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Jeff Harrington, Times Staff Writer

Jeff Harrington

Jeff Harrington has been an editor and reporter at the Tampa Bay Times since 1998. In 2008, as a national fiscal crisis erupted, he shifted gears from editing to become lead staff writer on the economy, banking, insurance and other money issues.

A native Ohioan, Jeff graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a dual major in American Studies and French. He worked at the City News Bureau of Chicago, Toledo Blade and Cincinnati Enquirer before winding his way down Interstate 75 to the Tampa Bay area.

He has received numerous awards for business and metro writing, including recognition by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, and the Associated Press, among others. He was a past finalist and a winner of a Gerald Loeb award honoring the best business writing in the country and his work was included in the Best Business Stories of the Year series in 2003.

Phone: (727) 893-8242

Email: harrington@tampabay.com

Twitter: @JeffMHarrington

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  1. Jeff Vinik, Joe Lopano talk about their $1 billion projects at Tampa Chamber

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — It's not often the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce can tout a "surprise" guest speaker at its annual lunch who pledges to invest $1 billion in a local project creating thousands of jobs.

    Let alone a pair of speakers, each with their own billion-dollar project on the table.

    Tampa Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano fit the bill Thursday, telling a sell-out crowd of 800 inside the Tampa Convention Center about their mega-projects. ...

  2. Restored relations with Cuba could have major impact on Tampa Bay

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — News that the United States plans to ease some travel restrictions and restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba — the biggest movement toward normalization with the Communist country in a half-century — impacts few places more than Tampa Bay.

    This is home to one of the largest Cuban-American populations in the nation. And thanks to Port Tampa Bay, it is arguably best positioned to become a top trade conduit with Cuba, as well as a travel hub....

    Lagui Leyva rolls a cigar at Tabanero Cigars in Ybor City on Wednesday. A lifted trade embargo with Cuba would make Cuban cigars available, likely bringing competition for U.S. companies.
  3. Universal Health Care trustee trying to recoup payouts

    Banking

    Before Universal Health Care declared bankruptcy last year, it spent more than $1 million on personal expenses of founder Dr. Akshay Desai including charitable donations and political contributions.

    Now recipients of that largesse are "potential targets" of a bankruptcy trustee seeking to recoup at least some of the money, according to a recent filing in federal bankruptcy court in Tampa....

  4. Progressive buying majority stake of St. Petersburg's American Strategic Insurance

    Banking

    St. Petersburg-based American Strategic Insurance, a homeowners insurance company quickly expanding nationwide, is going with the Flo.

    American Strategic, or ASI, is being bought by Progressive, the fourth-largest auto insurer in the country perhaps best known for commercials featuring its perpetually perky spokeswoman, Flo.

    Under a deal announced Tuesday, Progressive is initially paying $875 million in cash to increase its stake in ASI's parent company, ARX Holding Corp., from 5 percent to a controlling 67 percent. Over six years, it plans to buy the rest of the company to bolster its property insurance business, challenging rivals like Allstate that bundle home and auto policies....

    “We’ve been working with Progressive for years and have achieved a great deal together,” says John Auer, CEO of American Strategic Insurance. The St. Petersburg homeowners insurance company, which is quickly expanding nationwide, is being bought by Progressive, the fourth-largest auto insurer in the country.
  5. Tampa's WellCare Health Plans names new CEO

    Corporate

    TAMPA — WellCare Health Plans has named president and chief operating officer Kenneth A. Burdick as its new CEO, effective Jan. 1.

    He replaces David J. Gallitano, a WellCare board member who has been acting CEO for more than a year. Gallitano remains WellCare's nonexecutive chairman of the board.

    The Tampa managed care provider, one of Tampa Bay's biggest public companies, has been without a permanent leader since November 2013, when then-CEO Alec Cunningham was ousted. ...

    Kenneth A. Burdick
  6. Florida still No. 1 for mortgage fraud, but improving

    Banking

    For the fifth straight year, Florida is holding on to its unwanted crown as the mortgage fraud capital of the country.

    Florida suffers from more than five times the expected rate of fraud based on its volume of new mortgage loans in 2013, according to a fraud index released Monday by LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

    That's far worse than the second-worst state on the list, Nevada, which has slightly more than two times its expected rate of fraud. Rounding out the five worst are New Jersey, Arizona and Illinois. ...

  7. Economic indicators show Florida is back, but not all is rosy

    Business

    Remember way back in early 2007, before the Great Recession wrecked the party? That rosy era of percolating retail sales, rising consumer confidence and surging stocks.

    At least by some economic measures . . . we're back.

