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....
TAMPA — Walter Investment Management Corp., a mortgage banking business and one of Tampa Bay's 10 largest public companies by revenue, on Thursday morning reported sharp losses for the fourth quarter and all of 2014. The company also provided more details on earlier disclosures that it was under investigation by multiple federal and state agencies.
The 6,700-employee company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it is facing "increased scrutiny and potential enforcement actions by federal and state agencies, including a pending investigation by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and a pending investigation by the Department of Justice and HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development)."...
Jeff Vinik's personal pitch for Tampa is beginning to reach a national audience.
Leveraging his past Wall Street credibility, Vinik used a TV interview Wednesday morning on CNBC to tell a bigger world that Tampa is an "undervalued" asset. He urged businesses to visit and appreciate its new opportunities — and weather.
That's a powerful message to an elite business audience from an individual whose past success as manager of the Fidelity Magellan fund back in its heyday gives Vinik a strong bond with listeners....
There's public reality. And then Duke Energy reality.
The country's biggest power company, the parent of Duke Energy Florida, invoked a classic PR move last week by issuing a news release at 4:20 p.m. on a Friday, shortly before the end of the workweek.
That timing often signals something bad has happened that the culprit hopes will get ignored in the weekend crush.
Duke's release said it has reached a "proposed agreement with the U.S. government" that, if approved, would "close a federal investigation" of three Duke subsidiaries related to the Dan River coal ash spill (near the North Carolina-Virginia border) and ash basin operations at other North Carolina coal plants....
02/20/15 Working Life
Historic or horsefeathers?
What should we make of Wal-Mart's decision last week to raise its minimum hourly wage for 500,000 employees? Is this a belated decision to improve the lives of low-paid workers? A white flag to the increasing national labor calls to boost low wages in America?
Perhaps it's an inevitable attempt to remain competitive as the economy gathers steam and workers see more options of where to work. Or is this Wal-Mart blowing smoke, announcing what is in effect a cheap public relations ploy that — for a company approaching a half trillion dollars in annual revenues — won't make much difference?...
Publix Super Markets, the Florida juggernaut of the grocery industry, was toppled from its No. 1 national industry ranking for the first time by two supermarket chains, says a report released Wednesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI.
Trader Joe's, which just opened its first store in St. Petersburg, tied with an upstate New York-based grocery chain called Wegmans at No. 1. Wegmans, which operates from Massachusetts to Virginia, has been on a tear recently, beating out such exalted brands as Apple, Costco and Amazon to take the top spot in a recent Harris Poll measuring corporate reputations....
Talk about striking while the winter is frigid.
The volume, variety and sheer creativity of current advertising by various regions of Florida to woo visitors here is at max volume amid wretched weather conditions up North. Kudos go to Pinellas County's millennial-focused guerilla marketing strike last week when actual snowmen appeared on the corners of downtown streets in New York and Chicago urging chilled locals to head south....
The New York money center bank Citigroup, already a powerhouse employer in this market, is considering a plan to add up to 1,163 jobs averaging a hefty $75,000 and $90 million in capital investment at its Sabal Park campus near Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County.
It's not a done deal. Citigroup has other locations where it could place such high-paying jobs, which involve work in accounting, legal, human resources and operational support. The deal here depends on whether state and local authorities can agree on an incentive package of just under $15 million — and whether Citigroup finds a better deal elsewhere....
02/13/15 Economic Development
Anybody like LiWoPla, which is a compression of Live, Work, Play?
How about Via Kiniv (Vinik spelled backward)?
Perhaps the more historic and stately the Garrison? Or keep it familiar with just Channelside?
Readers, lots of them, of the Tampa Bay Times have spoken … and called, emailed and written me in recent weeks to offer some very diverse ideas of what to call Jeff Vinik's bold $1 billion redevelopment of some 40 acres of downtown Tampa. The project encompasses the city convention center to the west, the entire neighborhood surrounding the Amalie Arena and runs east along the waterfront to include the retail shopping area known as Channelside Bay Plaza, near the cruise ship terminal. ...
It's a bountiful time to run an executive search firm, if the large volume of "interim CEO" positions across the Tampa Bay market is any indicator.
St. Petersburg's PSCU, a hefty credit union service organization, just got its own interim CEO this week.
The Tampa Bay Partnership's got an interim CEO.
Tampa wireless technology firm Syniverse is run by an interim CEO.
Even Hillsborough County's public school system has a new interim superintendent (which really is a CEO)....
After a perfect economic storm nearly swamped Clearwater's MarineMax, the nation's largest boat retailer is on the rebound — good news for a struggling recreational boat industry and a big thumbs-up for Florida's improving business climate.
The company's stock price that sank as perilously low as $1.44 in early 2009 and struggled in single digits for most of the next half decade now shows signs of robust recovery. ...
Tampa Bay's economy is pushing forward on an abundance of opportunities lately, even as one observer this past week publicized our chronic regional differences. Consider four recent and upcoming events:
1. Tampa Bay Startup Week: Tampa Bay Startup Week just wrapped up a series of events across the metro area aimed at building momentum for business startups and the entrepreneurs behind them....
So long, Verizon. Hundreds of thousands of Tampa Bay Verizon customers are about to meet a new service provider.
Verizon Communications said Thursday it will sell its TV, Internet and landline phone business in Florida, California and Texas to Frontier Communications.
The deal is valued at $10.54 billion. For 3,000 of Verizon's 10,000 employees in Florida, it means Frontier becomes their new boss when the deal is completed in early 2016. In all three states, 11,000 Verizon employees will join Frontier....