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Robert Trigaux

Publix Super Markets preps for March 15 chain-wide rollout of new digital coupon service

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Wake up and good morning. After testing its digital coupon service in its Ocala stores and in Alabama, Publix Super Markets is about to go system-wide with a March 15 introduction of a pretty cool system that, with minimum effort from shoppers, makes it easier to save money at the checkout counter. Some Tampa Bay stores may start offering the service later this week. It requires no loyalty card.

Here's how it works. Sign up for digital coupons on this Publix web site page. It requires the shopper to give Publix their phone number which shoppers can then enter at the checkout keypad (or just tell the cashier). The number identifies who they are and allows automatic deduction of any digital coupons chosen online in advance by the shopper whose product was purchased. No fuss, no muss. The Publix web site currently features about 100 digital coupons

Winn-Dixie recently unveiled a similar program that uses the more traditional rewards card system at the checkout counter to deduct pre-chosen coupons. Read more here.

The Publix digital coupon program appears to be supported by a North Carolina company called Inmar. The Winston-Salem company specializes in coupons and digital promotions. …

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Dialing down: TECO pegs 1.4 percent as 'the new normal' for area customer growth

Wake up and good morning. Here's a snapshot of some significant Tampa Bay economic trends through the eyes of TECO Energy, a major energy supplier to portions of the metro region and one of Tampa Bay's major headquartered corporations. These insights emerged in discussions TECO executives held with analysts after the company's recent quarterly earnings release.

sandracallahantecocfo.jpg* Modest growth: "Since customer growth began to recover at the end of 2009, it has been on a solid trend up and, for the third and forth quarters of this year, reached 1.4 percent, approaching what we expect to be the new normal for customer growth," said Sandra Callahan (photo, right), TECO chief financial officer.

* Improving jobless rates: "All the local and state economic trends we've been showing you over time continue to be positive. In December the unemployment rate in Hillsborough County, which is Tampa Electric's primary service area, dropped to 7.6 percent, which is below the state and national levels for the first time since December 2006," Callahan said. "In 2012, the local area economy added 21,000 jobs, primarily in professional and business services, education and health services, and hospitality services." …

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Airline buzz: Merged America-U.S. Airways benefits TIA; Lopano name emerges in DFW CEO talk

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Tampa International Airport would benefit in the American Airlines-U.S. Airways merger. TIA CEO Joe Lopano, shown above announcing TIA's landing a flight to Switzerland with Edelweiss Air, lately has been mentioned in the local Texas media as a potential candidate to head Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. (Tampa Bay Times photo)

Wake up and good morning. There's a particular benefit to Tampa International Airport in the expected merger of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. and U.S. Airways, a deal that would create the world's largest carrier.

The new American would "suddenly become a major player" at TIA, says this Wall Street Journal story, as well as at Boston, New York's LaGuardia Airport and Reagan National Airport serving Washington, D.C. …

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As Florida lawsuits soar on perceived losses from 2010 oil spill, BP says it's time to fight back

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BP's stock price plummeted more than 50 percent in the spring of 2010 when one of its Gulf sites began spewing oil. Shares bounced back quickly to hover around $40 a share -- not where they were but the price has remained relatively stable through most of the legal woes.

Wake up and good morning. It seems BP may not be the bottomless treasure chest after all. In recent months, Florida lawyers have been banging the drum loudly for clients that would join the throng suing BP for perceived financial losses due the the Deepwater Horizon oil spill -- and consequent damage to the area economy -- in the Gulf of Mexico.

And why not? I think I got a hangnail while watching CNN's endless coverage of the spill. Maybe I'll sue, too. …

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Nation's best companies to work for? They may not be based in Tampa Bay but many operate here

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The Container Store, which will open its store near International Plaza in Tampa in March, ranks among the companies considered tops for employees.

Wake up and good morning. Most of the national "best companies to work for" rankings tend to spotlight big corporations that are based far from Florida. That's easy, since Florida really has no truly big corporations based here. But many of those same top ranked companies do have offices in the Tampa Bay area and, combined, make up a significant piece of our regional economy.

