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....
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....
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....
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....
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.
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....
11/16/17 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....
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....
11/14/17 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. ...
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.
11/10/17 Economic Development
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....
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....
11/03/17 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....
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....
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....