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Around the Bay

Business news from around Tampa Bay

By Times Staff Writer
Published July 16, 2007


Dade City

Business leaders are banking on a new venture

Florida Traditions Bank is awaiting charter approval by the state.

That's about all it lacks.

More than 270 investors have committed some $20-million in capitalization funds. The board includes several of the area's most prominent and active business leaders.

James "Bud" Stalnaker Jr., who launched a community bank in 1989, is slated to be president and CEO.

"We want to go back to the locally owned banks," he says. "We make our own decisions here."

Adds Wilton Simpson: "It's our goal to serve our community by serving those customers that otherwise become numbers at a bigger bank."

The charter application, filed with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, outlines a business strategy based on those sentiments.

While relying on new development in Pasco and Hernando counties to draw customers, the bank intends to distinguish itself with a highly personalized approach.

"We will also attract customers from the existing financial institutions by offering a complete, full-service menu of more manageable and less-confusing traditional banking products coupled with a high level of professional service all delivered by experienced bankers," the application says.

The clout of its backers should help, too. The application mentions the board's "existing relationship network" as a basis for marketing the bank.


Company helps businesses weave in Web

As Internet use continues to grow in popularity, businesses need help with adding a Web component, says John Tuncer, who is about to release software that makes Web sites easy to produce.

"It's our goal for every small business to painlessly integrate into the Web," said Tuncer, 48, whose company, JCTWeb, has spun off RapidVector, a company and an online content-management package.

RapidVector is rapidly gaining fans in Pinellas County.

"This is geekless," said John Long, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, which used RapidVector to build its new Web site. "You don't have to have a pocket protector, yet the site looks like it's professionally done."

Tuncer said he found himself building and rebuilding the same components, so he had Infotech create a system based on that would let users drop in predesigned modules. Users can add maps, calendars and pictures, but also business applications such as shopping carts, and advertising and inventory.

"I like (RapidVector) better than most of the other ones I've used," said Jeff Parker, owner of St. Pete Computers and an experienced Web designer.

"This is the weapon of choice for me. It's like building a sandwich. You just pick your ingredients."

St. Petersburg

Is market ready to flip after flop?

When the real estate market started to slow down in 2005, property listings piled up as home buyers grew more cautious, expecting prices to drop.

Some in the industry say that the slump is about to end and the first to strike may do well.

"I tell people, 'When you read it in the newspaper, you've missed the bottom of the market,' " said Ann Rogers, who owns three Pinellas County Keller Williams franchises.

Builders, too, are starting to put bricks together in hopes they can get in ahead of the curve.

Take the Villas at Crescent Park. "We got in at the start of the slowdown and it was a tough time," said Brandon Pastilong, who is nearing completion of the eight townhomes at 37th Street and Seventh Avenue N. "But I think this is going to be a good project for us."

Pastilong has sold half his units and continues to get traffic in an out-of-the-way part of the city.

The project, built through Graylock Development, has units of nearly 2,000 square feet selling at $300,000 to $350,000, Pastilong said.

[Last modified July 13, 2007, 22:01:48]

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