Amid a heightened economic pulse, the Tampa Bay market is experiencing an exciting inflow of fresh business talent from afar and reinvention by locals. This column introduces (and reintroduces) readers to four folks, a representative sampling of the many people offering new ideas and agendas for the regional business community.
Let's see what they will be up to in the coming months.
04/28/16 Economic Development
That's three strikes on mass transit. Did Tampa Bay just whiff on a top goal sought by the business community?
In 2010, the Moving Hillsborough Forward mass transit tax initiative was soundly defeated by voters in the midst of a recession. Strike one. In 2014, 62 percent of Pinellas County voters said no to the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum, nixing a higher sales tax to expand bus service and build a 24-mile light rail system. Strike two....
Remember the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? BP sure hasn't forgotten, given that by this month's six-year anniversary, the giant oil-exploration company has paid out $56 billion in costs related to the spill.
That's $25.5 million spent on average every day by BP since the spill in April 2010. And it's not over yet.
The additional expenses looming aren't BP's only concern. By this fall, the entire oil spill nightmare will be reintroduced to the public, thanks to a Hollywood movie titled Deepwater Horizon starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson about what is billed as the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history and worst environmental disaster so far of the 21st century....
Two major Florida chambers of commerce said Monday they may merge, explaining they can solve more regional issues at lower costs if they operate as one organization.
Not to worry, Tampa Bay. That level of cooperation and strategic thinking? It's not happening here.
The two chambers talking merger are the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. Both chambers issued releases Monday explaining their reasons to explore combining their resources....
One of the few remaining newspaper chain giants, Gannett Co. — owner of USA Today and more than 100 other media properties — on Monday offered $815 million to buy Tribune Publishing, whose assets include such major papers as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune as well as the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
If completed, the proposed acquisition would make Gannett the largest operator of newspapers by circulation in Florida....
04/22/16 Economic Development
Green benches? Begone. God's waiting room? Forget it.
The aging images and outdated perceptions of St. Petersburg are so pathetically passe that they are practically banned in conversation among economic development and business leaders in the city.
After all, this is 21st century downtown St. Pete, a vibrant and hip melange of waterfront living and public parks, creative artists and innovative museums, rising entrepreneurial activity, university learning and Johns Hopkins-branded medical research. This is a city energized by diverse nighttime entertainment, foodie fare and craft beer, multiple sports teams, high-end condos and frenzied apartment building, and the fresh possibilities of an 80-plus-acre swath around Tropicana Field about to get an urban redo with a big emphasis on urban innovation....
04/22/16 Real Estate
A bold plan to build a new town in southwest Florida designed to run on solar power — sidelined by the recession a decade ago — hit the restart button Friday morning with a celebratory event announcing Babcock Ranch is back in business.
Located between Fort Myers and Punta Gorda and east of Interstate 75, Babcock Ranch is expected to grow to 20,000 homes ranging from $250,000 to $900,000 and include a downtown with commercial space and extensive infrastructure emphasizing the ecosystem and sustainability. In sheer land size, the project has been described as 500 acres bigger than the mammoth Lakewood Ranch community in Manatee County, and more than 3,000 acres larger than Manhattan....
Just when you think it's safe to build a big rental car facility at the next-generation Tampa International Airport, changes in how folks choose to get around beg the question:
Are we planning for yesterday?
A new study out Thursday that tracks transportation choices by U.S. business travelers finds that travel by Uber, the ride-hailing startup, has surpassed rental cars. Uber accounted for 43 percent of ground transportation transactions, while rental cars had 40 percent. Led by Uber and Lyft, ride-hailing services surpassed rental cars for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2015 and have since widened their lead....
Here's a belated (and rare) Bravo! to Tallahassee's elected leaders, regulators and lawmakers who combined their might to make life insurance companies do their job — after the industry proved so unaccountable for too long.
Under a bill signed into law last week, insurers must do more to locate the beneficiaries of policyholders who die.
Read that sentence again.
Insurers actually will have to look for folks designated to benefit from life insurance after the death of the policyholder. Better yet, the law is retroactive to 1992....
I've watched Wall Street firms for years vigorously fight rules that would require investment advisers and brokers to put customer interests ahead of their own wallets. It's proved a long, cynical and, at times, demoralizing experience.
Come on, people. Would you balk if doctors choose to give only "good enough" treatment rather than what best suits the patient?
It should be no different with money advisers....
Trigaux: Dollars are still lean but four Tampa Bay area firms win venture capital funding in first quarter04/15/16Business
Fourteen Florida companies tapped $856 million in funding during the first quarter of 2016, according to new data released this week, with four Tampa Bay startups winning $27.4 million, or just 3.2 percent of the overall funding.
Among the Tampa Bay companies, St. Petersburg software firm PowerChord won $10 million, followed by Clearwater security awareness firm KnowBe4 winning $8 million. Tampa biotech startup CBC Biotechnologies gained $7 million in funding and Tampa Internet search software firm SiteWit received $2.4 million....
To borrow a line from The Matrix, is ConnectWise "the one" — the "Neo" of technology firms that can break through to become that hugely successful company that helps legitimize Tampa Bay as a U.S. tech hotbed it so eagerly wants to become?
ConnectWise co-founder and CEO Arnie Bellini would be delighted if his fast-growing, 34-year-old private company stepped up and delivered. On Tuesday morning, speaking in Tampa at a "Diary of an Entrepreneur" series about area technology startups, Bellini says his company — with more than 750 employees and 100,000-plus customers operating in more than 60 countries — was considering going public....
04/08/16 Economic Development
Who says Florida's economic development engine is on the fritz?
Sure, legislators nixed a coveted $250 million incentive fund that Enterprise Florida, the state's job-recruiting arm, really wanted.
Okay, Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson warned that loss of incentives could cost Florida 50,000 jobs. Now he's leaving the agency after barely a year in office. It's unclear if he exits with a pat on the back or a kick in the pants....
Among the CEOs of Tampa Bay's larger publicly traded corporations, Mark Mondello of Jabil enjoyed the biggest paycheck of the past year, in addition to the greatest annual raise in compensation. In contrast, founder and CEO Paresh Patel of the property insurer HCI Group saw his compensation drop sharply from the year before, according to currently available data.
In a Tampa Bay Times check of prominent public companies based here, Mondello ranked tops in both total compensation — $10.5 million — but also in the increase — 62 percent — in his pay package from the prior year. Other big compensation gains were posted by CEO Bruce Lucas of Heritage Insurance, up 49 percent to $7 million, as well as CEO Bill McGill of recovering boat retailer Marinemax, whose compensation climbed 30 percent to $2 million....
04/08/16 Working Life
What nuggets of wisdom are hiding in the year's Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces report, a metrowide ranking of 100 top workplaces? This is the Times' seventh annual look at what some companies, big and small, are doing better than others in this area to instill in their employees a real sense of mission and a higher level of engagement than the typical working scene. In short, this report examines the good reasons to go to work and build a career....