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Southwest Florida & Tampa Bay Business Briefs - Jan. 2009

Dade City— Pasco County native Patsy Nathe, co-owner of R.J. Nathe and Sons Logging and Tall Timber Cattle and Grove, has won the state’s 2008 “woman of the year in agriculture” award.

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Dunedin — The Florida League of Cities gave Dunedin its top award for 2008, naming it a “Florida city of excellence.”

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Lakeland — Gtech Printing plans to open an instant-ticket printing facility this spring. The 100,000-sq.-ft. plant will employ 100, with the company hoping to add another 100 workers over the next three to five years.

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Manatee County — Gainesville-based Exactech has opened a facility in south Manatee County to make surgical instruments used for implanting the company’s joint replacement devices. The factory will employ 12.

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Pinellas Park — Pinellas County commissioners pledged $770,000 to Pinellas Hope, a tent city created to provide shelter and services to the homeless. Between December 2007 and April 2008, the facility housed 474 people.

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St. Petersburg — Citing declining orders, Jabil Circuit (NYSE-JBL) has eliminated another 150 jobs at its local manufacturing plant. Jabil also cut 120 jobs in September. The company is moving ahead with plans to build a new headquarters in the city. Jabil says that project, for which it received a $34.4-million incentives package from the city, will create 858 jobs.

» Fred Bullard Jr., who purchased BayWalk, a downtown mall, just last year is facing foreclosure after missing bank payments.

» Work is under way on a new Salvador Dali Museum to be built along the downtown waterfront. The 66,450-sq.-ft. museum will cost $35 million.

» Florida Blood Services, based in Pinellas County, and the Southeastern Community Blood Center, based in Tallahassee, have merged.

» Eckerd College President Donald R. Eastman’s contract has been extended through 2014. Eastman has been Eckerd’s president since 2001.

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Tampa — The InterContinenental Hotels Group of Atlanta has announced plans to develop a 168-room, $29-million hotel in the Channelside district. Named Hotel Indigo, the project is projected to open in 2010.

» The University of South Florida ranks 35th nationally in patent research, according to the Patent Board’s 2008 Universities Patent Scorecard. The University of Florida is 32nd, and Florida State University is 104th.

» Tampa International Airport is the top airport in the United States, according to the annual Zagat survey of frequent fliers and travel professionals.

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Tampa Bay — Tampa Bay came in last among six similarly sized regions in the Tampa Bay Partnership’s 2008 Regional Economic Scorecard. The study ranks communities based on six economic criteria. Tampa Bay ranked last in employment, housing and transportation, fifth in innovation and third in education and income. In first place overall is Dallas and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. (tie); followed by Charlotte, N.C.; Jacksonville and Atlanta (tie); and Tampa Bay.

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Tarpon Springs — Following several years of debate, Wal-Mart has shelved plans to build a 203,000-sq.-ft. super center along the banks of the Anclote River.

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Tierra Verde — Over the objections of many Tierra Verde residents and Pinellas County planning officials, St. Petersburg’s City Council voted 5-2 to annex Tierra Verde’s 28-acre waterfront commercial district.

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Venice — The Gulf Coast Foundation of Venice has received a $5-million grant to help southwest and central Florida-based military personnel and their families who have served or are still serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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Winter Haven — Cypress Gardens has closed. Owners announced plans to reopen the attraction, with an expanded water park, in March.