    The latest dose of encouragement came Friday: The consumer sentiment index by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan zoomed up 5 points in mid December to reach the highest point since February 2007. The news follows a robust 5 percent jump in retail sales in November compared to a year ago, aided by an early spree of holiday shopping. ...

  8. Tampa Steel to expand local headquarters, add jobs

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Tampa Steel Erecting Co. is expanding its headquarters, marking the third announcement of an infusion of higher-paying jobs in Tampa Bay in as many days.

    The steel erector fabricator is investing $3.5 million in a 34,000-square-foot addition and plans to add up to 39 new manufacturing jobs with an average wage of $54,000, local economic development officials said Thursday.

    "Our focus on steel bridge construction continues to pay off, and the major contracts that we're securing across the country as a result are fueling our growth and enabling us to create more jobs here," Tampa Steel president Robert Clark Jr. said in a statement....

  9. Cognizant adding 400 jobs in Tampa expansion

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Cognizant is roughly doubling its Tampa operations, pledging to add more than 400 new jobs and invest about $5.7 million here over the next four years.

    The information technology and consulting business currently has more than 900 employees throughout Florida, half of them based in Tampa. With headquarters in Teaneck, N.J., Cognizant has nearly 200,000 employees worldwide.

    Gov. Rick Scott announced the decision Wednesday afternoon, saying it means "400 more Floridians will be able to get a great job and provide for their families, which is a big win for Florida."...

  10. Florida, Arizona poised for surge of home buying baby boomers

    Real Estate

    Times Staff Writer

    Three Florida metros are among the top 10 markets likely to see an influx of baby boomer home buyers, the National Association of Realtors predicts.

    Tampa Bay didn't make the top cut, but it isn't far behind.

    Fort Myers, Orlando and Sarasota all rank in the top 10 among attractive markets for aging home buyers, according to research released Wednesday by the Realtors' group. Boise, Idaho, and Raleigh, N.C., were standouts. Rounding out the top group, which were not ranked in order, were Albuquerque, N.M.; Denver; Greenville, S.C.; Phoenix; and Tucson, Ariz....

  11. Report: Florida job growth fell 'significantly' in November

    Business

    Florida's job growth tumbled "significantly" in November, sliding more than 30 percent from the number of private sector jobs created in October, according to a report released Wednesday.

    Payroll processing company ADP estimated that Florida added 13,900 nongovernment jobs in November, down from 20,500 a month earlier.

    "In something of a surprise, New York was the only one of the large states with job gains greater than October," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute. "Gains in Texas were roughly flat, while jobs added in California and Florida were down significantly."...

  12. Citizens Property Insurance revamps criticized program

    Banking

    Reacting to harsh criticism, Citizens Property Insurance is revamping the way it pushes homeowners policies into the private market.

    The move comes a month after a Tampa Bay Times article detailed consumer complaints over how state-run Citizens was letting private insurers take policies out. Under the program, policyholders who are selected for a "takeout" have to fill out a form to opt out or their policy is automatically shifted to a new company....

  13. New York firm iQor moving its international headquarters to St. Petersburg

    Economic Development

    ST. PETERSBURG — A New York company with more than 32,000 employees worldwide is moving its international headquarters to downtown St. Petersburg.

    More than 100 employees of iQor U.S. are expected to move into three floors at the Tower at One Progress Plaza, 200 Central Ave., in January, the global outsourcing company said Tuesday.

    The news is a major score on several levels for economic development efforts: Not only does it retain and create high-wage jobs topping $84,000 on average in St. Petersburg, but it makes the city home to another multinational company, one that boasts more than $1.5 billion in annual revenues with locations in 17 countries....

  14. Tampa's Citi operation heralded as a top job creator

    Banking

    The Tampa operation of Citi was recognized as a top job creator Monday by Gov. Rick Scott. In a brief ceremony, Scott, at right with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, named Citi site president Gregg Morton a jobs ambassador, noting the company's 10 percent growth in Tampa in the past 10 months. The financial services giant — which employs about 5,700 workers in Tampa — has added about 700 employees in the past year....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn had the crowd laughing after he joked that he did not have a medal for Gregg Morton, site president of Citi’s Brandon campus, but he could have Morton’s water turned off. This came after Gov. Rick Scott, right, put a jobs ambassador medal on Morton for his efforts with Citi to bring jobs to the area. The event was held at Citi’s Brandon Campus on Monday morning.
  15. Ex-CEO of Pinellas Federal Credit Union admits taking bribe

    Banking

    The former president and CEO of Pinellas Federal Credit Union has acknowledged accepting a bribe from a company providing identity theft protection services in a plea agreement filed in federal court in Tampa.

    Linda Reynolds-Sienkiewicz admitted soliciting a $21,000 payment in a February 2010 meeting, according to court documents that did not directly name the company furnishing the money....