Tampa Bay won't be selling the usual sun and sand during its first fall tourism push this year.
Instead, the bay area will sell Picasso, poltergeists, pale ale and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Fall is traditionally the slow season for Tampa Bay tourism. But officials on both sides of the bay want to counter that by attracting visitors using tourism campaigns focused on a strong lineup of concerts, art exhibitions, Halloween events and a movie premiere....
A record July for Pinellas County tourist development tax collections could set the stage for another record year.
Pinellas pulled in $3.18 million in bed tax collections in July. That's up 11 percent from the $2.86 million collected in July 2013. This July was also the best July in county history and the first time Pinellas broke the $3 million mark in that month.
Pinellas also has surpassed the $3 million mark in bed tax collections in the months of April, May and June....
When U.S. Rep David Jolly sailed out of Clearwater on Thursday morning with a boat full of TV cameras, it was to spotlight the potential crisis posed by the red tide bloom floating miles off the Pinellas coast.
But when the congressman returned to shore he faced another crisis: the tourism industry was up in arms because Jolly was publicizing a possible threat that hasn't occurred yet — and might not happen at all....
TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is adept at dodging questions about his plans for redeveloping the Channel District downtown. But on Wednesday he said this much:
When asked how many years it would be before construction starts on his properties around the former Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Lightning owner said this:
"A better question is how many days or months until we announce something," he said. "We are deliberate but we still want to move fast."...
TAMPA — Since the Laser Spine Institute was founded in 2005, it has grown from nine employees to more than 800 workers across the country.
Now the Tampa company is ready to expand again here at home. The company said Wednesday that it plans to build a $56 million headquarters in the West Shore area while adding 100 jobs to its Tampa operation with average annual pay of about $80,000....
Tampa Bay's tourism agencies have called an audible during the traditionally slow fall season: For the first time, both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are actively marketing the Tampa Bay region during September, October and November.
Hillsborough County's tourism agency, Visit Tampa Bay, this week launched its first-ever fall campaign: "Fall in love with Tampa Bay."
"The thinking behind the fall campaign is: Let's keep the momentum going," said Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada. "It's really aimed at the months of September through November. They have been softer months for tourism."...
Building a new cruise ship port on the Pinellas side of the Sunshine Skyway bridge could boost the Tampa Bay economy — or bust it.
The mega cruise ships of the future won't fit under the Skyway. That endangers an industry that pumps $380 million a year into the local economy.
But trying to save the cruise industry could endanger Tampa Bay itself. The bay has never been cleaner — or more lucrative. It supports one out of every five jobs in the region and a booming tourism industry....
08/25/14 Real Estate
TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's vision for the Channel District is coming into focus, and it includes bringing in hundreds of white-collar workers along with tourists and sports fans.
The latest piece of his plan is a 202,000-square-foot office building that Vinik's companies propose to build north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
And a rezoning application filed last week suggests a tenant for that building could be Syniverse, a fast-growing high-tech firm now based in New Tampa....
CLEARWATER — There was no debate at Wednesday's Pinellas Tourist Development Council meeting about whether the county tourism agency should switch to a public-private model that would let it spend bed-tax dollars without the accountability of a government agency.
That's not going to happen.
There was also no debate about the compensation of public employees who work for that agency, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater....
08/19/14 Economic Development
TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik now officially owns Channelside Bay Plaza.
Last month, Vinik's new company, CBP Development LLC, won control of Channelside when the litigants fighting over the failing downtown mall struck a last-minute court settlement.
But just like any other piece of real estate, there had to be a closing. That was completed Tuesday afternoon.
Vinik now owns Channelside, just like he owns the Lightning, the lease to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and 24 empty acres around the home of his hockey team....
08/19/14 Economic Development
TAMPA — The Tampa Port Authority on Tuesday approved spending $21.5 million to build two new gantry cranes that officials hope will expand the port's cargo container business.
This summer, the Florida Legislature awarded Port Tampa Bay $12 million to help pay for the project. The port will pay for the rest using a loan from the state's infrastructure bank.
The port's governing board voted to award the $21.5 million contract to ZPMC, aka Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., one of the world's largest crane manufacturers....
CLEARWATER — D.T. Minich grew up in Colombia. He grew up in Canada. He grew up in Great Britain and the American Southwest, too. That's because his father was in the mining industry and took his family with him wherever he went.
"Travel is in my blood," Minich said. "They'd pull us out of school and let us travel with them because they thought travel was the best form of education."...
08/13/14 Economic Development
ST. PETERSBURG — Today's meeting of Tampa Bay's seaports was billed as a chance to promote regional economic development.
But in reality, it was a peace summit to heal the rift between Port Tampa Bay and Port Manatee.
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad left no sports metaphor behind in declaring himself the referee of this regional economic conflict.
The state wasn't spending millions on Florida's ports so they could compete at the expense of each other, Prasad told a group of more than 50 officials and spectators attending the meeting at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute....
TAMPA — It has been a rough ride for the city's taxi drivers.
In recent weeks their cabs have been called pigsties and their professionalism has been questioned.
Then on Wednesday, after seeing a fellow cabbie get a $50 ticket for double-parking, taxi driver Murat Limage finally had enough.
As rain fell on downtown, Limage berated a cab inspector.
"The taxi driver don't have no voice in Tampa," he said. "The city just wants money." ...
TAMPA — The moment the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority long feared came to pass Thursday: a bidding war for popular Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano.
Except it was the board members who outbid each other to give Lopano his annual raise.
The bidding stopped at a 5 percent pay increase of $16,537. The board voted 3-0 to raise Lopano's annual salary to $347,287 starting Oct. 1....