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Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

Robert Trigaux

Robert Trigaux joined the Times as a business writer in 1991. In 2000, he began writing a business column three times a week. He served as business editor from 2005 to 2008, when he resumed his role as business columnist. While at the Times, he has covered a range of beats including banking and finance, technology, telecommunications, energy and economic development. He has received various awards for business writing, including two Green Eyeshades from the Society of Professional Journalists, a commendation for column writing from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and a first place in business columns from the National Association of Newspaper Columnists.

In the late 1970s, Robert started his business journalism career in New York writing for various business publications covering topics from technology to the furniture industry. At the American Banker, a daily national newspaper, he covered the financial industry in New York and London, then served for eight years as its bureau chief in Washington, D.C. He holds an economics degree from Colgate University.

Phone: (727) 893-8405

Email: trigaux@tampabay.com

Blog: Venture

Twitter: @VentureTampaBay

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  1. For sale? The latest hospital chain that owns St. Peters­burg's Bayfront Health needs a bailout

    Corporate

    Imagine a major downtown hospital aiding the sick and injured but owned by a series of health care corporations that are themselves seriously wounded.

    It makes no sense.

    Such is the plight of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, the city's historic hospital, which has been a key health care provider for more than a century.

    Independent several years ago, the nonprofit and financially pressed Bayfront in 2012 sought greater security by selling most of itself to a for-profit Naples hospital company called Health Management Associates....

    Community Health, which owns Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, pictured here, is being shopped to potential buyers. It would be the hospital’s third owner since 2012.
  2. Trigaux: Tech Data makes bold acquisition move while other Tampa Bay firms opt to sell out

    Business

    After watching too many major Tampa Bay corporations sell out to other businesses in recent years, it's a pleasure to see a few of the bigger companies still here pursue serious acquisitions of their own.

    Case in point: Tech Data Corp. The IT products distributor this week said it will pay $2.6 billion to buy Technology Solutions, a unit of Phoenix-based Avnet. The deal, Tech Data's largest, will boost the Clearwater company's annual revenues to $35 billion from $26 billion, bump its employees to more than 14,000 from 9,000 and push the business into 35 countries (including into Asia for the first time) from today's 21 countries....

    A Tech Data flag flies along with the State of Florida flag and the American flag outside Tech Data Corp. offices in Clearwater. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times (2012)]
  3. Trigaux: After so-so recovery from Great Recession, early signs of next downturn start to loom

    Business

    Is Tampa Bay heading for another recession? Of course it is. It's coming.

    Such is the Florida way of boom and bust.

    The key questions: when and how bad? It's almost certain to arrive in the first term of our next president. Recessions historically strike disproportionately near elections.

    And frankly, we're due. Though the next round should not be nearly as devastating as the last one of 2007-2009 — the worst since the Great Depression of 1929-1939....

  4. Tampa Bay is dead last in median household income among the nation's largest metro areas

    Working Life

    Alas, new and frustrating numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau cast a harsh light on Tampa Bay and other major Florida metro areas.

    We are poor. Thin of wallet and purse. Paycheck laggards. At least when it comes to the rest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Going forward, that makes it harder for Tampa Bay — a metro player that aspires to play in the Economic Big Leagues — to be taken as seriously as it would like on a national or even global stage....

    Tampa Bay's median household income is dead last among the nation's largest 25 metro areas. CHERIE DIEZ  | Times
  5. If Enterprise Florida loses taxpayer incentives, can 'free market' Florida still compete?

    Economic Development

    Job recruiting agency Enterprise Florida may be shriveling and senior state legislators want to gut its funding even more. But that sure isn't stopping a bumper crop of more than 90 candidates from throwing their hats into the ring to fill its empty CEO job and run the under-pressure organization.

    Be careful what you wish for. Enterprise Florida has had it nose bloodied on a number of fronts in recent years. Most recent CEO Bill Johnson fled in a hurry this past June after a series of poor political decisions involving no-bid contracts. Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, citing Enterprise Florida's failures, wants to strip the agency's taxpayer funding....

    Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, center, citing Enterprise Florida’s failures, wants to strip the agency’s taxpayer funding. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  6. Inc. 5000 hotshot: Clearwater firm brings tech savvy, interpreter skills to health care

    Business

    Who knew interpreting a foreign language could be so important and financially rewarding?

    A 5-year-old Clearwater company has carved out a powerful niche providing interpreter services to non-English-speaking patients and doctors in hospitals nationwide. The firm supplies live interpreters online at the press of a button, appearing on iPad or other tablets' screens at a patient's bedside to handle often-critical conversations with medical personnel. The company refers to this service as its "Uber-like app" because it efficiently routes a hospital's need for a specific interpreter through its Web-based system to the best available person....

    David Fetterolf, president of language access at Clearwater's Stratus Video, a telehealth company that ranked No. 66 on the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing U.S. companies based on revenues. The company grew 4,190 percent over the latest 3-year period. Photo courtesy Stratus Video.
  7. What's up at Duke Energy? Looks like its 2017 electricity rates, soaring above its peers

    Energy

    In the wizarding world of electric monopolies, arcane ingredients are mixed to conjure up their prices for electricity.

    I prefer to keep things as simple as possible.

    First, are their proposed rates going up (bad for customers) or down (good)? Second, are their rates higher, lower or at least reasonably competitive with some of their major utility peers that serve Central Florida?

    Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric and Florida Power & Light this week all filed new rate requests, based on their expected costs of fuels used to run their power plants. Once approved by the Florida Public Service Commission (and that's likely), the new rates would go into effect in early 2017....

     A look at Duke Energy's broken Crystal River nuclear plant in Citrus County in 2012. Duke's rates are slated to rise in 2017 under a fuel cost adjustment plan filed this week.  [DIRK SHADD   |  Times]
  8. Trigaux: Economic costs will spike if Florida's response to spread of Zika is too little, too late

    Business

    In the branding vacuum that many economic developers and marketers worry leaves the modern Sunshine State so undefined, there's a new danger. Florida soon could get tagged with an onerous brand not of its own making.

    The Zika State.

    I'm not saying this is a done deal. Not by a long shot. But events tied to the spread of the Zika virus are quickly accelerating. That suggests Florida may be losing control of its expensively marketed image as a primo tourist destination, a rising hot spot for business relocations and — potentially — as the future retirement mecca for millions of aging baby boomers....

    State officials announced Thursday they found the Zika virus in trapped mosquitoes in Miami Beach, a discovery that could hurt tourism in Florida.
  9. As Tampa Bay building boom swells, can supply of construction workers meet demand?

    Real Estate

    Within blocks of my writing this column at the Tampa Bay Times, downtown St. Petersburg remains a frenzy of block-long demolition (despite the rain) to make room for a massive mixed-use building, and a construction zone of multiple apartment buildings. A Hyatt hotel is rising along with the next tier of fancy condominiums promising waterfront glimpses in a crowded condo canyon.

    Tampa's reinvigorated downtown will soon feature the $2 billion cornerstone Vinik-Cascade project, while the Heights development will emerge just to the north along the Hills­borough River. Don't forget Tampa International Airport's massive, next-generation revamp....

    A Hyatt hotel under construction at Central Avenue and Second Street N in St. Petersburg, like many projects throughout Tampa Bay, could face a challenge as a national industry group warns of a looming shortage of construction workers.
  10. Trigaux: Auditor PwC settles $5.5 billion lawsuit as Taylor, Bean mortgage fraud case enters eighth year

    Banking

    In a Miami courtroom last Friday, defendant PwC settled a $5.5 billion lawsuit halfway through a six-week trial. At issue: the global auditor's alleged failure to catch a massive fraud in Florida that led to the sixth-largest bank failure in U.S. history.

