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- 2012 - September - 5th -

• H&M, Hennes & Mauritz, one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, known for offering fashion-forward apparel and quality basics, announced its continued expansion in Florida by opening a new location in Jacksonville. Opening noon Thursday, H&M at The Avenues will offer collections for ladies, men, young ladies and young men, with separate “store within store” sections for accessories and lingerie. This location also will carry the Swedish retailer’s children’s collection, which features garments for kids ages newborn to 14.

To celebrate opening day, H&M at The Avenues will offer the first 200 shoppers in line an H&M T-shirt and an “Access to Fashion Pass,” valued at $10 to $300, in addition to other offers and giveaways.

H&M was established in 1947 in Sweden. Today there are 250 stores in the U.S. and more than 2,600 H&M stores in 44 markets worldwide.

• The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission and First Coast Diversity Council Jacksonville will co-host a “brown bag” information exchange Sept. 12. Malcolm Medley, district director of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Miami district office, will present “Current Enforcement Trends within the EEOC.” The event is free and offers the opportunity for employers, labor attorneys, human resources personnel and members of the public to gain information and engage in a discussion about issues surrounding equal employment. The event is noon-1:30 p.m. at the University Center at the University of North Florida, 12000 Alumni Drive. The event is free and attendees can bring lunch or purchase lunch on-site. Registration is required. RSVP online at jhrcrsvp@coj.net or by calling 630-4620.

• The Jacksonville Transportation Authority Board of Directors has approved a staff recommendation to continue the Skyway as a fare-free mode of transportation. The Skyway has been fare-free since Jan. 30, and will remain so for at least the next fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2013.

JTA’s latest report on the progress of the Skyway details the impact that the fare elimination has had on ridership. In the six-month period analyzed (February-July), Skyway ridership grew by 62.7 percent or 480,956 boardings, compared to 295,602 boardings for the same period in 2011.

The report also found that the fare-free Skyway has supported JTA’s transit redesign efforts, including the elimination of the Beaver and Bay Street trolleys, the truncation of bus routes into Skyway stations and the linking of additional bus routes to Skyway stations.

• Jacksonville-based MedMal Direct Insurance Co. has hired David Kroupa as vice president of sales for the company. In this role, Kroupa will be responsible for the development, management and execution of the medical malpractice insurance sales strategies.

Kroupa has been selling and managing sales to physicians and surgeons for more than 25 years. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy and serving honorably for five years as a United States Marine Corps officer, Kroupa began his sales career in surgical and medical product sales with Johnson & Johnson Medical Inc. After advancing through several sales managerial roles in surgical and medical product sales, Kroupa entered the medical malpractice insurance industry as a regional sales director for the St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company. He has built sales teams and implemented market strategies for the past 18 years in the medical professional liability insurance industry and most recently served as the director of medical professional division for Eidson Insurance in Central Florida.

• Jacksonville-based Advanced Disposal Services Inc. announced Tuesday the combination of Interstate Waste Services into its operations, which took effect Saturday. Advanced Disposal Services has officially assumed managerial and financial control of Interstate Waste Services. Interstate Waste and Advanced Disposal, both portfolio companies of Highstar Capital, owned through Star Atlantic Waste Holdings II LP, have operated independent of each other. The companies were consolidated and began working together under the Advanced Disposal name.

• The CoreLogic research firm said Jacksonville home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 8.8 percent in July compared to July 2011 and increased by 7 percent in June compared to June 2011. On a month-over-month basis, home prices including distressed sales, increased by 2.7 percent in July compared to June. Excluding distressed sales, year-over-year prices increased by 7.2 percent in July from the year before and increased by 6.5 percent in June from June 2011. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased by 1.4 percent in July from June.

• Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping, The Players Executive Director Matt Rapp, Gator Bowl Association CEO Rick Catlett and Alan Verlander, executive director of sports and entertainment for the City will join to talk about the role of sports in the Jacksonville economy.

On Sept. 19, Lamping, Rapp, Catlett and Verlander will discuss “The World of Sports and the Jacksonville Economy” at a meeting of the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville. The group meets at 11:30 a.m. at the Jacksonville University Davis College of Business. The panel will be moderated by WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris. For information, visit www.ertjax.org.

On Sept. 25, Lamping, Rapp and Verlander will discuss the “Role of Sports & Entertainment in Economic Development” at a joint meeting of the NAIOP commercial real estate trade group and the Urban Land Institute Northeast Florida groups. They will meet 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at The “Bowl” in the Jacksonville Arena. For information, visit www.naiopnefl.com.

• As part of its ongoing expansion, First Southern Bank has added Mike Brown as senior vice president and commercial lender in the North Florida region and will be based in First Southern Bank’s Ponte Vedra office. He will be responsible for developing, managing and servicing new commercial real estate accounts within the area market.

• The City Office of Economic Development’s Downtown Development Review Board is scheduled Thursday to consider the final approval of materials and colors for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s Bus Rapid Transit customer shelters located Downtown. Also on the agenda is a proposal for new signage for the Aetna Building on the Southbank, conceptual approval of the design for the proposed parking garage adjacent to SunTrust Tower on the Northbank and a discussion of the pedestrian bridge that has been approved for the Duval County Courthouse. The public meeting is 2 p.m. in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall.

• Joanne Cohen has joined the staff of The Community Foundation in Jacksonville as vice president, philanthropic services. Cohen will serve as the liaison for donors and others in the community who wish to access services the foundation provides. She also will provide support to the philanthropic leadership programs of the foundation, including the Women’s Giving Alliance, the Philanthropic Initiative and the Donors Forum of Northeast Florida.

Cohen comes to the Foundation from the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville, where she served as assistant executive director for the past decade. Previously, she worked with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton, LexisNexis, the Disabilities Law Project and the Education Law Center in Pittsburgh.

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