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So, you wanna start a business?

Tampa Bay may not be the best place to do so, but it isn't the worst, either. That's according to Thumbtack.com, an online marketplace that matches consumers with local services.

This week, the website released the results of its second-annual Small Business Friendliness Survey, which asked nearly 8,000 entrepreneurs nationwide to rank cities on criteria like zoning regulations, tax code fairness and the overall ease of starting a new business.

Here's the takeaway:

NPR.org

We learn two things from a recent study by NerdWallet.com:

  1. Tampa is the sixth-best U.S. city for starting a business.
  2. There's a NerdWallet.com.

The price comparison website recently calculated the best cities to start a small business, taking into account loan availability, per capita income, small business-friendliness rating and other factors.

Our own Cigar City ranked at No. 6 on the survey of 42 metro areas. Here's the explanation:

Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You've probably heard the statistic: For every dollar a man earns, a woman doing comparable work makes only 77 cents. That goes for full-time, year-round employees.

But a new study shows that the wage gap can grow or shrink depending on where you live. According to a report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Florida is home to three of the metro areas where women's pay come closest to that of men--albeit still not equal.

Check out the top 10. The numbers represent women's pay as a percentage of men's pay.  

Vacation Home Sales Up 10 Percent, "Tight" Inventory

Apr 3, 2013
Florida Realtors Association

There's been a 10 percent increase in vacation home sales in 2012 from the year before. That's the word from an annual survey by the national association of realtors.

The survey on Investment and Vacation Home Buyers says the median price of a vacation home last year was $150,000. That number was about $30,000 less in 2011.

mlb.com

The Tampa Bay Rays have made the Forbes list -- but not in a Bill Gates sort of way.

For the second straight year, the Rays rank at the bottom of Forbes.com's list of the most valuable Major League Baseball teams. Read it and weep:

Dalia Colón / WUSF Public Media

Inkwood Books, one of Tampa Bay’s last remaining independent bookstores, will soon be under new ownership.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that Carla Jimenez and Leslie Reiner have sold the South Tampa bookstore to longtime customer Stefani Beddingfield. Financial terms were not disclosed for the sale, which takes effect April 1.

Legoland Florida Announces "Chima" Expansion

Mar 19, 2013

Today, Legoland Florida announced a major expansion for its Winter Haven location, the largest of its five Lego-based theme parks.

Legoland Florida's newest attraction will revolve around an interactive water ride called the Quest for Chi.  It's based on Lego's "The Legends of Chima," a show set to launch this summer on Cartoon Network.

Florida Unemployment Rate Better than National Average

Mar 18, 2013
myflorida.com

It's the first time since 2008 that Florida's unemployment rate hasn't topped the national average. Florida's January unemployment rate is 7.8 percent.

The national average is 7.9 percent.

Fifth World Art / Flickr Creative Commons

Let's hope the luck of the Irish is with passengers aboard the Carnival Legend.  On Sunday -- St. Patrick's Day -- the cruise ship departed from the Port of Tampa for a weeklong excursion, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Last week, after its propulsion system malfunctioned, the Legend re-routed to Tampa’s Channel District. On Sunday morning, passengers disembarked as hundreds of others arrived for their afternoon voyage, which will travel at a reduced speed with as a propulsion specialist continues making repairs en route to Mexico -- not Belize, as originally planned.

Farmworkers March 200 Miles, Stop in Tampa

Mar 13, 2013

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has been asking Publix Super Market Inc. to be a part of a Fair Food Program for the farmworkers who work the tomato fields. The CIW is on a 200 mile march from Ft. Myers to Lakeland and they stopped in Tampa today.

The CIW is in its fourth year trying to persuade Publix to sign its Fair Food Program agreement. It calls for better working conditions and a "penny-a-pound" bonus for its tomatoes.

Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office

The Great Recession is over - at least when it comes to the value of homes in Hillsborough County.

The county's property appraiser released statistics today that shows property values are rebounded, after five straight years of dropping through the floor.

Here's the word from the property appraiser's office:

Gov. Rick Scott spent the day working at Lakeland’s Joker Marchant Stadium Wednesday, raking the field and selling strawberry shortcake.  But he also made an announcement about state funding for baseball. 

This year's edition of the Daytona 500 posted its strongest TV ratings since 2008, thanks to a buildup of attention drawn by Danica Patrick's history-making pole position and a horrendous crash during a race at the track Saturday. Viewership peaked late in the race, when Patrick dropped from third position to finish eighth behind winner Jimmie Johnson.

The biggest percentage gains in viewership seem to have come in big cities.

Here's a headline that may sound familiar: Miami is in the middle of a condo boom.

Just seven years ago, Miami had a similar surge in condo construction. But it all came crashing down. There was an international banking crisis, and the Florida real estate bubble burst — taking down investors and many developers.

But new towers are once again reshaping the city's skyline.

Peter Zalewski, a real estate consultant with Condo Vultures, says 19 condo towers are now in the works in Miami, with 7,000 total units.

The Hillsborough County Commission approved a cost-sharing agreement for road improvements along Falkenburg Road in Brandon for a new Bass Pro Shop.

The deal is just more than $6 million. Backers of the project expect tax revenues to make up for the cost in 5 years after the shop opens in 2014.

The money won't be going to Bass Pro. Instead, the money goes to the developer - I-75/Palm River Road LLC. They'll be the ones doing the road adjustments.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe voted in favor and stands behind his vote.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tampa Bay is feeling the heat--and we're not talking about Valentine's Day passion.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area was the third-most financially strapped part of the country in the last quarter of 2012. That's according to the latest Consumer Distress Index released by CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. 

In fact, three of top five most financially distressed metro areas were in the not-so-Sunshine State. Here's the breakdown:

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Wells Fargo Regional President Carl Miller stood by a podium set up at 109 W. Adalee St. - right in front of a home that needs rehabilitation.

The men presented six local nonprofit organizations with grants totaling $800,000 for their efforts in affordable housing construction, shelter and support services for the homeless, neighborhood beautification and improvement, workforce development programs, and small and micro-business assistance.

The Great Recession touched a vast majority of Americans personally, a new study from Rutgers' Heldrich Center finds.

The most stunning number in the study: "Some 73 percent [of Americans] either lost a job themselves, or had a member of their household, a close relative, or a friend lose a job at some point in the past four years."

The report is pretty depressing. A few more findings:

1800askgary.com

Seems like the name 1-800-Ask-Gary is everywhere: On TV commercials, on the radio, on the sides of buses...

But here's one place that no longer bears the moniker of the "doctor and lawyer referral service": The amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds. 

Ask-Gary had a three-year naming rights deal with the outdoor concert venue off Interstate 4, according to the Tampa Bay Times. That contract expired Dec. 31.

The Crystal River nuclear power plant will be retired, the parent company of Progress Energy said today, affecting about 600 employees and ending months of uncertainly over the facility's future.

The reactor has been offline since late 2009, when its concrete containment building cracked during a maintenance and upgrade project.

Officials with North Carolina-based Duke Energy, which owns Progress Energy, had said fixing the plant could take nearly three years and cost billions of dollars.

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