Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Looking to the last half of 2012 (and that RNC event), 10 people to watch

As we approach the midpoint of 2012, there's a fresh rush of faces and issues knocking on the door of Tampa Bay's business community.

By necessity, this region's hyper-focus on the upcoming Republican National Convention — how to make sure it's a success, how to promote our economic potential to a bigger world — is starting to overshadow other priorities.

Still, there's plenty of business change afoot. With that in mind, here are 10 people to watch in the second half of 2012. in alphabetical order:

Kevin Burgoyne: Call him the man with one of the thorniest economic challenges. He started Monday in Tampa as the executive director of the Florida Venture Forum, the statewide organization whose "modest" goal is to fatten the thin venture capital market in the Sunshine State for entrepreneurs. Burgoyne's background includes stints in sales and marketing at Walt Disney Co., PanAmSat Corp. and Global Crossing. He says he was drawn to the venture forum for the "timely challenge and opportunity of growing the forum's brand and community in the state, nationally and internationally." He's a University of Florida graduate with an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Arlene DiBenigno: She's working with 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee executive board member Kathleen Shanahan to help promote area economic development during the RNC. On their agenda: pulling together the host committee's "Why Florida, Why Now?" summit for CEOs in industries that could help diversify Florida's economy. DiBenigno's roots lie in Tallahassee, where she has held various staff and campaign positions with Gov. Rick Scott and state Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Jamie Egasti: He's been running under the radar here since arriving last fall. Egasti is the former Procter & Gamble executive and head of Folgers Coffee who's now the CEO of 1,300-employee Catalina Marketing in St. Petersburg. Catalina is one of the guru firms that helps retailers and brand manufacturers learn more about the buying preferences of consumers — and how to tap that information for improved sales.

Kathy Fountain: Her Kathy Fountain Show on WTVT-Ch. 13 in this market was a classic midday talk show. Now she's moved on and will anchor the regional business community-backed, Livestreaming show called Front Row Tampa Bay. It will broadcast live — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — for four days during the RNC from the 100-seat Stageworks Theatre in Tampa's Channelside district. Front Row Tampa Bay offered a sneak preview Wednesday morning to 70-plus area business leaders to demonstrate what could be a cool new way to generate regional content and communicate it quickly over the Internet at frontrowtampabay.com.

Adam Goodman: Speaking of Front Row Tampa Bay, Goodman is a co-creator of it as well as head of the Republican media consulting firm in Tampa called the Victory Group. Most of the firm's focus is on making political ads for Republican candidates, from early presidential candidate Herman Cain to state candidate Jeff Brandes. Goodman spoke at Wednesday's Front Row Tampa Bay preview about the live, four-day event during the RNC that will feature both regional and national business leaders. It's likely Front Row's first morning segment filed at the RNC's nightly party events could prove a big draw to the Internet-based telecast, the brainchild of the Tampa Bay Partnership.

Eric Higgs: Anybody in these economic times with the confidence — or daring — to talk about creating 1,000 jobs in the coming five years is certainly worth a closer look. Artist turned entrepreneur Higgs feted business and political leaders Thursday evening at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Arts to showcase his local company LumaStream and its new LED lighting technology. He announced his plan to bring the engineering, development and manufacturing parts of his business back to St. Petersburg from Canada and Taiwan.

Kiran Patel: The doctor turned philanthropist turned real estate investor has been a bit out of the spotlight since the 2004 to 2008 era when he backed everything from international think tanks to new hospital services here. Now he is back as the new major backer of Savtira Corp., the cloud computing retailing startup in Ybor City that promised much but delivered little before seeking Chapter 11 protection earlier this year. Patel's behind a $4 million infusion that would give his investor group a majority stake in Savtira. What does he see of value still lurking in this bankrupt business?

Jim Rogers: This is the CEO of Duke Energy, whose power company in Charlotte, N.C., is about 99 percent of the way to finalizing its acquisition of Progress Energy. Here is the one sentence Rogers volunteered in a speech last year that may best capture what's ahead for Florida customers: "My view of the future is you will see a steep increase in prices, and that is different than what has happened in the past 50 years."

Rhonda Shear: On Thursday night in Orlando, the founder and CEO of shapewear maker Shear Enterprises in St. Petersburg learned she was one of eight state finalists who will compete at the national level for Entrepreneur of the Year in the prestigious Ernst & Young awards contest. A former beauty queen turned standup comic turned clothing designer, Shear has a personal interest in winning this event. Late-night comedy legend Jay Leno hosts the national Ernst & Young competition each November. Back in the 1980s, when Shear was on the Los Angeles comedy circuit, Leno paid her scant attention. Shear's hoping Leno will better remember her this time around.

Jeff Vinik: He's no longer just the new owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's possibly the winning bidder — we'll find out soon — for the struggling Channelside retail complex. And last week his investing firm called Vinik Asset Management said it was relocating its Boston headquarters to downtown Tampa. As Vinik told the Times: "As our family looks to deepen its roots in this community, I believe establishing the company's home base here is a natural step. We continue to remain bullish on Tampa Bay and its future, and we look forward to opening our operation downtown later this summer." Put it all together and Vinik is about to evolve from the distant and wealthy New England sports owner to a local leader in the Tampa Bay business community.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Updated: 10 hours ago
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

U.S. news outlets block European readers over new privacy rules

LONDON ó U.S. news outlets including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Orlando Sentinel and The Arizona Daily Star abruptly blocked access to their websites from Europe on Friday, choosing to black out readers rather than comply with a ...
Published: 05/25/18
Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

Tampa Electric appeals OSHA findings for October accident

TAMPA ó Tampa Electric Co. is appealing a recent citation by federal regulators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hit the utility with a $76,050 fine and a "serious" violation in April following its investigation into an accident in ...
Published: 05/25/18
Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Donít use the cruise control

Fiat Chrysler recalls 4.8 million cars, warning owners: Donít use the cruise control

Associated PressDETROIT ó Fiat Chrysler is recalling 4.8 million vehicles in the U.S. because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until...
Published: 05/25/18
Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Federal Reserve chairman warns his agency must be free from political pressure

Associated PressFederal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Friday that the Fedís independence from political pressure must be respected if it is to succeed in controlling inflation, maximizing employment and regulating the financial system. His re...
Published: 05/25/18
Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Restaurants like Ford’s Garage use the experience to get you in the door

Tim Butler’s first car was a Ford Model A pick-up truck — a pearl fawn and cherry red pick-up he got his senior year in high school from his dad, who renovates antique cars. That’s why as Butler waited for a table at the Ford’...
Published: 05/25/18
St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

St. Petersburg man fined $507,513 in penny stock scheme

TAMPA ó A St. Petersburg man was fined $507,513 and permanently barred from participating in the offering of a penny stock in a case involving a scheme to manipulate the price of Aureus, a penny stock company incorporated in Nevada, officials said Fr...
Published: 05/25/18
Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Broadcomís CEO tops highest-paid list with a $103 million payout

Times staff and wiresNEW YORK ó Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year, bringing the median pay package for CEOs to $11.7 million. Across the S&P 500, compensation for CEOs is often hundreds of times highe...
Published: 05/25/18
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR ó Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."Itís got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. Thatís not bad." Indeed, thereís a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Published: 05/25/18