03/27/15 Working Life
A significant if unexpected investor in one of Tampa Bay's larger publicly traded corporations just landed on the scene.
This is hardly your typical financial stake being taken in a promising area company. Rather, it is the result of a court-mandated settlement in a long-simmering divorce.
On one side is the company's founder and enigmatic, private CEO who wins employee kudos for leadership. On the other side is his former spouse, who caught the public's attention when she bought 14 Princess Diana dresses — shortly before Diana's untimely death — and took the dresses on a high-profile but ill-fated tour before landing in bankruptcy....
Talk about financial grand slams.
The average value of a major-league baseball team jumped nearly 50 percent in just the past year — to $1.5 billion. That's the biggest year-over-year increase since Forbes, which values pro sports teams annually, began tracking MLB team values in 1998.
On the eve of a new season, the good news is the Tampa Bay Rays saw its small-market franchise value rise in 2014 to $625 million. That's a respectable 29 percent bump in value in one year. Owner Stu Sternberg can't help but be happy that the team he bought 10 years ago for $200 million and subsequently improved dramatically has more than tripled in value....
Nobody wants to bungle a major project deemed fundamental to the Tampa Bay region's future health and standing as a metro area worthy of greater national attention. Let's just say that with so much on our plates these days, some important causes lack sufficient attention or — worse — suffer from way too many competing interests.
Do we simply lack the muscle for all this heavy lifting?...
If it's a winner, why switch?
The Tampa Bay Rays unveiled their 2015 advertising and marketing campaign Wednesday, opting to build upon the "Rays Up" message introduced last year. While the move offers continuity at the start of a season awash with new managers, coaches and players, it also signals how sharp and versatile "Rays Up" has proved to be.
The Rays traditionally like to surprise fans with a fresh ad campaign to kick off each new baseball season. Some ad pitches resonate more than others with fans, and Rays executives believe the "Rays Up" phrase — which can be interpreted so many ways to good effect — is worth investing in for another marketing cycle....
Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration, the treasure-hunting business whose bottom line can resemble the shipwrecks it is so good at finding, hopes to salvage its own future in a company overhaul.
Odyssey unveiled a complex financial deal that gives up control of the company to a Mexican iron and coal company. It's a sign of how precarious Odyssey's financial predicament has become.
Case in point: Odyssey on Monday said it lost $5.2 million in the fourth quarter, $26.5 million for all of 2014....
A new front is quietly raging in a lengthy war.
On one side: government and consumer groups that want investment advisers held to a higher standard designed to benefit clients. On the other side: Wall Street firms eager to sustain their cherished "good enough" standard of investing advice that has driven the gravy train of commissions for so many stock brokers.
Often at their clients' expense....
Cable TV times are a-changing, fast, in the Tampa Bay market.
On the heels of Verizon selling its FiOS TV, Internet and landline phone businesses in this metro area to Frontier Communications, we now hear Bright House Networks — the other major cable player here — might soon be bought.
News reports Thursday, citing unnamed sources, say Charter Communications, the fourth-largest cable service provider in the nation, has been in talks for months to acquire Bright House. Florida's second-largest cable provider, Bright House is owned by the Newhouse family run by billionaire Si Newhouse Jr., whose other major holdings include Conde Nast, the publisher of such major magazines as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Wired and The New Yorker....
TALLAHASSEE — Conservative political advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity on Tuesday criticized solar power as an energy source that requires incentives and subsidies but stopped short of opposing a ballot initiative that would allow those in Florida who generate electricity from the sun to sell it directly to others.
In emails circulated across the state, Americans for Prosperity, founded by David and Charles Koch, has criticized the initiative as a way of using "government and taxpayers to prop up the solar industry."...
Five prominent Tampa Bay area companies shed some light on their 2015 strategies, from expansion to revival.
Hugs for Brazil: Tampa's Bloomin' Brands has decided to push its Carrabba's Italian restaurant chain into the Brazilian market but will substitute the name Abbraccio in that country. The word means "embrace" or "hug" in Italian. Bain Capital Partners, best known as the private equity firm Mitt Romney once helped run, is unloading the remainder of its stake in Bloomin' — the parent of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's, Bonefish Grill and Fleming's — with a pending stock sale pegged at just over $450 million. Bloomin' CEO Liz Smith's compensation last year was a healthy $6.2 million, up from $1.9 million the year before but far below the $24.5 million she enjoyed in 2012. That's when Bloomin' went public after being held by Bain and some other firms....
The phrase rolls so easily off the tongue. Too easily, given new national statistics that show — right down to the metro area — that Florida remains by far the fraud capital of the United States. The state should be careful, lest it becomes Florida's involuntary brand.
Fourteen of the 50 U.S. metro areas with the highest concentration of fraud and related complaints are right here in this state. Among those 14: the Tampa Bay metro, which ranks No. 18 in the country. Also on the list are other big Florida metros, from Jacksonville and Orlando to Miami-Fort-Lauderdale-Palm Beach....
"Nerds love Orlando." So starts the Upshot column, headlined What Is The Next 'Next Silicon Valley'? and published Thursday by the New York Times.
The nerd pitch arrived at the New York Times in public relations materials from the city of Orlando. "But as Orlando seeks to rebrand itself as 'a high tech hub for innovation,' " the column says, "it faces a lot of competition."...
A New York economic consultant speaking last month to business leaders in Tampa tried to make a joke about all the "PMS" in the room — a poke at the dominance of "pale, male and stale" aging white guys in the audience. The humor fell flat but also rang true.
There's a tsunami of social diversification coming to the United States with the nation projected to be "majority-minority" by 2044....
Look out. Swagger is spreading.
Just when you thought that the recent regional outbreak of swagger fever had been confined to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and a few area economic development groups, a new case is emerging.
Meet the new, improved Tampa Bay Technology Forum, or TBTF.
Clearly, the regional confidence recently displayed by Buckhorn and area economic leaders — notably by Tampa Bay Lighting owner and real estate developer Jeff Vinik in his growing role as cheerleader for downtown Tampa's rebirth — has inspired TBTF to become a bigger player in shaping the regional economy....
02/26/15 Economic Development
Health care giant Johnson & Johnson, ranked 11th on Fortune's 2015 list of the world's most admired companies, is considering plans to invest up to $23.5 million to establish a "shared services headquarters operation" in Hillsborough County with as many as 700 jobs averaging at least $75,000.
The deal will depend on a state and county incentive package of taxpayer money to make Hillsborough competitive with other potential sites the company is said to be considering....
WHEN IT COMES TO A LEGACY, two-term Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature have a choice.
They can be remembered, sadly, as the political leaders who helped drive down the state unemployment rate from its double-digit nightmare — but left the state emaciated in the process, with a lots of poor-paying jobs and a diminished middle class.
Or they can be saluted, enthusiastically, as Florida's elected team that not only helped reduce unemployment but positioned the Sunshine State for a 21st century economy — one marked by a workforce enabled with skills to better compete for higher-wage work that could sustain a growing middle class....