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Talk of the bay

Published December 9, 2006



Brown & Brown Inc. is getting a $5.8-million rap on the knuckles for failing to disclose fees and commissions in selling insurance to Florida cities, counties and school boards. The company, which admitted no wrongdoing, says it's glad to have the extensive two-year state investigation behind it. The state says Brown & Brown and other insurance brokers will be disclosing more to the public as a result. "This settlement is another important step in eliminating hidden charges in the industry," says Florida Attorney General and Gov.-elect Charlie Crist. The state gets $1-million to reimburse investigative costs and 400 local governments will divvy up the rest. Who gets some cash in Tampa Bay? Beneficiaries include most school boards and community colleges and a dozen cities and counties, from Inverness and Crystal River to Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Center makes local call for workers

Add another wrinkle to the work-from-home concept. Alpine Access, a Colorado call center outsourcer, is hiring 500 Floridians to work from their homes as customer service handlers. The Tampa area will provide a big chunk of the hires, along with Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Alpine's clients include Office Depot, J.Crew and the Internal Revenue Service. Next time you call to complain about taxes, you might just reach a woman who's up to her elbows in baby diapers.

Bank bandwagon keeps accelerating

Yet another new Tampa Bay bank is in the works. The latest to apply for a state charter is GulfShore Bank, which hopes to raise $13-million to $16-million in capital and open its first office in South Tampa by the end of next year. Running the show as president and chief executive is Gregory Manassa, former president of First Bank of the Palm Beaches and an 18-year veteran of Florida banking. The biggest capital contribution is coming from Mario Garcia Jr., chief executive of EMSI, a medical device company, who is chipping in $2-million. Right behind him with $1.9-million is CPA John Baumann Jr. Other organizers include George Guida, Armando Roche and John Carter.



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[Last modified December 8, 2006, 23:57:21]

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