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Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

Robert Trigaux

Robert Trigaux joined the Times as a business writer in 1991. In 2000, he began writing a business column three times a week. He served as business editor from 2005 to 2008, when he resumed his role as business columnist. While at the Times, he has covered a range of beats including banking and finance, technology, telecommunications, energy and economic development. He has received various awards for business writing, including two Green Eyeshades from the Society of Professional Journalists, a commendation for column writing from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and a first place in business columns from the National Association of Newspaper Columnists.

In the late 1970s, Robert started his business journalism career in New York writing for various business publications covering topics from technology to the furniture industry. At the American Banker, a daily national newspaper, he covered the financial industry in New York and London, then served for eight years as its bureau chief in Washington, D.C. He holds an economics degree from Colgate University.

Phone: (727) 893-8405

Email: trigaux@tampabay.com

Blog: Venture

Twitter: @VentureTampaBay

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  1. Trigaux: A farewell plea -- Start acting like the Tampa Bay you deserve to be

    Business

    Dear readers: This is my last column for the Tampa Bay Times. After nearly 27 years at this newspaper — 16 of them as the business columnist — I am calling it a day (at least for the near term) and leaving you a few final thoughts to consider before this column heads for the floor of a bird cage or its digital equivalent.

    First of all, this metro area has come a long, long way since I moved here in early 1991 from the Washington, DC area. I had started my business writing career in New York City, then spent time in London before committing eight years in our nation's capital during the Reagan and Bush presidential years. I thought those days were revolutionary by modern times. Now they seem mainstream. Almost (but not quite) nostalgic....

    Times Business Columnist Robert Trigaux: Tampa is the business capital of the tri-city area but needs to work in tandem with Clearwater and St. Petersburg for the good of the region. 
[Times file, 2014]
  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay's corporate performers: Some are humming while others can't carry a tune

    Business

    Record stock markets. Lowest jobless rate in 17 years. If companies are not performing well now, well....

    Let's take a quick peek at Tampa Bay's major publicly traded companies, plus a few based elsewhere but play big roles in our economy . Most of them have reported their latest quarterly performance that ended Sept. 30. Here's a sampling of who's rocking right now with strong sales and profits, who's just getting along, and who's suffering....

    Frontier Communications agreed to buy Verizon's cable/FiOS wireline operations in Tampa Bay, and in parts of CalifornIa and Texas in 2016 for more than $10 billion. The takeover has been rocky at best and spurred a dramatic drop in Frontier's stock price. Consider this: Frontier shares topped $119 in early 2015 but have since plummeted to less than $8 on Friday. The entire company has a market value of less than $600 million. It makes for a very uncomfortable situation for the company. In photo, a Frontier flag flies outside the Frontier regional office in Tampa shortly after the company took over Verizon cable/FiOS services here in 2016. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  3. As Tampa Bay economy matures, more key people bear watching. Let's get started.

    Business

    What's coming down the economic pike for Tampa Bay? Who's driving this metro economy into 2018 and beyond? Change — people, issues, business focus — can be a good thing. It keeps places like geographically challenged Tampa Bay nimble with fresh blood and challenges amid the constant pursuit of growth. It's the Florida way.

    Here are some area business leaders well positioned to help shape this metro area in the coming year or more. This is a fluid list — certainly not a comprehensive one of the many people leading the charge to be better. Make your own list. Consider this one a starting point....

    Is Jeff Vinik getting overexposed as a public figure in Tampa Bay -- or is he just warming up? Tampa Bay Lightning. Water Street Tampa. Dreamit. USF. Startups. A regular on CNBC. His empire is still growing. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times ]
  4. Up for sale? Activist investor grabs stake in Tampa's Bloomin' Brands

    Retail

    TAMPA — If you tread water too long in the same spot, someone might start asking why you're not trying to swim somewhere.

    Tampa's Bloomin' Brands — parent company of such prominent restaurant chains as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill — has been treading water the past few years with flat restaurant sales and a lukewarm share price. Recent earnings fell sharply....

    Outback Steakhouse locations are getting a freshened look by its parent, Tampa's Bloomin' Brands. Will that be enough to rejuvenate U.S. sales by the giant stake chain? [Courtesy of Bloomin' Brands]
  5. We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

    Business

    What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?

    The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.

    RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there's a plan to fix that. ...

