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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, primarily working in Business news. He currently covers the economy, banking and insurance among other areas.

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 has been included in the Best Business Stories of the Year series.

Phone: (727) 893-8242

Email: harrington@tampabay.com

Twitter: @JeffMHarrington

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  1. Florida consumer confidence tumbles to lowest point of the year

    Personal Finance

    Floridians turned sharply more pessimistic in August, driving consumer confidence down to the lowest point of the year, according to a survey released Friday.

    The University of Florida's monthly index found consumer sentiment dropping 4.8 points to 88.2, with all five components that make up the index turning south.

    "Most of the pessimism in August stems from the perceptions of personal finance situation now compared with a year ago and the expectations of personal finance situation one year from now, as these two components account for more than three-quarters of the change in the index," said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research....

    Rising concern over personal finances helped drive down Florida consumer confidence to the lowest point of the year. [Getty Images]
  2. Shares in Tech Data drop as it misses Wall Street's quarterly expectations

    Science

    Tech Data Corp. fell short of Wall Street expectations for both sales and profits in the second quarter amid a global slowdown in IT spending.

    Shares in Tampa Bay's largest public company closed at $73.28, down nearly 9 percent.

    The global distributor of information technology products posted a quarterly profit of $46.4 million, down 39 percent from the year-ago period. That translated to $1.42 per share when adjusted for one-time gains and costs. Revenues for the period dropped 4 percent from a year ago to $6.35 billion. ...

    CEO Robert Dutkowsky says Tech Data remains encouraged.
  3. Gas prices are rising nationwide, reversing a long-standing trend

    Energy

    For the first time this summer, there's been a weekly rise in gas prices nationwide and a further upward push is expected.

    The average rose to $2.17 per gallon, up 4 cents versus last Monday, according to gas price tracker GasBuddy.com.

    Forty-four states, including Florida, saw average gas prices rise compared to a week ago.

    As of late Monday afternoon, GasBuddy's live tracker showed the average unleaded price in Florida at $2.15, up about 7 cents from Sunday's average and about 8 cents from a week ago. ...

    After an impressive downward run, gas prices have begun rising again.
[TImes file photo]
  4. Study: Orlando and Tampa rank as best cities for retirement

    Personal Finance

    Orlando and Tampa pulled the equivalent of a gold and silver in financial planner website WalletHub's annual ranking for the best places in the country to retire.

    Orlando ranked tops among 150 metros ranked and Tampa was second, with both aided by the combination of a less expensive cost of living and a wide range of recreational offerings.

    Florida fared well overall, notching four of the top seven spots. In addition to Tampa and Orlando, Miami ranked fourth and Cape Coral seventh. St. Petersburg ranked 21st....

    Orlando's attractions, such as SeaWorld, helped the area secure a survey's top ranking as a retirement destination. Tampa came in second.
[Associated Press file photo]

  5. Q&A: Business task force leaders argue for a Florida workers' compensation fix

    Working Life

    Persistent fears of an economic slowdown, a turbulent political season and now Zika are all nagging employers statewide.

    But there's a less-publicized concern that the Florida Chamber of Commerce warns could strangle small businesses, dampen investment and cause Florida's jobs recovery to stop in its tracks: a spike in workers' compensation rates.

    The first domino comes Tuesday: State insurance regulators are holding a public hearing in Tallahassee on a request by the leading group for workers' comp insurers to raise rates statewide nearly 20 percent starting in October. Much of that is tied to a Florida Supreme Court decision in April that declared a mandatory cap on attorneys' fees for such cases was unconstitutional....

    Debbie Harvey of Ron Jon Surf Shop and Steve Knopik of Bealls co-chair the Florida Chamber group trying to get a cap reinstated on attorneys’ fees in workers’ comp cases.
  6. Report: Florida trailed only California in adding private jobs last month

    Economic Development

    Florida added a relatively strong 16,400 private-sector jobs last month, indicating it continues to outpace much of the country's economic growth, according to a report released Wednesday.

    Only California (up 27,900 jobs) outperformed Florida, the ADP Regional Employment Report said.

    The Sunshine State improved slightly from June with the majority of jobs, as is typical, in the service-producing sector. ...

  7. Tampa's Walter Investment Management picks new CEO amid higher losses

    Corporate

    Shares of Walter Investment Management Corp. surged Tuesday as the struggling Tampa-based mortgage company tapped an executive with Citi as its new CEO.

    Walter's stock closed up 19 percent — after jumping more than 35 percent during the day — even though the company said net losses for the quarter ended June 30 were up sixfold to $232.4 million, or $6.49 per share, compared to a net loss of $38.1 million, or $1.01 per share, a year earlier....

    Anthony Renzi
  8. BlueGrace Logistics plans to hire up to 700 in Tampa Bay, tapping $255M equity infusion

    Economic Development

    RIVERVIEW — BlueGrace Logistics is on the fast track to become a major Tampa Bay employer, feeding off a $255 million investment from New York-based private equity giant Warburg Pincus.