    PwC (Pricewaterhouse­Coopers, as it was once called) served as auditor of Colonial Bank. The Alabama bank got in over its head in bad-news mortgage deals with an Ocala lender called Taylor, Bean & Whitaker. The firm ballooned from nothing into the nation's 12th-largest mortgage lender in the hands of Lee Farkas, a con man with a love for sports cars and corporate jets....

    Lee Bentley Farkas, former head of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, is serving a 30-year jail term for fraud.
[Marion County Sheriff's Office file photo]
  11. St. Petersburg gets burned again by a company reneging on promised headquarters move

    Economic Development

    Looks like St. Petersburg got left at the altar — again — but doesn't know it yet.

    In April 2015, a New York company called Twinlab Consolidated Holdings, a maker of wellness and bodybuilding supplements, announced it was moving its headquarters to the city's downtown. Twinlab committed to a long-term lease worth millions, taking two floors of downtown's First Central Tower — the "BB&T building" — on the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street....

    The Dome Industrial Park still awaits the reIocation of IRX Therapeutics from New York, and Twinlab has never shown up at First Central Tower downtown.
  12. For Bill Gates, Lou Pearlman and Donald Trump, a few notable days

    Business

    We're rapidly closing on September's two-year anniversary of real estate developer Jeff Vinik teaming up via the joint venture Strategic Property Partners with Cascade Investment LLC, the firm handling a big chunk of the billions owned by Bill Gates. SPP, of course, is leading the Vinik-Cascade charge to develop 40-plus acres around Tampa's downtown Amalie Arena and the nearby Channel District. ...

    Tampa’s downtown redevelopment is benefiting from some of Bill Gates’ $90B.
  13. Trigaux: The decline in homeownership in the Tampa Bay area needs to end quickly

    Real Estate

    The rate of homeownership — that cornerstone of middle class status and community stability — is hitting 50-year lows nationwide and continuing to fall in the Tampa Bay market years after the end of the last recession.

    Panic time? No, but this is a trend that needs to end, pronto. Owning your home is a dwindling dream for too many Americans. That's especially true for many who live and rent in increasing numbers in this metro area....

    Younger Americans risk being locked out of the ability to purchase a home. And that doesn’t bode well for the future of home sales in Florida.
  14. Led by PayKings, 73 Tampa Bay firms make 2016 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growers

    Business

    A 5-year-old Apollo Beach credit card processing firm called PayKings racked up a dazzling 7,905 percent growth rate, landing it as the 22nd fastest growing company in the country and tops in the Tampa Bay market, according to a newly released 2016 Inc. 5000 list.

    PayKings had revenues last year of $8 million and six employees, says Inc. Area companies closely trailing PayKings's formidable 3-year growth rate are The Penny Hoarder, a downtown St. Petersburg financial advice website, ranked No. 2 in Tampa Bay and No. 32 nationwide with 6,934 percent growth and $7.5 million in revenues last year. Right behind are three Clearwater companies: telecommunications firm Stratus Video (4,190 percent), Medicare insurance seller E-Telequote Insurance (2,909 percent), and online security provider KnowBe4 (2,528 percent)....

    The Inc. 5000 lists Clearwater digital security company KnowBe4 as one of the fastest growing companies in the region. In this photo, account manager Liz Dawson has a view of downtown, Clearwater Bay and the distant Gulf of Mexico from her office. Photo by Robert La Follette, Courtesy KnowBe4.
  15. Off to quick start in Tampa, EDC chief Craig Richard urges fresh branding effort for region

    Economic Development

    Craig Richard only arrived in Tampa in late June to take on the job of CEO of the job recruiting organization known as the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

    Yet he already has his family relocated from Atlanta to a new home. His wife, Verna, is starting a new job as a kindergarten teacher, and his sons are ready, respectively, for high school and middle school.

    Oh, yeah. He also has had a summer of whirlwind introductions to hundreds of area business and political leaders. He has enjoyed not one, but two, welcome receptions and already participated in a leadership retreat. Now, he's leaping into the EDC's strategic plan to pinpoint objectives out to 2020....

    Craig Richard, recently arrived CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., enjoys an exchange with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn at a reception for Richard in June.