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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. Pummeled in 2016, HSN's Mindy Grossman looks for year of growth regeneration for shopping service

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — Like a lot of Americans, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman is happy to say goodbye to 2016. It was not the best of times for her home-shopping empire.

    HSN on Wednesday reported the TV, digital and catalog retailing company's performance for all of 2016 and its fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31.

    Net income plummeted 30 percent in 2016 from the prior year to $118.7 million, while fourth-quarter net income dropped 27 percent to $43.5 million. Net sales slipped 3 percent to $3.6 billion in 2016 from a year earlier, while dipping 2 percent in the fourth quarter to $1.07 billion from same quarter of 2015....

  2. United Way: 44 percent of Florida households, mostly working poor, struggle to meet basic needs

    Personal Finance

    For all the talk of an economic rebound in Florida, there's a big problem that too often stays out of the state's spotlight.

    More than 4 of every 10 households in Florida — 3.3 million of the state's 7.5 million households — are struggling to make ends meet. That 44 percent includes not only the 14.5 percent of households that earn less than the federal poverty level but another 29.5 percent of Florida households that are part of the working poor. These are folks ranging from fast food workers, the bulk of tourism industry employees, home health care workers and even certain teachers who find their modest paychecks still make it tough to meet basic needs....

    More than 4 of every 10 households in Florida - 3.3 million of the state's 7.5 million households - are struggling to make ends meet, a new report finds. [Getty Images file photo]
  3. Lacking its orca buzz, SeaWorld still aims to reverse visitor, revenue declines for theme parks

    Tourism

    For a theme park company that easily could have been financially mauled by years of bad publicity, SeaWorld Entertainment is showing surprising resilience.

    Forced to reinvent itself without its star orca attraction, the theme park company on Tuesday released preliminary performance numbers for 2016 that show a modest drop in both theme park attendance and revenues. The figures are down, but apparently solid enough to ease the fears of investors. SeaWorld shares closed Tuesday at $19.31 apiece. That's close to where the stock price traded at the start of this year....

    SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby is trying to restructure the company's SeaWorld theme parks without the benefit of the Shamu brand and its historically popular killer whale shows. SeaWorld's stock price is trading at a high since the new year began but is well below its share prices of 2013. SeaWorld Entertainment owns the Busch Gardens theme parks. [AP Photo/Richard Drew]
  4. Tampa parent of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's can't stem loss of customers

    Retail

    Bloomin' Brands, Tampa's beleaguered parent of such big-name restaurant chains as Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill, must feel like it's been wandering the casual dining bog in search of solid ground for years.

    Alas, there's no sign of dry land yet.

    The company, whose holdings of 1,500-plus restaurants also include Bonefish Grill and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, on Friday reported declining customer traffic across all four of its chains, lower sales at three of its four brands, the closing of 43 underperforming restaurants and a $4.3 million loss for the fourth quarter that ended on Dec. 31....

    Bloomin' Brands has been struggling, led by a 7.7 percent fourth quarter and 5.7 percent 2016 drop in customer traffic at its Outback Steakhouse chain.
{File photo from Bloomin' Brands]
  5. Edsels of energy? Duke Energy may find new AP1000 nuclear plants are already outdated

    Energy

    In October and then again in December of 2016, Duke Energy won long-pursued federal operating licenses to build and run what was meant to be cutting edge nuclear power plants at sites in Florida and South Carolina.

    Duke has no current plans to proceed on either project.

    The dilemma? Now that Duke has finally secured these hard-to-get licenses, years have passed since these projects were first proposed. More than $1 billion (much of it still to be charged to customers via higher electric rates) have been spent on early site preparations. And what was once the modern design of the chosen nuclear plants, known as the AP1000, at both sites now looks outmoded by newer plans for smaller, less costly and quicker-to-build nuclear plants....

