all large crowd events because of the coronavirus outbreak means that St. Pete Pitch Night is being postponed. The event, which focuses on showcasing, elevating and seeding community-based businesses, was scheduled to take place Thursday, March 12 at USFSP's Kate Tiedemann College of Business. Five companies were scheduled to present. All have been contacted and while disappointed, completely understand, according to an email from The Greenhouse and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Organizers plan to reschedule but don't yet have a date.

Medtech company with Largo plant issues revenue warning

Conmed Corp. said the anticipated impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak will dampen revenue growth for the first quarter of 2020. Conmed (NYSE: CNMD) is a medical technology company headquartered in Utica, New York and with a major manufacturing plant in Largo. It's one of the largest  employers in Pinellas County. The company today projected revenue growth for the first quarter of 2020 to be in the range of 2 percent to 4 percent, compared to the previous range of 5 percent to 6 percent, a news release said.  A favorable adjustment in the expected Q1 effective tax rate is expected to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19, the release said. Conmed now expects Q1 net earnings per share growth rate will be in the mid-single digits compared to the previously provided guidance range of high-single digit to low-double digit growth.

Publix launches personalized membership club

Publix Super Markets has launched Club Publix, a personalized membership club. The free program bundles a number of digital features, including early notifications of buy-one-get-one free deals and other sales, the ability to pay with a simple scan of the Publix app, and the option to receive e-receipts, a news release said. Club Publix adds personalization to those digital features with exclusive member perks and personalized content, the release said. Current publix.com account holders will automatically be enrolled in the program. Others can sign up by visiting publix.com/clubpublix, downloading and registering in the Publix app, or texting JOIN to 782549. Publix, based in Lakeland, is the largest employee-owned company in the United States and the largest company headquartered in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Mother Kombucha plans expansion, new product line

Mother Kombucha, a St. Petersburg company that brews kombucha and distributes it to retailers, has partnered with Cascadia Managing Brands, a New Jersey-based brand management company. The partnership will enable continued expansion of Mother Kombucha throughout the southeast United States, a report in BevNet said. Cascadia also will support the development and launch of a new product line in the second quarter, the report said. “Cascadia has a wealth of experience building industry leading beverage brands which we will leverage to grow our flagship brand and launch our new products," Tonya Donati, founder and managing partner of Mother Kombucha, told BevNet.

Apollo wants to buy Tech Data’s debt

Funds associated with Apollo Global Management have launched cash offers to buy two separate series of senior notes, representing debt owed by Tech Data Corp. The offers are being conducted in connection with Apollo's $6 billion plan to buy Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD) and take the Clearwater-based IT distributor private. Apollo is offering to buy Tech Data's 3.7% senior notes due in 2022 and the 4.95% senior notes due in 2027. Apollo also launched a consent solicitation to amend the indenture and global securities establishing the 2022 notes and the 2027 notes to eliminate the requirement to make a “change of control” offer in connection with the acquisition, a regulatory filing said.

Feldman Equities exits Tampa project

Feldman Equities has exited the Riverwalk Place project, a high-rise condo tower in downtown Tampa. Feldman said it reached amicable terms with co-developer Two Roads Development. “We wish the Two Roads team the best on their future endeavor on the site. This is a great piece of land and its potential is limitless,” Larry Feldman, president and CEO of Feldman Equities, said in a news release. “Nonetheless, honest business disagreements sometimes mean it is best for partners to split off and pursue their own projects. This is one of those times.” Two Roads, a West Palm Beach-based developer, now is the sole developer of Riverwalk Place, with GPB Capital as an equity participant. Feldman Equities and its joint venture partners own or manage over four million square feet of Florida office space, including three Class A office buildings in downtown St. Petersburg and one property in Carillon Office Park.  

Forbes names three local companies as best startup employers

Three Tampa companies landed on a new Forbes list of best startup employers. Homee, which uses technology to match skilled service providers with home owners and property managers, is No. 10 on the list of 500 employers. Peerfit, which uses technology to provide wellness benefits, is No. 209. Welfont, which provides brokerage representation and other services for commercial real estate properties, is No. 446. Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to identify the up-and-coming companies liked best by their employees for this inaugural ranking. The list was compiled by evaluating 2,500 American businesses with at least 50 employees on three criteria: employer reputation, employee satisfaction and growth.

USF trustees approve enhanced partnership with Tampa General

The University of South board of trustees unanimously approved an enhanced affiliation with Tampa General Hospital, in a move designed to create an academic medical center. The new relationship is not an asset purchase or merger, but it does provide a platform for further growth and expansion, university officials told the board Tuesday morning. The enhanced alliance with Tampa General is "nothing short of a revolution in our region in terms of academic health care," USF President Steve Currall told trustees. 

Suncoast Credit Union opens bilingual branch

Suncoast Credit Union has opened a new branch at 4340 W. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa. The location is in the heart of the Hispanic community,  so the entire staff is bilingual, speaking English and Spanish fluently, the credit union said in a news release. All marketing materials are in both languages. It's the 70th branch for Suncoast and the most recent to launch since the credit union opened a branch in downtown St. Petersburg last year. Suncoast is  the largest credit union in Florida, the ninth largest in the United States based on membership, and the 10th largest in the United States based on its more than $10 billion in assets.

United Community Bank enters Tampa market

United Community Banks agreed to buy  Three Shores Bancorporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Seaside National Bank & Trust. Seaside is an Orlando-based bank with $1.9 billion in assets and 14 branches, including one branch in Tampa. United (Nasdaq: UCBI), headquartered in Blairsville, Georgia and with executive offices in Greenville, South Carolina, has $12.9 billion in assets and 149 offices in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The deal, valued at $180 million, marks United's entry into Florida and the Tampa market.

Jabil named to CIO 100

A citizen data science program from Jabil Inc. has earned the company a place on the CIO 100. The program was recognized for its ability to empower employees with data-based knowledge, tools and new approaches for solving real-world business problems, a news release said. To date, 160 employees have been trained on data-science modeling in partnership with the University of South Florida and other schools. Positive business outcomes have been realized in as little as three months, as employees from finance, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, engineering and legal have collaborated on data-driven models to improve productivity, operational efficiency, cash flow and risk mitigation, according to the news release. Jabil (NYSE: JBL), a manufacturing solutions company headquartered in St. Peterburg, presented information on the program last year at the Sunny Side Up speaker series. The annual CIO 100 Awards celebrate 100 organizations and the teams within them that are using IT in innovative ways to deliver business value.

BlueGrace Logistics makes its first acquisition in several years

BlueGrace Logistics, a third-party logistics services company headquartered in Tampa, has acquired Anthym Logistics, a freight broker with its primary offices in Tampa and Chicago. This is the first external transaction for BlueGrace since a $255 million investment by private equity firm Warburg Pincus in 2016, a news release said. With Anthym, BlueGrace enhances its presence in Tampa and in Chicago and adds new offices in Boca Raton and Birmingham, Alabama. The company now operates 15 locations nationwide. BlueGrace is headed by CEO Bobby Harris, who founded the company in 2009. BlueGrace generated more than $360 million in revenue last year.

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