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Brother-sister financial team partners with Dynasty

A brother-sister team has partnered with Dynasty Financial Partners to form an independent wealth management firm called High Note Wealth. High Note, based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, has six professionals and is led by Katherine Katherine Forrester Schneewind and Michael Forrester. Both Schneewind and Forrester previously worked at .Northwestern Mutual in the Minneapolis area. "More and more family advisory teams are coming to us to explore the potential of building a firm together, and we are excited to partner with High Note Wealth to help them fulfill their dream of owning their own family business," Shirl Penney, CEO of Dynasty, said in a news release. Dynasty, headquartered in St. Petersburg, provides wealth management and technology platforms for select independent financial advisory firms.

Tampa investment firm puts money into artificial intelligence

Weatherford Capital in Tampa has invested in CloudFactory in a funding round that raised $65 million for the artificial intelligence firm. The round was led by FTV Capital.  Sam Weatherford, a partner at Weatherford Capital, will joined the Cloud Factory board. The company's workers turn material like images and audio into data that can be used for artificial intelligence and machine learning, by tagging and annotating them, according to VentureBeat. CloudFactory, headquartered in Reading in the United Kingdom and with delivery centers in Nepal and Kenya as well as an office in the U.S., is "a true leader in AI data processing and in connecting people in the developing world with digital-age work," Sam Weatherford said in a news release.

St. Pete wins top award for financial reporting

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded the city of St. Petersburg a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting. It's the highest form of recognition in the area of government accounting and financial reporting, a news release said. The city received the award for its comprehensive annual financial report. An impartial panel determined the report meets the high standards for the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and to motive potential users and user groups to read the report. 

BB&T, SunTrust set date for merger

BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. received the final regulatory approval required for their merger, when the  Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. green-lighted the deal Tuesday. The banks plan to complete their merger on Dec. 6, when they will become Truist Financial Corp. Truist will be the second-largest retail bank in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, with 112 offices, about $11.3 billion in deposits and a nearly 13 percent deposit market share, according to the FDIC. BB&T shares will become Truist shares and SunTrust  shareholders will receive 1.295 Truist  shares for each share of SunTrust stock they own at the closing. Truist  shares will trade on the NYSE under the symbol "TFC." The conversion to the Truist brand will occur over two years. Until systems are integrated clients will continue to be served through their respective BB&T or SunTrust branches, websites, mobile apps, financial advisors and relationship managers.  

Wells Fargo: Florida sees broad-based job gains

Florida continues to add jobs at a spectacular pace, a report from Wells Fargo Securities said. Private sector payrolls rose 0.3 percent in October, as 22,800 net new jobs were created. Employment rose across most major industry categories. Education and health services added the largest number of new jobs, followed by the leisure and hospitality sector, with most of that increase coming at hotels and restaurants. "The breadth of job gains suggests the pace of job growth should remain strong for the foreseeable future. The only question is whether employers can find all the workers they need," the report said, noting that Florida’s labor market is "incredibly tight," with an unemployment rate of just 3.2 percent.

CrowdStrike chairman joins KnowBe4 board

 Gerhard Watzinger, chairman of the board of directors of Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity company CrowdStrike Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: CRWD), has joined the board of directors of KnowBe4 in Clearwater. Watzinger will be an independent member of the board of KnowBe4, a cybersecurity training firm with a simulated phishing platform. Watzinger, a former executive with Intel, has served as chairman of CrowdStrike since April 2012. He also serves on the board of directors of Mastech Digital Inc. (NYSE: MHH) and Absolute Software (TSX: ABT). In a statement Watzinger said he's watched the success of KnowBe4, which got a $300 million investment from private equity giant KKR in June. "KnowBe4 is exactly the type of organization that I like to get involved with – startup mentality, killer growth, strong leadership, 26 consecutive quarters up and an overall positive work environment," he said.

