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Published Jul. 31, 2007

The recent offer from Coast Bank seemed like a sweet deal to customers of bankrupt builder Construction Compliance Inc. But the fine print included a sour note. CCI collapsed last fall and left scores of customers with debts to Coast of more than $80,000 on vacant lots. Fearful of mass defaults, Coast has offered easier terms, including waiving more than $50,000 of each debt. But customers got a surprise: Coast plans to report the discounts as income. CCI customers would have to square it with the Internal Revenue Service and pay taxes. Wary of such pitfalls, Alan Tannenbaum, an attorney representing about 140 CCI/Coast customers, has warned clients not to accept the deals. He has sued Coast to erase the debts, arguing the loans were fraudulent.

Auction for planes sputters badly

The bankruptcy auction Thursday of two jets from defunct Southeast Airlines wasn't much of an auction. The only bid for the 25-year-old DC-9s, plus a spare engine, came from Aeroinvestments, an aircraft leasing company in Barbados. The planes, parked outdoors at Orlando Sanford International Airport since Southeast closed in December 2004, need repairs to be airworthy. They fetched $580,000, a far cry from the $15-million-plus in potential claims from creditors. The court-appointed trustee for Southeast now will try to locate other assets and negotiate with secured creditors over how to split up the proceeds.

Can't fill jobs? Try Micronesia

Ask Craig Brethauer, a vice president at BayCare Health Systems, about the paucity of skilled workers in the area, and he'll tell you BayCare's strategy to get around it: recruiting nurses from as far away as Micronesia, the Philippines and Korea. He was speaking Thursday at the inaugural Florida Economic Job Summit, organized by the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and held at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. His comments were on par with those of keynote speaker Paul C. Reilly, a St. Petersburg resident who is CEO of the L.A.-based Korn/Ferry International exec staffing firm. Reilly preached about the importance of embracing globalization: "Florida is not competing with Georgia, California, New York," he said. "It's competing against the world." The summit continues today, culminating in a lunchtime keynote address by Gov. Charlie Crist.