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Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer

Richard Danielson

Richard Danielson covers business news, including economic development, Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay and the Water Street Tampa project near downtown Tampa. Since joining the Times in 1987, he has covered Tampa City Hall (twice) as well as local government in Pinellas and Pasco counties, state and federal courts and higher education. He also has worked as a general assignment reporter and as the Times' Palm Harbor bureau chief and Clearwater city editor. In his last assignment at City Hall, he was the main contributor to PolitiFact Florida's Buck-O-Meter, which tracks Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's performance on 34 campaign promises.

Phone: (813) 226-3403


Twitter: @Danielson_Times

  1. Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority plays beat the clock on GOP tax bill


    TAMPA — With the Republican tax bill poised to eliminate the opportunity, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Monday said it had refinanced a big chunk of its debt to save money in the future.

    The authority borrowed $152 million from the bond market at lower interest rates than it had been paying on existing debt. Officials said the refinancing is expected to save $15 million, or about 11 percent, over the long term. The authority also borrowed $36 million while rates are low to help pay for two projects that it expects to do in 2021....

  2. St. Petersburg chamber of commerce charts 'Grow Smarter' economic development strategy

    Economic Development

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — What started more than five years ago as an exploratory conversation among a handful of business leaders blossomed Friday into a full-blown community discussion of how to nurture business while working to make sure St. Peterburg's urban renaissance doesn't leave anyone behind.

    "Grow Smarter" is the mantra adopted by the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and organizers said it's built on a commitment to bring many people and groups into the conversation....

  3. Having JW Marriott run Water Street Tampa's new 519-room hotel expected to help Tampa pursue more upscale conventions

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — JW Marriott, a luxury hotel brand new to Tampa, will run the new 519-room hotel that the Water Street Tampa project is building next to the Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, developers announced Friday.

    Construction on the 26-story hotel is expected to start in early 2018. It is expected to open in 2020, before Super Bowl LV in February 2021....

  4. Congressional tax bill could make Tampa airport borrowing more expensive


    TAMPA — With the congressional tax bill poised to increase its debt costs, Tampa International Airport might go out sooner than planned for some of the financing needed for its planned $2.3 billion expansion project.

    That's because the U.S. House of Representatives' version of the Republican tax bill would do away with the tax exemption for what are known as "private activity bonds," which are issued by or on behalf of local or state governments for some projects....

  5. Jeff Vinik plans new venture capital fund and innovation hub at Water Street Tampa

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik says the Tampa Bay area needs a bigger, stronger ecosystem for startup companies, and on Tuesday he announced three major initiatives to nurture them.

    First, Vinik said he will, with other investors, create a venture capital fund with as much as $50 million or more to support startup entrepreneurs, some with direct grants. That, he believes, would make it the largest fund of its kind in Florida....

  6. Apartments and town homes planned at old Tampa Jai-Alai fronton site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Exotic and even rakish in its charms, the Tampa Jai Alai fronton is long gone, closed and torn down nearly 20 years ago.

    But soon part of the storied South Tampa property could be reborn with a new purpose and a new Mediterranean-inspired name.

    John Lum of List Developers is looking to build 140 townhomes and 160 apartments on the back 13 acres of the old jai alai site, behind the Home Depot and Sam's Club already on the front part of the property....

    Developer John Lum plans 140 townhomes and 160 apartments on 13 acres that once was a part of the Tampa Jai Alai fronton site south of Gandy Boulevard and on the west side of S Dale Mabry Highway. Lum's Cortona residential project would be behind the Home Depot and Sam's Club that were developed years ago after the fronton closed and was demolished in 1998. (Map via city of Tampa)
  7. Jeff Vinik backs emerging therapy for migraine and cluster headaches


    TAMPA — With ventures in pro sports and real estate development, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik remains one of the bay area's busiest business executives, and his money seems to be working on even more fronts.

    A New Jersey-based bioelectronic medicine company, electroCore, has announced that two groups associated with Vinik — American Investment Holdings and the Vinik Family Foundation — were among the investors that participated in a round of fundraising that brought in a little more than $70 million for the company. The lead investor was Core Ventures II. Merck's Global Health Innovation Fund also was a significant participant....

    Two groups associated with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik have invested in electroCore, a New Jersey-based company working on a non-invasive, self-administered therapy to relieve migraine and cluster headaches by stimulating the vagus nerve. (
  8. A new look at the vision for Water Street Tampa

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — For what's billed as a $3 billion project, Water Street Tampa now is still largely just a bunch of sandy parking lots cross-hatched by roads under construction.

    But the vision is becoming more clear, and late Monday developers at Strategic Property Partners released one of their most detailed renderings yet for what they want the project to look like....

    Strategic Property Partners released a new conceptual rendering for its $3 billion project, called Water Street Tampa, being planned jointly by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment private wealth fund. (Rendering courtesy Strategic Property Partners)
  9. Tampa Bay area construction firms pessimistic about availability of workers

    Working Life

    With construction booming and Hurricane Irma repair work abundant, the Tampa Bay area's crunch for skilled labor is getting crunchier.

