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Some small businesses throughout the Tampa Bay area will be getting surprise visits this week, as part of the inaugural “Small Biz Support Squad”.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

President Obama's decision to open the U.S. market to Cuban cigars could impact Tampa. Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio toured the city's sole remaining cigar manufacturer, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., and he has more than the island nation in his sights.

He also took aim at new U.S. regulations. Those include government approval of new cigar blends and requiring larger warning labels on cigar boxes. Rubio says that's something the Cubans won't have to do.

Kathy Putnam

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. 

Florida kicked off its observance of the month Thursday at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

Tampa restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, who was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, said that everyone has some type of ability. Businesses lose out when they dismiss people with disabilities, he said. 

Incoming House Speaker: Scott Jobs Recruitment "Socialism"

Oct 13, 2016
Fl House of Representatives

Labeling the use of business recruitment incentives as "socialism," incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran told a Texas audience this week he doesn't expect Florida lawmakers to give such money to Gov. Rick Scott --- or to Scott's successor.

Visit Tampa Bay

While Britain continues dealing with the fallout of its vote to leave the European Union, tourism experts are looking at the possible effects the decision will have on tourism here in Florida.

The M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation at USF Sarasota-Manatee hosted an online panel discussion on the subject Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Times Sells St. Petersburg Headquarters

Apr 24, 2016

The Tampa Bay Times has announced it sold its eight-story downtown St. Petersburg building for $19 million to a joint venture group: Convergent Capital Partners and Denholtz Associates.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

According to a feasibility study released Friday, the Museum of Science and Industry would benefit greatly by moving to downtown Tampa.

The 171-page study, which was funded by the museum and Hillsborough County, did not discuss a specific location, size or cost of a new science center, nor possible funding sources.

However, it raised the possibility of a new museum being part of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's billion dollar renovation plan for the Channelside District.

Take a look at the next box of strawberries you find in the store. Depending on where in the country you happen to be, it may have come from Florida. But it won't for much longer.

Why?

Port Tampa Bay

The hardest part of getting a business off the ground is finding resources and money.

Downtown Tampa will become a hub for creators and investors to meet starting Monday, February 8. The goal is to make launching a startup easier in the Bay area.

Tampa Bay Startup Week will host workshops, panels and networking events centered on entrepreneurship. 

Tourism Leaders Challenge Change to Bed Tax

Feb 1, 2016
Christopher Collier

Leaders in Tampa Bay's tourism industry said they're concerned about a legislative proposal to designate part of the local bed tax for police services. 

The bed tax, formally known as the Tourist Development Tax, is $.05 on the dollar in most area counties – $.06 per dollar in Pinellas County --  for hotel rooms, timeshares and short-term rentals.

The proposal from Rep. Brad Drakes, R-DeFuniak Springs, would set aside 10 percent of the bed tax for police services. 

Roberto Roldan / WUSF

The excitement for Saturday's annual Gasparilla Parade is ramping up, but some local businesses along the parade route are closing down.

Two Americans laid off by Disney have filed lawsuits in federal court in Tampa, against Disney and two global consulting companies, which brought in foreign workers who replaced them. They claim the companies colluded to break the law by using temporary H-1B visas to bring in immigrant workers, knowing that Americans would be displaced.

Crystal River Nuclear Financing Plan Gets State Approval

Nov 17, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

Saying the move will save hundreds of millions of dollars for Duke Energy Florida customers, state regulators Tuesday approved a financing proposal for costs tied to the shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant.

The decision by the Florida Public Service Commission came after years of controversy about the damaged power plant, but the financing proposal drew support from Duke, consumer attorneys and business groups.

On Monday, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik shared his vision about Tampa's Channelside District and downtown. But Vinik's goal is to make downtown more than just office buildings.

Before Vinik came to Tampa and bought the Lightning, he Googled 'how to buy a sports team'," he said. 

Just days after a City Council election that may signal a shift with the way St. Petersburg deals with the Tampa Bay Rays, Mayor Rick Kriseman sat down Friday with representatives of the team. It was the second meeting in a little over a week between the two sides, which are trying to figure out ways for the Rays to look for a new stadium site. This time, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the meeting was "cordial."

Visit Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is experiencing a tourism boom, with a 13 percent increase in outside visitors. New figures show the industry brought in $329 million in taxes during the last year alone.  With $30 million being brought in from outside profits during the last fiscal year, the city is reaping the benefits of its many facelift projects.

Pointing to what it described as "significant risk" for the public, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday called for cracking down on lawyer-referral services that cater to accident victims.

Getty Images

Florida's unemployment rate continues to drop slightly.

The August unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, compared to 5.5 percent in July. The state added 19,600 jobs last month, according to figures released Friday by the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The jobless rate remains higher than the national rate of 5.1 percent with approximately 507,000 unemployed Floridians.

Gov. Rick Scott made the announcement at the headquarters of a Boca Raton electronic security company. He's made job creation the main focus during his time in office.

TECO Energy, the parent company of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas System, will be sold to Canada-based Emera Inc. in a deal estimated at $10.4 billion, the companies announced Friday.

The deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, is expected to close in mid-2016.

www.twitter.com/shipt

Even when picking up "just a few items," between the drive, parking and checking out, grocery shopping can be a tedious and time-consuming effort. Seeing the need, Bill Smith created Shipt.

Shipt is based in Birmingham, Ala., and recently made its Florida debut with a celebration in Tampa. Shipt users download the Shipt application onto their smartphones or tablets. Using their marketplace, customers select their items and pay for the items from the app.

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