August 16, 2022

Southwest Florida Roundup

Sarasota turns a one-time borrow pit into an economic engine

Art Levy | 11/28/2017

Business Briefs

CLEARWATER — Kiran Patel [“Icon,” August 2014, FLORIDA TREND] and his wife, Pallavi, committed $200 million to help Fort Lauderdalebased Nova Southeastern University build a medical school on property the Patels own in Clearwater.

FORT MYERS — Work is underway on a 12-story, 243-room Luminary Hotel downtown.

LAND O’LAKES — Lennar is building 28 solar-powered homes in the Bexley community in Pasco County.

LAKELAND — According to Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida’s 2017-18 citrus crop could be the worst in 75 years. The state’s orange crop incurred major damage from Hurricane Irma.

PASCO COUNTY — A New York firm that makes optical lenses is moving to Trinity after spending $1.7 million on a 45,000-sq.-ft. plant. Meopta, which makes lenses for the aerospace, defense and sports industries, plans to employ 47.

ST. PETERSBURG — Sophia Wisniewska, regional chancellor of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, was forced out of her job after allegations that she didn’t properly supervise the campus during Hurricane Irma. Wisniewska, who led the campus since 2013, disputed the accusations but agreed to resign. USF President Judy Genshaft named Martin Tadlock, the campus’ regional vice chancellor of academic affairs, as interim regional chancellor.

TAMPA — Advanced Airfoil Components, a joint venture of Siemens and the Chromalloy Gas Turbine, will invest $139 million in a new Hillsborough County factory and create 350 jobs. The plant will manufacture gas turbine components. Construction started downtown on the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. The $153-million facility is scheduled to open in 2019.

TAMPA BAY — The Florida Department of Transportation announced it plans to replace the northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge, which links Hillsborough and Pinellas counties along I-275, with a new eight-lane bridge that would include bike and pedestrian trails.

Innovation: Personalized Tumblers

Venice-based Tervis Tumbler is offering customers the opportunity to customize the company’s tumblers. Using a welding device the company calls the “fun fuser,” customers at the company’s Venice factory store can create their own designs and then fuse them between the tumbler’s inner and outer walls. The company hopes to install “fun fusers” in each of its 45 Tervis stores nationwide by the end of 2018.


  • QVC veteran Mike Fitzharris was named president of St. Petersburg-based HSN. Once the parent group of QVC completes its $2.1-billion bid to buy HSN, three of HSN’s top executives will be out of a job: Bill Brand, Rod Little and Judy Schmeling all plan to step down, QVC executives say.
  • Jeff Jackson, president of PGT, a door and window manufacturer in Venice, will become CEO after the retirement next month of Rod Hershberger.
  • Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg digital advertising company, named Sherry Smith CEO after Roger Berdusco resigned. The company, which employs 500, was purchased in 2016 for $300 million by WPP, a British public relations firm.
  • Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg digital advertising company, named Sherry Smith CEO after Roger Berdusco resigned. The company, which employs 500, was purchased in 2016 for $300 million by WPP, a British public relations firm.

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