Southwest Fla. & Tampa Bay Business Briefs - Feb. 2009
Bonita Springs —
» Airborne, a Bonita Springs-based seller of dietary supplements, has agreed to pay $7 million amid allegations by 32 states that it made false claims about its products’ health benefits.
» Quasar Bio-Tech, which makes light therapy devices, will move its manufacturing facilities to Manatee County this year. The company had been based in Pennsylvania.
Citrus County —
» Progress Energy plans to retire two coal plants at its Crystal River Energy Complex once the utility’s proposed nuclear power plant in Levy County is up and running, which might not happen until 2020. Meanwhile, the utility has submitted a license renewal application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, requesting 20 additional years of operation for its Crystal River Nuclear Plant.
Fort Myers —
» JetBlue has started daily non-stop flights between Southwest Florida International Airport and Washington’s Dulles International Airport.
» Direct mail company Valpak is cutting 79 jobs. The company, which employs 1,300, recently opened a $220-million printing facility in St. Petersburg.
Lee County —
» County officials have launched a $25-million incentives plan to lure businesses and entice existing firms to expand. To qualify, businesses must agree to create 75 or more high-paying jobs and make a capital investment equal to or more than its incentives award.
» Saying the development would harm wildlife and threaten the Cocohatchee Slough, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida has sued to stop the development of Parklands Collier golf community.
Pinellas County —
» Despite objections from many parents, school board members are moving forward with cost-cutting plans to close five elementary schools, two middle schools and force thousands of students to change schools next year.
» Pinellas commissioners voted to spend $30.3 million to build a hurricane-proof building for the public works department.
» Biopsy Sciences, an Arizona biomedical research and medical device company, announced plans to relocate to the county.
Polk County —
» The Nature Conservancy has acquired more than 5,000 acres near the headwaters of the Kissimmee River to preserve the land from development. The site was most recently proposed as a development of regional impact with 4,900 homes.
Port Richey —
» City council members voted against renewing City Manager Richard Reade’s contract.
St. Petersburg —
» The Charles Stark Draper Laboratories of Boston, looking to open a research facility in Pinellas County, has purchased a 41,000-sq.-ft. building in north St. Petersburg for $7.7 million.
» HSN plans to lay off 110 and eliminate 52 open positions, according to the Tampa Tribune.
» Lex Salisbury, the longtime director of the Lowry Park Zoo, resigned following an audit critical of how he managed dealings between the zoo and Safari Wild, a private animal park he is developing near Lakeland.
» Hillsborough Community College has broken ground on a $14.1-million student services building on the college’s Ybor City campus.
Tampa Bay —
» The Friendship Trail Bridge — once the Gandy Bridge across Tampa Bay that connected Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and was converted to a trail for runners, walkers, bikers and skaters — has been closed after engineers determined it is structurally unsound.
Winter Haven —
» SunnyRidge Farm has expanded its operations in Mexico, where its crops include blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
» Commercial developer The 6/10 Corp. has partnered with Krieger Electric owner Rob Krieger to form QuickBeam Energy, a Winter Haven company that specializes in selling and installing photovoltaic solar energy systems for buildings and large homes.