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The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area is just okay at creating and sustaining jobs, according to the Best Performing Cities 2008 Index put out by the Milken Institute and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners. The area fell from 44th in 2007 to 80th this year on a list of 200 large metropolitan areas. Tampa Bay's weak one-year job performance - which includes job growth, wages and a measure related to high-tech jobs -hurt the ranking. Overall, Florida's cities were hurt by the downturn in real estate prices and construction. Ocala, which was first in 2007, fell to 30th. The Orlando area fell from fifth to 11th. The Provo-Orem area in Utah finished atop the list for large cities. The Detroit area finished last.

Winn-Dixie selling music downloads

Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. is among the first grocers to sell downloadable music for iPods and MP3 players in a deal with Sony-BMG. Priced at $12.99, the credit card-sized Platinum MusicPass comes with a scratchoff code that triggers a double-album-size download to a computer or digital music player. The initial selection, found in stores next to gift cards, covers 60 titles including new releases and special collections by Sony artists of up to 25 songs. All include bonus features and many include video. "The cards look like little CD albums," said Rich Romano, Winn-Dixie marketing director for prepaid products.

Kforce profit falls, but still sizable

Kforce Inc., the professional staffing firm headquartered in Tampa, turned a profit of $7.9-million on revenue of $250.9-million in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30. Though profit declined from the $11-million Kforce earned in the same quarter in 2007, the company said it has positioned itself to weather the economic downturn by emphasizing growth in the health and life sciences and government services. The company's earnings amounted to 20 cents per share. From its campus in Ybor City, Kforce runs 2,000 staffing specialists in 57 offices, almost all in the United States.

FPL quarterly profit rises 45 percent

Third-quarter profit for FPL Group Inc., the parent company of Florida Power & Light Co., soared 45 percent. The utility earned $774-million, or $1.92 per share, on revenue of $5.39-billion, an 18 percent gain from the third quarter of 2007. The uptick came even though electricity use declined as the economy slowed. Below-normal temperatures damped the need for air conditioning. However, FPL profited by using commodity contracts to lock in the price of its fuels. Subtracting those gains, FPL Group's earnings were still $506-million, or $1.25 a share, compared with $494-million, or $1.23 a share, a year ago, the company reported.