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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Lessons from 20 fastest growing U.S. cities, none of them in Florida

keepaustinweirdsticker.jpgWake up and good morning. Somehow a city whose offbeat slogan Keep Austin Weird seems to work again has landed at the No. 1 spot on the Forbes list of the 20 fastest growing cities (by population and economy) in America. Anybody tracking metro growth should not be surprised by Austin's powerhouse status. This is the third year in a row Austin's come out on top. …

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Sweetbay's exiting Midtown: Does anybody really know what's going on?

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Sweetbay's much heralded Midtown store will close in February as part of the supermarket's major cutback in the Tampa Bay area. Photo: Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times.

Wake up and good morning. Watching the uproar over Sweetbay Supermarket's decision to shut its Midtown store among the 33 closings announced last week begs the question: Does anybody really know what's going on? Let's look at the blooper highlights:

1. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster rants from the podium that Sweetbay blindsided the city which had subsidized the supermarket's opening a store in Midtown, the lower-income, mostly African American community in the city. Sweetbay responds that company officials met with Foster on April 6, 2011 to discuss ways to try and generate more business for its stores. Foster says he has too many meetings and can't recall that one. And Sweetbay certainly did not sufficiently stress the dire situation of the Midtown property -- which the city encouraged by essentially giving the land for the store to be built upon. Read this comedy of forgetfulness here. …

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Tampa Bay ranks in bottom half of "best performing cities" ranked by Milken Institute

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Good grief. What happened to Lakeland in this economic ranking?

Wake up and good morning. A new ranking of the nation's "best performing cities" 0f 2012 based on job growth, wages and technology performance puts well know places like San Jose, Calif., at No. 1 followed by No. 2 Austin, Texas, No. 3 Raleigh, N.C., No. 4 Houston and No. 5 Washington, D.C., at the top of this annual list assembled by the Milken Institute. The top 200 cities and 179 smaller cities are ranked.

Let's cut to the chase. How did Florida cities fare? No major city in Florida made it to the top 100. But let's look closer:

Florida metro area, 2012 rank vs 2011 rank:

Naples-Marco Island, 113 vs. 193: That's an impressive 80 spot jump in the rankings in one year, driven by recent job growth.

Jacksonville, 121 vs. 134: Up 13 spots.

Orlando, 124 vs. 96: What happened? Orlando fell 28 spots while most major Florida cities gained.

Miami, 131 vs. 141: Driven mostly by job growth in the past year.

Tampa Bay, 138 vs. 153: A 15-spot gain but lagging behind other large metro areas in state.

Pensacola, 163 vs. 73: Watch out below! Actual job losses threw this metro area off the cliff with a 90-spot decline.

*** …

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Sweetbay store closings driven by Publix, Wal-Mart pressure, sagging parent company performance

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Belgium-based Delhaize Group owns Sweetbay Supermarket, among other regional chains, in the United States but has watched the company stock price fall dramatically in 2012. Now it's tightening up and closing underperforming stores. It trades as DEG on the New York Stock Exchange.

sweetbaysign.jpgWake up and good morning. To anyone shopping Sweetbay Supermarket stores in recent years, it was getting pretty clear that the grocery chain showed signs of fatigue, as if it had run a good race but was panting and still found itself well behind area frontrunners, Publix and Wal-Mart.

The chain announced Wednesday that it will close 33 Sweetbay stores in Florida and leave open 72. (Here's the complete list of closings.) That's a draconian cut, a cost saving measure that begs some questions. First, is Sweetbay just trimming its underperforming stores and steadying the ship? Or is this the initial phase of a shrinkage of a grocery chain that's simply not big enough to compete with the giants in the Tampa Bay area and the state? If Sweetbay could not keep up with the big boys before, what can it do with one third fewer locations? …

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Saying 'bullish' and 'Florida housing' in same headline feels downright bizarre

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Florida enjoyed greater single-family home price appreciation than the majority of nearby states in the Southeast in the past year (November to November).

Wake up and good morning. Florida's home price index rose 7.9 percent in the past year (November 2011 to November 2012), ranking the Sunshine State 10th among states in rising home prices in that period. So says new CoreLogic data out this week. Note in the map above that Florida appreciation topped that of nearby Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina. South Carolina ranked behind Florida nationally at No. 11 with 7.8 percent appreciation, while Virginia rose a flat 6 percent. Those figures include "distressed" sales. Read more here.

So what does this mean? It means Florida home prices overall have stabilized and are again on the rise after suffering a whopping 44.3 percent decline from their peak to current values. It means Florida's appreciating faster than most state housing price and slightly above the national average. It means Florida's housing market -- while in freefall having scared away many folks contemplating relocation here -- is no longer the economic black hole damaging Florida's economic image. …

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When Apple sneezes, does Jabil Circuit catch a cold?

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Will a less enthusiastic market for Apple's iPhone5 mean less business for component supplier Jabil Circuit?

Wake up and good morning. So if the juggernaut that is Apple happens to sneeze, does St. Petersburg's Jabil Circuit - a supplier to Apple - catch cold?

That's the hint in today's (January 14) Wall Street Journal, which reports here that Apple has cut its component orders for the less-than-stellar introduction of the iPhone5. And, notes this December 14 blog posting by the Journal: Apple component suppliers like Jabil may be hurt by Apple's need to trim orders. Apple notified suppliers of the cutbacks last month, today's Journal story reports.

Now this is admittedly foggy territory. Jabil goes out of its way not to comment on individual client companies and especially avoids remarks about Apple, which has probably been a golden goose for Jabil as a long-time supplier of Apple components.

Still, it raises a warning flag for Jabil, in part because the company's done so well for so long. To its credit, Jabil's diversified into non-Apple businesses, like healthcare tech and solar (though solar's slowed lately). …

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Still more economic signals that Tampa Bay, Florida gaining momentum

glass-half-empty.jpgWake up and good morning.  Occasionally I get emails from readers asking why I bother to talk about what's happening in the economy in other states and metro areas. Who cares, they argue, what's happening elsewhere?

We care because without writing about a larger economic picture, we cannot tell if Tampa Bay's own economic glass is half full or half empty.

Here's a perfect example. Did you know that in the past year (November 2012 versus November 2011), the Tampa Bay metro area's jobless rate has fallen by 2.1 percentage points? That means the unemployment rate that was 10.3 percent in November 2011 dropped to 8.1 percent by November 2011.

Yeah, you might say, that's not bad but it's still too high.

But let's layer in some perspective. Tampa Bay's 2.1 percentage point drop in unemployment in that one year period was the second biggest drop in a jobless rate of any larger metro area in the United States. Only Las Vegas registered a bigger decline in that year, from a whopping 13 percent to still-too-high 10.4 percent (or 2.6 percentage points). …

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What college football teams are worth - a lot! - and where Florida teams rank

ryanbrewerfinanceprofindianaun-purdueucolumbuscollegefootballvalues.jpgWake up and good morning. The University of Florida has the third most valuable college football team in the country, valued at a shade under $600 million. So says an annual analysis of major college football team values done by Ryan Brewer (photo, right), an assistant finance professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus. Brewer's rankings showing UF at No. 3 behind No. 2 Michigan ($731.9 million) and No. 1 Texas Longhorns ($761.7 million) published this week (read more) in the Wall Street Journal. Michigan's value, says Brewer, is surging.

(Note: This ranking was created before Monday' night's crushing victory by the University of Alabama over Notre Dame, so keep that in mind as values undoubtedly adjust according to team performance. In this ranking, Alabama ranked by value at No. 8, worth $476 million, and Notre Dame was No. 4, worth $597.4 million.) …

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