    "There's billions and billions of dollars at stake here," Gregory Jaczko, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Bloomberg News earlier this month. "This could take down Toshiba and it certainly means the end of new nuclear construction in the U.S."
  6. State of American workplace? Too much ennui hurts U.S. productivity

    Working Life

    The American workplace is broken.

    Despite U.S. business managers' best efforts, the vast majority of U.S. workers are disengaged or indifferent. That workplace ennui comes at a price for U.S. productivity — economic output per person — a fundamental workforce measure that peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. Productivity growth has been declining since then, U.S. Labor Department data show, despite the rise of such remarkable technologies as the Internet, the laptop and the smartphone, all intended to help people work smarter and faster....

    Newsart graphic:
  7. Statewide coalition Launch Florida introduces itself today in Tampa to help propel startup economy

    Energy

    TAMPA — In the spirit of boosting Florida's still-juvenile support system for entrepreneurs and innovation, a new statewide group called Launch Florida was unveiled Wednesday to encourage better coordination and more networking opportunities.

    The organization was introduced during Tampa Bay's Startup Week of events celebrating this region's business startups and entrepreneurs.

    Consider it one more piece of the "entrepreneurial ecosystem" that Tampa Bay and Florida are trying to knit together into a more coherent and muscular support system....

    Lucas Lindsey, 28, is helping launch a statewide network aimed at cultivating the innovation and start-up sector for the Florida economy. He is co-chairing Launch Florida and will unveil it to the Tampa Bay community during this week's Tampa Bay Start-Up Week of events. The new organization already has a statewide board and verbal support from start-up support groups like the Tampa Bay WaVE and Florida Next, Alex Sink's progressive economy group. Lindsey's co-chair is Joe Russo in West Palm Beach.
[Handout photo]
  8. For Troy Taylor's Coca-Cola Beverages, rocketing growth proves things still go better with Coke

    Business

    TAMPA — You can appreciate why Friday morning's remarks by Coca-Cola Beverages Florida CEO Troy Taylor, a recent arrival to the Tampa business community, prompted an instant sellout at a Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce event held at the downtown University Club.

    It's tough to find an example — anywhere — of a private company that starts with a staff of ten in 2015 and is now about to employ 4,800 on annual revenues topping $1 billion....

    Troy Taylor, CEO of recently formed Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, heads a private bottling company based in Tampa that's quickly absorbing other bottling fims and expanding across the Sunshine State.
  9. Tampa Bay's top business leader of modern era: Tom James of Raymond James is still looking ahead

    Business

    It may seem folly to anoint one business leader as Tampa Bay's most influential of the modern era. Many made serious contributions. But in this case, the choice is clear.

    Tom James has guided Raymond James Financial since he became its CEO in 1969 at the tender age of 27. Ever since, he's steadily grown what was a fledgling investment business in St. Petersburg into what is now the most powerful investment and brokerage firm not based on Wall Street....

    Tom James, 74, Raymond James Financial, steps down as chairman of the investment firm this coming Thursday. James poses at his firm in St. Petersburg flanked by some of the paintings in his extensive personal collection. Many pieces will be moved to the new James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, scheduled to open in the fall of 2017 in downtown St. Petersburg. Painting on the left is called "Cheyenne Burning of Fort Phil Kearney" by artist Z.S. Liang and, right, "The Traders Have Come to Town" by Robert Griffing. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  10. Blindsided by campaign to kill job incentives, Tampa Bay economic developers fighting back

    Economic Development

    A top Tampa Bay economic developer warns legislation seeking to end state incentives meant to recruit and support Florida jobs could undermine decades of effort to make the Sunshine State a strong competitor and handicap long-term prospects for its economy.

    "Building a reputation in economic development is like building trust," says Craig Richard, CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and a veteran of the wars among states to attract quality jobs. "It takes a long time to build up, but only a minute to be wiped out."...

