Lakeland -- Auto-insurer Geico Corp., based in Washington, D.C., is building a $20.5 million, 297,000-sq.-ft. call center, which should be ready late this year. Geico already employs 650 here and expects to reach 3,000 by 2004.
St. Petersburg -- Florida Progress Corp. (NYSE-FPC) formed a new subsidiary, Progress Telecommunications Corp., a fiber-optic telecommunications business. It will sell wholesale fiber-optic service in Florida to long-distance carriers, Internet service providers and other telecommunications companies.
Sarasota -- ThermaCell Technologies (Nasdaq-VCLL), a manufacturer and marketer of coatings and building materials, acquired regional paint manufacturer and distributor American Paints of Pompano Beach.
Tampa -- PricewaterhouseCoopers will add 450 jobs here over the next 15 months as it consolidates many of its North American functions. The accounting firm is building a $52 million training center near Tampa International Airport and a new administrative center near Raymond James Stadium.
American Viking Lines began a twice-weekly cruise ferry sailing between the Port of Tampa and Progreso, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula. The vessel can carry 630 passengers and accommodate cars, RVs and roll-on cargo.
The Tampa Bay Partnership, which markets the region, established the Central Florida Interstate Transportation Initiative, focused on ensuring central Florida and Tampa Bay obtain federal funding to complete improvements to I-4.
Winter Haven -- Accent Marketing Services, a Louisville, Ky.-based direct marketing company, opened its fifth customer communications center here. The facility will employ 300 by year end.