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CLEARWATER

Tech Data Corp. (Nasdaq-TECD) plans to buy an 80% interest in Computer 2000 AG, Europe's largest distributor of computer products with 1997 sales of $4.9 billion and a presence in more than 30 countries. Tech Data, with $7.1 billion in sales, offered about $400 million for its stake in the German company.

The Hops Bar and Grill restaurant chain was bought by Madison, Georgia-based Apple South for approximately $125 million. Hops, which employs about 1,500, will operate as a division of Apple South and retain its current management and employees.

FORT MYERS

Gartner Group relocated its bookkeeping and telemarketing operations from its Stamford, Conn., headquarters to a 62,000-square-foot facility. The information technology company has hired about 200 and has plans for 200 more.

ST. PETERSBURG

GTE will close its printing plant in south St. Petersburg this fall and divert the work to Illinois and California. The plant's 172 workers will receive job training and may be offered work with the company. GTE is the largest private employer in the Tampa Bay area with nearly 14,000 local employees. 

Home-improvement retailer Lowe's Cos., North Wilkesboro, N.C., filed plans to raze an old Florida Power facility to build a 160,000-sq.-ft. store.

Lucent Technologies opened its NetCare Data Services Center in a 100,000-square-foot site. The 450 employees assist customers by phone 24 hours a day with design, integration and management of Lucent's networking services. The Murray Hill, N.J., company plans to create 70 new jobs at this location.

Raymond James Bank, a subsidiary of Raymond James Financial (NYSE-RJF), is relocating from Spring Hill to a 24,000-square-foot facility at the Carillon office park. The bank will offer the public a full range of financial services.

TAMPA

The recently completed U.S. Federal Courthouse II, which has 17 courtrooms, judge and jury chambers, and administrative offices, was the first in the Southeast U.S. constructed using the metric system.

A new dry dock, the 12th on Tampa's waterfront, means Tampa-based International Ship Repair & Marine Services will add about 100 to the 350 workers it now employs on it 300 projects per year.

The Tampa Port Authority broke ground for its new 82,000-sq.-ft., $8.3 million headquarters, which will house port staff and business tenants. Also the University of South Florida will lease space for business classes.

Lykes Brothers formed a new business unit, Lykes Consumer Brands, to focus on sales and marketing. It will have offices at the company's headquarters in Tampa and will create 100 jobs.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Doctor Ordered... ... jobs, and St. Petersburg is counting on a mail-order pharmaceutical firm to deliver at least 372 to one of the city's most depressed commercial zones. Silver Spring, Md.-based WHJoint Venture LLC/Max-E LLC proposes to convert a vacant 75,000-square-foot former Belk's department store in the city's struggling Central Plaza business district into a state-of-the-art distribution center. The project, if realized, will be a centerpiece in the city's economic revitalization effort targeted to the southside neighborhood that 18 months ago erupted in violence after a white police officer shot and killed a black motorist.

To bolster the venture's prospects, the city added the department store parcel to an existing enterprise zone, rezoned the property for light manufacturing and agreed to loan $2.1 million in Community Development Block Grant money to the company. In May, the city got permission to use federal funds to guarantee another $6.25 million in loans for the venture.

WHJoint Venture, which expects the project to cost $15.9 million, hopes to begin building renovations and construction of an addition this summer. "We're now negotiating a closing date with the bank and the owner of the property," says Charles W. Washington, a WHJoint Venture partner.

- Barbara Miracle