07/02/15 Real Estate
What would happen if "Tampa Bay" was trying to pitch itself as a compelling partner on Match.com? What would stand out? How could this place sell itself competitively when compared to the better-known and presumably more exciting Orlando, the tourism king, or Miami, the unofficial northern capital of Latin America?
What are Tampa Bay's drivers?
This is the crux of a recent conversation I had with Ryan Severino, senior economist and research director of Reis, a 35-year provider of commercial real estate information and analysis that monitors office vacancy trends across the country....
07/01/15 Economic Development
A company that has single-handedly transformed the Florida Panhandle from the Redneck Riviera to a land festooned with upscale second homes, beachfront communities and its own jet-capable airport is at it again.
St. Joe Co., once the largest private landowner in Florida, told shareholders at its annual meeting this week that it has the green light to build a vast "active adult" community to woo baby boomer retirees....
Consumers may continue to eat out about four times a week on average, but their dining satisfaction at full-service places is stagnating — and even falling among fast-food joints. Those trends suggest consumers are not likely to spend more money at restaurants even as the economy improves.
So concludes the findings of the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI, to be unveiled today, which ranks the consumer dining experience on a 100-point scale at both full- and limited-service restaurants....
06/26/15 Working Life
Florida rarely ranks at the top but never seems to end up last in work-related surveys. But in one new study, it is No. 1 among U.S. states or — depending on how you look at it — No. 50.
No other state matches Floridians for griping on Twitter about their jobs.
What's driving Florida workers to use social media to tweet so often about how they hate their jobs? Could it be the rise of so many mediocre or part-time jobs that have replaced better jobs lost during the recession? Is it the crummy wages and lack of raises that are pushing financially stressed Floridians to vent online? Or, perhaps, the kinds of jobs many Floridians have simply do not inspire loyalty, making it easier to accentuate the negative on Twitter. ...
06/24/15 Economic Development
Florida's faster economic growth help land it at No. 16 in CNBC's new 2015 ranking unveiled Wednesday of "America's top states for business." The Sunshine State scores a solid B+, just breaking into the top third of U.S. states but rising sharply from lower CNBC rankings in previous years.
The good news is Florida rose from a No. 20 ranking in 2014, a No. 30 ranking in 2013 and a No. 29 ranking in 2012 in the CNBC listings, which consider 10 economic factors in determining the annual pecking order. Florida's impressive gain in 2015 was driven by its stronger economy (ranked 11th in the country) but was held back by relatively low ratings in the "cost of doing business" (31st) and "quality of life" (32nd)....
06/23/15 Working Life
St. Petersburg electrical contractor Power Design and Tampa credit union Grow Financial made Fortune's first-ever national survey ranking the "100 Best Workplaces for Millennials."
At. No. 43, Power Design is cited by an "overwhelming majority" of young employees who say they feel a strong sense of responsibility without micromanagement. "The level of freedom that we have in the field is unmatched," one employee said. "This autonomy makes every thing that we do a personal achievement as well as a company one." Power Design also operates a 12,000-square-foot training center to offer employees 150 hours of training and mentoring each year on average, Fortune wrote. ...
Approaching the midpoint of 2015, here are six indicators to help explain the state of the economy in Florida and the Tampa Bay area:
That's the number of states whose latest monthly unemployment rates — including Florida's, to 5.7 from 5.6 percent — increased in May. If half of this country's states face rising jobless rates, is this the end of the rebound for jobs in America — and Florida? It's not the end. But any gains will get leaner at best — especially as the Federal Reserve draws closer to tweaking interest rates higher. Nine states and Washington, D.C., still saw their unemployment rates decline in May. The other 16 states were unchanged....
Tampa Bay businesses may bicker over any number of issues. But they will rally to support almost anything that impedes their ability to be as competitive as possible.
Which brings us to Florida preschoolers.
A fast growing number of states, from Alabama to Oregon, are investing in high-quality preschool education programs with the goal of making sure as many children in their states are reading at grade level by the end of third grade. That's the magic moment, experts say....
It's time for a redo in the hunt for a business dean to head USF St. Petersburg's Kate Tiedemann College of Business. The university's regional chancellor, Sophia Wisniewska, sent a "Dear Colleagues" memo Thursday afternoon to St. Petersburg faculty and staff saying the search for a new dean "has failed" and will need to start over.
"Although the final slate forwarded to the Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and to me included accomplished candidates, we did not find the one ideally suited to lead the College," Wisniewska said in her memo. "This summer, we will commence another national search for a suitable candidate for this critically important position."...
Twelve minutes drive north of downtown St. Petersburg sits the unremarkable headquarters of Jabil, the only visible sign of prosperity on most days being its packed employee parking lot.
In Tampa Bay, Jabil typically gets noticed as one more midsized tech employer of less than 2,000 local workers. The biggest curiosity is whether Jabil is still thinking about relocating its headquarters. Recent rumors hint of Jabil moving to U.S. 19 S, perhaps to or near the Ceridian office building, or to a location closer to the city core — perhaps near the Trop or even to some other site carved out of the heart of downtown. Not known for loose lips, Jabil has no comment on rumors....
How often does a major household-name U.S. corporation — No. 8 on the latest Fortune 500 ranking with a market value topping $273 billion — complain publicly about heavy taxes and suggest relocating its headquarters?
General Electric shocked the nation's economic development world this month when CEO Jeff Immelt announced GE needs to figure out if it's time to move its headquarters out of Fairfield, Conn., to a more tax-friendly state. The giant maker of everything from household appliances and lighting to aviation, transportation products and energy management employs 5,700 at its headquarters and more than 300,000 worldwide....
06/12/15 Economic Development
It's the wrong season to say so, but Floridians are getting a snow job about the state of our economy.
We're not faring well compared with many other states. And when stacked against the other big population states (California, Texas, New York and Illinois), the recent numbers are humiliating.
Of course, we do not hear such things from our Tallahassee elected. To them, our economy is a red-meat-rippin', pedal-to-the-metal powerhouse just aching to bust loose as the envy of the global market....
06/08/15 Personal Finance
With interest rates near rock bottom, unemployment down sharply and a Florida economy on the rise again, you'd think homeownership would be on the upswing.
My first home mortgage in 1984 was near 12 percent. Today's mortgage rates are closer to 4 percent and have been for years, a bargain price for home loans I never expected to see in my lifetime.
But cheap mortgages are not stemming the tide. Homeownership peaked in Florida in 2005-2006 at 72.4 percent of the population. It has been heading south ever since, falling under 63 percent in late 2014....
The annual Fortune 500 list of largest companies ranked by revenues was unveiled Thursday with some of the usual highlights. Wal-Mart is No. 1 (yawn). Facebook, barely on anyone's radar not so long ago, is rising like a banshee at No. 242. And World Fuel Services of Miami remains the largest Florida company by revenues at No. 68.
But here are 10 things you probably don't know about the nation's (and Florida's) largest companies....
06/04/15 Economic Development
In downtown St. Petersburg on Wednesday morning, it was once again standing room only for the weekly "1 Million Cups" gathering to hear local entrepreneurs pitch their business startup ideas.
On Thursday, the annual "Startup Bus" of local entrepreneur teams left Tampa, heading for Tennessee. They will build a startup from scratch en route and face off against other bus teams from around the country in Nashville....