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Business Observer Thursday, Sep. 11, 2003 15 years ago

Regional Roundup

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This week's items: CHARLOTTE BANK ACQUISITION BALD EAGLE AVIATION SWITCHES AIRPORTSCHECKERS REPORTS SECOND QUARTER WEBMD FLORIDA OFFICES RAIDED TAMPA COMPANY PICKED FOR COURTHOUSE

CHARLOTTE

CHARLOTTE BANK ACQUISITION - Charlotte State Bank's holding company, Crews Banking Corp., is acquiring Englewood Bank. Pending regulatory approval, the sale is scheduled to close by the end of the year. According to representatives from Charlotte State Bank, both banks will remain independent with separate boards of directors. Ferold Davis will continue as Englewood Bank president, while Charlie Brown, Charlotte State's president and chief executive, will become chief executive of Englewood Bank as well. Englewood Bank, based at 1111 S. McCall Road, Englewood has six branch locations. Charlotte State Bank has five branch locations in the Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda areas.

BALD EAGLE AVIATION SWITCHES AIRPORTS - Glenn Happe is moving Bald Eagle Aviation, a private air charter service, to Charlotte County Airport. The charter service, which also offers flight training, has been operating from Punta Gorda Airport for the last two-and-a-half years. The new service, which is scheduled to open in October, will operate year-round and will fly up to eight passengers in Cessna 402s.

HILLSBOROUGH

CHECKERS REPORTS SECOND QUARTER - Checkers announced earnings per share for the quarter ended Sept. 8 are expected to range from $0.18 to $0.20 on a fully diluted basis. The company also expects to report third quarter revenue in the range of $42.6 million to $42.8 million versus $42.4 million for the comparable quarter last year with fewer corporate restaurants in 2003 than 2002. The third quarter revenue increase is primarily due to improved same stores sales which will likely range from 3.0% to 3.2%.

WEBMD FLORIDA OFFICES RAIDED - FBI and IRS agents raided the Tampa and Alachua offices of WebMD. A company press release states: "WebMD believes that the search warrants relate principally to financial reporting issues at the company's medical manager subsidiary, including the $5.5 million financial restatement taken in 1999, and revenue recognition issues including those related to the dealer acquisition program of the Medical Manager subsidiary."

MANATEE

TAMPA COMPANY PICKED FOR COURTHOUSE - Turner Construction Co. of Tampa has been chosen by Manatee County commissioners to manage construction of a new courthouse and renovation of the Hensley Public Safety Complex in Bradenton. The company was selected to oversee construction of a proposed $55 million, nine-story, 230,000-square-foot judicial center located near the northwest corner of Sixth Avenue West and 10th Street. Turner will work on the project in coordination with its local partner, Bradenton-based Mike Carter Construction Inc. Construction is slated to start in 2005.

LOCAL MOVER TOPS SURVEY - The franchise of Two Men And A Truck movers in Manatee County received the highest score in an annual survey of the franchises conducted in 25 states. The survey of past customers showed the franchise, which beat out 117 other franchise holders, had a more than 93% recommendation rate. Nokomis entrepreneur Duane Sell owns the franchise.

EDWARDS SYSTEMS TO MOVE - A Connecticut manufacturer of commercial fire detection systems, Edwards Systems Technology, plans to build a two-story, 109,000-square-foot building in Lakewood Ranch to relocate its Manatee County corporate offices. Indianapolis-based Duke Realty Corp. will develop the building and lease the space to Edwards Systems. HOK of Tampa has been hired to design the building.

TROPICANA LOSES ON ORANGE PATENT - A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office examiner has ruled against Bradenton's Tropicana Products Inc. as it tried to protect its exclusive right to squeeze Earlygold, Itaborai, Ruby and Westin oranges for juice. Tropicana is expected to take its case next to the Patent Board of Appeals and Interferences. Florida Citrus Mutual is suing to be able to sell those four varieties of oranges to other not-from-concentrate juice companies. Tropicana argues that it participated in the development of the four orange-types and holds exclusive patent rights.

PINELLAS

CLEARWATER HOTEL SOLD - MeriStar Hospitality Corp., the third largest hotel real estate investment trust in the country, sold the Ramada Inn Gulfview to private investors. The 288-room hotel on the south end of Clearwater Beach went for $14.5 million, according to a Sept. 2 announcement by the Arlington, Va.-based REIT, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

MARINEMAX BUYS ALABAMA FIRM - MarineMax Inc. has acquired Killinger Marine Center Inc. of Alabama. The Clearwater recreational boat seller acquired substantially all of Killinger Marine's assets and assumed certain liabilities for about $2.3 million in cash, resulting in roughly $900,000 in goodwill.

BANKER JAILED IN CASINO BOAT CASE - A former Ohio banker got 14 years in federal prison after embezzling more than $48 million that he invested in a casino boat operation that sailed from Pinellas and Pasco counties. The crimes of Mark Miller, 48, caused the Ohio bank where he was CEO to collapse.

IMSG CFO LEAVES - Anthony R. Marando has stepped down as chief financial officer of Insurance Management Solutions Group Inc. Marando, who received an $86,000 severance, was replaced by Michelle K. Morgan, who will serve in an acting capacity. Morgan worked for Bankers Insurance Group Inc., St. Petersburg-based IMSG's principal shareholder.

SARASOTA

NIS BEGINS "RETAILTAINMENT" - In the world of increasingly shorter consumer attention spans, "retailtainment" is the new marketing ploy. It consists of directing shoppers to a specific area of the store, holding their attention and engaging them to imprint a featured brand. About 70% of purchase decisions are made right there in the store aisle. Retailtainment events are already in use at Saks Inc. stores, Wal-Mart, Office Depot and Home Depot, with a 33% increase in events expected for 2003. To capitalize on the trend, Sarasota's retail resources company National In-Store (NIS) announced initiation of Brand-Advocate, a retailtainment training and certification program.

CLARKE WINS PRINTING AWARD - Clarke Advertising & Public Relations won the Sappi Printer of the Year bronze award for North America's Southeast region, an award that merits leaders in printing excellence. There were more than 3,000 entries and 700 printers judged for the competition in the Southeast region. Clarke was recognized for its work in the brochure category, the largest category of six, with its brochure for Tampa's KHS&S Contractors. Along with Clarke, Coastal Printing, the printing company, and Unisource, the paper distributor, jointly received the award.

AUTOMAXX OPENS - Leedom and Associates LLC, an automotive retail and finance training and consulting company, recently opened AutoMaxx in Sarasota, on North Tamiami Trail, across from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. AutoMaxx is a buy here-pay here automotive dealership that also serves as one of the first training dealerships for auto dealers across the country.

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