Southwest Florida Roundup
PODS founder develops new 'fetchable storage' concept
When Pete Warhurst founded PODS in 1998, he hit on a portable-storage innovation that has since become commonplace. The Clearwater company was purchased for $451 million in 2007 by the investment firm Arcapita, which sold the company eight years later for more than $1 billion to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Warhurst now has come up with a concept he calls “fetchable storage” that’s available through a company he founded in Tampa called Red Rover. The service allows customers to use storage containers that are already placed on the back of a truck, which the customer then loads up and drives to a Red Rover storage facility, where the container can be stored.
- Engineering-support company Baymar Solutions is spending more than $2 million to open a facility in Pasco County, where it plans to hire five. The Pasco Economic Development Council plans to open a business incubator — called SMARTstart at The Grove — in Wesley Chapel this fall.
- The New College of Florida Foundation raised $1 million to strengthen its fundraising capabilities. The money will be used to hire a director of philanthropy and upgrade the foundation’s database.
- Saint Leo University in Pasco County has started offering “micro-credential courses” that the university says will enable adults to learn new skills quickly through short, highly focused classes. Topics include data analytics, computer applications, GED exam prep, web design and marketing.
- An 800-square-mile portion of the Gulf of Mexico has been deemed the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve, giving protection to about 400,000 acres of seagrass along the shores of Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties. Among the protections for seagrass are limits on dredging and the size and location of dock construction.
- A $17.3-million beach renourishment project is underway along Manatee County’s Anna Maria Island.
- PSCU, a St. Petersburg credit union service organization, purchased Massachusetts-based Primax from T.K. Keith Co. Primax designs and offers support services for payment card programs at credit unions and community banks throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
- Weeki Wachee, founded in 1966 as home to the mermaid attraction, is no longer a city. A bill signed in June by Gov. Ron DeSantis dissolved the municipality, which had fewer than 20 residents. The mermaid attraction remains under state jurisdiction as Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
- Orlando Health is acquiring Bayfront Health, a 480-bed hospital in St. Petersburg, from Community Health Systems.
- Bob LaCasse is the new managing director of TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach. LaCasse had been managing director of both the Cheeca Lodge Resort and Spa in Islamorada and Tranquility Bay in Marathon.
- Amazon spent $26.4 million to buy 82 acres in Temple Terrace, where the retailer plans to build a 633,000-sq.-ft. warehouse. Also, construction is underway on Amazon’s 110,825-sq.-ft. distribution center in Venice.
- The $6-billion sale of Tech Data to Apollo Global Management, a New York private equity firm, has been completed.
- Port Tampa Bay won a $19.8-million federal grant to help it expand its shipping container facilities.
- Naples-based Elite Jets appointed Mark London, who had been the charter air service company’s general manager, to president. Stephen Myers, who had been assistant chief pilot, was promoted to executive vice president.
Ben Hill Griffin III
A giant in the Florida citrus industry, Ben Hill Griffin III died July 25 at 78 of cancer. His citrus and cattle company owns 10,000 acres of groves and 85,000 acres of ranch and timberland in Central Florida. Chairman and CEO of agribusiness firm Alico from 1990 to 2004, he donated land valued at $50 million for the construction of Florida Gulf Coast University. He was inducted in the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame and the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 2009.
- Construction on Allegiant Air’s Sunseeker Resort in Charlotte County has been delayed. The Las Vegas-based airline cut its non-airline subsidiary spending due to COVID-19’s impact on air travel. The 800-room resort had been scheduled to open next year.
- Manatee County plans to spend $17.5 million to help residents, businesses and non-profits hurt by COVID-19. An estimated $5.25 million of the fund will target services to promote and improve public health.
- Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez has proposed a task force to discuss tax relief ideas for property owners unable to pay property tax bills due to coronavirus losses.
- The University of South Florida has created a $20-million fund to help students remain on the path to graduation, even if they are experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university’s We Got U-SF Scholarship and Waiver program has helped nearly 22,000 students so far.
Read more in Florida Trend's September issue.
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