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Business Observer Friday, Oct. 17, 2003 15 years ago

Free Press

This week's items: Gulf Coast companies Win Sustainable Florida AwardsOrion Bank earnings grow by 30%Edgewater Beach Hotel & Club adds 1,100 square feetFamily Business reports differing opinions on economy

Gulf Coast companies

Win Sustainable Florida Awards

In a recent ceremony at the state capitol, Gov. Jeb Bush and the state cabinet honored the 2003 Sustainable Florida Award winners for demonstrating exemplary leadership in policies and practices that promote Florida's long-term prosperity, environmental health, quality of life and dedication to environmental stewardship.

Area best practices award winners in business include The Bonita Bay Group for The Estates at Twin Eagles, Naples, and Collier Enterprises for The Old Collier Golf Club, Naples. WilsonMiller of Naples received a Sustainable Florida Award for business/government partnerships. Two Tampa organizations: The Egmont Key Alliance and The Tampa Audubon Society won awards for community/volunteer efforts. The Pinellas County Environmental Foundation won a model governmental enterprises Sustainable Florida Award. Sarasota-based Cardinal, Carlson + Partners Inc. won a sustainable Florida architecture merit award.

The Council for Sustainable Florida is a statewide, nonprofit created to link economic development, environmental stewardship, and healthy, livable communities.

Orion Bank earnings

grow by 30%

Naples-based Orion Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Orion Bank, experienced a 30% increase in third-quarter earnings from the same quarter last year. Bank officials say its earnings rose from a little more than $2.3 million to $3 million, or 70 cents per share for the 2003 third quarter.

Orion Bank officials attributed the earnings increase to an 18% increase in net interest income, which jumped up from $19.4 million to $22.7 million. In addition, a $150 million growth in earning assets contributed to the growth in earnings. Orion has opened three branches in the Manatee-Sarasota region over the past year. Following the completion of branches in Fort Myers and Naples, the bank will have a total of 16 locations.

The Review, in its Sept. 19-25, issue, recognized Orion Bancorp Inc.'s Chairman/President/CEO Jerry J. Williams as the Banker of the Year for 2003.

Edgewater Beach Hotel & Club

adds 1,100 square feet

The Edgewater Beach Hotel & Club, Naples, is adding 1,100 square feet to expand its meeting and banquet capabilities. Located on the sixth floor, the space will be available as Hibiscus Rooms I and II, accommodating groups up to 35, or one large space for as many as 90 people. Hibiscus Rooms I and II are adjacent to the hotel's executive boardroom.

Upon completion, the Edgewater will offer more than 3,000 square feet of meeting space.

Family Business reports

differing opinions on economy

In its fourth annual survey, Family Business magazine surveyed 150 of America's largest family companies (including Wal-Mart and Ford Motor Co.) to determine if family businesses were prospering. The magazine identifies 143 family companies with annual sales of $1 billion or more in 2002, only one more than a year earlier. However, the magazine notes, in 2002, it took $821 million in annual sales to make the "Largest 150" list.

Merchants plans to contribute $250,000 in scholarships

The Merchants Association of Florida plans to contribute $250,000 for college scholarships through its statewide Community Reinvestment program. The association added a $50,000 scholarship endowment at the University of Tampa in honor of Richard Swirbul, who retired last year after 47 years with the association. The association plans to donate $50,000 to education foundations that promote Florida schools. The contributions will be matched by state funds.

Since 1984, the Merchants Association has donated nearly $3 million.

Gold Standard Multimedia

gains new investor funding

Gold Standard Multimedia, a Tampa-based provider of clinical drug information and medication management products and services, closed on a multimillion-dollar private equity investment from Housatonic Partners, with a follow-on investment from McGurn Investments. Company officials say the investment validates GSM's growing market presence in electronic drug data and clinical information tools.

The funds will be used in sales and marketing programs and support the company's next major product roll out.

Gold Standard Multimedia products are used by the majority of the country's largest retail pharmacy chains and consultant pharmacy corporations, more than 700 hospitals, leading health care-related websites, in more than 95% of U.S. pharmacy and medical schools, and by hundreds-of-thousands of healthcare professionals worldwide. Housatonic Partners is a private equity investment firm founded in 1994 with more than $250 million of capital under management. The firm invests in profitable companies in the business services, media and communications industries.

Gainesville-based McGurn Investment Co. is a real estate and urban development organization and a long time investor in Gold Standard Multimedia.

High Tech Council

hosts advertising seminar

The High Tech Council, a joint effort of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, will present a free program "Supercharged Marketing: The Next Frontier," on Thursday, Oct. 30, at 3:30 p.m. at The Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., St. Petersburg.

The program is designed to present some of the most current practices and technology on how to market and advertise a business. The program will feature presentations and a Q&A session, followed by a networking reception.

Presenters are Thom Dupper, chief strategic officer of Site Dynamics, and Eric Obeck, president of SendTec. Reservations are requested by 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24. To register, contact Marsha Baker at the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, (727) 821-4069, [email protected]; or Ron Barnwell, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, (727)461-0011, ext. 234, [email protected].

Harmar Mobility 60th on list of

fast growing private companies

Harmar Mobility, a Sarasota-based manufacturer of personal mobility lifts and ramps, has been added to Inc. magazine's 2003 list of America's fastest growing private companies. Inc. ranked Harmar Mobility as 60th on the list in the company's first year of eligibility. The ranking means that only 59 other privately held companies in the country grew faster than Harmar Mobility from 1998 to 2002. In rankings by industry sector, Harmar Mobility's growth ranked seventh among all health-related companies and second among all manufacturing firms. Inc. reported that Harmar Mobility had a five-year sales growth of 2,160%, compared to an average of 1,312% for the 500 listed companies. That rate of growth for Harmar Mobility is more than 20 times the company's first year's sales, according to Chad Williams, Harmar president.

Inc. compiled its list this year by looking at each company's net sales growth between 1998 and 2002.

Williams acquired Harmar Mobility in 1998 and developed a series of power chair and scooter lifts for cars, trucks and SUVs. The company has become the nation's largest mobility lift manufacturer.

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