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Gulf Coast Week: July 16 - July 22

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  • | 7:43 a.m. July 15, 2010
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Partnership on deck

The Tampa Bay Partnership, which represents economic development interests in eight counties, has called for regional unity in determining the site of the Rays' proposed new baseball stadium.

The partnership stated in an open letter that it is crucial for local cities and counties to work together to grow the Rays franchise, calling it “a tremendous community asset.” It also said current relations between the Rays and St. Petersburg elected leaders should be respected.

“Our region must pull together in a collaborative, inclusive and transparent way to ensure that the Rays remain and prosper here,” said the letter, which was jointly signed by partnership chair Gary Sasso and president Stuart Rogel. “We will be reaching out to all key stakeholders to understand how best to achieve this outcome.”

Aerosonic signs with KAI

Clearwater-based aviation products manufacturer Aerosonic Corp. signed a contract to make aerodynamic test equipment for Korean Aerospace Industries. No financial specifics were disclosed.

The new equipment will allow KAI to provide in-country support of the Aerosonic Air Data components used on the T-50 jet trainer. Aerosonic manufactures and supplies air data products for the aircraft.

Aerosonic has a similar contract with another international company, Hindustan Industries. Aerosonic's manufacturing facilities are in Clearwater and Earlysville, Va.

Dew to cover McLaren

Dew Luxury Motor Cars in Pinellas Park will be among six U.S. auto dealers offering the McLaren MP4-12C sports car starting next summer. Others will be scattered across the country from Greenwich, Conn., to Beverly Hills, Calif.

McLaren's 12C is engineered based on Formula 1 racers and will feature a lightweight carbon fiber chassis. The two-seat, 592-hp vehicle has a starting price of $225,000, and McLaren believes North America will account for 30% of worldwide sales.

Dew, owned by Dimmitt Automotive Group, carries other luxury car brands including Cadillac, Land Rover, Saab, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Lotus. The new McLaren dealership is expected to open in July 2011 at 3333 Gandy Blvd.


Cache v. Chico's

Cache Inc., a specialty women's retailer, rejected a claim by Fort Myers-based women's apparel company Chico's FAS that alleged Cache had illegally obtained confidential designs from two former Chico's employees.

In a lawsuit filed June 30, Chico's alleged that Cache had hired two former Chico's employees who copied fashion designs when they went to work for Cache. “The company believes this lawsuit is frivolous and a waste of shareholder money and consumer tax dollars,” Cache says in a statement.

Cache says Chico's is using baseless accusations to damage its rival's reputation in industry circles. “Many of the styles that Chico's claims were copied look nothing like those produced or purchased by Cache,” the Cache statement says.

Neogenomics expects loss

Fort Myers-based cancer testing firm Neogenomics anticipates higher-than-expected losses in the second quarter, the company announced on July 7.

In a statement, Douglas VanOort, Neogenomics' chairman and CEO, blamed lower revenues and investments made to speed up the company's growth. The company plans to release second-quarter earnings on July 29 and expects to report losses of 2 to 3 cents per share.

However, VanOort says new melanoma tests and agreements with large insurance companies will stabilize revenues and drive future growth.

Hotel revenue growth

Hotels and motels in Lee County posted modest revenue increases of 2% in May compared with the same month last year, an improvement over previous months.

Revenue per available room showed modest growth as rates and occupancies stabilized in May, according to data collected by Davidson Peterson Associates.

The average hotel occupancy rate rose 2.6% in May to 50.4% and the average daily room rate was essentially unchanged at $117 compared with May 2009.


Bernstein new METI CEO

METI, a Sarasota-based medical education product manufacturer, named company President Michael Bernstein its new CEO, staying to the plan first announced in February of this year.

Bernstein's appointment was made official by METI founder Lou Oberndorf, who will continue to serve the company as chairman of the board.

Bernstein joined METI in 2009 as board chairman, a release said, following his service as president and CEO at Innovative Health Strategies, a private health care technology company that was sold in 2007.

Founded by Oberndorf in 1996, METI builds devices that simulate interactions between health care professionals and patients. The company is owned jointly by Oberndorf and Baird Capital Partners of Chicago.

County dealing incentives

Sarasota County and the state of Florida are looking to give away about $600,000 in tax incentives to five companies. The firms, all unidentified, are a mix of local companies looking to expand and outside companies looking to move to the county.

The requirement is that they must be in the county's targeted industries, such as sustainability, aging and design. The companies must pay above the county average.

One such firm officials are excited about pays an average salary of $72,000 annually — twice the county average.


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