12/11/13 Economic Development
Next week Robin DeLaVergne will be handed the title and substantial duties of chairing the 1,200-member Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce for 2014.
She joins a select handful of notable women in recent decades — Stella Ferguson Thayer, Gay Culverhouse, Rhea Law, Deanne Roberts and Judy Genshaft — who have chaired Tampa's chamber. Some of these women DeLaVergne considers her mentors. But none of them faced the breadth and complexity of leading the Tampa business group next year amid such diverse issues as building consensus for regional mass transit, workforce development, affordable health care expansion, support for veterans, forming stronger ties to Cuba, encouraging young entrepreneurs, and introducing recently relocated top executives to the wealth of assets of this metro area....
Starting a community bank in Florida used to be as common as pouring a glass of orange juice.
The number of banks based in Florida has dropped to a modern low, joining a national trend of U.S. banking institutions that are dwindling to numbers not seen since the Great Depression.
The last newly chartered commercial bank to open in Florida was in 2010. The last one in Tampa Bay was in 2007. Three or more years without a bank start-up in the state was unthinkable not long ago....
12/06/13 Working Life
Nijah Pretzer makes doughnuts for $7.99 an hour at a Dunkin' Donuts on E Busch Boulevard in Tampa. She says it's tough to support her two kids, 5 and 7, when an hour's pay barely covers two gallons of gas.
"They should pay us more," says Pretzer, 33, standing outside the shop waving a Higher Wages sign. "We work hard. I need to take a stand for my family."
That's why Pretzer was protesting early Thursday with about two dozen other fast-food workers and union and local supporters. They were a small part of a national fast-food wage protest largely driven by the Service Employees International Union. Their employment wish: a $15 hourly wage and a right to organize without retaliation....
Fast-food worker LaShonna-Kyrell Delgardo makes $8.30 an hour as the 3-11 p.m. shift leader at a Dunkin' Donuts in Tampa. Look for her early this morning as she joins fellow workers protesting for higher wages outside her shop on E Busch Boulevard.
"I want to go back to school, but I work awkward hours," says Delgardo, 28 and single parent of a 2-year-old daughter. "A raise would mean I would not have to work so many hours, so I could do that."...
To casual observers, Tom James will be remembered as the clever business executive who put his company's Raymond James name on the stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and into the homes of millions of TV-watching football fans over the years.
To those who know more about James, now 71 and chairman of the regional investment firm that bears his family name, he will be best recalled as one of the region's lasting economic leaders, a philanthropist and patron of the arts. ...
Florida says it wants 'jobs, jobs, jobs' but it really needs 'opportunity, opportunity, opportunity'
11/29/13 Economic Development
If you don't know where you are going, any job will get you there. That's the underlying message these days in Florida.
Much to the delight of the elected in Tallahassee, the state's unemployment rate continues to drop. That's thanks to more jobs, but also a worrisome trend of more people dropping out of the workforce.
Within Florida, Tampa Bay ranks high among the top metro areas for creating new jobs....
On Wall Street, it's said a rising tide hides many stumbles. When the economy tanks, the water recedes, and shabby bank practices are revealed for all to see.
Case in point: JPMorgan Chase, a colossus of a bank with a hard-to-grasp $2.4 trillion in assets. But this bank has played fast and loose for too long. As the largest U.S. banking company, its recent track record is disturbing and warrants scrutiny for several reasons....
One beauty of the Tampa Bay business community is that no one corporate superpower is here to set the tone or style of our regional workplaces.
The result is a treasure trove of innovative, challenging and supportive workplace gems in the area, from Spring Hill to Brandon, Plant City to the beaches and, of course, Tampa to St. Petersburg.
That's why I want to strongly encourage employees who think highly of where they make a living, who actually like to get up and go to work and who recognize quality in their leaders and innovation in their peers to nominate their companies for consideration in the fifth annual survey of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces....
How high can we go?
The Dow and S&P 500 hit new and notable records Monday, reviving a debate among nervous investors. Are the stock markets entering bubble territory? Is it too late for folks still on the sidelines to invest in stocks?
The answers, say some area financial advisers queried Monday:
No and no.
Continuing their bull runs Monday, the Dow topped 16,000 and the S&P rose above 1,800 — both records. By day's end, the Dow closed at 15,976.02 and the S&P at 1,791.53....
What are the storied names (good and bad), the powerful brands — the hometown icons — that folks outside Tampa Bay are most likely to associate with this region?
And what do all those icons say about us?
Taken together, they tell the world we are an entertainment capital. Certainly we are no Orlando with its Disney or Harry Potter draws. But we are a market full of professional sports teams and spring breakers, restaurant brands and a theme park, a museum and a freshly promised aquarium....
It's simple why I'm supporting Rick Scott. He campaigned on a platform of getting Florida's economy back on track and has delivered on that promise.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Nov. 12.
Can it be that simple?
Will Florida Gov. Rick Scott win re-election next November just by spending tens of millions of dollars reminding Floridians that the state unemployment rate was sky high when he took office and now it is not?...
Is Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration a looming shipwreck for investors?
Or is the treasure hunting firm a target of an ambitious short seller whose strategy is to dredge up bad publicity on a company and then profit on downswings in its stock price?
One thing is clear. Odyssey Marine is now in the cross hairs of a 20-something hedge fund manager named Ryan J. Morris. The founder of Meson Capital recently issued a 66-page report trashing the company, whose stock trades under the ticker symbol OMEX. The report's headline: Do Investors Know What Lies Beneath the Surface? ...
It should feel like a better economy is coming. The U.S. economy grew 2.8 percent in the third quarter and added more jobs nationwide than expected in October. But the good news is not enough to ease concerns among Tampa Bay executives.
Even as their companies post promising quarterly performances, many firms still feel they are clawing out of a recession that technically ended way back in June 2009....
11/05/13 Economic Development
Hillsborough County has pulled off another jobs coup.
Financial services giant USAA said Tuesday it will add up to 1,215 jobs by 2019 and build a 420,000-square-foot facility in Brandon to accommodate its expansion.
USAA, which serves military families, is investing $164.3 million in the facility, which will become the largest build-to-suit office project in Hillsborough County since 2001....
11/04/13 Economic Development
"Swagger" is hardly the word that comes to mind to describe a metro area known for an inferiority complex.
Well, times are changing.
Economic developers here recently adopted "Think Big" as a mission statement. And they have delivered with corporate recruitments and business expansions that this past year have promised more than 4,000 jobs for Tampa and Hillsborough County....