    What's missing is that Tampa Bay is not village-like as are some of the metro communities that have succeeded in developing their entrepreneurial ecosystems, says Paul Sanberg, USF senior vice president for research, innovation & knowledge enterprise. [Courtesy of  USF]
  6. Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there's a plan to fix that

    Business

    How are we doing?

    That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining or losing competitive ground versus other significant metro areas across the country. That's major progress .

    A day later, leaders of the University of Tampa's Lowth Entrepreneurship Center issued their critical annual review of the regional support system built to help startups in Tampa Bay. Also a big step....

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends: Tampa needs to encourage more start-ups and entrepreneurs to foster ecosystems of like-oriented businesses. [Courtesy of Beneficial Blends]
  7. Florida personal income grows, but national gap widens

    Personal Finance

    The wallets of most area Floridians continue to grow. Just not as fast as they might like.

    Personal income rose in 2016 in most counties making up the greater Tampa Bay area, with Pinellas boasting both the highest average income of $49,186 and the fastest rate of growth in the metro area at 1.5 percent, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    The bad news is the national average growth of personal income in counties located in metropolitan areas was 2.5 percent. That's a full percentage point higher than Pinellas' income growth and the latest signal that Florida incomes, even in metros with stronger economies, in general are failing to keep up with cities across the country....

    In Pinellas County, fast growing personal finance information provider The Penny Hoarder announced this week it will hire by 2020 more 165 new employees at an average annual wage of $66,098. Founder and CEO Kyle Taylor, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and other business and political leaders joined the company's staff to celebrate the expansion in downtown St. Petersburg. Pinellas County boasts the highest average personal income among Tampa Bay area counties, says the Bureau of Economic Analysis. [Company handout]
  8. A year after first assessing Tampa Bay startup scene, a call to nurture more veteran dealmakers

    Business

    TAMPA — A year ago, an academic team of business experts announced they would put a "Fitbit" on Tampa Bay to help measure how its start-up scene or "entrepreneurial ecosystem" was doing and where it needed help. Two areas of concern were cited: the lack of connectivity across the Tampa Bay startup community and lean capital resources.

    That report also recommended steps to improve leadership, collaboration, investor education and even a stronger marketing brand for the Tampa Bay region....

    A University of Tampa academic team unveiled its first annual check-up on the health and needs of the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem Wednesday evening in Tampa. The effort to boost stsartup acltivity is led by Rebecca J. White, professor of entrepreneurship and director of the the university's John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center: [University of Tampa handout]
  9. Trigaux: Can we grasp potential of two new ways to track region's ability to compete?

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Two fresh ways to track how Tampa Bay is doing compared to other metro areas were unveiled Tuesday to business and community leaders here during a luncheon held at the University of South Florida. The Tampa Bay Partnership introduced its first (hopefully one of many in the coming years) Regional Competitiveness Report that broadly benchmarks how this metro is doing compared to 19 other competitive areas in the country. ...

    Tampa Bay Partnership chair Rhea Law talks about the new Regional Competitiveness Report introduced Tuesday to Tampa Bay business and community leaders at a luncheon at USF in Tampa. She also praised USF Muma College of Business's plan to use more timely, non-traditional data to track how this community is doing. She wrapped up the luncheon echoing the business school's pitch that the best way to predict Tampa Bay's future is to take a more direct approach in shaping it. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  10. Tackling Tampa Bay's talent challenge

    Business

    Troy Taylor runs one of this region's faster-growing businesses as chief executive officer of Tampa-based Coca-Cola Beverages Florida. So who does he spend the most time with in this demanding role? His senior vice president of human resources. It shows his priority: finding and cultivating the best talent available.

    "It is a passion point for me," Taylor says.

    RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: What's our weakest link? To compete as a region, first fix our talent gap ...

    Troy Taylor, CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, is heading a new task force on workforce talent development for the Tampa Bay Partnership. [Courtesy of  Coca-Cola Beverages of Florida]
  11. Trigaux: What's our weakest link? To compete as a region, first fix our talent gap

    Economic Development

    RELATED COVERAGE: Rankings: Tampa Bay second-best in job growth, second-worst in road safety.

    We are about to learn where Tampa Bay stands versus its peers, so perhaps we finally can better focus on — and fix — what needs the most attention to become more competitive....

