FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Southwest Fla. & Tampa Bay Business Briefs - January 2011


» Ave Maria University has opened its 1,000-seat Tom Golisano Field House. The $4-million facility is the university's first indoor athletic venue. It will have courts for basketball and volleyball, as well as locker rooms, offices and training rooms.


» The city has awarded a $164,000 contract to New York City-based Imagine Global Communications to handle Clearwater's tourism marketing and public relations efforts.


» Robb & Stucky Interiors is hiring 12 interior decorators and sales consultants at its showrooms in Fort Myers and Bonita Springs. The Fort Myers-based company also plans to add five jobs at its location in Las Vegas.


» Florida Southern College, home to the nation's largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings, recently dedicated a new 25,000-sq.-ft. humanities building designed by Wright scholar and famed architect Robert A.M. Stern. The contemporary-styled building overlooks Lake Hollingsworth.


» Facts Engineering is planning a $2.2-million expansion of its New Port Richey facilities. The expansion includes 31,500-sq.-ft. of office and warehouse space. The company also plans to add 10 jobs.


» County commissioners approved a plan to clean up the unfinished Trinity Town Center retail and office complex. Construction of the partially completed project stopped in 2008 amid financial and legal problems. The plan requires that improvements must be made to the property, including removing construction debris and construction equipment. In return, the county will drop an administrative complaint against Bill Planes, the developer, for expired building permits. The developer will also get more time pay the $35,000 in fees required to extend the permits.


» The Dinosaur World roadside attraction is expanding. Located along Interstate 4, between Tampa and Orlando, the park will get 22,000 square feet of new museum, gift shop and office space and 12 more acres outside to display its life-sized dinosaur models. The owners didn't disclose the expansion's cost.


» The Mosaic phosphate company plans to develop 16,000 acres of formerly mined phosphate land into a resort and conference center called Streamsong. Plans call for 140 rooms, five private villas, restaurants, lounges, a 15,000-sq.-ft. spa, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, a 4,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and two golf courses. Construction is expected to start this year with the resort scheduled to open in 2013.


» Auto insurer Progressive plans to hire 240 at its Hillsborough County call center. The jobs will pay between $12 and $15 an hour.


» Looking to become a "green" university, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is installing a chiller plant with a thermal storage system that officials say will save the university $100,000 a year in energy costs.


» The Fusion 1560 apartment complex has opened along the city's Central Avenue, near Tropicana Field. The $60-million project features 325 apartments.


» The National Institutes of Health has given a three-year, $2.6-million grant to the University of South Florida and Tampa-based biotech firm Saneron CCEL Therapeutics to study new treatments of Alzheimer's disease.

» Busch Gardens is laying off 126 employees and has increased admission prices $3, pushing a regular, full-price ticket to $79.99. For children 3 to 9, admission is $67.99.