So, based on multiple "Best Employer" rankings, who are these businesses that promise good working opportunities and operate in the Tampa Bay market? Let's explore:

* Out just this week, the first annual list of the best U.S. employers by Payscale and Business Insider evaluates companies by both pay and happiness. Here are some businesses from that list (with their ranking) that are significant employers here: Microsoft (#14); Booz, Allen & Hamilton (#19); Jacobs Engineering (#33); Raytheon (#37), and Duke Energy (#50). Read more about each of these companies here. …

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Move over Match.com: Jabil says culture mix with acquisition Nypro better than speed dating

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St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit's purchase of employee-owned Nypro (shown above) in Clinton, Mass., puts Jabil in the added business of disposable healthcare packaging and, curiously, into consumer product packaging that includes designing containers for laundry detergents. Photo courtesy of Nypro.

Wake up and good morning. Listening to Jabil Circuit executives Tim Main (soon stepping down as CEO), Mark Mondello (soon stepping up as CEO) and others about the just announced $665 million acquisition of the Massachusetts-based, employee-owned firm Nypro, you'd think they used match.com or some other dating service rather than investment bankers to consummate the deal. (Nypro, a specialist firm making plastics-based healthcare packaging, used Brown Brothers Harriman and State Street Bank for investment guidance, for the record.)

In shorter words: Corporate culture counts a whole lot for Jabil. Read more in Jabil's own blog posting.

"We're not a highly acquisitive company," Main says. "We did not got out and shop every healthcare packaging company out there. And I think Nypro, in terms of their values as a company, would not sell to just anybody." …

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Loss of 160 jobs in St. Petersburg at Cobham plant may be just the start for defense industry

cobhamconaxst.petebuilding.jpgWake up and good morning. Federal cutbacks in defense are starting to be felt locally, this time with the cutting of 160 jobs at a St. Petersburg defense Conax facility (photo, right) owned by the British company Cobham. The company's closing its manufacturing plant at 2801 75th Street N in St. Petersburg in the fourth quarter and transferring 120 of those jobs, 60 apiece, to a Cobham operation in Davenport, Iowa, and Orchard park. N.Y.

The St. Petersburg plant manufactures air crew and ground vehicle-crew safety and survivability products.

Cobham spokesman told WFLA Channel 8 that the nation's shrinking defense budget forced his company to consolidate operations.

This is just a piece of a larger consolidation. In the Baltimore area, Cobham is closing two location and laying off 140, says the Baltimore Sun.

No surprise, local media coverage in Davenport welcomes the new jobs coming their way.

In 2009, the Tampa Bay Times reported that federal agents raided the Conax/Cobham facility in St. Petersburg. The outcome of that raid, led by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, was never disclosed. …

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Tampa Bay boasts better momentum than most big metro areas nationwide in cutting jobless rate

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ABOVE, JANUARY 2013: About 200 people stand in line awaiting of a job fair to open at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg.

BELOW, 2009: Hundreds of people lined up waiting to get into a job fair at the same location nearly four years ago. 

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Wake up and good morning. The nation's latest unemployment rate (for January) comes out later this morning and many economists seems doubtful it will change from last months 7.8 percent.

But Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled this week shed some interesting light on what's happened over the last year in the jobless rates of hundreds of metro areas across the country. And, by this measure, Tampa Bay has a lot to crow about. It means about 28,000 fewer folks in the bay area were unemployed at the end of 2012 than at the start. (Even with some statistical fuzziness over how many folks were "looking" for work and were technically "unemployed" that's still a strong rebound.) …

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Check out Florida business brand just unveiled by Enterprise Florida

 Check out Enterprise Florida's first-ever business brand for Florida.

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Read the Tampa Bay Times story and watch the video clip.

So -- what do you think?

- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

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Next generation management team emerging at global manufacturer Jabil Circuit

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Over the past two years, Jabil Circuit shares have wavered but recently have withstood industry chatter that its ties as a supplier to a slowing Apple may hurt prospects.

timmainmarkmondellodualphotojabil.jpgWake up and good morning. Management changes at St. Petersburg-based global electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit keep coming in waves. First came the naming of COO Mark Mondello to succeed Tim Main (photos, right) as CEO. Then Jabil chairman Bill Morean, son of the company co-founder, was honored at the annual shareholder's meeting as he retired this month. The company named its headquarters after Morean.

