11/20/14 Economic Development
A long-term project to recruit a brand name corporate headquarters here took a key, early step Thursday when survey results capturing the perceptions of this area by 350 CEOs and senior executives nationwide were delivered to local business and political leaders.
In a 47-slide PowerPoint presentation, market research consultant Barry Quarles outlined his findings to several dozen executives, as well as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, at the downtown Tampa Club....
11/19/14 Economic Development
The Tampa Bay Partnership celebrates 20 years this Friday as a group challenged since the start to market the Tampa Bay area as a single economic region even as it still refuses to act as one.
Stuart Rogel, partnership CEO since 1994, has starred in that era as the modern day Sisyphus — pushing the We Are One Economy pitch up the hill all these years only to see it too often roll back down....
Busch Gardens is many miles away from the first drenched rows of SeaWorld's Shamu shows in Orlando. But Tampa Bay's top theme park is still getting soaked.
Busch Gardens finds itself caught in a financial and public opinion maelstrom not quite of its own making. The park is part of SeaWorld Entertainment, composed mostly of multiple SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks, plus a few smaller brand parks in the United States....
Not to pooh-pooh the growing celebration of more and more apartment and condo towers proposed or already under construction in downtown Tampa. But — please — let's not become so euphoric that we end up in a real estate bubble in the core of this emerging city.
The good news is that after far too many fits and starts downtown Tampa is showing renewed signs of life and, more to the point, the promise of more to come. Witness the early sketches of the massive Jeff Vinik overhaul of Channelside (with a Bill Gates good housekeeping seal of approval in financing part of it), the possibility of USF's medical school relocating downtown and the burst of boutique hotels. People are noticing the completion of Riverwalk and, of course, the jolt of lofty apartment and condo towers suddenly slated to rise in an arc across the city's downtown....
Tampa Bay's auto show opens Friday with every manner of sports car, gas-sipping hybrid, zippy runaround and carbon fiber-crafted luxury vehicle among its 400 offerings of 2015 models from three dozen brands.
The show has come a long way from the first time I previewed it in 2003, when automakers pitched flip-down screens for built-in DVD movie watching as the hottest innovation around.
11/11/14 Working Life
The 15 percent of Floridians stuck in poverty is bad enough. But the real shocker is the alarming number of Floridians who hold jobs but still cannot meet the basic needs of their households.
A new United Way of Florida report out Tuesday finds a startling 45 percent — or 3.2 million — of all households in this state cannot afford basic housing, child care, food, health care and transportation. In the broader Tampa Bay area alone, that translates to more than 600,000 households in seven counties that are unable to consistently afford the cost of living in Florida. Conditions in those households still lag behind prerecession levels, the "Study on Financial Hardship" report says....
11/11/14 Real Estate
A California mansion set on 25 acres in the heart of Beverly Hills that features 53,000 square feet of livable space and garage parking for 27 vehicles hit the market this month priced at $195 million by owner and Florida billionaire Jeff Greene. Listing real estate firm Coldwell Banker calls the property "the most expensive residential property currently for sale in the United States."
After purchasing the property, Greene invested tens of millions to complete and expand Palazzo di Amore ("palace of love"), finishing the second floor of the main residence and building a 15,000-square-foot entertainment center that includes a disco/ballroom with a revolving turn table style dance floor, DJ booth and a laser-light system. The entertainment complex also features a 50-seat private screening room, a bowling alley and a game room, and can host up to 250 guests for a seated dinner or event, says Coldwell Banker....
The rise of today's HSN, consummate retailer on TV and in the digital world, can be traced in large part to the arrival of CEO Mindy Grossman. Her insatiable ability to sell — harder, faster and in ever creative ways — has driven shares in the St. Petersburg company from less than $20 five years ago to just under $70 at Monday's close. The stock has climbed 26 percent in just the past 12 months. ...
11/07/14 Economic Development
As an adolescent in the 1980s and 1990s, the Tampa Bay business community was delighted to be dubbed the nation's Call Center Capital. During its latter teen years, the metro area tried on such nicknames as Wall Street South, eager to leverage its ability to attract more sophisticated back office operations of major financial institutions and corporations based elsewhere.
Now Tampa Bay's economic developers want the world to know the economy here has become an adult, capable of recruiting and sustaining corporate headquarters — ones with real name-brand recognition. That's why the first meeting of a task force devoted to recruiting corporate headquarters was held here this past Tuesday. ...
What will Floridians do now that all those truthful and uplifting campaign ads are over? Before we all get caught up in the soon-to-start 2016 presidential campaigns, here are three takeaways for Florida's economy from the outcome of this week's elections.
1. What's the economic encore? Anticipating the election a year ago, I wrote: "The barrage of political advertising coming our way praising (Rick) Scott's single-handed success in saving Florida's job market will be stunning. Charlie Crist better have a darn good response."...
The idea of belt-tightening feels funny for a company whose mission is to persuade more people to eat as often as possible at restaurant chains like Outback Steakhouse — home of the 2,000-calorie Bloomin' Onion — or the pasta-laden Carrabba's Italian Grill.
But that was the Big Message delivered Tuesday by Liz Smith, CEO of Tampa's Bloomin' Brands, the successful parent of Outback, Carrabba's, Bonefish Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy's....
Tampa's Bloomin' Brands, parent of five restaurant chains that include Outback Steakhouse, says it is preparing to sell Roy's, its upscale chain of "Pacific Rim" cuisine. Founded in 1988 in Honolulu by chef Roy Yamaguchi, the Roy's chain operates in 20 locations, including Tampa.
Bloomin' Brands disclosed its plan to sell Roy's Tuesday while announcing quarterly earnings, noting the chain is not considered one of its "core concepts" like Outback, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill or Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar....
11/03/14 Economic Development
A new state ranking of top business climates places Florida at No. 12.
That's not bad, of course. But it means the Sunshine State did not even crack the top 10 states for business at a time when the leaders of Florida prefer to think it's closing the gap on No. 1 Texas.
Welcome to more of the business rankings wars.
Site Selection, a prominent publication influencing where companies decide to put manufacturing plants, released its 2014 ranking of states, with Georgia taking the No. 1 spot for the second year in a row....
11/03/14 Real Estate
First-time home buyers, where art thou?
We knew younger adults were skittish about buying their first home, but this might border on paranoid. Data out Monday from the latest annual survey of the nation's housing market by the National Association of Realtors show the share of first-time buyers dropped 5 percentage points from a year ago to 33 percent. That's the lowest share since 1987 (30 percent) and well below the typical 40 percent that first-timers have represented since 1981....
10/31/14 Economic Development
From Tuesday's key election choices to signs of critical mass in downtown Tampa, here are 10 hot topics to watch in Tampa Bay's quest to advance its regional economy.
1. Tuesday's election. Above all else, get out and vote. Plenty of folks feel like they have to hold their nose when choosing between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist. Months of nonstop ads — many of them flagrantly misleading — only served to further sour an electorate that asks: If the unemployment rate is so much lower than it was four years ago, why do Floridians still feel so anxious about their economic prospects?...