Talk of the bay

Published February 3, 2007


As if Coast Bank didn't have enough worries after a wave of shaky home loans, Jim Toomey, the Bradenton lender's chairman, was hospitalized Friday with chest pains. Toomey, the bank's largest individual stockholder, went on leave until further notice, CEO Brian Grimes said. Coast is on the hook for upwards of $77-million in loans made to customers of St. Petersburg builder Construction Compliance Inc. CCI stopped construction last fall on 482 houses financed by Coast. The bank, now a buyout candidate, saw its stock lose half its value.

Wessel takes to HomeBanc's field

It turns out Joe Wessel has a knack for the mortgage business just as he did for defending passes and blocking kicks when he played football for Florida State University more than 20 years ago. HomeBanc Mortgage named Wessel Florida regional president Friday. The Atlanta company's Florida operation did about $2.3-billion in mortgage lending last year and employs 400 people. Wessel, 45, opened the company's Tampa office in 1998 when he switched careers from football coaching to mortgage lending. He coached defense and special teams with Louisiana State University, Notre Dame, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles.

First Advantage nibbles in the U.K.

First Asia; now the world. First Advantage Corp. of St. Petersburg is working toward world domination in the background screening business. The fast-growing company has made about a half-dozen acquisitions in Asia in the past few years, giving it an edge in that part of the world. On Friday, the company said it bought R E Austin Ltd., its first screening company in the United Kingdom. R E Austin has 70 employees in London and an estimated 25 percent market share of the screening business in the financial services market. First Advantage owns a litigation support firm and hiring management systems company in the U.K.

Super Bowl's inflated effect

"A bill of goods. ... At most the economic impact of these events is 5 percent to 10 percent and sometimes as low as nothing. But when I say this to a city official, I'muniversally ignored."

USF economics professor Phil Porter on suckered host cities, as quoted in the Palm Beach Post and South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Industry in crisis

Learn about the problems facing insurance companies in Florida at tampabay.com/insurance.