Make us your home page
Instagram

Area business '09 outlook is grim but not totally dark

Jeannette Romero of New Tampa reacts to the Rays earning a first-ever spot in the playoffs. The Tampa Bay area was abuzz as the Rays won the American League title.


CHERIE DIEZ | Times

Jeannette Romero of New Tampa reacts to the Rays earning a first-ever spot in the playoffs. The Tampa Bay area was abuzz as the Rays won the American League title.

Predicting Tampa Bay's 2009 business scene in a sure-to-be-rough economy is like forecasting a bottom to our convulsive stock markets. Good luck. We're in megaflux. Still, here are 10 predictions for the year. Not all of them are downers!

1 Housing slump: The drop in Tampa Bay housing prices will start to moderate. But don't get your hopes too high. By the end of 2009, the median sales price of a single-family home in the Tampa Bay area will fall below $130,000. It's just under $150,000 now and last fall was in the upper $180s. Two years ago it was $223,000. It was $136,000 at the end of 2002. That will get us darn close to the bottom of our area market — tough for owners, great for buyers.

2 Troubled banks: At least five Florida banks will fail and be seized by regulators in 2009. At least another five that are in danger will be sold off in deals arranged by federal regulators. None based in our metro area will fail in '09.

3 Electric rates: Political pressure and the struggling economy will prompt Progress Energy Florida to reprice its electricity rates and defer the impact on customers of an immediate 24 percent hike in rates kicking in right now.

4 Lost jobs: Tampa Bay area unemployment will rise to 8.5 percent by the end of 2009, and higher in 2010, before government stimulus packages start to stabilize and reverse job losses.

5 Dealer squeeze: Multiple Tampa Bay area auto dealerships will close from weak auto sales. Others will be sold off to stronger industry players. Most vulnerable: single dealerships selling only Chrysler or GM vehicles. But even No. 1 auto retailer AutoNation, operating as AutoWay in this market, saw its corporate credit rating last week reduced by S&P to "junk" status. No one is bulletproof.

6 Clusters: The buzz of innovation and momentum sparked by the emerging cluster in Tampa and St. Petersburg of the high-tech, high-wage Draper Lab (hiring for new facilities on both sides of Tampa Bay), SRI (working with University of South Florida St. Petersburg), the opening of the M2GEN venture (between Merck and Tampa's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute) and even the return from Tucson, Ariz., of Clearwater-founded Biopsy Sciences will yield more recruiting successes of similar ventures in 2009, despite the slow economy.

7 Sports visibility: Despite the sour economy's likely impact on 2009 ticket prices for sports events, Tampa's hosting the Super Bowl in February and the '09 season bounce for the Tampa Bay Rays from winning the American League championship last year will prove a big bright spot, raising the image of our greater metro area.

8 Florida-Cuba relations: Business opportunities between the United States and Cuba will improve, making Florida a big beneficiary. The Obama administration will start to relax 50-year-old restrictions. The Sunshine State will gain in trade, development and expanded tourism.

9 Sagging alternatives: Florida's aggressive alternative energy initiatives, championed by Gov. Charlie Crist and reinforced, one would think, by the election of Barack Obama, will struggle — a lot — in 2009. As long as oil prices hover near $50 a barrel and Tampa Bay area gasoline prices remain well under $2 a gallon, economics will push to the back burner more expensive forms of energy production like ethanol.

10 Paper tigers: Hardly the best for last, but perhaps the easiest to predict: The newspaper business in the Tampa Bay area will have fewer employees by the end of this year.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

Area business '09 outlook is grim but not totally dark 01/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]