    Riverview-based BlueGrace, a 6-year-old transportation logistics company, is using the money to hire 500 to 700 employees in the next few years and will be on the hunt for a new, larger headquarters, possibly in downtown Tampa....

    Bobby Harris is CEO of Riverview-based BlueGrace.
  9. Remember the flood insurance scare of 2013? It's creeping back into Tampa Bay and Florida

    Banking

    Three years ago, Tampa Bay was roiling over massive flood insurance rate hikes. Home sales in some neighborhoods literally stopped. Real estate agents warned the market could collapse. Lawmakers held town halls and rallied from Tallahassee to Washington for help.

    Then Congress passed a temporary reprieve, and nearly all fears subsided. "It went from screaming loud madness to not even a whisper," said Robin Sollie, head of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce....

    In September 2013, members of a grass roots group called Stop FEMA Now rallied to protest the end of flood insurance rate subsidies under the Biggert-Waters Act.
  10. Report: Tampa among more affordable markets for renters to buy a home

    Real Estate

    Renters aiming to buy a home have come to the right place.

    Tampa ranks among the top 10 markets with the highest share of renters who can afford to purchase a home, according to a new analysis by the National Association of Realtors.

    The association estimates that 38 percent of those renting in Tampa make enough to buy a house here, which ties this area with Columbus, Ohio, as the eighth-most-affordable market in the country....

    A new study shows that Tampa ranks among the more affordable metros for renters who want to buy a home.  [Associated Press file photo]
  11. Raymond James fights back in $350M Vermont fraud case

    Banking

    Raymond James Financial is striking back in a large fraud case over a failed $350 million ski resort and real estate project in northern Vermont tied to the Miami branch of the St. Petersburg-based brokerage firm.

    Raymond James — which previously agreed to pay a $5.95 million settlement to Vermont regulators in connection with the case — last week sued 21 people who had filed arbitration suits against the company with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority....

    Raymond James Financial is dealing with the aftermath of a large fraud case involving the financing of a failed $350 million ski resort and real estate project at the Jay Peak Resort in Vermont.
[New York Times file photo]
  12. Florida consumers turn sharply more optimistic in July

    Personal Finance

    Who is worrying about Brexit? Or turmoil over the presidential election? Or predictions that the prolonged economic recovery may soon fizzle into a recession?

    A survey released Friday by the University of Florida indicates such concerns have lessened in Florida, with consumer confidence rising sharply in July to the second-highest level over the past year.

    The new reading of 93.7, which reverses three months of declines, is up four points from June. ...

    Pop superstars Beyonce and Jay Z rented this Davis Islands bayfront home in April while she prepared in Tampa for her Formation Tour; it's now listed at $3.695. Photo courtesy of Coldwell Banker.
  13. Tampa Bay gas prices falling below $2 a gallon — and then some

    Energy

    Gas prices typically spike in the summer, and with travel this month pushing record levels, you'd expect more of the same.

    Well, throw that trend out the car window.

    Early Thursday morning, average unleaded gas prices in the bay area slipped below the symbolic $2 a gallon threshold to hit $1.997 — with anticipation of falling even further in coming weeks, according to market tracker GasBuddy....

    Average gas prices in the Tampa Bay area fell to $1.997 a gallon Thursday, according to market tracker GasBuddy, the lowest summer price in 11 years. Some analysts predict prices could fall to $1.75, or even $1.60, by the end of the year.
  14. Scam-central Florida leads country in credit card fraud

    Personal Finance

    Florida doesn't have to worry about losing its reputation as a haven for scamsters and fraudsters of all stripes.

    With nearly double the rate of credit card fraud complaints nationwide — and a 130 percent leap in complaints just since 2011 — Florida is retaining its crown as the credit card fraud capital of the country for the second year in a row.

    That dubious distinction comes from a new analysis by consumer research site Value Penguin based on complaints filed to the Federal Trade Commission over the past 10 years....

    Despite the shift to new chip-enabled credit and debit cards to thwart large data breaches, some experts think credit card fraud will increase with a rise in online fraud. [File photo: The New York Times]

  15. EverBank, the largest Florida-based bank by deposits, in 'advanced negotiations' to sell

    Banking

    Jacksonville-based EverBank Financial Corp., the largest bank based in Florida by deposits, confirmed this morning that it is in advanced negotiations" to sell itself to an undisclosed bidder.

    The prospective buyer is considering paying $19.50 a share along with payments to holders of preferred stock, EverBank said in a statement.

    "There can be no certainty that these negotiations will result in a definitive agreement or that the terms will not vary from those currently under discussion or that the review of EverBank Financial Corp's other strategic alternatives will result in any action," the statement said. "The company does not intend to make any additional comments or statements regarding these matters until such time, if at all, that it has reached a definitive agreement for a transaction."...