    Craig Richard, CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC,  enjoys an exchange last year with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Richard warns state legislation to end job incentives now under consideration in Tallahassee could damage Florida's reputation and its economy. [Tampa Hillsborough EDC photo]
  11. As Google, Apple scrap for No. 1, ranks of world's 500 most valuable brands reveal winners, losers

    Business

    The domineering value of the Apple brand on the global business scene faded just enough for Google to replace the make of the ubiquitous iPhone as the world's most valuable brand for the first time since 2011. So says Brand Finance's "Global Brand 2017" ranking of the 500 most valuable brands in the world.

    "Apple's evangelists are beginning to lose their faith," Brand Finance says in its new report. "The snaking queues of early adopters have shrunk almost to the point of invisibility" — a sign that suggests Apple is coasting more than it should to remain at the pinnacle of tech innovation and design. (Of course, this report was written before Apple's boffo quarterly earnings last week, driven by huge iPhone 7 sales.)...

    Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google's brand value overtook that of Apple to rank No. 1 in the latest Brand Finance rankings of the world's 500 most valuable business brands. [AP photo]
  12. After years in doldrums, Florida's sense of well-being is soaring among states

    Business

    What might be the best indicator yet in 2017 that Florida is rising fast when compared to other states?

    It's not unemployment rate. Florida's jobless rate is 4.9 percent, a bit above the national 4.7 percent rate. It's not state GDP. Florida's growth rate in real gross domestic product, 3.6 percent, most recently ranked 29th among states. Nor is it household income. Florida still ranks poorly among states on that count....

    Pirates from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla are seen aboard the Jose Gasparilla for the annual Gasparilla Invasion a week ago. A Gallup survey ranked Tampa Bay second in the "social" category, one reason it has risen considerably in a state-by-state ranking of "well-being."
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  13. Why Fifth Third Bank leaders see time is right to grow customers — and reputation

    Banking

    TAMPA — The first remarks out of the mouth of the three Fifth Third Bank executives is how the plane they flew from Cincinnati to Florida had to be de-iced on the runway before takeoff.

    Here they are in downtown Tampa on the 20th floor of Fifth Third's regional office. The sun is shining. The outdoor temperature is close to 70 degrees. And the view out the window, from the sprawling Port Tampa Bay to the endless expanse of Tampa Bay waters, is at its seductive best....

    From left, David Call, Regional President for Florida, Fifth Third Bank, along with Greg Carmichael, President and CEO, Fifth Third Bancorp and Brian Lamb, EVP, Chief Corporate Responsibility & Reputation Officer, pose for a photograph Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 in Tampa.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  14. Jeff Vinik takes stake in Tampa hedge fund service firm eager to woo asset managers here

    Banking

    TAMPA — When former Wall Street investing guru turned Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik talks, people listen. And when he invests in something himself, people pay attention.

    Vinik recently took a minority stake in a Tampa business that provides back-office and marketing services to hedge funds. The firm, Oakpoint Advisors, operates out of a small office in the Wells Fargo tower in downtown Tampa. Oakpoint is run by Wall Street veteran Gerry Coughlin, who previously ran Vinik Asset Management in Tampa before Jeff Vinik decided to get out of the hedge fund business....

    Gerry Coughlin is managing partner of Tampa’s Oakpoint Advisors, a boutique firm that provides back office and marketing services to hedge funds. [Handout photo]
  15. Want good regional mass transit? New study urges regional governance first to make it happen

    Economic Development

    The hurdles confronting a regional approach to transportation in Tampa Bay feel like a tale as old as time. Over and over, Hillsborough or Pinellas counties have independently pressed their voters to support a single county mass transit project only to see withering defeats at the ballot box.

    Maybe Tampa Bay is failing in the voting booth because the metro area — one of the nation's largest lacking a comprehensive, multi-county transportation plan — keeps putting the cart before the horse. You can't pursue a regional transportation strategy when most of the players involved still operate inside and are beholden to separate county powers....

    Forget counties using the ballot box to fix Tampa Bay's long-standing commuting traffic woes, a new study concludes. Instead, it suggests the counties band together behind a regional solution.
[Times file photo]