Around the Bay

Business news from around Tampa Bay

By Times Staff
Published May 28, 2007


Miss America's jeweler moves from Rhode Island

The jewelry company responsible for adding the bling to Miss America's crown for years is making a new home in Oldsmar. Sarah Coventry, the Rhode Island company that pioneered the direct-sales jewelry business, has moved its 20-employee distribution center and studio to Oldsmar from Providence. The company plans to add 100 jobs in the next three years. "We've grown so much in the past year, " said executive vice president Lynn Branham. "Recognizing we were leasing and the rate of our growth, we decided to really explore our options." The company's headquarters had been in Rhode Island since the 1940s. The move to Oldsmar came with incentives from the Pinellas County Economic Development office, including a $3, 000 tax credit per job the company creates in the area, said Danielle Ruiz, business development manager for that office. When it's all said and done, that's a $300, 000 incentive. Employees also will get specialized training administrated by the office of economic development. Sarah Coventry bought a 7, 000-square-foot industrial condominium on Brooker Creek Boulevard. Through the mid 1970s, Sarah Coventry supplied crowns to the Miss America pageant. Several pieces of its jewelry have been featured on The Price Is Right game show.


Rumors rampant about mall's future

Speculation about the future of Seminole Mall has been one of this city's more popular guessing games since the ownership changed late last year. And with silence from owner Downtown Seminole LLC, some rumors have become pretty heady, like the one about an upscale mall that would put Tampa's International Plaza to shame. Others have been more down to earth, like the one about the Kmart morphing into a Sears. And at least one is true: The eight-screen cineplex has reopened after being closed last month with little notice and no explanation. "It was available. We decided to give it a shot, " said Barney Kaufman, a co-owner of Seminole Theatres 8 LLC, which is leasing the multiplex. Another rumor that could have some factual basis is the possible change of Kmart to Sears. The chains merged in 2004 in an $11-billion deal and many Kmart stores are being transformed. Seminole Mayor Jimmy Johnson said he was told the transition to a Sears Limited had begun, but Kim Freely of Sears said, "We don't comment on rumors or speculations." Johnson said of the prospect of an upscale on the property at Park Boulevard and 113th Street N. "I understand it's going to be more upscale than International Mall in Tampa, " Johnson said. Rumored stores, he said, include Nordstrom and "all the big boys." But it's hard to know how much fact is behind that gossip. Lee Nelson, the Tampa attorney who represents Downtown Seminole LLC, declined to comment.


Preakness champ Curlin's rise has local ties

As Curlin made his last-second break this month to win the Preakness Stakes, on the sidelines stood a Clearwater businessman who had waited years to own such a winning horse. Satish Sanan's passion for horse racing blossomed when he was a young student in London, betting at the track to help himself through university. When he opened his technology business in Clearwater with three employees in 1988, the love of racing still burned brightly, but dreams of being an owner would wait a decade while he made his fortune. Sanan scored big at the Preakness Stakes, 10 years after he started buying thoroughbreds. "That's what you live for, " Sanan, 58, said. "That's what this game is all about." Sanan, a student of engineering, electronics and computer science in his youth, started Information Management Resources nearly 20 years ago in a tiny, 900-square-foot office on U.S. 19 in Clearwater. The company specialized in outsourcing software development abroad. Sanan's little company grew to become IMRGlobal, a company boasting 42 offices in seven countries. He played a key role in the movement of technology labor to India, where Sanan had software teams working out bugs as the "Y2K" challenge loomed. The company was sold in 2001 for $438-million. But by 1997, Sanan had earned enough to get into horse racing at the level of his choosing. He began paying top dollar for young talent and over the past decade estimates he's invested about $150-million in his horses.