August 23, 2014

Around the State

| 3/1/1998
BRADENTON --

Staff Leasing (Nasdaq-STFF), the national professional employer organization, is expanding its corporate office and adding 96 jobs to its 460 in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

PLANT CITY -- Lykes Meat Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods (Nasdaq-SFDS), completed the expansion of its headquarters and its smoked meats production facility to become the world's largest hot dog- processing plant. The $10.8 million expansion added 276 jobs.

SARASOTA -- Palmer Ranch Development sold its 223-acre SilverOak parcel in its master planned community to three local builders for $11 million. The buyers -- John Cannon Homes, Todd Johnston Homes and Bamboo Building & Development -- plan to build 253 homes.

TAMPA -- NRT Inc., parent of Caldwell Banker, bought TamBay Realty in Tampa and Boca Raton-based Gimelstob Realty. New Jersey-based NRT now has more than 1,700 sales agents in west central Florida.

PowerCerv Corp. (Nasdaq-PCRV) cut 38 jobs, 10% of its work force, and transferred 12 employees to consulting-contractor positions. PowerCerv provides software and services to manufacturers, distributors and financial businesses.

Facing losses and stiff competition, JumboSports (NYSE-JSI) plans to close 18 more stores in addition to the eight announced in October. The closings, all outside Florida, will lay off more than 700, including 20 at JumboSports' Tampa headquarters. The sporting goods chain expects to raise about $70 million from the sale, which it will apply to its $360 million in long-term debt. The retailer will be left with 59 stores.

Dianon Systems of Connecticut agreed to buy Pathologists Reference Laboratory (PRL), a large Tampa outpatient pathology laboratory. PRL's 80 employees are expected to retain their jobs.

Technology-based staffing company System One Technical bought Silicon Valley staffing firm AT Systems. System One employs 200 and expects 1998 combined revenues of $100 million.

PharMerica (Nasdaq-DOSE) purchased Tampa company Express Pharmacy Services and Tmesys Inc. and North Carolina business Resident Care Pharmacy -- the fourth and fifth acquisitions this year by the pharmacy products and services provider.

SunStar Health Plan, a subsidiary of Heathrow-based SunStar Healthcare (Nasdaq-SUNS), received state approval to expand its healthcare service to Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Manatee counties.

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BANKING STRATEGY

Huntington Banks ...

... will expand its presence in Florida on June 1, when it is scheduled to complete its purchase of 60 Barnett Bank offices. The branches were sold by NationsBank to gain regulatory approval of its merger with Barnett. Forty-eight of the offices are in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Lee, Sarasota and Manatee counties. At present, Huntington's only operation in the region is a private banking office in Sarasota. But the Columbus, Ohio-based bank has 50 Florida branches overall, primarily in the central region, with $1.4 billion in deposits. When the transaction closes, Huntington will have $4 billion in Florida deposits, $2.3 billion in the southwest.

Peter Geier, president of Huntington's six-state, $26 billion-asset network, says customers can expect a decentralized/big bank approach similar to Barnett's. He says rates on loans, CDs and other products and local marketing decisions will be coordinated by James Dunlap, Maitland-based president for Florida operations, and Martin Mahan, who joined Huntington as regional executive for western Florida after serving as Barnett's corporate director of retail banking.

Huntington's southwest Florida plans include in-store branches at Albertson's supermarkets and ATMs at Walgreen drugstores, two programs that have helped the bank grow in central Florida. Geier says Huntington might also open new offices or purchase small banks in southwest Florida.

Richard Bove, banking analyst for Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, says it's unlikely that Huntington will offer any unique products or services in a market saturated with major banks. But he adds that being in southwest Florida with a growth mind-set will be positive for Huntington because "it is a banking market that's growing much faster than the national rate." -- Jim Freer

Tags: Florida Small Business, Politics & Law, Southwest, Business Florida

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