U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack predicts U.S. trade with Cuba could rebound from its current $300 million to close to $500 million with Florida among the states capitalizing the most.
But to move to the next level, Vilsack urged Congress to go beyond the loosened trade restrictions recently ordered by President Obama. Specifically, he called for Congress to allow his department to promote trade in Cuba as well as other international markets where it is hamstrung....
01/28/15 Personal Finance
For those who still think of St. Petersburg as luring retirees to hang out in "God's waiting room," the younger generation is poised to make its move.
St. Petersburg has been singled out by credit card promoter NerdWallet as the best city in Florida for drawing in millennials. Across the bay, Tampa was nipping at its heels as the third-most-attractive market for those ages 20 to 34, while Clearwater came in at No. 12....
01/27/15 Personal Finance
Economists pinpoint the end of the Great Recession as 2009, but for most Floridians, the financial squeeze has only gotten worse.
Income disparity is growing faster and there is a higher percentage of low-wage jobs being created in Florida compared with most places in the United States, according to a pair of reports coming out this week.
The studies found:
• A whopping 61 percent of job openings in Florida pay less than the estimated living wage for a single adult, according to an analysis by the Alliance for a Just Society, a network pushing for racial, social and economic changes....
01/23/15 Economic Development
The Tampa Bay Partnership is in makeover mode.
In tandem with the launch of a national search for a new CEO, the regional business leadership group is honing its mission to primarily be an advocacy organization promoting the eight-county area, partnership chairman Brian Lamb said Friday.
In the past, the partnership and its outgoing CEO Stu Rogel had been criticized for being spread too thin between economic development, job promoting, marketing and advocacy. It has struggled to carry through on priorities, such as the failed mass transit effort dubbed Greenlight Pinellas, and dropped other programs. And with its closed-door meetings, communication has been a sore point. ...
It's that time of year in Florida. January ushers in playoff football, Northern visitors and, as always, a flurry of economic and political predictions about the year ahead.
The Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce brought together four prognosticators Wednesday for its Focus on 2015 breakfast.
Speakers on topics ranging from tourism to jobs to construction to politics were generally upbeat. But there was at least one grave warning served up along with sausage links and eggs: The Interstate 4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando won't get much of a respite from the negative political ads that dominated 2014....
01/23/15 Working Life
Florida's unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in December, cementing a strong year of recovery in the jobs market. The rate, down from November's 5.8 percent, is now the lowest since April 2008.
In Tampa Bay, the jobless rate improved even more, falling to 5.5 percent, down from 5.9 percent a month earlier.
Including the boost of 12,700 jobs in December, Florida's workforce added 230,600 jobs for the full year....
Barring a surprising setback, Florida Gov. Rick Scott today will proclaim that the state's economy closed 2014 in its strongest state in nearly seven years thanks to broad-based job creation pushing down the unemployment rate.
But job seekers bypassed by the recovery aren't celebrating, given another less-trumpeted statistic. Florida has just replaced North Carolina as the state offering the fewest weeks of unemployment benefits in the country. ...
It's still more expensive to buy homeowners insurance in Florida than anywhere else in the country.
In fact, Florida homeowners are now paying more than double the national average.
Average insurance premiums statewide for the most common type of homeowners policy rose nearly 8 percent in 2012 to $2,084, according to data released this week from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners....
Tampa Bay drivers: Rev up for a milestone you haven't seen in six years. The average price of gas is poised to fall below $2 a gallon.
On Monday, average unleaded gas in the bay area dropped to $2.004 a gallon, down a penny from a day earlier and a dime cheaper than a week ago. That means prices have fallen a stunning 40 percent, or $1.30 a gallon, over the past year, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report. ...
01/14/15 Economic Development
After a mediocre November, Florida rebounded by adding a robust 21,700 private sector jobs in December, according to a report released Wednesday.
It's the single strongest month since June and bolsters economists' expectations that Florida is positioned for a strong performance in 2015.
The monthly report from payroll processing company ADP shows Florida still firmly nestled as the third-best job creator in the country behind Texas (up 31,100 jobs) and California (up 29,000 jobs)....
It took years of wrangling in the courts and the court of public opinion before gay marriage became legal last week throughout Florida.
For many businesses throughout Tampa Bay, however, the battle was fought long ago. In fact, the change in Florida law is not expected to spark much of a human resources makeover.
That's because many employers over the past 25 years have already widened their benefits packages to include domestic partners, affording them the same coverage as married couples. That's particularly true for large employers with operations across the country and for those in competitive niches trying to keep up with benefits offered by their peers....
With his State of the Union speech less than two weeks away, President Barack Obama has been stressing how well the economic recovery has gone so far and rolling out new initiatives to keep it going.
This includes proposing a program to pay the tuition of many community college students, reducing the costs of Federal Housing Administration loans and renewing the call for a higher minimum wage. ...
It was July 2013, and Barry Gilway, head of Citizens Property Insurance, was selling his board on a new way to keep homeowners policies out of the state-run insurer of last resort.
Before placing a policy with Citizens, every Florida agent would have to run their customer's information through an online clearinghouse to see if any private insurer would provide coverage under comparable terms. ...
Another week, another huge drop in gas prices throughout Florida.
The price for average unleaded gas fell a dime to hit $2.194 in Tampa Bay as of Monday, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report. In Florida, prices were down eight cents a gallon on average to reach $2.309.
It now costs nearly $1.19 a gallon less to fill up in the bay area than it did a year ago. Just over the past month, the price at the pump is down nearly 44 cents....