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Southwest Florida Business Briefs - Feb. 2007

» The owner of a limestone mine near Inglis is seeking to expand the mine over the city’s objections that it could pollute the city’s water.

» A condo-style RV resort with 130 sites has broken ground on 50 acres adjacent to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.

» Tech Data (Nasdaq-TECD) signed a deal to distribute products for Raritan Computer of New Jersey and also has teamed up with Samsonite to sell an array of laptop cases, bags and women’s designer totes.

» The average annual wage in Collier County grew to $37,686 in 2005 — 10.2% higher than in 2004 and eighth-highest in the state, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation. The state average is $37,625.

» SunStream is developing a luxury condo community, Retreat del Sol at Port of the Islands, that overlooks the Everglades, with prices starting at $379,000.

» FineMark National Bank & Trust will open this year with Joseph Catti, a former Northern Trust executive, as president and CEO.

» Duratek Precast Structures in Brooksville, which manufactures wall panels, is building an $11-million, 90-employee facility in the Hernando County Airport RailPark.

» The Bonita Bay Group has purchased Flora & Ella’s restaurant in LaBelle, where the developer is building several communities. The Trask family will continue to operate the eatery.

» Tourist development tax revenue eclipsed the $20-million mark for the year ending last August thanks to a steady rise in average hotel room rates. In October, room rates increased 12% to an average of $96.21 while occupancy held steady at 65.2%.

» Publix Super Markets has bought two former Bi-Lo stores in Tennessee, giving it 14 grocery stores in that state.

» Employers with fewer than 50 full-time workers and annual gross revenue of less than $2 million are now eligible to compete to be vendors for county purchases valued at between $2,000 and $10,000.

» Lakeland-based ASC Geosciences, a geotechnical engineering firm, has opened offices in New Delhi and Jaipur, India, under its affiliate ASC Geosciences Consultancy Group.

» A 25-year-old bird-rescue operation, Pelican Man Sanctuary, has closed.

» New College has received a $2.7-million donation from Ulla Searing, 94, the widow of financier Arthur Searing.

» Discount airline Allegiant Air begins flying twice weekly this month from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport to Fort Wayne, Ind.

» The Arts, a residential art-themed community planned for downtown St. Petersburg, has changed its floor plans and lowered condo prices to the low $200,000s.

» The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute and drug maker Merck are launching a for-profit research group called M2GEN that will focus on creating individually tailored cancer treatments. The new venture will create 165 jobs with an average salary of $80,000.

» SimDag has sold its stake in the planned Trump Tower Tampa project in downtown Tampa and Antigua Bay Yacht Club in Clearwater to Mirabilis Ventures, an Orlando-based private equity firm.

» Les and Pam Muma have donated $6 million to the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital for a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit.