12/03/13 Economic Development
James Hardie, an Irish manufacturer of fiber cement siding, plans to invest $80 million in an expansion of its Plant City operations that will create 100 new jobs by 2015.
"This is an exciting time for James Hardie in both Plant City and around the world," Ryan Sullivan, south division general manager for James Hardie, said Tuesday. "This process expansion underscores the importance of our local workforce and its ability to meet our customers' needs, and build upon James Hardie's innovative legacy that began in 1888."...
Tampa-based American Momentum Bank has filed plans with regulators to move its headquarters to College Station, Texas, in order to seize on potential acquisitions there.
"We believe that Texas has a number of attractive acquisition opportunities and as a Texas state-chartered bank, we would be able to negotiate those Texas acquisitions more effectively," Sam Davis, the bank's president and chief operating officer, said Monday....
A Brevard County Circuit Court judge has issued a temporary injunction against several companies that were allegedly taking investor money under the false premise of selling federally insured certificates of deposit.
The injunction was issued against First Merchant Capital LLC, Capstar Industries LLC, Southeast Mutual Insurance and Investment, Donald Ray Babb, Ralph V. Ruth and Catherine Ruth, state regulators said Wednesday....
Fewer homeowners insurance policies, higher rates, cutbacks in coverage and another year spared major storm damage.
Put it all together and Citizens Property Insurance closes the hurricane season this week sitting on nearly $7 billion in reserves to place it in "the best financial shape ever," president and CEO Barry Gilway says.
One big reason for the improvement: The state-run insurer, which covers those who cannot find coverage in the open market, has steadily pushed policies back into the private market to Florida-based insurers. ...
11/26/13 Personal Finance
Consumer confidence among Floridians is on the rise, rebounding from a dismal reading the month before when the federal government shutdown was fueling pessimism.
The University of Florida survey released Tuesday found that consumer sentiment bounced back to a reading of 76 in November, up from a revised reading of 70 in October.
Chris McCarty, survey director within UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said a renewed optimism was expected "as the shutdown and debt ceiling debate came and went."...
11/22/13 Working Life
Florida is getting its economic swagger back.
For the first time in more than five years, its unemployment rate tumbled below 7 percent — all the way to 6.7 percent as it added nearly 45,000 jobs in October, more than any other state.
Tampa Bay had even more to boast about. Its unemployment rate fell to 6.4 percent in October, down nearly a full percentage point from three months ago to reach its lowest rate since May 2008. The region added 7,100 jobs last month and is up almost 40,000 over the past year, more than any other Florida metro....
11/21/13 Economic Development
GE bringing 263 jobs
CLEARWATER — As anticipated, General Electric is bringing 263 manufacturing jobs to Clearwater and spending $49 million to turn a current operation here into a national "Center for Excellence." The local GE subsidiary, Instrument Transformers Inc., has been at 1907 Calumet St. in Clearwater for 28 years and has 436 employees. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, who credited the city's tax exemption program for helping lure GE, said the news "shows that we can compete for high quality jobs." As the Tampa Bay Times first reported in September — when a decision was still pending — union members at the Fort Edward facility in New York blasted GE for proposing moving jobs to Florida as a wage-cutting move. GE said it also considered other sites in the United States and abroad. The Fort Edward plant makes electric capacitors — devices that store energy. The Clearwater facility currently makes low and medium voltage transformers. ...
Jabil decides to cut Hungary workforce
Jabil Circuit is cutting 670 jobs in Hungary in December, leaving the St. Petersburg-based contract electronics manufacturer with about 8,000 workers in the Eastern European country.
The company said the pullback was a direct result of its decision to sever its relationship with troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry, which was Jabil's second-largest customer after Apple....
Hillsborough County isn't yet ready to close the books on a happy and hectic year of job announcements.
Covidien, a $10 billion health care company based in Massachusetts, said it is opening a medical device manufacturing facility in Hillsborough, creating up to 165 new jobs.
Under the project detailed Thursday, Covidien pledged an $18 million capital investment by 2017.
"Covidien's decision to expand their medical device manufacturing footprint in the state is great news for Florida families," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "After our elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, job-creating businesses like Covidien are choosing Florida to expand and grow."...
11/18/13 Economic Development
Can you feel the surge?
Tampa Bay's economy ranks among the 20 fastest-growing metro areas in the country this year, and the momentum is expected to carry into 2014.
With a 3.2 percent growth rate, Tampa Bay came in 16th out of 363 metros, according to a U.S. Conference of Mayors analysis released Monday. It's expected to grow 2.8 percent next year.
That's not only better than any other Florida metro area, it counters an economic funk afflicting an increasing number of cities. ...
Paresh Patel was a semiretired tech guy in late 2006 when he decided to jump into something he admittedly knew nothing about: homeowners insurance.
The lure was the same one motivating many a contrarian investor: Everybody else was steering clear of selling property insurance in Florida after the hurricanes of 2004-2005.
"All the headlines said there would be no Florida insurance market left in five years," Patel said. "We thought there was an opportunity. … And that's how we got started."...
The Oldsmar complex of defense contractor Lockheed Martin is being spared from a corporate downsizing announced Thursday.
Faced with reduced government spending, Lockheed Martin is cutting 4,000 jobs, or about 3.5 percent of its workforce. A half-dozen plants from California to Pennsylvania are affected by the decision. Some work will be shifted to facilities in Denver and Valley Forge, Pa., and sites in Orlando and Oswego, N.Y., may also benefit from relocated programs, Lockheed said. ...
Sweetbay Supermarkets plans to lay off 346 employees at its Tampa headquarters and Plant City distribution center amid the grocery chain's pending sale to Jacksonville-based Bi-Lo Holdings.
In a layoff notice filed with state officials Wednesday, Sweetbay said it intends to permanently close both its corporate office on Sugar Palm Drive and its distribution hub on Jim Johnson Road "on or after" Jan. 1....
11/12/13 Real Estate
One of Clearwater's most opulent mansions and at one point the priciest home listing in the Tampa Bay market has sold at a big discount.
Christine Barsema's home in Harbor Oaks — a 15,000-square-foot Mediterranean estate — sold for $8.5 million, or roughly two-thirds of its listing price of $12.9 million, according to My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service.
Barsema, the founder of K-9 Detectives, which provides detection dogs capable of sniffing out termites, mold and drugs, built the Druid Road palace in 2003. Nestled on a 2-acre coastal spread, the marble-floored complex includes seven full bathrooms, five bedrooms, a Depression-era theater, fitness room, dog run and "gentleman's den" paneled with rare hardwoods....
Walter Investment Management Corp. is facing probes from two federal agencies, the Tampa-based mortgage firm disclosed in a regulatory filing.
The company said it received a subpoena Oct. 2 from the Office of Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development seeking information on curtailed interested payments on loans serviced or sub-serviced by Reverse Mortgage Solutions. Walter, which bought RMS in 2012, said it is responding to the subpoena and does not have sufficient information to assess the impact of HUD's investigation....