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Roundup 11-4-2011

November 4, 2011


The latest jobs news is found in the Times:

Call center operator OneTouch Direct has pledged to keep its corporate headquarters in Tampa and add 700 jobs here over the next two years.

The local company was considering moving to Michigan or Buffalo (Huh?).  However, they decided to stay. As their executive VP said:

“Tampa is such a mecca for call centers,” he said. “We recognize that clients don’t hire our company. They hire our people, and Hillsborough County’s labor pool has an abundance of individuals that possess the qualities and skills our clients have come to expect.”

Jobs are good.  Tampa Bay needs as many as it can get.  Tampasphere is happy OneTouch Direct decided to stay.  We are even happier that they are headquartered here.

One thing, though. Tampasphere does not mind the Tampa Bay area being known as a mecca for call centers but we would like the Tampa Bay area also to be known as a mecca for high skill, high paying, high tech and manufacturing jobs.  Once again, we are happy about the jobs and the people who get them, but, while a victory, this is not an overwhelming success.

Rail – You Reap What You Sow

Speaking of jobs, Tampasphere has written a number of times about the different approaches taken by Tampa and Orlando regarding light rail, particularly after referenda failed in both cities. (See here  and here).

We learned this week that the state is set to buy the CSX rails for Sunrail.

We also learned that there are already a lot of plans for transit oriented development in Orlando and its suburbs, like this:

Reicher, whose firm on Oct. 24 officially announced it will move forward with the first phase of a $200 million transit-oriented development in downtown Orlando . . .



And this and this and this

Lord knows that the jobs created in building and filling these developments would be useful in Tampa.

The reality is you reap what you sow, and, if you sow nothing, so shall you reap.

More Success at TIA

Tampasphere is also happy to read in the Tribune that there is more success at TIA, this time in its revenue:

Despite the poor economy that’s keeping passenger traffic flat at Tampa International Airport, officials reported $2.2 million more in net profits than budgeted for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Tampa International ended the year with a $23.7 million net profit, a figure chief executive Joe Lopano expects to increase to $26 million in fiscal 2012.

Even better, traffic generally and international traffic especially was up:

Passenger traffic rose 0.7 percent to 16.7 million passengers in fiscal 2011, although passengers declined 0.4 percent in September compared with a year ago to 1.1 million mostly because of a weakness in domestic travel.

* * *

International ridership bolstered by new Cuba flights and expanded Puerto Rico and London service rose 20.8 percent in September to 25,341 passengers.

Given the economy and all the other factors around, the TIA leadership keeps performing well.  We hope it continues.

St. Pete – something other than the Rays

We are told by the Times that St. Petersburg approved the construction of some apartments in the Gateway area.  Usually that would not be noteworthy – even with the eagles in the story (read the story if the eagles pique your interest).  What Tampasphere finds noteworthy is this:

The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the project for 240 homes within 10 three-story apartment buildings despite photos from early this year showing an eagle’s nest on the land.

Now that is more like it.  For too long people have said that Pinellas is “built-out” and that is that.  Literally, it is true (especially if you are looking to build walled subdivisions).  There are way too many low, flat buildings sprawling across much of Pinellas filling a lot of space, but that does not mean that there is not room to improve Pinellas by building up (and it would appear at least some at the county agree with us.)

We have not seen renderings of this project, so it may be three buildings cast adrift in a sea of parking, but we are hoping it is actually a well planned, relatively urban development that can actually tap into the potential of the Gateway area to make an urban hub in the middle of Pinellas County. (Has anyone note that the Gateway area is also a theoretical hub of a Pinellas rail system?)

Tampa : America’s Next Great City

Finally, Tampsphere noticed this articleabout young entrepreneurs in Tampa working to improve and sell the city.  We are all for that.  But the headline caught our attention:

Tampapreneurs: Touting Tampa As America’s Next Great City

We have heard this before, decades ago.  Though, Tampasphere agrees, for the most part, with this assessment:

It was a fine, if bizarre, title, signifying the dual images of Tampa, straddling the fence between old-guard leanings and new-world possibilities

Unfortunately, since the “Next Great City” moniker first appered in the 1980’s, it would seem either America is very slow in developing great cities or Tampa has been overtaken in its position.  In either case, can we please all agree to let that phrase die?

Also, the article had this little nugget:

“Tampa has the best of both worlds,” Anzalone [ed. From New Jersey] says, citing both the city elements and small town feel of neighborhoods. “A lot of my friends in the North hadn’t heard of Tampa. You don’t hear about it, but once you go, you never want to leave.”

Wait?  Never heard of it?  They didn’t notice the Bucs, the Rays, the Lightning, the Super Bowls, all that other stuff?  Somewhere some marketing guy, and some geography teacher, is rolling over in their grave.

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