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Florida is projecting a record number of visitors for the first six months of the year, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday. The preliminary estimate of 57.4 million visitors is a 4.3 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. The state recorded 27.3 million visitors in the second quarter, up 3.1 percent from the April-through-June period in 2015, a release from Scott's office said. Of those second-quarter visitors, 23.6 million were Americans, or domestic travelers, which was up 4.6 percent…

8/15/2016 5:44:18 AM

Community banks headquartered in the Tampa Bay area boosted lending an average of 4.3 percent in the three months ended June 30, outpacing loan growth in the rest of the United States. Increased lending by community banks is a positive sign for the Tampa Bay economy, since most of their loans are to small to mid-size businesses that depend on local banks for their credit needs when they are buying property and equipment or expanding operations and hiring. See chart below for a look at lending…

8/15/2016 5:42:35 AM

Johnson & Johnson, hailed as one of the city's biggest economic development wins in recent years, has a new landlord. The joint venture that bought Hidden River Corporate Park as part of a giant portfolio deal in late 2014 has sold the property to a Boston investment group, according to a Hillsborough County deed filed Friday. The sale was led by CBRE Group Inc. Christian Lee in Miami and Dale Peterson in Tampa. Members of CBRE’s marketing team included Jose Lobon, Marcos Minaya, Andrew Chilgren…

8/15/2016 5:39:35 AM

New residential construction in St. Petersburg is among the most walkable in the U.S., according to a new ranking out this week. Redfin, a real estate brokerage, analyzed the Walk Score of new construction compared to the city's overall Walk Score. Walk Scores are based on how many public spaces and parks are in a neighborhood, along with pedestrian-friendly design and enough population density for businesses to thrive. In St. Pete, according to Redfin, 88 percent of new construction gets a better…

8/12/2016 5:42:00 AM

About half of the stocks of publicly traded companies in Tampa Bay gained ground Thursday, as the three leading stock indexes hit record highs. It was the first time since Dec. 31, 1999 that the S&P 500 Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite Index hit simultaneous records, Bloomberg reported. WellCare Health Plans Inc. (NYSE: WCG), a Tampa-based managed health care company, also hit a record high on Thursday, closing at $117.26 a share. CenterState Banks Inc. (NASDAQ: CSFL) in…

8/12/2016 5:41:25 AM

In a 124-page ruling, a federal appeals court Thursday upheld the convictions of four former WellCare Health Plans executives in a case that stemmed from allegations of defrauding Florida's Medicaid program. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld convictions against former WellCare CEO and President Todd Farha; former Chief Financial Officer Paul Behrens; former Vice President of Clinical Services William Kale; and former Vice President of Medical Economics Peter Clay.…

8/12/2016 5:40:01 AM

A third lobbying firm earned at least $1 million for its legislative work during the year's second quarter, according to reports posted online Thursday. As is customary, the firm Greenberg Traurig did not provide an exact amount of lobbying fees it received from April 1 to June 30, but it listed a total of at least $1 million from dozens of clients. Lobbying firms face a Sunday deadline for filing reports that offer at least broad view of their compensation. Two other firms, Capital City Consulting…

8/12/2016 5:39:37 AM

Million-plus dollar condos are selling so quickly that the developer of ONE is already looking for its next project in St. Pete.

8/12/2016 5:38:56 AM

Amid continuing legal questions about Florida's death-penalty system, a state appeals court Wednesday rejected lower-court rulings that blocked prosecutors from seeking death sentences in four murder cases. The 2nd District Court of Appeal sided with Attorney General Pam Bondi's office in the cases from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, where circuit judges pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in barring prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty. The Jan. 12 U.S. Supreme Court decision,…

8/11/2016 5:34:38 AM

States should back a proposed federal program that could initially have them take on more disaster recovery costs --- but with the ability to lower the tab by investing in preparedness, Florida's emergency director said Wednesday. If the states don't go along, they'll risk Congress simply shifting more costs to the states without their input, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon said. The proposed change was floated this winter by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,…

8/11/2016 5:34:07 AM