These 10 Tampa Bay folks are on missions worthy of watching in the latter half of 2014. Why? Because they represent our growing crop of change agents. They are people pushing to make things better in this regional economy. They are pressing for better options via mass transportation, economic development and job creation. They are pioneering private business adoption of solar power or building an innovative national network of cancer research and treatment. Kudos to their courage and passion. None of this comes easy. The Tampa Bay area is far better off for their efforts....
Thanks to military interests based in Tampa, a real Iron Man suit may someday materialize for elite U.S. soldiers.
The U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base made a public call last year for prototypes of just such a suit. The project is called TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.
In the near term, the project wants to find better armor to protect soldiers still most vulnerable on their underarms and flanks. Longer term, SOCOM is pondering engine-powered, cooled exoskeleton-clad troops with Google Glass-style vision and advanced communications features....
07/03/14 Working Life
The good news for working women? There are more female CEOs running major global corporations, from IBM and GM to Yahoo. In Tampa Bay, women not only head big-name, successful businesses like Bloomin' Brands and HSN, but are in charge of all the major business incubators in this region.
This country could even be on the verge of its first female president.
The bad news for women? Workplace harassment remains far too common at both large corporations with household names like American Apparel and Goldman Sachs, and local companies ranging from a SunTrust bank branch to a surprising number of restaurants....
The costs of prematurely closing Crystal River 3 — Duke Energy's sole nuclear power plant in Florida — keep on rising.
Duke Energy recently agreed to a settlement that sent at least $55 million to eight minority owners of "CR3." That's the nuke plant Duke closed last year due to a bungled do-it-yourself repair job that the power company finally acknowledged last year would prove too expensive to fix. The bigger settlement sums are going to minority investors like Ocala and the Orlando Utilities Commission. But even smaller towns like Bushnell and Alachua, with small stakes in CR3, will be compensated....
Florida's OJ industry is under attack from all sides. It's in desperate need of a superhero. So it has called on experts to create one.
The Florida Department of Citrus wants to revamp its own cartoon character — a rotund "Captain Citrus" from Planet Orange — by paying about $1 million to Marvel Comics to conjure up a more compelling superhero and orange juice salesman.
Ever heard of the current Captain Citrus? Me neither. The department created him just three years ago to get the message of OJ nutrition into the classroom....
Our mission is to take the world on vacation.
Carnival Corp., Miami, the world's biggest cruise line company
• • •
Thinking of taking that Caribbean cruise someday? Act soon if you're contemplating a Carnival cruise out of Tampa (or other port of departure) because the super-cheap deals to the islands might be starting to dry up....
06/24/14 Economic Development
Florida's quality workforce ranks among the best in the country, making it one of the state's top selling points to businesses considering where to expand. Too bad Florida cannot say the same about its education, cost of doing business or not so friendly business attitude. All those factors help explain why the Sunshine State does not fare so well in CNBC's annual ranking of the best states for business. CNBC scored each state in 10 categories based on 56 measures of competitiveness using input from business groups, economic development experts, companies and the states themselves. The bad news? Florida came in at No. 20, while neighboring Georgia was No. 1. The good news? Florida gained 10 spots in the ranking from 2013....
The Dow could hit 17,000, yet another record, as early as this week. If not then, it will likely happen soon. Not a bad ride since the Dow tanked to 6,547 little more than five years ago.
That's remarkable news for folks rich enough to have substantial stock market investments. To most people in this country with little or no assets in stocks, a new Dow high is irrelevant and a nagging reminder how a wealthier slice of America prospers while others do not....
There are ever-growing ways to measure the steps forward — or backward — of the Tampa Bay economy. We tend to report overview data like unemployment rates or housing sales. But sometimes a more focused gauge sheds new light. Here are three different measures of what's happening here that deserve attention.
1. Rays fans: We report constantly on the standings of the Tampa Bay Rays' play on the field. But what about the status of Rays fans? A new analysis of major-league baseball fans conducted by marketing professors Michael Lewis (no, not the Michael Lewis who wrote Moneyball) and Manish Tripathi of Emory University's Goizueta Business School in Atlanta found that the Tampa Bay Rays trail every other major-league team in translating fan loyalty into revenues....
When a Florida Chamber of Commerce official characterizes the governor's race as "John Morgan's employee versus a businessman," it's pretty clear who the probusiness, antiregulation organization wants to see in the governor's mansion next term.
But neither candidate — former Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Morgan & Morgan lawyer, or current Gov. Rick Scott — is a front-runner. And Florida Chamber vice president and longtime political watcher Brad Swanson, briefing a business audience Wednesday morning at Duke Energy Florida headquarters in St. Petersburg, predicted the race will likely come down to a difference of just 1 or 1.5 percentage points. The Florida Chamber has raised more than $1 million for Scott....
Florida's tourism gurus, ever pressing to hit 120 million visitors a year by 2020, just rolled out a cool online tool to help travelers find just the right beach in the Sunshine State.
That's no simple task. There are hundreds of very different beaches to choose from along Florida's vast coastline.
Unveiled quietly, the online tool lets armchair travelers virtually and visually pick and choose from among 740 miles of Sunshine State beaches as diverse as legendary Miami Beach, west coast cool Anna Maria Island and tranquil Caladesi Island, a brief ferry ride off Pinellas County....
06/13/14 Economic Development
ORLANDO — Yes, the City the Mouse Built is quietly gathering a critical mass as Florida's startup hub for digital technology.
While we still identify Orlando as a place overgrown with theme parks, the city's startup renaissance was recently captured in a 45-minute documentary called Orlando Rising. The film is clearly promotional. But its can-do theme resonates, suggesting the entrepreneurial stars are aligning in this metro area, especially in its downtown....
When he's not busy handling his duties as chairman of Port Tampa Bay, Steve Swindal is building his Marine Towing business, whose tugboats help guide big ships in and out of the port.
The fourth tugboat in his fleet will be dedicated today. With a $9.5 million price tag, Patriot is one of the few tugboats in the country with open-ocean firefighting capabilities, spraying nearly 12,000 gallons per minute at a distance of 400 feet. ...
Somewhere in their quests to get big, and then to get even bigger, some of our best-recognized corporate citizens took a wrong turn.
They're still looking for their way back.
Some wags call giant corporations Too Big To Fail. Others brand them as Too Big To Manage. Those that have lost their way may best be known as Too Big To Function.
I'm talking here about General Motors and Bank of America. The two fading megabrands are now mired in almost a "Groundhog Day" of repeated corporate fumbles, poor ethical behavior and just plain bad execution....
06/06/14 Economic Development
We could chalk up this past week of Hillsborough politicos griping about one of the county's chief economic development leaders, Rick Homans, to this familiar remark:
What we have is a failure to communicate.
Or in Homans' case, a failure to communicate often enough. Or perhaps to say the things that the Hillsborough County Commission wants to hear — or else.
A spat that's been simmering awhile bubbled over into this past Wednesday's county commission meeting. It started with Commissioner Sandy Murman saying that Homans' Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. is taking overseas trips to encourage new business, often in the company of Mayor Bob Buckhorn, without taking along a county commissioner....