Publix expands sales of Mother Kombucha

All Publix Super Markets stores throughout Florida are now selling Mother Kombucha, the living, probiotic tea made by Mother Kombucha LLC in St. Petersburg. Building on a successful launch in their southwest Florida stores, Publix expanded the brand across the state to over 840 locations, a news release said. Five flavors are available: Blue Rose, Hopped Passion Fruit, The Trop, Lavender Mojito and Turmeric Ginger Lemonade. Mother Kombucha, founded by Tonya Donati in 2014, is among the companies featured on PitchLyst.

Eckerd College names new president

Damian Fernandez, chancellor of The Pennsylvania State University-Abington College, was named president of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. Fernandez, who will assume office on July 1, 2020, succeeds Donald Eastman, who announced his retirement last February. Eckerd's presidential search committee reviewed more than 200 applications for the position. Fernandez is a Cuban immigrant who grew up in Puerto Rico and has more than 30 years of higher education experience in the classroom and in administration, a news release said. 

BlockSpaces partners with Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay

A new partnership between Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay and BlockSpaces, a blockchain technology innovation center, will launch in February, with a Blockchain for Teens workshop at the #Pay Tampa Bay conference. Blockchain, a digital public ledger that permanently records payment processing and transactions, likely will play a big role in job creation in the future, said Rosa Shores, co-founder and CEO of BlockSpaces. "We hope to ignite a new generation of entrepreneurs to change the world in ways that maybe we can’t even conceive of today," Shores said in a news release. #PAY Tampa Bay ​, scheduled for Feb 20, 2020, is being organized by BlockSpaces and The Mandalay Group to showcase local and national leaders in the financial industry and will be one of the first main events held at the new Embarc Collective in downtown Tampa.  

Tombolo Books announces brick and mortar space in Grand Central District

Tombolo Books' official brick and mortar space will be located at 2153 First Avenue South, according to the independent bookstore's founder, Alsace Walentine.  Walentine announced the location on Facebook Monday morning, touting the location's proximity to Black Crow Coffee's Grand Central location, as well as Squeeze Juice Works. The location is also just two blocks west of St. Pete's historic Haslam's bookstore.  Planning for the official Tombolo Books space has been an effort four years in the making, Walentine wrote in her Facebook post. The indie bookseller has been a traveling effort since its founding, offering book sales and author signings at numerous events ranging from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg to Preserve the 'Burg. Tombolo has had a presence at most major festivals, indie markets, and it even had a temporary pop-up shop inside the Central Arcade in St. Pete. An extensive micro-loan effort has helped get the brick and mortar space on its feet, but the bookstore is still looking for more donors. Visit Tombolo's IndieGoGo site here to donate.

Cott buys The Water Guy

Cott Corp. (NYSE: COT) in Tampa acquired substantially all of the assets of The Water Guy, which includes WG America Company and certain affiliates. The Water Guy provides water solutions and office coffee service to residential and commercial customers and the acquisition will grow the customer base of Cott subsidiary DS Services by more than 7,500 in eastern and central Pennsylvania, northern MarylandDelaware and New Jersey, a news release said. Cott, a water, coffee, tea, extracts and filtration service company, did not disclose the purchase price.

Tampa General operating revenue up 9.2 percent

Florida Health Sciences Center Inc., the parent company of Tampa General Hospital and other healthcare entities, reported $1.45 billion in operating revenue for fiscal year 2019, ended Sept. 30. That was a 9.2 percent increase from the prior fiscal year, according to a financial report filed for bondholders. The company’s gain from operations was $14.5 million, a 0.1 percent year from the year-ago period. Non-operating activity and investments pushed the total gain to $59.2 million, down 10.8 percent from fiscal 2018. While Tampa General Hospital was in the black for the just-ended year with an operating gain of $43.6 million, most of the other Florida Health Sciences entities, including the Tampa General Medical Group and the Brandon Healthplex, lost money in fiscal 2019, the report showed.

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