Why do we care? Because Jabil is a rare regional commodity -- a worldwide electronics designer and manufacturer -- that plays in a super-complex, super-competitive industry. Its market value of $3.8 billion makes it one of Tampa Bay's most valuable public corporations. …

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First Sweetbay, now Publix pass on urban grocery stores on different sides of Tampa Bay

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The Encore urban redevelopment project sits on downtown Tampa's northeast corner and is still under construction. The site for a grocery store sits on the left side of the large development square, along Nebraska Ave., now shown as a grassy rectangle. Photo courtesy of Encore. 

Wake up and good morning. It's not been a great month for Tampa Bay's more modest neighborhoods trying to get supermarkets to open up and stay.

First came Sweetbay's unexpected decision to close a whopping 33 locations, including its site in Tangerine Plaza, the symbolic grocery location that most symbolized the city of St. Petersburg's to give a boost to the economically challenged and principal African-American neighborhood known as Midtown. Read more here and check out St. Pete Mayor Foster's lengthy Sergeant Schultz-styled "I knew nothing" defense of the city being blindsided by the Tangerine Plaza closing (which happens officially on Feb. 13.) …

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Lower-income drivers with good records often pay more for auto insurance than richer, says report

Wake up and good morning. A 12-city survey that includes Tampa finds that good drivers who happen to have low incomes often are punished by auto insurance companies. Or, put another way: The richer you are, apparently the better deal you can get on auto coverage.

So concludes a Consumer Federation of America report just out. Read more here.

"The largest U.S. auto insurers weigh occupation and education levels more than driving records to set rates for minimum-liability coverage," says this Bloomberg New story on the CFA report. 

The CFA results are inconsistent and vary by insurer and city, suggesting a certain arbitrariness to auto coverage pricing.

Here's what the results show in Tampa based when comparing a minimum-liability policy for a female receptionist with a high school education and renting but with a good driving record who has been without insurance for 45 days, and a female executive who is married, owns a home, has a master's degree but had an at-fault accident with $800 damage in the past three years.

Farmers Insurance charged the receptionist $2,952 and the executive $2,204 -- a $748 difference. …

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Florida spending $3,200 per job to recruit or keep positions, says Enterprise Florida's Swoope

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Wake up and good morning. Florida's chief jobs cheerleader, Gray Swoope, (photo, right), argues that the state is getting more efficient and more responsible when it comes to spending tax dollars on recruiting, or keeping, jobs.

As CEO of Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, Swoope told the State Commerce and Tourism Committee that since he came aboard three years ago, the state is getting a better return on investing tax dollars in state grants on jobs. As Swoope told the committee: "More jobs, better wage, better return, less taxpayer money out," he said in this WFSU report.

"And with the average investment of $3,200 a job, it is a positive story," Swoope said.

Asked about the high profile failure, Digital Domain -- the digital film business founded by Titanic producer James Cameron, Swoope told the committee that the company "circumvented" the process and managed to get state funding despite Enterprise Florida arguing that it not. Read more in this Tampa Bay Times story. …

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After shopping for new tourism chief, Tampa Bay & Co. name will change

tampabayco.logo_.jpgWake up and good morning. Tampa/Hillsborough's tourism and meeting planning agency - now known as Tampa Bay & Co. - is regrouping. Not only is it still in the hunt for a new CEO to replace quickly departed Kelly Miller (here for less than a year). The organization is also going to changing its name. Probably to Visit Tampa Bay, which is, after all, the name of the group's web site.

No surprise, the name Tampa Bay & Co. was confusing to the tourism and meeting planning world since it did not inherently say what it does. Marketing chief Doug McLain says a name change to something more traditional using "Visit" immediately alerts people to what the agency does. So why not change it to Visit Tampa? Because Tampa Bay & Co. is no fool. It recognizes the extra clout a regional reach in its name offers when selling this area. Hence the likely name of Visit Tampa Bay coming soon. That will more closely match up with the Pinellas County tourism agency, Visit St. Pete Clearwater, as well as the statewide Visit Florida. …

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Paul Avery grabs more than a six-pack and four more things to know

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