Raymond James CEO comments on area public schools, proposed Rays stadium in Carillon, election
Wake up and good morning. Raymond James Financial's Paul Reilly, CEO since March 2009 when he succeeded Tom James at the helm, was asked Wednesday what challenges Tampa Bay still has when trying to recruit top talent to the area. Reilly, St. Petersburg born and bred, suggested many of the bigger hurdles of the past are gone. In fact, Reilly said that if a company can actually get a talented manager to relocate to Tampa Bay, they tend to like it and typically stay.
In New York City, Reilly noted, financial talent can just walk across the street to another competitor if they want a new employer or different job. That is less the case in this metro area, which tends to favor Raymond James and promote talent stability here.
However, Reilly was quick to point out what remains Tampa Bay's Achilles heel: Education. Right or wrong, the reputation of the public school system here does hurt talent recruiting. And Reilly was blunt. Most of the talent Raymond James brings in from elsewhere has the resources to put their children in private schools, he said.
We've heard this refrain for decades and it's troubling that it remains front and center among senior professionals in the area. Public schools in the area are trying, even though budgets continue to get leaner, school boards grow more bureaucratic each year and the morale among teachers is weak -- to put it politely. Florida Gov. Rick Scott's recent education tour, based on the mirage of adding $1 billion to public schools after gutting a similar amount from the education budget last year, is not fooling informed parents about school quality.
On another subject, Reilly was asked his initial opinion of the newly proposed Major League Baseball stadium in the Carillon office park, where Raymond James' sprawling headquarters (left), a campus of office towers, would be close neighbors. Reilly, a tennis-playing fan of sports and the Rays, admitted he had concerns. Traffic in the area during prime commute times is already heavy, he said, and he wondered how much worse it would get when evening games at a Carillon stadium overlapped with employees trying to get home.
Reilly made these remarks from the podium Wednesday of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, where the CEO acknowledged he had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but has now decided to support Mitt Romney. Read my column in today's Tampa Bay Times for more details on Reilly's political decision to try somebody new in the White House.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times