    "Over time, what these regional indicators can do is unite us in our understanding of where we are and where we need to go," says CEO Marlene Spalten of the $224-million-asset Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. "If we are using different references, then we are not working together." A major philanthropic group in this area, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay helped fund the Tampa Bay Partnership's undertaking of the soon-to-be-released Regional Competitiveness Report. The report will measures over time how Tampa Bay is performing across more than 50 specific indicators compared with 19 other U.S. metro areas. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  12. Trigaux: Tampa parent of Outback, Carrabba's still struggling amid glut of restaurants

    Retail

    Will Bloomin' Brands ever find a way to regain the restaurant mojo of old when its core chains like Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill were hot properties?

    The Tampa company Friday morning reported a tepid, at best, third quarter earnings and issued a litany of reasons and excuses for a 5.6 percent decline in revenues, a startling 79 percent drop in net income and more per-store slippage in sales at three of its four major chains....

    As Tampa's Bloomin' Brands struggles in a competitive industry, its restaurant chains have continued to experiment in ways to revive sales. In this 2015 photo, 
Jay Smith, head chef of Carrabba's Italian Grill, worked on the chain's then-new small plate offerings for a new menu at  the Carrabba's test kitchen in Tampa. In the latest quarter, Carrabba's per-store U.S. sales in company-owned locations fell 2.8 percent. Bloomin' also owns Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and Fleming's. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  13. Trigaux: At last, Tampa Bay embraces one set of indicators to gauge its future course

    Economic Development

    It's not your typical event when close to 90 top organizations — from businesses, philanthropic groups, chambers of commerce and hospitals to universities, public schools, major sports franchises and local governments — meet around one table and over the course of a year agree on a single mission:

    If a broad spectrum of Tampa Bay leaders can agree on a common set of regional data that objectively measures over time how this metropolitan area is doing in comparison to other key U.S. metros, then our weaknesses can be better identified and improved, our strengths bolstered and celebrated, and this region can emerge a more competitive and prosperous place....

    The Tampa Bay Partnership, a regional economic development group, worked for more than a year with about 90 area organizations to hammer out a broad set of "regional competitiveness indicators" to help track over time the strengths and weaknesses of this region compared to 19 other U.S. metro areas. Shown in photo, Lee Evans, executive director and Tampa head of the North America Capability Center for Bristol-Myers Squibb, speaks during a recent Tampa Bay Partnership gathering of business, philanthropic, university, pro sports franchises and major hospital group leaders to discuss how best to use the soon-to-be-released Regional Competitiveness Report. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  14. Trigaux: 5 economic trends that will drive Tampa Bay's future

    Business

    Tampa Bay and Florida are like most metros and states — vying to get bigger, stronger and eager to do more. What they don't have, they want. And what they do have needs to be remodeled often to remain bright and shiny. (If somebody has the money.) With Florida and Tampa Bay unemployment rates at 3.8 and 3.3 percent, respectively, economic aspirations are predictably high. More jobs. Better airports. More sports stadiums. More spending by the rich. Here are five business trends that shed some light on what's happening here. And yes, the last trend may deserve the most attention....

    If you travel often by air, you'll notice that many U.S. airports are upgrading their facilities and raising the level of competition among airports for efficiency and atmosphere. Tampa International Airport is undergoing major transformations to stay ahead of the pack. In this photo, 

Maryann Ferenc, the co-owner of Tampa's Mise en Place restaurant, stands in front of her First Flight wine bar at TIA. The bar has since closed due to ongoing airport construction and will not reopen, the airport says -- a sign of the experimental effort to find local offerings that work well in airport settings. TIA is a cornerstone of the Tampa Bay economy. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  15. Trigaux: Top Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs invests $30 million in cyber fighting KnowBe4

    Business

    CLEARWATER — If this isn't a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, then what is?

    Wall Street's best known investment firm, Goldman Sachs, is committing the sizeable sum of $30 million to help advance the fast-growing Clearwater cyber security training startup called KnowBe4.

    That's a ton of money for any startup in the bay area. And the Goldman Sachs' imprimatur adds a whole other layer on this deal, making the investment a great win for KnowBe4 but also a big victory for recognizing potential in Tampa Bay's entrepreneurs and its expanding market of startups....

    Earlier this year, employees of KnowBe4 gathered on bean bag chairs wearing renditions of purple during an end-of-month wrap-up meeting on the 11th floor at the company's headquarters. Now there's something new to celebrate. Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs just agreed to invest $30 million in the cyber security training startup. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]