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. VLOC to close Trinity plant, eliminating 55 jobs

    Working Life

    Optics manufacturer VLOC will close its Trinity manufacturing plant, idling 55 workers, the company disclosed in a layoff notice filed with state regulators.

    VLOC said the cuts would occur between Dec. 15 and the plant's closing date of March 31. Beyond the workers losing their jobs, 23 other employees at Trinity will continue to be employed at VLOC's facility in Port Richey.

    According to its website, VLOC provides optical solutions to the defense, security and aerospace industry....

  2. Tampa Bay auto dealers warn of delays to replace defective airbags

    Autos

    As service director at Toyota of Tampa Bay, Jason Faiella has endured his share of auto parts recalls. An email alert Tuesday morning from Toyota Motor Services convinced him this one was different.

    Problem one: Faulty airbags installed in more than 14 million vehicles from 11 automakers worldwide could be at risk of rupturing, particularly in humid climates like Florida.

    Problem two: The email warned there was a shortage of parts to replace the faulty airbags, which were made by Japanese auto supplier Takata....

    After federal safety regulators on Monday took the unusual step of urging owners of more than 5 million vehicles to “act immediately” to get the airbags fixed, consumers swamped dealers and regulators Tuesday with questions. 
  3. Triad Retail Media CEO steps down

    Business

    Greg Murtagh, founder of Triad Retail Media, is stepping down as CEO of the St. Petersburg company to pursue other opportunities.

    The company's president and COO, Roger Berdusco, has been named the new CEO.

    Murtagh, who will remain on Triad's board, said he wanted a change after a 10-year run at the online retail branding company and he was confident in turning the reins over to his longtime No. 2, Berdusco....

    Roger Berdusco, Triad Retail Media's president and chief operating officer, has been named the company's new chief executive.
  4. Survey: Florida second only to Texas as having best business climate

    Economic Development

    Florida came in second to Texas as having the best business climate in a new survey of corporate executives released Monday at the International Economic Development Council's annual conference. Texas easily trumped all comers, picked by 49.7 percent of 356 execs as having the best climate. Florida, with 18.1 percent of the vote, nudged out North Carolina, which has held the No. 2 spot for nearly a decade. Florida received high marks for its tax climate and "pro-business environment."...

  5. Roger Altman tells Tampa clients there's little to fear on the economic horizon

    Markets

    TAMPA — The gloom of a rugged couple of weeks on Wall Street hung heavy when famed financial adviser, investor and pundit Roger Altman rolled into Tampa last week.

    At 68, Altman has seen his share of financial turbulence in the markets. To him, the frantic trading that led to wiping away most market gains for the year is nothing particularly troublesome.

    None of the current ills plaguing Wall Street — not the persistently subpar recovery nor signs Europe could slip into another recession — made him fear that America's economic growth will be derailed from growing at a 3 percent clip or so for two or three more years....

    Roger Altman, right, then deputy Treasury secretary, talks to attorney John Kenny during a break in a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Whitewater controversy in 1994.
  6. Florida unemployment falls to new multi-year low of 6.1 percent (w/video)

    Personal Finance

    After being stuck in the same range all year, Florida's unemployment rate finally broke through in September to fall to a fresh, multiyear, post-recession low.

    At 6.1 percent, Florida's jobless rate is now at its lowest point since June 2008. But it's still shy of the U.S. unemployment rate of 5.9 percent, and stresses within the labor market remain — from stagnant wages to a glut of long-term unemployed....

  7. Stock markets drop sharply; volatility picks up

    Markets

    Ebola and ISIS and plummeting oil prices. Oh, and growing fear of a global economic slowdown.

    Oh my.

    Mix it all together and it led to another gut-wrenching, downward day on the increasingly tumultuous stock market. Markets recovered from a far steeper sell-off early in the day, but it still wound up being the fourth straight day of losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down about 400 points from the beginning of the year....

  8. Florida's 'sinkhole alley' homeowners struggle with insurance overhaul (w/video)

    Banking

    In the heyday of the Great Florida Sinkhole Lottery, Iris and Harry Irizarry would have had all the ingredients for a big cash payout:

    A sinkhole policy from state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.; visible cracking in the walls and floors of the Spring Hill home they bought new in 2003; and a sinkhole confirmed by both an engineer and the Hernando County Property Appraiser's Office.

