Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Business

Trigaux: A farewell plea -- Start acting like the Tampa Bay you deserve to be

Dear readers: This is my last column for the Tampa Bay Times. After nearly 27 years at this newspaper — 16 of them as the business columnist — I am calling it a day (at least for the near term) and leaving you a few final thoughts to consider before this column heads for the floor of a bird cage or its digital equivalent.

First of all, this metro area has come a long, long way since I moved here in early 1991 from the Washington, DC area. I had started my business writing career in New York City, then spent time in London before committing eight years in our nation’s capital during the Reagan and Bush presidential years. I thought those days were revolutionary by modern times. Now they seem mainstream. Almost (but not quite) nostalgic.

Tampa’s spread far and wide in Hillsborough County and in my years here has cemented its claim as the business headquarters of this tri-city metropolitan area. Sure, Tech Data Corp. and Jabil are Pinellas County giants in both revenue and global capability. But it is Tampa that commands the bulk of regional expansion muscle in banking (think JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and DTCC), in pharmaceutical powerhouses like Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Amgen, and in such insurance cornerstones as USAA and MetLife. It looks to be on track to become the home of our pro football, hockey and baseball franchises, too. And Tampa International Airport, a critical player to growth when I arrived here, has only become a more influential contributor to the success of the entire west coast of central Florida.

St. Petersburg needs no lengthy compliment. What a transformation from its days as God’s Waiting Room. The downtown joke on my arrival was that a cannon fired down any street at 5:05 p.m. on any week day would hit nothing but humidity. St. Pete’s greatest success is making arch rival Tampa openly jealous of its sister city’s vivid night life, residential explosion and depth of arts. I would argue Tampa’s more aggressive urban rejuvenation now under way was motivated in part by St. Pete’s success. Now St. Petersburg must take care not to fall victim to its own cranes, traffic and self-satisfaction.

And Clearwater? It has prospects and pockets of opportunity even as it remains forever mired in the tug of war with Scientology. That tension has cost the city dearly for decades. Perhaps the city will surprise us yet.

In my early years here — yes that was even before the rise of the Internet — this metro spent lots of energy and time sparring with itself. Since then, national and global business competition have changed the rules of engagement. Grudgingly, this area is trying to work more often as one place instead of as multiple fiefdoms eager to notch petty victories.

My one and only message in leaving you is that, in the future, Tampa Bay wins.

It’s okay for Tampa or St. Pete or Clearwater — or Wesley Chapel, Brandon, Seminole, New Port Richey or Tarpon Springs — to fight for better jobs or corporate relocations.

But on the big stuff like our transportation, our startup community, our environment, our political muscle — our regional economic future — a better connected Tampa Bay wins if everybody gets a little taste of prosperity.

Readers used to send in letters (and then emails) howling that "Tampa Bay" was just a body of water and not a real "place" to write about here. Maybe that was true decades ago. Not any more, folks.

Get over it. Embrace it. Fight for it. Give Tampa Bay some love.

You better. Don’t make me come back and start nagging you all over again.

Comments
What a Fed rate hike means for you, at any age

What a Fed rate hike means for you, at any age

No matter your age, what the Federal Reserve does to interest rates will most likely affect you.Economists say the central bank is nearly certain to raise what's called the federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point Wednesday to a range of...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Whole Foods can now deliver through Amazon Prime Now

Tampa Bay Whole Foods can now deliver through Amazon Prime Now

Tampa Bay Whole Foods Market shoppers can finally get organic goodies delivered to their homes in a few hours as members of Amazon Prime. Amazon announced today that Whole Foods has added Tampa, nine other metro areas and parts of Seattle and New Yor...
Updated: 3 hours ago
St. Pete is building a $79 million police HQ. The roof is already leaking

St. Pete is building a $79 million police HQ. The roof is already leaking

ST. PETERSBURG — The city’s new $79 million police headquarters which is rising off First Avenue N has hit another snag.This time, it’s a damaged roof.Workers were installing the roof when an issue was discovered with one of the layers, causing it to...
Updated: 11 hours ago
FEMA rolling out new flood zone maps for Tampa Bay counties

FEMA rolling out new flood zone maps for Tampa Bay counties

Thousands of Tampa Bay-area property owners could soon find themselves with new flood zone designations on their homes and businesses.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has completed a years-long study to update flood zone maps in Hillsborough, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rep. Charlie Crist urges federal consumer watchdog to investigate Marlin Financial

Rep. Charlie Crist urges federal consumer watchdog to investigate Marlin Financial

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is calling for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate Marlin Financial, saying he was "disturbed" by a recent Tampa Bay Times’ investigation into the online auto finance company. In a letter Tuesday af...
Published: 09/25/18
Dunkin' to drop Donuts, change name in January

Dunkin' to drop Donuts, change name in January

Dunkin' is dropping the donuts — from its name, anyway.Doughnuts are still on the menu, but the company is renaming itself "Dunkin'" to reflect its increasing emphasis on coffee and other drinks.The change will officially take place ...
Published: 09/25/18
Struggling against Red Tide, a Redington Beach liquor store is too small to qualify for local aid

Struggling against Red Tide, a Redington Beach liquor store is too small to qualify for local aid

REDINGTON BEACH — Mark Wilson hasn’t had a customer for hours.As the only liquor store on his stretch of Pinellas County beaches, Wilson is used to a steady stream of tourists from the nearby condos and hotels. Other beachfront businesses affected by...
Published: 09/25/18
Weight Watchers slims its name down to WW

Weight Watchers slims its name down to WW

Weight Watchers is its dropping its brand name in exchange for something slimmer: "WW." The company says the new logo - coupled with the tagline "Wellness that Works" -- puts an emphasis on overall health and well being, with less...
Published: 09/24/18
Study: Some Tampa Bay neighborhoods among quickest selling in the state

Study: Some Tampa Bay neighborhoods among quickest selling in the state

Tampa Bay sounds like a home seller’s dream market — even compared to other locales statewide. According to a recent study by SmartAsset, four of the top 10 easiest places to sell a home in Florida are in the bay area. Northern Hillsborough County ac...
Published: 09/24/18
Lower demand brings slight dip in gas prices across state, Tampa Bay

Lower demand brings slight dip in gas prices across state, Tampa Bay

Just in time for fall, pump prices are finally declining. Gas prices in Florida averaged $2.72 per gallon Monday, down from $2.74 per gallon a week ago, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay prices were even lower at $2.63 per gallon, down...
Published: 09/24/18