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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 7, 2003 14 years ago

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This week's items: Vernona awarded four-stars by Exxon MobilMarineMax announces Ferretti Group dealMicro Enterprise Fund planned for Sarasota-ManateeSembler Co., New Plan Excel REIT open Clearwater Mall

Free Press

Vernona awarded four-stars

by Exxon Mobil

Vernona, the Mediterranean restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, was awarded a four-star rating by Exxon Mobil Corp. for dining in the 2004 Mobil Travel Guide. Vernona was one of only 15 restaurants in Florida to earn that designation. The chef of Vernona is David Serus, most recently from The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.

The restaurant was named for The El Vernona Hotel, built in 1926; at the time it was one of the grandest hotels in the Sarasota area.

The Mobil Travel Guide relies on a process in rating each establishment that includes unannounced facility inspections, service evaluations for Mobil four- and five-star level properties, unsolicited comments from customers and senior management oversight.

MarineMax announces

Ferretti Group deal

Clearwater-based MarineMax Inc., the nation's largest recreational boat retailer, has become the exclusive dealer for Italy-based Ferretti Group for Ferretti Yachts, Pershing, Riva, Apreamare, Mochi Craft, Custom Line and CRN in North America, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. MarineMax also will become the exclusive dealer for Bertram in the United States, excluding the Florida Peninsula and portions of New England.

Ferretti Group, which is headquartered in Forli, Italy, is the parent company of the prominent brands of Ferretti Yachts, Pershing, Bertram, Riva, Apreamare, Mochi Craft, Custom Line and CRN. The Ferretti Group is one of the world's largest manufacturers of pleasure boats and yachts with worldwide revenue in excess of $400 million. Ferretti Group manufactures inboard fiberglass and aluminum-steel motor-yachts and sport fishing convertibles that range in size from 21 feet to more than 200 feet.

William H. McGill, Jr., chairman, CEO and president of MarineMax stated, "The Ferretti Group brands, in combination with our existing premium brands, such as Sea Ray, Hatteras and Boston Whaler and our industry leading retailing platform, clearly make MarineMax the dominant source for boats or yachts."

Norberto Ferretti, chairman and president of the Ferretti Group says the company is undergoing a significant capital investment to allow the company to expand its manufacturing capacity.

In addition to this brand expansion, MarineMax has added its 66th location by adding well-known Pershing and Riva specialist Steve Myers, founder of Emarine, to the MarineMax team and assuming his facility at the prestigious Quay in Fort Lauderdale.

Micro Enterprise Fund

planned for Sarasota-Manatee

A Micro Enterprise Fund is being set up with area banks to cover Sarasota and Manatee counties. The fund, which will be called the Manasota Micro Enterprise Fund, is designed to provide funds for startups and existing small-business entities owned by low-to-moderate-income individuals. Typically these businesses have a very low-dollar financing need and may not meet all of the traditional requirements to qualify for a conventional business loan from a commercial bank.

The fund has received first commitments and support from Comerica, Republic Bank, Fifth-Third Bank, First National Bank, Gold Bank and SunTrust. Other organizations and businesses supporting MMEF include the Suncoast Workforce Development Board (Jobs, Etc.), Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota African-American Chamber of Commerce, the Latin-Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Front Porch, Bradenton Housing Authority, Tropicana, Manatee County CRA, Sarasota County CED, Manatee County EDC, the Coalition of African American Leaders, NAACP, SCORE, SBA, SBDC, GCDC, Sarasota, and Bradenton. Bradenton's Reliable Business Business Solutions will manage the fund.

Local banks and organizations that participate will either donate $5,000 to $15,000 to the loan fund on an annual basis; process and package loans for approved applicants; or assist with the administrative costs of maintaining the fund.

Sembler Co., New Plan Excel

REIT open Clearwater Mall

The redeveloped Clearwater Mall has officially opened. A joint venture between St. Petersburg-based The Sembler Co. and New Plan Excel Realty Trust Inc., the project occupies 72 acres, includes 3,800 parking spaces and more than 796,000 square feet of leased space. Tenants in the redeveloped mall include the first SuperTarget in Pinellas County, Costco, Lowe's, Borders Books and Music, Ross Dress for Less, Linens 'n Things, Dressbarn, Famous Footwear, Supercuts, PetSmart and Pier 1 Imports.

The Sembler Co. has developed millions of square feet of shopping centers space. The company has been responsible for more than 100 major shopping projects and more than 140 free-standing retail stores since its founding in 1984. New Plan Excel Realty Trust is one of the nation's largest REITs, focusing on the ownership and management of community and neighborhood shopping centers. The company operates a national portfolio of 404 properties, including 19 properties held through joint ventures, and total assets of about $3.5 billion.

Commonwealth Adoptions

opens Tampa office

Commonwealth Adoptions International Inc., a nonprofit founded in 1993 in Tucson, Ariz., recently opened its first Florida office in Tampa. For more information, visit the company's Web site at commonwealthadoption.org.

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