06/20/17 Real Estate
A nationwide look at housing finds the United States increasingly split between the have-mores (those with fast appreciating home values) and the have-less (those with flat or declining home values). It's a troubling trend that raises questions for Tampa Bay and Florida's dependence on newcomers and retirees to keep fueling the state's hot economy.
People migrating from states and metro areas in rising housing markets, typically along the east coast, will bring that enhanced nest egg of home equity with them when they head to the Sunshine State. Others, especially those from the Midwest where home prices have grown the least or even stalled, may find their new start or planned retiree life in Florida to be more expensive than they anticipated....
At graduation time, the buffet table of advice from commencement speakers seems endless. And often indigestible.
There are exceptions.
"Whether you are in Tipitina's, the French Quarter or the Oval Office, no good can ever come from tweeting at 3 a.m.," chided actor Helen Mirren to her rapt audience at Tulane University.
"We build resilience into the people we love. And we build it together, as a community. That's called collective resilience," Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told Virginia Tech grads. "It's an incredibly powerful force — and it's one that our country and our world need a lot more of right about now."...
06/15/17 Economic Development
TAMPA — What are the most pressing problems re-emerging urban downtowns like Tampa must overcome to blossom into a place people, businesses and investors will want to pour their hearts and money into?
Established startup companies with innovative solutions to that question: We Want You.
That, in a nutshell, was the pitch delivered Wednesday evening to about 100 entrepreneurs and urban enthusiasts by Dreamit Ventures managing director Andrew Ackerman at The Attic bar inside the Tampa Bay WaVE incubator building in downtown Tampa. Acknowledging his first visit to Tampa, Ackerman said he's spearheading a new "urban technology" accelerator program starting in September in Tampa. The program aims to pluck eight to ten of the most innovative startups (those with some track record and customers already) for an intense Dreamit-run program to prep these businesses for growth....
Update: Retail chain Gymboree sought bankruptcy protection on Sunday, June 11, after this story was first written.
Another day, another downed retail chain.
The latest victim? Bankrupt BCBG Max Azria Group LLC said Friday it has agreed to a comprehensive restructuring that includes the possible sale of all its assets to Marquee Brands LLC and Global Brands Group Holding Ltd. BCBG is a contemporary women's designer fashion business based in California with area locations at International Plaza, Westshore Plaza and Westfield Countryside in Clearwater....
06/09/17 Economic Development
We need to talk.
There's a growing undercurrent of data, analysis and conversation out there that the United States economy is losing its spark, its willingness to take smart risks and its ability to rebound after failure.
An economy that once was dynamic is turning brittle. Its skills to adapt to changing times are, quite simply, not what they once were even 10 or 20 years ago.
Where we once found the grit to go to the moon, we can't even agree to fix potholes or bridges....
Seventeen publicly traded companies headquartered in Florida made this year's Fortune 500 list, including Lakeland's Publix Super Markets (not quite publicly traded but its employees own shares whose prices rise and fall by its performance) — the state's largest on the list at No. 85. Four of the Florida 17 on the list are based in the Tampa Bay market and — as two tech-related businesses, a health care insurer and a financial investment firm — reflect this area's business diversity. The Fortune 500 list is ranked by revenues, in this case annual numbers from 2016. A little perspective: The 17 companies from Florida, the third most populated state in the country, amount to just 3.4 percent of the number of corporations on this year's Fortune 500. In contrast, California is home to 53 or 10.6 percent of the Fortune 500 companies....
Who knew a Dunedin-based credit union could be nicknamed the Great Disrupter?
Achieva Credit Union, which once served mostly Pinellas teachers, is launching a consulting service that would help larger credit unions buy smaller community banks.
Sounds mundane but it borders on revolutionary.
In the financial world, credit unions are the Hatfields. Commercial banks are the McCoys. They compete head-on to capture consumer and some business banking services. But they are different animals, with credit unions enjoying tax benefits not available to banks. And banks provide many services beyond the expertise of many credit unions. In Washington, banks have long complained that credit unions do not pay their fair share of taxes, while credit unions argue their lower costs help small savers and modest-income families....
06/02/17 Personal Finance
Broad brush inspections of the U.S. economy continue to reinforce the good news: the overall economy is improving. Here's why:
•There are more jobs — so many in Tampa Bay, for example, that with a 3.8 percent metro-wide jobless rate we are technically at "full employment." Flatlining wages since the recession are starting to creep up.
• Home prices are rising vigorously in Florida and Tampa Bay, and replenishing the home equity coffers of homeowners after the housing collapse of a decade ago....
CLEARWATER — Fueled by its biggest acquisition earlier this year, technology distributor Tech Data Corp. on Thursday reported a 29 percent leap in fiscal first-quarter sales to $7.7 billion, triggering a jump to a record stock price.
Net income in the quarter slipped 8 percent to $30.7 million, reflecting higher costs associated with that acquisition, a $2.6 billion deal for Technology Solutions, a unit of Phoenix-based Avnet....
After flatlining for much of this decade, Florida paychecks have registered a modest bump in the past few years. "The recent increase in wages' growth might end a long stagnation spell," says a recent analysis by the University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Still, don't get too excited. Compared to 10 years ago, average Florida wages are up a mere $767, or less than $77 a year on average. These are real average wages, meaning they factor in the impact of inflation. Why might wages be showing more signs of life lately? During and soon after the recession, companies cut costs and staff and offered little if any employee pay gains. Now, with Florida unemployment under 5 percent and the Tampa Bay metro area at 3.8 percent, wage pressure may be growing as employers seek more workers in a tight market....
TAMPA — Already embattled mortgage lender Walter Investment Management said an accounting error has made some of its most recent and key financial statements untrustworthy and, in the company's words, "should no longer be relied upon."
The company did not file a press release with this news but rather included it as the last in a list of three short items appearing in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made last Friday. ...
When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.
New figures show Florida's real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 — the latest quarterly data available — ranking the Sunshine State fourth in growth among the states and District of Columbia, behind Texas, Utah and Washington. For all of 2016, Florida's GDP increased 3 percent, ranking fifth behind Washington, Oregon, Utah and New Hampshire....
Tampa Bay's business scene might best be described as fluid. Lots of people come and lots of people go. Some stay long enough to make a significant impression — usually a good one, but not always. Here are nine notable leaders — many in health care but also in sports business, publishing and even a whistleblower against corporate wrongdoing.
Chances are you know some if not all of their names. Many you have no doubt lost track of over the months and years. Where are they now and what are they up to? Read on....
ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.
On a blustery Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of technology executives, entrepreneurs, economic developers and others converged on the Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg to hear 18 area speakers share what's got the region's tech community feeling pretty good these days. And they learned what needs to be done to take to the next level what the area tech sector likes to call "Florida's largest and fastest growing tech hub."...
Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.
After some rough years, it may take a bit of a magician to reimagine Duke Energy Florida's public image and growth strategy.
Such is the tough task ahead. A self-described "mountain boy" from Asheville, N.C. (before it became hip, he says), Sideris succeeded Alex Glenn earlier this year as Duke Energy Florida's state president based in St. Petersburg. ...