    The latest sign of the shortage of available construction workers comes via a poll of Florida construction firms by the 21,000-member Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a national construction industry trade association.

    Done in the third quarter, the poll found contractors optimistic that over the next six months their sales would grow, as well as that their companies would increase hiring and expand investment in training....

    As this construction worker prepared window openings on the Avanti building in St. Petersburg in October, construction firms around the Tampa Bay area and Florida were saying that they expected a shortage of skilled workers  to get even worse over the next six months, according to the trade group Associated Builders and Contractors. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  10. American Airlines CEO: We expect to fly normal holiday schedule with no cancelled flights despite pilot scheduling glitch w/ video


    TAMPA — American Airlines hasn't "cancelled a single flight and doesn't expect to cancel a single flight" as the result of a scheduling glitch that allowed an unusually large number of pilots to take time off during the Christmas holiday, company CEO Doug Parker said Friday.

    "The company had a clerical mistake that has resulted in us not having enough of our pilots scheduled for flights that are coming in later December," Parker said at Tampa International Airport, where he was awarded the 2017 Tony Jannus Award for excellence in commercial aviation. "But our pilots have been stepping up. We offered them a premium. They're stepping up and picking up trips....

    American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker is the winner of the 2017 Tony Jannus Award.
  11. Jeff Vinik invests in Israeli-Tampa company that makes radiation protection wear


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik made his name as a far-thinking investor — first as the whiz-kid manager of Fidelity's Magellan mutual fund, then as the proprietor of his own hedge fund and these days as the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and a developer of a $3 billion real estate project called Water Street Tampa.

    But his latest investment isn't about winning a championship, or redesigning a downtown or building pretty buildings....

    Dr. Oren Milstein co-founded and is CEO and chief scientific officer for StemRad, an Israeli company that recently opened a U.S. subsidiary in Tampa, following a $6 million round of investment from Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and several other city residents. Photo courtesy StemRad
  12. Four shootings. One gun. Police wanted to find it. Turns out, the gun found them.


    TAMPA — In an investigation that drew a blizzard of tips and for seven weeks seemed to revolve around grainy video showing a man in a hoodie, police knew one thing for sure.

    Four shootings. One gun.

    Police didn't release that fact publicly until this week, but they knew it before Tuesday, thanks to lab analysis of shell casings from four different fatal shootings in southeast Seminole Heights....

    Ronald Felton, 60, was shot to death Nov. 14.
  13. Spirit launching flights from TIA to Los Angeles, Las Vegas


    TAMPA — Spirit Airlines is launching daily, nonstop flights from Tampa International Airport to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the airport announced Wednesday.

    The routes will begin operating April 12 on Airbus A319s, which have 145 seats, and will continue year-round.

    "This additional traffic not only adds more available capacity between TPA and LAX, but it also encourages competition in the market," said Kenneth Strickland, TIA's director of research and air service development. "This traditionally results in better fares for consumers."...

    Spirit is launching two new nonstop routes from Tampa International Airport, one of which goes to Las Vegas. | [Times file photo]
  14. Florida Chamber Foundation summit focuses on poverty, child care and education

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — In a time of high growth but rising inequality, the Florida Chamber Foundation gathered business executives and community leaders Tuesday to pose a few big questions:

    How deep is poverty in Florida? How broad? How can business create prosperity that reduces generational poverty?

    The answers, organizers suggested, could have a lot to do with children and making sure that every family, especially the poorest, can find child care and early-education programs that enable their kids to enter school ready to learn and succeed....

    Eden Christian School prekindergartener Cameron Burns, then 4, signs a "Thank You" card in Brooksville in 2011 as part of a statewide effort to raise awareness about Florida's School Readiness program. The taxpayer-subsidized tuition program created to help low-income working families pay for good child care and provide young children with early learning that feeds success in school later.  Child care is often the greatest cost impediment to economic stability for families with young children, according to a United Way of Florida analysis. The impact of child care, especially on low-income families, was a big focus of Tuesday's Florida Chamber Foundation first summit on "More Prosperity, Less Poverty."  WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times (2011)
  15. Buoyed by passenger growth, St. Pete-Clearwater airport looks to the future


    CLEARWATER — Planning for the future at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport traditionally is an exercise in guarding against over-optimism, and this year is no different.

    That's because the airport, which is owned by Pinellas County, doesn't place big bets by going into debt on expansion or improvement projects.

    "We've got to be very cautious," Airport Director Thomas Jewsbury says. "We have a pay-as-you-go philosophy."...

    An Allegiant plane comes in for a landing at the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. Allegiant, the dominant airline at the airport, has 12 airbus 319 planes that are based at PIE. The airport will launch an effort to update its master plan on Nov. 30. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]