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....
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....
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....
09/15/16 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....
09/12/16 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....
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....
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....
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....
08/31/16 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....
Trigaux: Auditor PwC settles $5.5 billion lawsuit as Taylor, Bean mortgage fraud case enters eighth year08/29/16Banking
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....
08/26/16 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....
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. ...
08/19/16 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....
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)....
08/12/16 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....