November 21, 2014

Around the State

| 10/1/1997
Apollo Beach

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Apollo International of Delaware (Nasdaq-AIOD) has a $38 million, five-year contract with the Chinese company Beijing East Bridge Machine & Electrical Equipment Co. Apollo will supply Beijing East with electric-motor protection relays and other electric power equipment.

Fort Myers

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The KTB Florida Sports Corp. plans to build a $20 million ice hockey complex along I-75. Beginning 1998, a professional hockey team affiliated with the North Carolina Hurricanes will play at least 35 games a year in the 180,000-square-foot facility.

A Stamford, Conn.-based computer research and analysis firm is relocating its finance and telemarketing operations to Fort Myers. The Gartner Group's move will create 300 new jobs.

Beverlin Manufacturing of Grand Rapids, Mich., is opening a new facility in Fort Myers to be closer to major customer Pall Industrial Hydraulics. The metal tubing maker will employ 14 the first year and add 10 workers later.

Manatee County

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Elcotel Inc. is doubling its size and becoming the nation's largest pay phone manufacturer by merging with Technology Service Group of Atlanta. Elcotel will go from 150 to 380 employees, with offices in Manatee County, Atlanta and Orange, Va.

Naples

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Naples and Fort Myers' climate and scenery make them two of the nation's top 10 metro areas for employment growth over the next five years. DRI/McGraw Hill ranked three other Florida cities in the top 10: Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Orlando.

St. Petersburg

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Primex Technologies (Nasdaq-PRMX) won a $7.6 million contract, with a $4.7 million option, to provide the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center of Indian Head, Md., with an explosive technology that clears land mines.

A St. Petersburg-based healthcare chain has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Florida Sunshine Rehabilitation had 10 clinics in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Sarasota

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Trans World Airlines (TWA) reversed its decision to discontinue flights at the Sarasota Bradenton Airport after working out a plan to increase ridership, especially business travel [ATS, Sept. 1997].

Oxford Health Plans of Norwalk, Conn., is buying troubled Sarasota-based Riscorp Health Plans [FT, Around The State, Aug. 1997] for an undisclosed amount. Privately held Riscorp provides insurance to more than 15,000 Floridians. Oxford's only previous Florida operation was St. Augustine Health Plans Inc.

Tampa

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Corrugated packaging company Berry Packaging Inc. bought 16 acres in the Tampa East Industrial Park where it will build a $3 million, 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

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BANKS

... involving Florida banks "will continue because Florida is the best banking state in the nation and will remain so for many, many years," says Christine L. Jennings, president and CEO of Sarasota Bank. In addition to NationsBank's bid for Barnett, the 12-county region of southwest Florida, where banks and thrifts account for almost 25% of the $180 billion on deposit in the state, has seen other recent acquisitions: F.N.B.Corp. of Hermitage, Pa., bought Southwest Banks of Naples and Cape Coral's West Coast Bancorp; Montgomery, Ala.-based Colonial BancGroup has agreed to purchase South Florida Banking Corp. of Bonita Springs and Lee County's First Independence Bank; and Provident Bancorp of Cincinnati, Ohio, acquired South Hillsborough Community Bank in Apollo Beach and Sarasota's Enterprise National Bank.

Jennings says her five-year-old bank, which has $55 million in assets, has been approached about selling "since the day we opened, but we have not allowed any serious discussion to take place." The bank's assets have been growing at about $12 million per year, Jennings says, with new customers coming primarily from the ranks of dissatisfied clients of larger banks or through referrals by present customers. Acquisitions such as those cited above usually mean more business for smaller banks like Jennings' and the chance to hire experienced personnel cut loose by a merger.

-Brian Hires

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

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