Metro branding, USF Poly folly, gobs of lobster: 3 Florida matters to know today
Wake up and good morning. Every metro area strives -- often vaguely -- to give itself an identity that resonates with its residents and hopefully those that visit there. Tampa Bay's still working on that regional theme. Tampa's trying to present itself as the business capital of this area. St. Petersburg's trying to be more art and culture driven. Clearwater's got the beach and, well, let's say the rest is yet to be determined.
Now comes Jacksonville that's so sure of its identity that it's been posting it on area interstate road signs for the past three years. America's Logistics Center. Zippy it is not. Sexy it is not. I hesitate to ask people on the street what "logistics" even means. It's not a broadly used word. But Jacksonville's chamber of commerce went with it anyway, and the University of North Florida says people are drawn to its logistics programs. If Tampa followed suit it would post signs saying "Third Party Customer Service Management Capital" for its call center cluster. Snappy, eh? Read more in the Jacksonville newspaper story here. Keep trying.
Despite Sen. JD Alexander's scorched earth ways in pushing for USF Polytech in Lakeland to become an independent university (the bill awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature), did anyone bother to ask the students likely to attend this school? Tampa Bay Times columnist John Roman did and his findings are revealing. "I haven's found anyone on the campus who is in favor of that bill," USF Poly student government president Damon Dennis told Romano. "We kind of got sold out," added Sage Stevens, a member of the student government executive council. Hey: Nice job, Tallahassee. Bravo, Alexander. Read Romano's column here.
This is one of the more unusual business stories this week. Darden Restaurants -- Orlando parent of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other chains -- says it will create what may be the world's first commercial and largest lobster farm on 23,000 acres in Malaysia. With a Red Lobster chain to supply, you can imagine why. But Darden says cultivating lobsters -- if it can do it -- will insulate Darden from swings in lobster prices with the goal of producing 40 million pounds of lobster a year. Read the Orlando Sentinel story here. This will take awhile, the company says, citing 2029 as a likely kickoff year.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times