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The Biz: An inside look at Tampa Bay area newsmakers

Is it Boom, Bubble, Bust? Or Bubble, Bust, Boom? Books on at least one of these three topics by Tampa financial seer and author Harry S. Dent Jr. just keep on coming. And all the ongoing fear and chaos in the financial markets only make Dent's books more in demand.

That's the good news. The bad news, as Dent acknowledged Thursday while waiting to discuss the economy on Fox 13's Your Turn talk show with Kathy Fountain, is that the final edits on his latest book are nearly due. The backdrop of an economic downturn and the just-signed $700-billion Wall Street bailout package were making it tough to commit to a final book draft.

In 1996, Dent was on the speaking circuit here with a new book called The Great Boom Ahead. Since then, he's written a few others, including The Next Great Bubble Boom: How to Profit from the Greatest Boom in History, 2005-2009. Dent says the housing and mortgage industry woes came faster and hit harder than he thought, so he's being more careful now with dates appearing in book titles.

A book due out later this year was to be called The Great Depression of 2010-2012: How to Prosper in the Crash that Follows the Greatest Boom in History. Instead, he told Fountain, it will simply be called The Great Depression Ahead.

Upstream battle looms with tourism for aquarium boss

Florida Aquarium boss Thom Stork has taken on a task worthy of a Mission Impossible episode: to get the state's tourism industry leaders on the same page about offshore oil drilling. Some tourist businesses are warming to drilling, worried that $4 gas could keep visitors close to home. Others, particularly in beach destinations like Pinellas, say the risk to beaches isn't worth a few pennies at the pump. Stork heads a committee that soon will suggest an industry position to the Florida Commission on Tourism. "It's going to be difficult to come up with an opinion everyone agrees on,'' he says. "We might have to say opinions run broadly across the spectrum.''

Upside to tough times for Sweetbay: a more stable work force

Mike Vail, the relatively new president and chief operating officer of Sweetbay Supermarket, sees a silver lining to rising unemployment and a weak economy: He doesn't have to worry as much about losing workers. The Tampa-based grocery chain, part of Hannaford Bros., had set a long-term goal of lowering turnover from a better-than-retail-industry average of 120 percent a year. Benefits were enhanced, employee training bolstered, a mystery shopper service hired and lines of worker feedback beefed up to make responsive workers feel they belonged. Through September, Sweetbay turnover plummeted to 60 percent this year, even below the goal of 65 percent. "A lot of that was the economy," said Vail, who took over the Sweetbay reins from Shelly Broader three months ago. "We've even had MBAs apply for overnight stocker jobs."

The Biz: An inside look at Tampa Bay area newsmakers 10/05/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 2:42pm]
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