    But the era of easy sinkhole claims is over, slammed shut by a 2011 overhaul of the state insurance law. Based on the new law, the same engineering firm that found the Irizarrys' sinkhole — and recommended that it be filled with grout — deemed that it wouldn't qualify for an insurance claim....

    A crack runs through the floor of Harry and Iris Irizarry’s home in Spring Hill. An engineer confirmed the presence of a sinkhole, but an overhaul in state insurance law has led to the retirees’ claim being denied and their homes’ value plummeting.
  9. New York firm IQor to close its Tampa location, cutting 107 jobs

    Corporate

    Layoffs

    Outsourcing firm to cut 107 Tampa workers

    IQor U.S., a New York-based outsourcing firm that acquired Jabil Circuit's aftermarket services business earlier this year, is closing its Tampa location, eliminating 107 jobs, mainly in manufacturing.

    The first round of layoffs will occur as soon as Dec. 5, with subsequent layoffs next year on Jan. 7, Feb. 1 and March 31, according to material the company provided to the state as part of a layoff notice filed Thursday. ...

  10. Florida ranks third in private-sector job growth despite decline, ADP report finds

    Working Life

    Jobs

    State job creation falls, but still third in U.S.

    Florida is creating fewer private sector jobs, yet it remains the third-biggest job generator in the country, according to a report from national payroll processing company ADP.

    Florida added 12,560 private sector jobs in September, down from more than 17,000 added each of the past three months. ADP, which uses payroll data to estimate private job creation, said Florida remains far behind Texas (up 29,400 jobs) and California (up 27,160)....

  11. Jobs report for September supports economic optimists — and pessimists

    Markets

    Are you an economic touter or economic doubter?

    Friday's national jobs report for September gave ample fodder for both groups.

    Pick your preference:

    Glass half-full

    1. The U.S. unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 5.9 percent, breaking the psychological barrier of 6 percent to reach the lowest mark since July 2008. A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those marginally attached to the labor force also fell and is now at 11.8 percent. It's part and parcel of an unexpectedly rapid decline in the jobless rate the last two years. Florida's unemployment rate for September comes out Oct. 17....

  12. Louisiana bank is buying Tampa-based Florida Bank Group

    Banking

    finance

    Louisiana bank to buy Florida Bank Group

    Louisiana-based IberiaBank Corp. announced Friday that it is expanding its Florida footprint through buying Florida Bank Group, one of the largest community banks with headquarters in the Tampa Bay area, with $524 million in assets.

    The cash-and-stock deal is valued at about $90 million.

    Florida Bank, based in Tampa and led by veteran banker Susie Martinez, has 13 branches, including eight in the bay area, three in Jacksonville, one in Tallahassee and one in Sarasota. ...

  13. Gordon assumes CEO post at Odyssey Marine Exploration

    Corporate

    Odyssey Marine Exploration president Mark Gordon has taken over day-to-day management of the Tampa treasure salvaging company in line with a planned transition announced in August.

    Gordon succeeded longtime chief executive and company co-founder Greg Stemm, who in turn has become chairman of the board, succeeding Bradford B. Baker. Baker is remaining on the board as a director.

    In a statement Thursday, Stemm said the management changes reflect "the broader, ongoing transition of Odyssey from an entrepreneurial business model to a more predictable revenue-generating entity."...

  14. Walter Investment stock falls to new 52-week low

    Markets

    Shares in Walter Investment Management fell 5 percent Tuesday, pushing the Tampa mortgage servicing company down to a new 52-week low.

    One of the top-performing Tampa Bay area stocks in 2012, Walter Investment slipped significantly last year and, so far this year, its shares are down 38 percent.

    Barclays assumed coverage of the stock Tuesday with an underweight rating. TheStreet Ratings team, which rates Walter Investment a "sell" with a D score, attributed the selloff to numerous factors, including "deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, poor profit margins, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself, and feeble growth in its earnings per share."...

  15. Florida consumer confidence rises to a pre-recession high

    Personal Finance

    What recession?

    Florida consumer confidence has inched back up to the highest level since April 2007, before both the Great Recession struck and the Mild Recovery began.

    The index, which is measured monthly through a University of Florida survey, rose in September to 83.

    "This is a welcome development given that consumer sentiment has been flat for the last few months," said Chris McCarty, director of UF's Survey Research Center. "While we are still about 10 points behind where we would like to be at this point in a recovery, confidence among Floridians is heading in the right direction."...