Business news


The school where Angela DeMarco works is about 5 miles from her house.

To get to there, DeMarco walks 15 minutes from her St. Petersburg home to a bus stop at Tyrone Square Mall. Then it's a 15-minute bus ride to the school in Pinellas Park -- not counting the time DeMarco waits for the bus to actually show up.

"Sometimes it's an hour wait. Sometimes it's 15 minutes," said DeMarco, a special education teacher. "It all depends on traffic."

Hillsborough County small businesses damaged by Tropical Storm Debby can get some help from the US Small Business Administration.

Small agriculture and aquaculture businesses, most private non-profit organizations, and landlords who lost revenue on their rental properties can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

These small interest loans can help with the recovery from financial and working capital losses for businesses whose insurance didn't cover it. 

Horia Varlan

A nationwide energy scam has cropped up in Florida. And just to be clear, for the ones who've fallen for it, President Barack Obama will not be picking up your energy tab.

Almost 2,000 Tampa Electric customers were duped into believing the President was going to pay their power bill. Customers say they heard of the deal by text, Facebook message and notices on their front doors.

TECO spokeswoman Sylvia Vega says no one seems to have profited from the prank.

Vega explains what happened:

Publix Super Markets

Grocery customers can now avoid the dreaded deli line by going online.

Publix Super Markets just announced the launch of an Internet-based deli ordering system.

Publix Deli Online Easy Ordering will debut at one Lakeland store on Aug. 3 and should be in 50 stores by the end of this year, including "a handful in the Tampa Bay area," said spokeswoman Shannon Patten.

The service will enable shoppers to order custom sub sandwiches and wraps, as well as sliced meats and cheeses, for in-store pickup.

Tampa Bay & Company

Calling it a "game-changer" for downtown development, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the city will receive an $11 million federal grant to finish the Riverwalk.

The walkway along the Hillsborough River has come a long way in recent years, with the addition of the Tampa Art Museum, Glazer Children's Museum and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

But the pathway was broken in two parts, with a big gap in the middle.

Tampa Number Five in Foreclosures

Jun 15, 2012

Foreclosures in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area shot up 111 percent in the past year.

According to RealtyTrac, that means one in every 304 Bay area housing units is in foreclosure.

The new numbers rank the Bay area number five in foreclosures for the top 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country.

Florida's unemployment rate dipped again last month, dropping from 8.7 percent to 8.6 per cent.

After an April slump, The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity says the state added 5300 jobs in May.

For the year, 53,800 jobs have been created in Florida.

Florida still trails the national unemployment rate, which went up from 8.1 to 8.2 percent in May.  

But, Florida is making up some ground, with unemployment dropping two percentage points in the past year.

The Tampa Bay area jobless rate was unchanged in May at 8.6 per cent.

Hillsborough County's public bus system HART is proposing changes to its services and prices.

HART is holding eight meetings and a public hearing to inform the community of its changes; like modifying some routes, increasing prices, and changing their service schedules on holidays.

HART spokeswoman Marcia Mejia says the meetings aren't just for providing information to the public but also to get the public's feedback.


We may not have light rail - but the Bay Area's first Rapid Bus Transit line took several steps closer to becoming reality today. Commuters in Tampa could see the line up and running by next spring.

Tampa-Based Company to Bring 600 New Jobs to Lakeland

May 31, 2012

The Tampa-based Sykes Enterprises CEO Chuck Sykes announced that a new customer service call center is going to bring 600 new jobs to Lakeland.

The company's call center will be located on Griffin Road at the former FedEx National LTL facility and Sykes said it would start operating in the third quarter.

Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 8.7 percent in April, but that was largely due to people leaving the labor force.
Federal officials earlier this month announced the national unemployment rate dropped from 8.2 percent to 8.1 percent in April. But that was mainly because more people gave up looking for work.

That's also what happened in Florida, where the civilian labor force declined by 28,000 workers in April.

Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 8.7 percent last month...but the state has 2,700 fewer jobs. That's the mixed message from April's employment report. The answer: discouraged unemployed workers continue to drop out of the labor force. The state's labor pool continues to shrink. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay's unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent -- very close to the 8.1 percent national average. But like the state, the region lost jobs -- about 600. It also lost its status as the fastest job creating region to Miami.

Aimee Blodgett / USF News

Florida and the Tampa Bay area are well-positioned to work with businesses in developing countries around the world.

That's the opinion of Ian Solomon, the U.S. Executive Director of the World Bank, who's in town this week to meet with local business leaders.

Young Job Hunters Can Apply Through Virtual Job Fair

May 17, 2012
Photo Courtesy of WorkNet Pinellas

WorkNet Pinellas is hosting a virtual job fair. It's going on until May 26 and it's focusing on young people.

They're calling it 'Tampa Bay's Virtual Job Fair."  WorkNet Pinellas and its partners are giving employers an opportunity to post their job openings online for part-time, full-time, and summer internship positions for people ages 14 to 24.

It's free and since it's virtual that means applicants can stay in their pajamas while submitting their resumes.

Courtesy of

Florida's official tourism company, Visit Florida says in the months of January-March tourism has grown 2.4 percent compared to the same time last year.

23.4 million visitors came through Florida in the first quarter of 2012. The largest percentage increase of visitors came from overseas tourists, that rate was 13 percent. Domestic visitors' percentage rate increased 1.2 percent and the percentage increase from Canadian visitors was 2.7 percent.

Photo by Steve Newborn

Jamie Dimon is still the head of the country's largest bank. Just days after he revealed JPMorgan Chase lost nearly$2.5 billion because of bad trades, shareholders today decided not to remove him as chairman of the board.

