Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Business

10 Tampa Bay business people to watch for the rest of 2013

From HQs to OJ, fresh startups to messy cleanups, here are 10 businesspeople to watch in the second half of 2013.

10. CEO for less than six months of Jabil Circuit, Mark Mondello and his team will soon make a headquarters site selection that could profoundly influence the St. Petersburg's downtown. The Tampa Bay Times recently reported that Jabil, a global electronics manufacturer, would soon choose among three Pinellas County locations for its new HQ. One of those locations is near Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, on the western edge of downtown. The other two locations, including where Jabil now resides, are in the city's Gateway area.

Jabil clearly is one of this entire metro area's more innovative and globally toughened companies, with 175,000 employees worldwide and nearly 2,000 locally. In picking the downtown location, Jabil would bring a high-tech icon and anchor, injecting a boost to a city big on arts and entertainment but sorely lacking larger corporate headquarters. Landing Jabil would also ease the memory of this year's painful downtown bankruptcy of once up-and-coming Universal Health Care. Jabil ranks No. 163 on this year's Fortune 500. Choose well, Mr. Mondello.

9. Tampa attorney Kevin McLean is hardly the only area lawyer soliciting businesses to file a claim for lost revenues against BP for the massive 2010 oil spill. But McLean is the only attorney who happens to be mentioned in the first sentence of last week's Bloomberg Businessweek magazine cover story. Headline: "Spillapalooza: How BP got screwed in the Gulf." The story looks at the multistate boom in claims filed against BP, claims that in many cases are for revenue losses by businesses that clearly had nothing to do with the BP spill. The story quotes McLean, citing one Brandon real estate client's claim, saying that under the settlement terms with BP, "we're going to get paid." BP, in turn, says it never intended "to become an open cash register for every claim or project anyone could dream up." It might be easier to ask who did not file a BP claim than who did. Pinellas beach resorts? Absolutely. City of Tampa? Yep. Tampa International Airport? For sure. BP recently warned lawyers like McLean that it may try to recover some of their clients' shares of the multibillion-dollar settlement if the oil company can appeal a key legal ruling. With such a lengthy claims list, BP — or at least its lawyers — will be around for a long time.

8. If anyone can appreciate Tampa Bay's case of Startup Fever, it's Tonya Elmore, president of the long-established incubator known as the Tampa Bay Innovation Center in Largo. The center plans to establish a new incubator in downtown St. Petersburg, a project now known as Innovate St. Pete. Look for applications (for startups to get help) to be accepted by the end of July for a rollout by September. On top of that, Elmore is in the early planning stages to help create another incubator dedicated to health care startups. It's all part of the recently conjured "MediFuture" project coming out of the Tampa/Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., USF's medical school and its related CAMLS (Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation) facility in downtown Tampa. The goal: make Tampa Bay a hotbed of innovation. Elmore says the focus now is on finding a temporary site and securing funding.

7. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has reason to worry about the future of Florida orange juice. The amount of OJ sold in this country just fell to its lowest level in at least 11 years. Then there's the shrinking orange supply thanks to a nasty greening disease killing citrus trees. The USDA says citrus greening "threatens the survival of Florida citrus." If there's a bright light, it is Coca-Cola's recent commitment to purchase $2 billion of oranges produced by what will be 25,000 acres of new groves in Florida for its Minute Maid and Simply Orange brands. Putnam says citrus greening poses an "existential crisis" for Florida's iconic citrus industry. We're not sure if oranges can be existential, but here's hoping Putnam has more of a plan for the industry than channeling philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

6. Tech Data Corp. CEO Bob Dutkowsky usually talks about expansion and progress — certainly not financial accounting stumbles. But it isn't every day that the wholesale computer products distributor and this region's largest public company discloses it will restate financial results from its 2011, 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. Tech Data announced in March it must correct how its British subsidiary reflected vendor accounting. At the time, the company said a restatement could wipe out up to $33 million of net income over the three fiscal years. The problem has rippled. Nasdaq warned Tech Data (which trades on that stock market) that it's still not in compliance with financial reporting rules. And law firms are crawling all over Tech Data threatening investor lawsuits. Is a fix coming soon? Or will Dutkowsky wrestle with this matter for the rest of 2013?

5. On the one hand, wealthy St. Petersburg civic activist Bill Edwards is busy running the Mahaffey Theater, revitalizing the downtown BayWalk site and last year generously erecting — at his expense — a giant Welcome to St. Pete tower along I-275. On the other hand, the source of much of his fortune — Mortgage Investors Corp., a St. Pete firm that provides mortgage refinancing to veterans — just got fined $7.5 million by the Federal Trade Commission. It's the largest charge ever for a violation of the national "Do Not Call" telemarketing rule. A part of the FTC complaint claims the company misled veterans, promising fixed-rate loans that are actually adjustable, with rates (and mortgage payments) that can rise. The state sued MIC in June alleging similar misdeeds. A final resolution is pending.

4. Just in time for the July 2 anniversary of Duke Energy buying Progress Energy, Duke has a new CEO. Lynn Good, Duke's former chief financial officer, is now at the helm in Charlotte, N.C., of the nation's biggest electric utility in an industry hardly known for top female executives. So let's cut to the chase: How will Good handle Duke's decommissioning of the long-broken Crystal River nuclear power plant? And how long will Duke string along its Florida customers — now paying extra, nonrefundable fees for a proposed nuclear power plant in Levy County — before the company chooses to actually commit to or, as many think, cancel the ludicrously overpriced project?

3. Let's hope Rick Scott makes every day count as governor of Florida. He spent close to $75 million of his own money in the campaign to become governor. So over his four-year term — that's 1,460 days, paid one penny a month at his request — he is in effect spending more than $51,000 per day of his own funds to lead the Sunshine State. (It's more if you count the costs of his own personal jet to get around the state.) His financial disclosure statement shows he now has nearly $84 million remaining, down more than 60 percent from $219 million in net worth when he ran for office in 2010. How much of what remains is he willing to commit to a second-term campaign?

2. Give some credit to a local startup that's gaining some traction. I first wrote in June about KeriCure, a Wesley Chapel-based startup that created and markets a liquid bandage. Kerriann Greenhalgh is a co-founder of the wound-care treatment based on chemistry achieved at the University of South Florida. Now we hear that the business recently received its first purchase order from a major commercial retailer. Kroger's Atlanta division ordered a large floor display unit of KeriCure Skin Protectant products for its more than 200 grocery stores throughout the southeast, including Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. Let this be at least one example of a 2-year-old local company founded on area innovation showing some market success.

1. Sophia Sorolis is one of the folks overseeing the kickoff in September of the Greenhouse. That's the aptly named new facility in downtown St. Petersburg that will act as a catch-all service center for startups, entrepreneurs, mentoring, classes and co-working space for those other Tampa Bay area business incubators seeking to better serve the St. Pete startup community. "We don't want to make another entity but work more collaboratively with what's here," says Sorolis, one of the city's longtime economic development managers. With a $94,000 city commitment, she is working with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce to help pay for staffer Sean Kennedy and others to coordinate activities at the Greenhouse, the city's former business assistance center behind City Hall at 440 Second Ave. N. Recently returned from an economic development conference, Sorolis says there's a shift under way from recruiting businesses from afar to nurturing more local talent. Here's the challenge: making sure entrepreneurs — they're different from traditional small-business folks — sense street cred in a city-chamber joint venture.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]

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