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Gulf Coast Week: Mar. 4

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  • | 6:27 a.m. March 4, 2011
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Ceridian hiring 220

Ceridian Corp. said it plans to add as many as 220 jobs at its St. Petersburg operations over the coming year. The new hires will join about 1,000 employees in Ceridian's human-resource management and credit-and-payment management divisions.

The Minneapolis-based company is entitled to nearly $1.9 million worth of tax breaks and other financial incentives under the state Qualified Targeted Industry program. Average annual pay for the new jobs would be at least $45,000, 15% above the Pinellas County average.

City leaders said the new jobs will bring $9.8 million in payroll growth.

Mall near foreclosure

Tampa's University Mall, one of the oldest and largest along the Gulf Coast, could be on the brink of foreclosure. Anglo Irish Bank filed at the Hillsborough County courthouse to start the process.

The bank claimed the mall's current owners owe $115 million on the Fowler Avenue facility, which totals 1.3 million square feet. Somera Capital of Santa Barbara, Calif., and New York-based Rockwood Capital bought University Mall from Columbus, Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust in 2007 for $145 million.

Although the 37-year-old mall has received $11 million worth of upgrades, retains most of its anchors and is 90% occupied, it lost a 16-screen movie theater last fall.

Pilgrim lands investor

Tampa-based Pilgrim Software Inc. received an unspecified investment from Riverside Partners, a Boston-based private-equity firm. Riverside focuses on companies posting between $20 million and $200 million in annual revenue, investing $500 million in more than 50 companies since it was founded in 1989.

Pilgrim creates compliance and risk-management software for companies operating in highly regulated industries.


Authorities allege fraud

Federal authorities indicted 14 people from Sarasota and Manatee counties in an intricate mortgage-fraud scheme that encompassed 22 residential properties and more than $47.5 million in loans.

The 14 defendants include real estate agents, mortgage brokers, title officers, loan officers and investors. The properties in the alleged scheme are in Sarasota County.

Investigators say the defendants used false statements and fraudulent finance documents to receive loans from nearly a dozen federally insured banks and mortgage lenders in Sarasota over at least a 10-year period.

Council leaves parent

The Manatee Economic Development Council will break off officially from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce by 2012.

The chamber and the EDC will still share office space and some administrative functions. But EDC officials say they sought more autonomy in 2010 when the council started to become more involved in recruiting companies. “The goal isn't to become independent,” EDC Executive Director Eric Basinger said in December. “The goal is to become interdependent.”

Tropicana to expand

Tropicana Products Inc. plans to build a 36,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Manatee County.

The building, which will cost at least $4 million, will be constructed inside Tropicana's facility a few miles south of downtown Bradenton. The juice company will use the space to handle the switch from cardboard cartons to plastic bottles.

The building could be ready by the summer.


Robb & Stucky lays off 178

Furniture retailer Robb & Stucky told Florida state officials it plans to lay off nearly a quarter of its workforce — 178 people in Florida by April 23.

The Fort Myers-based company filed for bankruptcy reorganization Feb. 18. Robb & Stucky says it employs 760 people in 24 locations across four states.

Iberiabank buys trust

Louisiana-based Iberiabank agreed to acquire Florida Trust Co. for $1.4 million, the wealth-management subsidiary of Naples-based Bank of Florida Corp.

Florida Trust Co. has $460 million in assets under management and operates in Naples and Fort Lauderdale. Iberiabank agreed to pay $700,000 initially and another $700,000 in one year depending on the achievement of revenue targets.

Regulators shut down Bank of Florida's three other subsidiary banks last year and sold the assets and deposits to Jacksonville-based Everbank. Florida Trust Co. was Bank of Florida's only remaining subsidiary.

Iberiabank entered the Gulf Coast in 2009 when it acquired the assets and deposits of two failed banks, Orion Bank in Naples and Century Bank in Sarasota.

Sox stadium permitted

Permitting for the new Boston Red Sox spring-training stadium boosted the value of monthly commercial permitting in Lee County in February to its highest since early 2007.

In February, builders pulled commercial permits worth $39 million, including $37.7 million for the construction of the baseball stadium, clubhouse and chiller plant. By comparison, no commercial building permits were pulled in February 2010.

Also in February, builders pulled 20 permits for single-family homes, a 41% drop from the 34 they pulled in February 2010.


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