You can bet there was more than passing racing interest in Saturday's Kentucky Derby results by Tampa banker Donald Adam. The chairman and CEO of American Momentum Bank, with area offices on West Kennedy in Tampa and at Baywalk in St. Petersburg (among other Florida locations), owns Adriano, a Derby contender that trains out of Adam's Courtlandt Farm in Ocala. The official Derby Web site says Adriano's family lineage includes Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. You may recall Adam, who made his fortune in cable TV and banking, is a melanoma survivor who still calls Texas his home. He made a personal contribution a year ago of $20.4-million to Tampa's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.
"IT'S THE PITS." Another cancer fighter is tough lady Deanne Roberts. A Tampa public relations guru and well-known business whirlwind, Roberts wrote last week of her aggressive chemo sessions from Houston, where she hopes to be wrapping up this series of treatments and heading for some rest in the cooler Northeast climate. She writes in what is in effect her hospital blog: "I'll summarize by stating flat out that cancer treatment is the pits." The Tampa Bay business community has responded with an outpouring of support via e-mail.
"WORST EXPERIENCE." No rest for weary Wachovia Bank CEO Ken Thompson, who's fending off criticism for a series of bank mishaps ranging from a telemarketing scandal (the bank did not stop telemarketers depositing money in their Wachovia accounts siphoned by trickery from seniors' bank accounts), an alleged money-laundering investigation cited by the Wall Street Journal and the need to raise fresh capital. At Wachovia's recent annual meeting, Thompson faced questions from a shareholder about Wachovia's involvement in the telemarketing scandal. "I can't make excuses," the CEO replied, and called it "the worst experience of my 32-year career" at Wachovia.
ARE WE NEARING BOTTOM? Economist Chris McCarty must feel like a snowboarder on a steep slope. Where is the bottom? As the handler of monthly surveys gauging the confidence of Floridians at the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, McCarty saw confidence droop to near-record lows not seen since 1991. What gives? Unlike the relatively mild recession of 2001, the recession of 1990-91 resulted in a longer time to recover, he says. This is a likely scenario for the current economy. The question remains whether the recession will get worse, such as the recession from 1973 to 1975. "Most economists believe the economy will pick up by late 2008 or early 2009," he says. "The question on everyone's mind is how we are going to get out of this slow economy. The answer is probably time."
HALF-PENNY WINNERS: When CEO Sherrill Hudson unveiled TECO Energy's less-than-stellar earnings last week, there was one silver lining for shareholders: higher quarterly dividends, which bumped up to 20 cents from 19.5 cents. But slower customer growth has to be a worrisome trend.
WAS IT CHICKEN OR EGG? Tampa's "venerable" Columbia Restaurant is no stranger to surviving tough economic times. Still, the 103-year-old Florida landmark closed its location at CityPlace (kind of a St. Pete BayWalk look) in West Palm Beach on April 20 after only three years. The Palm Beach Post reports diners had mixed praise for Columbia's food and prices while others questioned CityPlace's ability to attract business in the first place. Columbia owner Richard Gonzmart blamed three issues: parking problems, an inconsistent nearby convention business and Palm Beach County's troubled housing market for cutting into consumers' dining dollars.