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St. Pete man named to Blockchain Task Force

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Jason Holloway to the state's  Blockchain Task Force. Holloway, who lives in St.  Petersburg, is a senior legislative assistant at the Florida Legislature and the CEO of DLT Consulting, Inc. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Florida and his master’s degree in digital currencies and blockchain technology from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. The task force will study if and how Florida’s state, county, and municipal governments can benefit from a transition to blockchain-based systems for record-keeping, data security, financial transactions, and service delivery, and identify ways blockchain technology can be used to improve government interaction with businesses and the public.

City Council Oks deal for more downtown parking

The St. Petersburg City Council unanimously approved a resolution, allowing the city to purchase a downtown public parking facility from the DeNunzio Group. The parking facility is part of a 25-story mixed-use project the Boston-based developer plans at the southeast corner of 1st Avenue North and 5th Street. The facility will have at least 240 parking spaces on four levels. The deal calls for the city to spend no more than $28,700 per parking space. Dustin DeNunzio, president of the company, said he would be a long-term owner. He hopes to bring to St. Petersburg some of the biotech and tech companies he’s associated with in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

USF President imagines ‘audacious future’

Steve Currall, president of University of South Florida, outlined ambitious plans for USF during his inauguration speech Thursday. He wants USF to become an overall top 25 public university in the United States. His ultimate goal is for USF to each eligibility for membership in the Association of American Universities, the 65 top research universities in North America. USF has a strategic advantage over other universities due to its location in a growing metropolitan region with a focus on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, Currall said.  He said USF serves as a catalyst for economic growth and that USF can become to Tampa Bay what Stanford University has been to Silicon Valley.

St. Pete insuretech firm files for patent

Neptune Flood, a St. Petersburg insurance company that uses advanced data analytics and technology to create quotes, has filed for a patent for its Triton technology. Triton is being used for residential flood products now, but Trevor Burgess, Neptune's chairman, said the company expects to use the Triton for additional products in the next few months. Triton has "fundamentally altered the way risk is selected, pricing is determined and how we allocate the resulting insurance policies among reinsurers," Brad Schulz, Neptune's chief technology officer, said in a news release.

Moody’s puts Tech Data’s ratings on review

Moody's Investors Service put the Baa3 senior unsecured ratings of Tech Data Corp. (Nasdaq: TECD) under review for downgrade, after the announcement that the Clearwater-based IT distributor agreed to be acquired by Apollo Global Management for $5.4 billion. Funds associated with Apollo committed an aggregate $3.2 billion equity contribution and financial institutions have agreed to provide committed debt financing up to $5.0 billion. The rating review will focus on the financial leverage and ultimate capital structure resulting from the leveraged buy-out, Moody's said.  The review for downgrade is based on the expectation that the company will have higher financial leverage following the acquisition given the private equity ownership.

Women-owned PE firm partners on downtown Tampa project

Work is underway on a 23-story high-rise designed to address the needs for off-campus housing for University of Tampa students. The project is at East Tyler Street and North Ashley Drive, and named The Henry, as a nod to railroad tycoon Henry Plant. It will have 188 apartments, housing 537 residents, as well as 1,800 square feet of restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.  It's expected to open in fall 2021. Developers are Development Ventures Group of New York and Orlando, InTown Group in Tampa and Halstatt Real Estate Partners, a women-owned real estate private equity firm in Naples.

SynsorMed wins Frontier pitch competition

SynsorMed, a tech company with a remote patient monitoring system and chronic care management solutions, was the winner of the pitch competition at the  Frontier Fall Forum Tuesday in Tampa. SynsorMed, which was in Tampa Bay Wave's inaugural TechDiversity cohort, won $3,000 worth of Frontier’s cloud security services, four club level tickets to a Buccaneers game, a game parking pass and bragging rights, a news release said. Three other health-tech start-ups that grew their businesses at Tampa Bay Wave also pitched. They are: MetaSense Analytics, which uses data to help companies accelerate their health insights; RXLive, a personalized telehealth service that connects patients and expert clinical pharmacists; and Verapy, a physical and occupational therapy platform that turns standard exercises into fun and immersive virtual reality games. Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR), Tampa Bay Wave and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the event at the AdventHealth Training Center.

USF, UT entrepreneurship programs make national rankings

The University of South Florida Center for Entrepreneurship's graduate program ranks No. 8 in the nation on a new list from Princeton Review. Among public schools, USF was No. 3. Graduates have launched 68 startups in the last five years, and raised $15 million in funding, according to Entrepreneur magazine. The University of Tampa Lowth Entrepreneurship Center ranked No. 37 among best undergraduate programs for entrepreneurs.UT grads have launched 300 startups over the last five yeas, and raised $4 million, Entrepreneur said.

PNC survey: Florida business leaders divided on tariffs

Small and mid-size business leaders in Florida are divided on the impact of increased U.S. tariffs on goods from other countries, a new survey from The PNC Financial Services Group found.  Nearly half of those surveyed,  or 48, are in support of tariffs on goods from other countries, even if other countries retaliate with increased tariffs on U.S. goods and services, the survey said.  That's up sharply from 24 percent in fall 2018. Thirty-two percent are against increased tariffs and 19 percent are uncertain. The vast majority of respondents, 88 percent, have made no changes to their business in response to tariffs, the survey said.

St. Pete man sentenced in securities fraud case

A federal judge in Massachusetts has sentenced St. Petersburg resident Gregory M. Bercowy to 17 months in prison, after he pled guilty to securities fraud. The judge also ordered Bercowy to pay $3.3 million in restitution and serve one year of supervised release, a Nov. 12 news release said. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier charged Bercowy with manipulating the stock price of Aureus Inc., a penny stock company incorporated in Nevada. A federal judge in Tampa ordered Bercowy to pay a civil penalty of $507,513, and permanently barred him from participating in an offering of a penny stock.

Bank of Tampa expands to Pasco

The Bank of Tampa has opened a loan production office in New Port Richey. It's the bank's first presence in Pasco County. The new office is led by Angie Gardner, vice president, commercial relationship manager, and a veteran Pasco County banker, most recently with SunTrust. The Bank of Tampa is the largest community bank in the Tampa-St. Pete area, with total assets of $1.8 billion and 12 full-service banking offices, in addition to a loan production office in Plant City.

Apyx doubles revenue in Q3

Apyx Medical Corp. (Nasdaq: APYX), a Clearwater medical device firm, posted $7.6 million in revenue from continuing operations in the third quarter of 2019, up 106 percent over Q3 2018. The company’s net loss for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $4.3 million, or 13 cents a share. The company, formerly named Bovie Medical, revamped its operations after selling its legacy electrosurgical business in 2018.  Apyx expects total revenue in the range of $27.4 million to $27.9 million and a net loss in the range of $20.3 million to $19.8 million for the full year of fiscal 2019, a news release said. Apyx had the best performing stock among Tampa-St. Pete area public companies in 2018 and the stock price has risen about 12 percent since the first of the year.

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