04/20/15 Economic Development
Draper Lab, an MIT spinoff lured with much fanfare to expand to both Tampa and St. Petersburg in 2009, is shutting down most of its operations here, saying its initial plans to grow in Florida aren't working.
Draper's arrival in Florida six years ago coincided with a burst of premier medical and high tech research firms that included the likes of Scripps Research in Jupiter and SRI International in St. Petersburg. Their recruitments seemed to herald a new era both for Florida's high-tech image and for higher-wage jobs....
Regional leaders have spent several productive years building a better place for business startups, which led us to ask a range of area entrepreneurs: What's high on your wish lists?
Here are their top three needs:
1. Better regional branding: So that "Tampa Bay" or Tampa or St. Petersburg generate broader buzz and credibility as places to launch and nurture business startups....
04/16/15 Economic Development
Tackling the big kahuna of his business recruitment tour of Democratic-led states, Gov. Rick Scott visited California this week urging companies and West Coast ports to bring their business to cheaper, friendlier Florida.
"You have a beautiful state," Scott told the San Francisco Chronicle as he prepared to talk to about 500 business leaders in Southern California. "But if you look at our state and its successes, we're creating jobs and diversifying our economy," he said. "People are moving their money to Florida."...
Rather than sing another refrain of what really makes a Tampa Bay workplace a top workplace, let's do the opposite.
Here are four ways any area business can guarantee itself never to make this annual ranking of best workplaces, published every spring by the Tampa Bay Times in conjunction with the research firm Workplace Dynamics.
If you're keen to work for or run a mediocre company, if you want uninspired employees muttering "TGIF" (or worse) long before Friday arrives, if you love the extra cost and headache of constant turnover, or if you seek a CEO whose sole "mission" is to grab that paycheck and bolt, then this column is for you. ...
One helps health care businesses and hospital chains make sure patient data stays private. The other sets international technology standards to help train people to guard their organizations' information assets. ¶ Both Pinellas County companies made the latest Tampa Bay Times Top Workplace ranks. And both specialize in cybersecurity — perhaps today's hottest industry thanks to the rapidly rising information technology war of the "white hat" good guys against the "black hat" hackers....
CLEARWATER – At 87, legendary Major League Baseball scout Mel Didier not only can regale an audience with inside baseball stories that date to the 1940s. With the wisdom of age and sheer energy, he can also inspire workers. That's why he was back, again, speaking last month about the 10 steps to success — "without integrity, the other nine don't matter" — to a packed company cafe of employees at FrankCrum....
Duke Energy suddenly says it wants to be pals. That's hard to believe, coming from the gold medalist in the "most oppressive business to Florida consumers" category.
Earlier this month, Duke said it plans to install up to 500 megawatts of solar power in Florida by 2024, a proposal that in theory could more than triple the capacity of the Sunshine State.
A few days later, Duke offered a proposal to credit Florida customers $600 million. Those savings will result from Duke's proposed state amendment to allow utilities to issue bonds to pay for shutting down its failed Crystal River nuclear power plant....
Forget our slogan as the Sunshine State. When it comes to measuring Florida's sense of "well-being," this is clearly the Mixed Bag State.
In new surveys aimed at gauging the well-being of the nation's larger communities and all 50 states, Florida and its metro areas are surprisingly tops at some things, low on the ladder at others and smack dab in the middle overall.
Ranked No. 1 among the nation's 100 largest metro areas is Sarasota-Bradenton, followed by No. 2 "urban" Honolulu and No. 3 Raleigh, N.C., says a Gallup-Healthways survey. Yet just minutes north across the Sunshine Skyway bridge, Tampa Bay ranks a wimpish No. 81, not far above the survey bottom dwellers, Ohio's Toledo and Youngstown, No. 99 and No. 100, respectively....
Want proof that Florida can be celebrated for more than suntans and spring breaks?
Consider the seven innovators for 2015 just announced as inductees into the fledgling Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.
Sure, everyone will fixate on Henry Ford, one of the uber-familiar fathers of the American automotive industry and the first name listed among these magnificent seven inductees. Ford spent his later winters in Fort Myers as a neighbor, friend and sounding board on inventing with Thomas Edison, one of the inaugural year inductees last year to the hall of fame....
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....