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worradmu / freedigitalphotos.net

For the first time since the Great Recession, incomes are up in every major U.S. metropolitan area – including Tampa Bay.

That’s according to figures released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. From 2010 to 2011, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area saw a 3.2 percent jump in per capita personal income -- that's the region's total personal income divided by its total midyear population. Nationwide, incomes went up 4.26 percent.

Here's what folks earned on average in 2011, with 2010 wages in parentheses:

HART / HART

Merging Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties’ public transit systems does not make financial sense.

That's the initial report from a consulting firm hired by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. The findings were discussed Monday in a meeting that included board members from both groups, according to this article in the Tampa Tribune.

Here’s the financial breakdown:

HART

October was a record-setting month for public transit in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, according to figures released Friday. Continuing a trend a increased annual ridership, both Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority gave the highest number of monthly rides in their respective 33- and 28-year histories:

  • HART: 1,344,854 rides (up 11 percent from October 2011)
  • PSTA: 1,287,301 rides (up 14 percent from October 2011)

The man who many hoped would purchase the struggling Channelside shopping and entertainment complex says he is suspending his efforts to do so.

Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was seen as the most likely suitor for Channelside, which is in bankruptcy. Several businesses there have either closed down or said they planned to leave.

In a statement, Vinik and his partners cite an unnamed "significant legal hurdle, beyond our control."

When St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster asked the Tampa Bay Rays for some feedback on a proposed new stadium in Carillon Business Park, he apparently opened the door for Rays management to look elsewhere for a new ballpark location.

Media General sells Tampa Tribune, TBO

Oct 8, 2012
Courtesy of Todd Chapel / Tampa Tribune

The Tampa Tribune was purchased by a private equity investment group, and beginning today will be operated by a newly created, locally based company called the Tampa Media Group.

The Tribune's longtime corporate owner, Virginia-based Media General Inc., announced the transaction this morning, transferring ownership of the Tribune, its affiliated newspapers and TBO.com to the Los Angeles-based Revolution Capital Group

BayNews 9

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, is calling for the Florida Attorney General to investigate builder KB Home.

Bennett believes the California-based company knowingly built with poor quality materials and sold shoddy condominiums.

The senator said the "last straw" was when he found out about lawsuits filed by former KB Home employees.

The whistleblowers say the company knew about structural defects in the Willowbrook condo community in Manatee County, but KB decided to sell them anyway.

Florida's Unemployment Rate Stuck at 8.8 Percent

Sep 21, 2012
Sarah Curran

Florida has gained almost 78,000 jobs since last August. This marks the 25th consecutive month of steady gains according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

University of Central Florida economics professor Sean Snaith said the newest employment numbers indicate a steady, positive growth. Snaith said he was surprised with the number of payroll jobs added. 

 

Tampa City Council will vote next Thursday on whether to put a temporary moratorium on granting business licenses to internet “sweepstakes” cafes that offer online gambling.

Today, council members discussed regulatory options and settled on holding another workshop in 60 days, but they also voted to consider an abatement ordinance that would impose a temporary moratorium on any future “sweepstakes cafes” until regulations are in place.

Tampa's Economy Looking Up

Sep 18, 2012
WUSF Public Media

The Broookings Institute has ranked Tampa 30th out of 100 U.S. metro areas in how much it's economy has improved in the last quarter.

Bobbie O'Brien

The political conventions are over, and now we're able to start answering the questions - what did residents of Tampa Bay actually get from the Republican National Convention?

Our final take from the series, Voices on the Street, compares what people said before the convention to what they're saying now it's over.

Michael Gentry

Michael Gentry sells the Epoch, a newspaper for homeless people in the bay area. You can almost always find him on Scott Street, near the I-275 and I-4 entrance ramps. It's a good spot to observe what's going on in Tampa.

More people are taking public transportation in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) saw a 2.8 percent increase in bus ridership last month as compared to the same time last year. 

Though bus ridership was about average during the Republican National Convention, streetcar ridership did go  up.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority also saw in increase in ridership, a 10 percent jump from August 2011. 

Amy Green

It may take only a little sugar to make candy and cookies tasty treats, but sugar is big business.

This election cycle, sugar growers gave more to political campaigns than tobacco companies.

Big Sugar spends big to preserve a complex government program that benefits the industry by boosting the domestic price of the crop.

It costs consumers about $2-billion annually.

And in South Florida, nearly 700,000 acres are dedicated to growing sugar cane.

traderjoes.com

Full disclosure: I am very excited about this.

As a transplant from the Midwest, I'm always giddy when a business I enjoyed up North comes to Tampa Bay:

  • Kohl's in 2006
  • Ikea in 2009

And now Trader Joe's, the affordable hipster grocery chain that manages to sell items like gluten-free bagels and organic pomegranate juice at unpretentious prices. 

On Thursday, Tampa City Council will discuss pursuing a program that could attract wealthy, foreign investors to the area and in turn create new jobs for residents.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' EB-5 Investor Visa program has been around for more than two decades.

In Miami, the South Florida Investment Regional Center is using the EB-5 program to attract capital investments. The program is a simple quid pro quo.

vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With Labor Day behind us, millions of Floridians are returning to work today--but taking home slimmer paychecks than in previous years, according to a new report.

Over the holiday weekend, Florida International University's Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy released its annual State of Working Florida report. The CliffsNotes version is this: Florida's typical worker earns about $1,000 less today than in 2010. 

If you've been to Tampa lately, you may have noticed the new landscaping on Bayshore Boulevard or the brightly lit bridges over the Hillsborough River.

You have the Republican National Convention to thank.

Much of the estimated $43 million improvements to the city are being paid for by the city and by a $50 million federal grant. Other private funders have chipped in as well.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly how much is being spent because many of the projects expedited by the RNC were already on the drawing board. 

Also, others pitched in to cover costs. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have each spent $800,000 to upgrade their phone infrastructure in the convention center. Tampa Electric and TECO People's Gas are the founding sponsors of the "Lighting of the Bridges" project.

Here is a list of projects to be completed before the RNC from the city of Tampa.

The economic impact of having the Tampa Bay region reported on by 15,000 journalists is one of the main reasons given for hosting the Republican National Convention. And local business leaders are not leaving to chance the kind of impression the bay area makes.

Preparations started in January to shape how out-of-town reporters write about the Tampa Bay area during the RNC.

Fifty-thousand people are expected to pour into Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

By day, they’re expected to attend meetings, patronize shops, and fill restaurants.

By night, high-end escorts hope some convention goers will be spending their time with them.

Bus Ridership Up Across Tampa Bay

Aug 8, 2012

HART Bus ridership went up almost 6 percent last month compared to July last year and they had almost 61 thousand more bus trips this July than July 2011.

Its counterpart in Pinellas, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) , set a record. They had a 14 percent increase in ridership this past July and the highest ridership than the same month in any other year since the agency's existence.

HART spokeswoman Marcia Mejia said this increase in ridership has been going on for awhile.

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