Over the objection of nearby residents, Manatee County officials gave preliminary approval to a zoning request by IMC Phosphates, the world's largest producer of phosphate products, to expand onto 2,100 acres in East Manatee. Final approval is expected this month.
Clearwater -- Information technology company CGI Group plans to close its 200-employee Clearwater facility by the end of the month.
Collier County -- County commissioners hired a tourism manager to lead its new county-run tourism office. Jack Wert, who had been CEO of Seminole County's Visitor and Convention Bureau for more than a decade, started last month.
Lakeland -- Lakeland-based Crispers is expanding. The soup, salad and sandwich chain, which has 13 restaurants statewide, is planning about nine new restaurants this year.
Naples -- Citing unfavorable market conditions, Naples-based Bancshares of Florida has indefinitely postponed its plan to go public. The bank holding company had planned a Nov. 11 IPO.
Sarasota -- Sarasota-based Casto Southeast is developing a 500,000-sq.-ft. mixed-used shopping village in Lakeland called Lakeside Village just north of the Polk Parkway. Lakeside will include 330 residential units, an 18-screen theater with stadium seating, a hotel, office space and more than 400,000 square feet of retail space. Casto, which also built Winter Park Village, plans to break ground later this year.
St. Petersburg -- CityNet ONE, a new telephone, cable and high-speed internet provider, plans to launch a pilot program in St. Petersburg in April. The company, a joint venture between Motorola and St. Petersburg-based InternetSupportSystems, plans to provide its telecom services to 50 businesses downtown and some homeowners in the area. If all goes well, the company will expand its offerings nationwide.
Struggling Xerox Corp. is closing its St. Petersburg call center this month. The TeleWeb center handled telephone and internet sales for Xerox equipment and supplies. The center's 100 employees will be offered jobs at other Xerox call centers nationwide.
ATA will begin direct flights next month from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to Los Angeles and San Francisco and will fly direct to Las Vegas starting in March.
Tampa -- Citigroup plans to hire 500 to 700 call center employees in Tampa this year. The company already has about 1,700 employees at its Sabal Park facility. The move follows two years of substantial job losses at the Tampa unit, partly as a result of the company's spinoff of its Travelers Insurance unit.
Tampa Bay Technology Forum, which sponsors networking events and educational presentations for tech executives, will receive up to $100,000 over the next year from the Tampa Bay Partnership and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. The forum, with 200 corporate members, was formed two years ago after tech executives felt they weren't being served by existing business groups. The partnership allows the two well-established economic development groups to make new connections.
The Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau is seeking a consultant to study the possibility of expanding the Tampa Convention Center, sandwiched between the port and Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.
Horizon Bay Management, which owns and operates retirement housing communities in eight states, is moving its headquarters to Tampa from Chicago. The company is relocating about a dozen executives and plans to hire another two dozen.
COST OF LIVING
A comparison of five southwest Florida cities:
CityIndexHome PriceClearwater96.3$191,167Tampa97.8197,600Fort Myers100.5199,785Bradenton102.1235,090Sarasota109.1271,319
Notes: Price is an average for a new, 2,400-sq.-ft., three-bedroom, two-bath, executive-style home. For the index, 100 is average.
Source: ACCRA Cost of Living Index Fourth Quarter 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- The City Council voted against a plan to convert Albert Whitted Airport, a civil aviation facility on the downtown waterfront, into a neighborhood with more than 40 acres of waterfront parks. The city is considering its options and plans to make a final decision by Jan. 30.