Lights. Action. Pitch.
In a frenetic mix of swirling lights, rolling cameras and a DJ-inspired audience rooting from bleacher seats, five area business start-ups earned six minutes apiece to pitch their ideas to a four-judge panel of veteran area entrepreneurs.
Welcome to a TV-inspired shark-tank event held earlier this week at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry. It's just the latest attempt of many to spur regional support of area entrepreneurs....
01/28/15 Economic Development
Amid a whirlwind of speaking gigs to explain his $1 billion redevelopment plans surrounding Amalie Arena, Jeff Vinik often drops fresh hints of how his mega-project is shaping up.
Consider his latest remarks on what to call his project delivered Tuesday to a business gathering at the University of Tampa. When Vinik first unveiled his ambitious plan last month, he referred to the project as the "Waterfront District" — just to give some identity to it until a more formal title is chosen....
01/27/15 Real Estate
It's no surprise Tampa Bay home prices are steadily rebounding. They are well above their 2012 lows but remain lower than the highs reached during the 2006 real estate bubble.
But how is this metro area's housing uptick doing when compared to other major cities across the country?
The answer is: pretty darn good. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller index look at 20 major metro areas, announced Tuesday, shows that amid a national slowdown in home price appreciation, Tampa Bay registered a healthy 0.8 percent gain. That's the strongest monthly increase in November among home prices in 20 top metro areas. ...
01/26/15 Economic Development
Four years ago, Peter Kageyama introduced us to the powerful concept that cities need a growing core of people who show great passion and involvement in their metro area.
That theme was the basis for For the Love of Cities — Kageyama's 2011 book that launched the St. Petersburg resident as a community development consultant visiting cities across the globe. His message: There's great value in strengthening emotional connections between a city and its residents, often through small acts of civic love....
At one of Tampa Bay's largest technology companies, 116 Tech Data Corp. employees report to marketing vice president Angie Beltz. But only seven of them hold technology degrees.
Beltz rattles off the history, marketing, communications and psychology degrees that many of her workers possess. It makes for a striking message. There are lots of promising career opportunities in "technology" firms that, unbeknownst to many entering the workforce, do not require engineering or formal technical educations....
Just three weeks into a new year, Tuesday's dismissal of Hillsborough County's school superintendent by a 4-3 School Board vote may stand as 2015's most damaging self-inflicted blow to our regional economy.
MaryEllen Elia will survive and prosper — elsewhere. But come next election, do not forget these four School Board names whose vindictive votes forced out Florida's Superintendent of the Year at a cost of $1.1 million. Make sure your own vote ensures the public careers of tone-deaf board members Susan Valdes, April Griffin, Cindy Stuart and Sally Harris end quickly....
Monday proved to be a slow day for economic news, owing to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. But it was a good day for business rumors.
That might explain rising speculation that grocery giant Kroger Co. of Cincinnati is eyeballing Florida, and possibly the company Bi-Lo/Winn-Dixie, as an acquisition to help push the nation's second-largest supermarket company into the Sunshine State....
01/16/15 Economic Development
The start of 2015 brings an abundance of positive economic signs for the Tampa Bay region. Here are just 20 to ponder:
1. JOBS PIPELINE: A lot of business recruiting and expansion projects will occur this year, especially in Tampa and Hillsborough County. A decade ago, Tampa/Hillsborough delivered 10 projects promising 749 jobs and $38 million worth of investment. In 2014, 31 projects were announced, promising 4,532 jobs and $614 million of investments. That's the kind of momentum now under way....
01/14/15 Economic Development
When Enterprise Florida CEO Gray Swoope stood at the podium in Tampa last month to praise the unveiling of Jeff Vinik's ambitious downtown redevelopment project, he deftly summed up his role at the top of this state's immense economic development machine.
"Our sole mission is selling Florida from a business perspective," said an enthusiastic Swoope. He then promised to help Vinik bring jobs and maybe even a corporate headquarters to downtown Tampa....
01/13/15 Personal Finance
We may be about to see something in Florida that's been downright scarce for years.
A Florida panther? Nope. Lower electric rates? No way. A hurricane? Let's hope not.
Try bigger paychecks.
After too many years of stagnant earnings, the new year has ushered in a fresh wave of bullish expectations about the prospects for real raises in 2015.
"There are new signs that American workers, especially at the middle and low end of the pay scale, may finally start having enough negotiating leverage to demand wage increases in excess of inflation," writes Neil Irwin, the "Everyday Economics" writer for the New York Times....
01/09/15 Economic Development
H e says he's not nervous.
No one would blame him if he were. The future of a big chunk of downtown rests in his hands, and a lot of people are watching.
We're talking, of course, about Jeff Vinik and his large-scale, visionary waterfront redevelopment plan surrounding Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa — right?
Nope. Those lines, paraphrased from the Orlando Sentinel, are about a Central Florida developer named Craig Ustler who is several years into a bold refashioning of a large piece of downtown Orlando to be known as Creative Village....
Look for 2015 to kick-start the Tampa Bay economy from the get go, with a flurry of announcements of new business expansions and promises of more jobs. Watch these folks in particular, all focused on making things better in the new year:
1. Suzanne McCormick, CEO of United Way Suncoast. Since her Tampa arrival from Maine in September, she's put an unapologetic spotlight on corporate giving here, publicizing companies that are big United Way givers and, by omission, those that do less. Several United Ways in the state also issued an important report in November that found a startling 45 percent, or 3.2 million, of all households in Florida cannot afford basic housing, child care, food, health care and transportation. In a seven-county Tampa Bay area, that affects more than 600,000 households. What steps might McCormick conjure in 2015 to help ease the plight of such a large and overlooked portion of the community?...
Bravo to every person noted here for making the 2014 Tampa Bay economy stronger, smarter and more confident to try new things. Many more deserve thanks, so consider this list just the tip of an impressive iceberg. Well done to all. Hearty appreciation goes to:
1. Les and Pam Muma and Kate Tiedemann, whose combined $35 million in gifts this year to the USF College of Business in Tampa ($25 million by the Mumas) and USF St. Petersburg's College of Business ($10 million by Tiedemann) are record donations sure to elevate two key institutions....
To honor the holidays and celebrate Florida officially becoming the No. 3 state in population in the country, we offer two simple greetings.
Ho ho ho.
Hey New York, eat our dust.
It's isn't every decade that the Sunshine State gets to overtake the Empire State.
New York was a behemoth compared to us not so long ago. When my Florida-born father-in-law turned 11 — granted, more than a century ago — New York boasted 12 times the number of Floridians....
12/19/14 Economic Development
Analysts at Morningstar, the mutual fund consulting firm in Chicago, are so dazzled by Jeff Vinik that they call him ''Amazin' Jeff.'' At 32 years of age, Mr. Vinik has a limited track record. Yet his performance to date is undeniably stellar. — New York Times, 1991.
The low-key guy once known as "Amazin' Jeff" Vinik bristles when people call his new and as-yet unbranded $1 billion redo of much of downtown Tampa's Channelside district ''Vinikville.''...