Tampa Bay Business Journal: February 21, 2014

TAMPA - In this week's Tampa Bay Business Journal segment, editor Alexis Muellner discusses the business of Girl Scout cookies, why a judge rejected an offer for the Channelside complex, and the new possibilities for the Belleview Biltmore hotel.

Friday the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida began selling their cookies at stands across the Bay Area. The annual cookie sale is a big business and is helping girls learn invaluable financial skills.

"I manage a branch and that's running my own little business," said Felicia Gilmore-Long, a financial center manager for Fifth Third Bank. "I don't think when I was a kid in Girl Scouts that (I thought) I'd want to be in banking. But a lot of what I did then with the Girl Scout program is a lot of what I do now."

Research shows diverse business leadership and governance correlates with stronger business performance. That could mean today's cookie sales may strengthen tomorrow's businesswomen and their companies.

A federal bankruptcy judge rejected Port Tampa Bay's offer to purchase Channelside Bay Plaza. The judge believes Irish Bank Resolution Corporations, which owns the mortgage for the downtown Tampa mall, can get a better deal than the one the Port offered.

Port officials earlier had quashed a potential Channelside purchase offer by Liberty Channelside LLC. The Port owns the land underneath the mall which allowed it to kill that transaction from occurring.

Could there be new life for the dilapidated 117-year-old Belleview Biltmore hotel?

This week Mike Cheezem, from the St. Petersburg development company under contract to buy the hotel, proposed a mixed-use plan for the property with condos, townhomes and a small boutique hotel or restaurant.

Cheezem's plan would still require a significant portion of the hotel to be demolished.

Following Cheezem's presentation Town of Belleair Commission voted to direct town staff to work to create a new mixed-use zoning classification that would allow the preservation of the Belleview Biltmore and new residential elements to coexist.

For more information on these stories, click on the video player, go to youtube.com/watch?v=UFEDTGm4nGE or pick up this week's Tampa Bay Business Journal available on newsstands.

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