" Banks got bailed out, we got sold out..." wailed a handful of protesters, who greeted more than 300 shareholders outside JP Morgan Chase's regional office in Tampa.

Occupy Tampa Protests JPMorgan Chase $2 Billion Mistake

May 15, 2012

Protestors lined up Tuesday morning outside the JPMorgan Chase building in Tampa. This is after CEO Jamie Dimon admitted he made a trading mistake which cost shareholders $2 billion. 

Coming from Tampa, Orlando and Miami, the protestors shouted slogans such as "Banks got bailed out! We got sold out!"

2012 College Graduates Have an Improved Job Market

May 15, 2012

Recently, an Associated Press analysis said that half of recent college graduates were unemployed or underemployed. But there's good news for the class of 2012- these college graduates have a better job market.

According to the Lakeland Ledger, the outlook of finding a job has improved since the beginning of the recession in 2008.

Photo courtesy of

Today in Tampa, JPMorgan shareholders will get a first-hand explanation on the reported "trading error" that cost the country's largest bank $2 billion.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon came to Tampa planning to talk about rebounding profits and expansion plans in Florida.

Instead, he’s facing Occupy Tampa protestors outside and upset investors inside today’s shareholder meeting.

National news media are lined up on the sidewalks outside the meeting place and police are providing tight security because demonstrators are expected.

Former Buc Sues the NFL for Concussion Injuries

May 10, 2012

Brad Culpepper, who played tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, is  the lead plaintiff in a concussion lawsuit with 25 other players against the NFL filed Monday.

There are 70 such lawsuits against the league. Eighteen hundred former players are involved.

Photo Courtesy of BayNews 9

Pinellas County Commissioners allocated $600,000 for a Republican National Convention welcome event at Tropicana Field. The money comes from the tourist development tax fund or what's called the "bed tax."

Tampa is hosting the RNC in late August but Tampa does not get all the spotlight. St. Petersburg and Clearwater are estimated to fill 33 thousand hotel room nights during the week of August 28. Officials say that would bring a $32 million impact for Pinellas County.

Biggest March Ever for Pinellas County Tourism

May 9, 2012

Pinellas County collected a record-setting $4.5 million from the county's bed tax in March.

That's the biggest March for tourism tax dollars in Pinellas County history.

In fact,  David Downing -- deputy director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater -- told the Tampa Bay Times that the $4.5 million collected is "the single highest-grossing month in the history of Pinellas County tourism — not just for March but for any month in any year."

Tampa International Airport officials are reporting a 3.6 per cent increase in revenue for the first half of 2012.

That's about 3 million dollars more than TIA made during the same time last year.

 TIA CEO Joe Lopano attributes the uptick  to an increase in passengers, higher parking revenues, concession sales and a nearly 20 percent increase in international flights.

Later this month, Edelweiss Airlines begins direct flights from TIA to Zurich, Switzerland. It's the first new European flight out of TIA in 14 years.

"Chief Executive" magazine's 2012 best and worst list rates Florida as the second most attractive business market in the country.

Florida moved past North Carolina this year to start nipping at the heels of number one Texas.

The 650 CEO's surveyed for the rankings praised the top five states -- Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana -- for their low taxes and regulatory policies.

The Tampa Epoch Publishes May Issue Despite Doubts

May 1, 2012

The May issue of the homeless newspaper The Tampa Epoch was issued Tuesday to vendors putting to rest doubts about its future, in the wake of its publisher's death.

After Tampa City Council banned panhandling on city streets in November last year, Bill Sharpe took the initiative and thought outside the box. A loophole in the ordinance allowed newspapers to be sold everyday on city streets. That meant Sharpe could publish a newspaper specifically for panhandlers.

The Tampa Epoch was born.

Photo by Steven Brooke

Credit the surging economies of South America and increased passenger routes -- Miami International Airport welcomed more international passengers between January and March of this year than any other U.S. airport according to the Sun-Sentinel, overtaking New York’s JFK airport, officials said.

Florida consumers are a little more pessimistic this month according to a survey released Tuesday by the University of Florida. Rising gas prices get part of the blame for the slip in consumer confidence from a January high of 77 percent to 73 percent in April.

Yet, the Governor and Florida Cabinet heard some encouraging news, car purchases from January through March are up in 2012.

Unemployment Rate in Florida Falls to 9 Percent

Apr 20, 2012

The unemployment rate in Florida dropped from 9.4% in February to 9% in March, acorrding to the Tampa Bay Times. States officials say that is the biggest improvement month-to-month in about 10 years.

But it may not all be as good as it seems.

The state's labor force is still shrinking. Last month, about 15,000 Floridians have dropped out of the labor pool and experts are saying many of them are discouraged workers who have given up looking for a job. When they go back to the search, the unemployment rate could rise again.

Landlords in Sarasota County appear to be discriminating against minorities and those with disabilities, according to a study by the firm Mullin & Lonergan Associates.

Minority and disabled investigators posing as prospective renters were quoted higher prices or were asked for more income information than white, non-disabled investigators. Rentals sometimes were available for whites but not for minorities.

The study found that Sarasota County landlords discriminated in two of five disability tests, and in three of four racial tests.

Women Still Not Paid as Much as Men in Florida

Apr 18, 2012

According to a report from the National Partnership for Women & Families, Florida's working women make 80 cents for every $1 men make.

But that's still better than the national average.

Florida ranks 11th among the nation in women's equal pay. The national average is 77 cents paid to women for every $1 men are paid.

The report says the median yearly salary gap between women and men has increased by $1,000 since last year.