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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: From infrastructure to ScientologyVille, four issues that are now Tampa Bay priorities

    Economic Development

    From economy to education to leadership, there are dozens of potential frontburner issues Tampa Bay must confront. But let's separate the wheat from the chaff. Here's my take on four top priorities this region needs to get a better handle on.

    ***

    Our sagging infrastructure

    Earlier this month, the American Society of Civil Engineers delivered its "Infrastructure Report Card" with an embarrassing D+ grade to the quality of U.S. roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure. It's a respected assessment that the engineering group publishes every four years. The group said an additional $2 trillion in funding is needed to raise the standards....

    The Church of Scientology wants to take the lead in much of downtown Clearwater's core's economic development.
[Times file photo]
  2. Trigaux: After half-billion dollar loss, Walter Investment Management shares drop 39 percent

    Business

    Maybe it should be called Walter Investment Mismanagement.

    Tampa mortgage banking firm Walter Investment Management Corp. saw what was left of its already battered stock price tank by nearly 39 percent on Tuesday after the long struggling firm announced an annual loss in 2016 of more than half a billion (that's with a B) dollars, as well as a $22.2 million loss for the fourth quarter.

    Shares closed Tuesday at $1.65, shaving close to $50 million off the company's dwindling market value....

    Anthony Renzi stepped in five months ago as CEO of Tampa's struggling mortgage banking firm Walter Investment Management.
  3. Trigaux: How Tech Data Corp. went all in to mastermind a deal to go global — and stay local

    Business

    To say Tech Data Corp. CEO Bob Dutkowsky's having a good year isn't a far cry from suggesting the New England Patriots had a good Super Bowl.

    Tech Data just closed on a major — better yet, let's call it game-changing — acquisition of the Technology Solutions group of Avnet, another big tech distributor. The deal was priced last fall at $2.6 billion, a figure that should not be taken lightly. That's the same price the stock market valued all of Tech Data — $2.6 billion — as a public company when the purchase was announced....

    Bob Dutkowsky, CEO of Clearwater-based Tech Data, speaks last month at one of the four town hall meetings he conducted at the Tempe, Ariz., headquarters of Technology Solutions, which Tech Data recently purchased for $2.6 billion from Avnet.
  4. Trigaux: Setbacks at Enterprise Florida, in downtown Clearwater deliver one-two punch to job recruiting

    Business

    Florida business recruiting: We have a problem.

    Make that two.

    First up: Tallahassee, which was shocked Monday when Enterprise Florida — the state's job recruiting agency — lost its latest CEO. Chris Hart resigned after only two months on the job. Hart claimed he could not see eye to eye with Gov. Rick Scott on how best to lead Enterprise Florida. He now leaves behind a headless agency at the critical start of the Florida Legislature. The House Speaker is waging a war to do away with the public-private agency altogether as an impediment to letting a "free market" decide what jobs are created in this state....

    Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne is ready to hand economic development overight for a big part of downtown to the Church of Scientology. "Maybe we're in a situation where the only way we get that investment is if the church brings it," says Horne. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  5. Trigaux: Can Florida go from good to great? Look beyond economy, says U.S. News' review of states

    Economic Development

    Florida's economy ranks an impressive seventh among U.S. states. The state's infrastructure stands at a commendable 11th and even its government gets a thumbs up at ninth nationwide.

    Impressive! Mission accomplished?

    Take a closer look. Based on "opportunity" — a measure of household income, poverty and inequality of education, income and by race — Florida rates a dismal 43rd among the 50 states. Ranked by "crime and corrections" — a look at state incarceration rates and public safety — the state limps along at 37th. And in especially critical categories of health care and education, Florida lands at an unimpressive 31st and lagging 29th, respectively....

    With wide disparity in individual categories, Florida wound up ranked 24th overall in U.S. News & World Report's first report on Best States.
  6. Trigaux: Even as stock markets soar, these five Tampa Bay firms face big hurdles

    Corporate

    The Dow may still be lurking above 21,000, but this bullish stock market does not shed its grace on all publicly traded companies. These five — three are locally based and two are prominent players here but have headquarters in other states — are finding the recent economy has not been as kind to them as others. Some of these businesses are in industries undergoing rapid change and intense competition. Others — well what's the best way to put this? — seem to be suffering from a failure to execute. They are all big companies with uphill climbs of variable steepness ahead. Like the five well performing companies profiled earlier this week, there's much to appreciate and learn from these firms and their challenges. ...

    Anthony Renzi the new CEO of Walter Investment Management
[File photo]
  7. For a Better Florida: The battle over Florida's free market

    Business

    This spring, some leading lawmakers in the Florida Legislature are smitten with a searing desire to inject more "free market" principles into Florida's economy.

    Job incentives be damned. Tourism marketing? A waste of tax dollars.

    On the surface, business should cheer more free market competition in Florida. For decades, most business complaints leveled against the federal and state governments have involved excessive regulation, compliance costs and taxes....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott, of all people, has been portrayed of late as a big lefty spender by the House speaker.
  8. Who's thriving? Try 5 Tampa Bay companies that stand out from pack in growth, stock price

    Corporate

    Part 1 of 2 columns looking at which publicly traded companies in the Tampa Bay market are performing especially well right now. Part 2, which looks at a handful of area firms losing money or struggling, appears tomorrow.

    ***

    Welcome to the fast lane of Tampa Bay's public companies where stocks are roaring to record heights and bottom lines are setting new highs in revenues and earnings. Maybe it sounds so easy that these five companies — ones making their marks in health care, financial services, tech distribution, building products and recreational boat retailing — are recently enjoying remarkable runs. After all, the stock market's still on a rocket ride — the Dow soared 303 points to 21,115 on Wednesday — since President Trump took office. Are these five simply along for the ride? • No way. These local businesses have demonstrated focused strategies, resilient turnarounds and great execution. Watch them and learn. Tomorrow's column will examine another five companies operating in the Tampa Bay market that have not been so lucky or, perhaps, as smart....

    Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans is among the biggest winners of the year among local public companies. [Handout photo]
  9. Trigaux: Why can't we save enough money? After decade, surveys warn savings habits still eroding

    News

    Anyone who pays attention to the avalanche of personal finance warnings about America's inability to save money might think they have heard it all already.

    Not enough people save for the basic emergencies of day to day life, let alone sock away money for retirement. We've written and read versions of this unnerving theme for years.

    Now comes a fresh and painful analysis from the Consumer Federation of America and American Savings Education Council. Their findings? After a decade of annual surveys, the country's savings habits are still continuing to erode. ...

  10. In 2017, six things on the upswing sure to elevate Tampa Bay's economy, quality of life

    Corporate

    What's most striking about Tampa Bay's momentum lately is the breadth both of economic and quality of life strides under way. Forbes this month published a list of the 25 fastest growing U.S. metro areas that, to use the magazine's words, "provides a holistic picture of places on the upswing."

    Upswing. That's a pretty good description of Tampa Bay these days. Not only does Florida capture six of the top ten picks of fastest growing places by Forbes (with Tampa Bay coming in eighth), the Sunshine State grabs a total of nine of the 25 top metros. That's a whopping 36 percent....

    Tampa Bay Startup Week, which wrapped up a week of events in mid February, was hailed as a big success for the metro area's still young business startup and entrepreneurial community. Here, a banner celebrates the event in St. Petersburg outside of Station House, a growing site for co-working and startup activity in the city's downtown. [Photo courtesy of Jessica Eilerman of The Greenhouse]
  11. Pummeled in 2016, HSN's Mindy Grossman looks for year of growth regeneration for shopping service

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — Like a lot of Americans, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman is happy to say goodbye to 2016. It was not the best of times for her home-shopping empire.

    HSN on Wednesday reported the TV, digital and catalog retailing company's performance for all of 2016 and its fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31.

    Net income plummeted 30 percent in 2016 from the prior year to $118.7 million, while fourth-quarter net income dropped 27 percent to $43.5 million. Net sales slipped 3 percent to $3.6 billion in 2016 from a year earlier, while dipping 2 percent in the fourth quarter to $1.07 billion from same quarter of 2015....

    Rod Little, who started as HSN's new chief financial officer in January, participated in his first quaterly conference call with analysts on Wednesday with HSN CEO Mindy Grossman. [Handout photo]
  12. United Way: 44 percent of Florida households, mostly working poor, struggle to meet basic needs

    Personal Finance

    For all the talk of an economic rebound in Florida, there's a big problem that too often stays out of the state's spotlight.

    More than 4 of every 10 households in Florida — 3.3 million of the state's 7.5 million households — are struggling to make ends meet. That 44 percent includes not only the 14.5 percent of households that earn less than the federal poverty level but another 29.5 percent of Florida households that are part of the working poor. These are folks ranging from fast food workers, the bulk of tourism industry employees, home health care workers and even certain teachers who find their modest paychecks still make it tough to meet basic needs....

    More than 4 of every 10 households in Florida - 3.3 million of the state's 7.5 million households - are struggling to make ends meet, a new report finds. [Getty Images file photo]
  13. Lacking its orca buzz, SeaWorld still aims to reverse visitor, revenue declines for theme parks

    Tourism

    For a theme park company that easily could have been financially mauled by years of bad publicity, SeaWorld Entertainment is showing surprising resilience.

    Forced to reinvent itself without its star orca attraction, the theme park company on Tuesday released preliminary performance numbers for 2016 that show a modest drop in both theme park attendance and revenues. The figures are down, but apparently solid enough to ease the fears of investors. SeaWorld shares closed Tuesday at $19.31 apiece. That's close to where the stock price traded at the start of this year....

    SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby is trying to restructure the company's SeaWorld theme parks without the benefit of the Shamu brand and its historically popular killer whale shows. SeaWorld's stock price is trading at a high since the new year began but is well below its share prices of 2013. SeaWorld Entertainment owns the Busch Gardens theme parks. [AP Photo/Richard Drew]
  14. Tampa parent of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's can't stem loss of customers

    Retail

    Bloomin' Brands, Tampa's beleaguered parent of such big-name restaurant chains as Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill, must feel like it's been wandering the casual dining bog in search of solid ground for years.

    Alas, there's no sign of dry land yet.

    The company, whose holdings of 1,500-plus restaurants also include Bonefish Grill and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, on Friday reported declining customer traffic across all four of its chains, lower sales at three of its four brands, the closing of 43 underperforming restaurants and a $4.3 million loss for the fourth quarter that ended on Dec. 31....

    Bloomin' Brands has been struggling, led by a 7.7 percent fourth quarter and 5.7 percent 2016 drop in customer traffic at its Outback Steakhouse chain.
{File photo from Bloomin' Brands]
  15. In 2017, six things on the upswing sure to elevate Tampa Bay's economy, quality of life

    Corporate

    What's most striking about Tampa Bay's momentum lately is the breadth both of economic and quality of life strides under way. Forbes this month published a list of the 25 fastest growing U.S. metro areas that, to use the magazine's words, "provides a holistic picture of places on the upswing."...

    Here's an early look at the future downtown Tampa home of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute. The $152.6-million building will help anchor the 53-acre, $3 billion redevelopment project spearheaded by Strategic Property Partners, a real estate firm backed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment. [Rendering SPP handout]