Southwest Florida Roundup
New cancer-fighting assets for Moffitt Cancer Center network
In the mid-1970s, H. Lee Moffitt, then a state representative from Tampa, lost three friends to cancer.
Each had to leave Florida to find the specialized care they needed. And so Moffitt, himself a survivor of a malignant knee tumor, turned his attention to helping cancer patients get high-quality, innovative treatments closer to home.
As incoming House Speaker in 1981, he pushed through legislation authorizing a $70-million cancer hospital funded by state cigarette tax money. Five years later, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center opened on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa. Since then, the center has grown to include outpatient treatment clinics, a large cancer research effort and a startup incubator for biotechnology companies. It also has expanded across Tampa with multiple locations totaling 2.5 million square feet.
Today, the 206-bed hospital and its ancillary facilities employ more than 4,500 people, treat nearly 60,000 patients each year and conduct some 400 clinical trials for cancer research annually.
In November, hospital leaders unveiled plans for a 10-year, $800-million expansion that includes a new hospital wing, a clinical support building and additional outpatient and research facilities. Leaders hope to raise $500 million and finance the rest with a bond backed by cigarette tax revenue.
Dr. Alan List, the center’s CEO, says the expansion is partly driven by advances in immunology, a major focus of Moffitt’s research. One promising type of immunotherapy, currently in clinical trial at Moffitt, is expected to receive FDA approval this year. (The treatment works by removing a patient’s own immune cells, training them to fight cancer and then returning them to the body.)
List says Moffitt will be among the first to offer the cutting-edge therapy. “We’re going to need more beds,” he says.
The law firm of Burr & Forman LLP continued its expansion in Florida’s major markets in 2016, opening a new office in Jacksonville and adding a total of 14 attorneys in its offices around Florida. The firm now has nearly 100 attorneys licensed in the state, with plans to add additional experienced attorneys in targeted practice areas this year. Burr & Forman focuses on serving financial services, health care and manufacturing clients, and had been serving clients for more than a century when it opened its first Florida office in Orlando in 2009. Along with the Orlando and Jacksonville offices, the firm has offices in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.
BRADENTON — Software developer GeniusCentral, which relocated to St. Petersburg from Lakewood Ranch in 2015, moved back to Manatee County.
CLEARWATER — The city council approved a two-year, $439,820 contract to subsidize a private water taxi to shuttle visitors and workers between the mainland and Clearwater Beach.
FORT MYERS — Atlanta-based real estate developer 360 Residential paid $3.3 million for a 20-acre lot where it plans to build a 224-unit apartment complex.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — The county and Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. launched Competitive Sites, a program featuring an online inventory of development-ready locations. Fresco Foods, a Tampa company that makes and sells healthy prepared meals, plans to create 50 jobs at a new 12,000-sq.-ft. facility in eastern Hillsborough.
SARASOTA — Sarasota Memorial Hospital plans to build a cancer center on its main campus near downtown. » HC Government Realty Trust, which specializes in buying buildings leased to federal government agencies, received approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to offer up to 3 million shares at $10 each to investors.
TAMPA — Jim Burkhart abruptly resigned as CEO of Tampa General Hospital after four years in the job. CFO Steve Short is acting president and CEO pending a national search. Burkhart told the Tampa Bay Times he was pushed out by the hospital’s board. Carnival Cruise Line will deploy a second ship year-round to Tampa. The 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle will offer seven-day Caribbean cruises out of Port Tampa Bay beginning in January 2018. Well- Care Health Plans is buying New York-based Universal American for about $800 million. » Florida Aquarium president and CEO Thom Stork died of cancer at age 68. » Global telecommunications company 3CX, which sells voice over internet protocol (VoiP) software to businesses, opened an office in Tampa. » Chicago-based ContextMedia bought AccentHealth for an undisclosed amount. AccentHealth, based in Tampa and New York, provides health care-focused programming for doctors offices and other locations. Stuartbased Seacoast Banking bought the parent company of Tampa’s Gulf- Shore Bank for $54.8 million. » The University of South Florida closed its Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict after grant funding dried up. The think tank opened in 2011.
Digital Furniture Fabrication
While studying entrepreneurship at Florida State University, Nick O’Donnell became interested in new technology for making furniture. O’Donnell, who graduated in 2015, now runs Terraform Design from shared workspace at the Faulhaber Fab Lab in Sarasota. He uses computer-aided design, algorithmic modeling and laser-cutting tools to produce precisely carved wooden furniture, light fixtures and other décor. Prices range from $110 to $8,000. “So far, most of my customers have been homeowners and interior designers,” he says, adding that he also has begun approaching commercial developers. “I recently made a custom bench for the lobby of a new apartment complex in San Diego.”