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Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

Robert Trigaux

Robert Trigaux joined the Times as a business writer in 1991. In 2000, he began writing a business column three times a week. He served as business editor from 2005 to 2008, when he resumed his role as business columnist. While at the Times, he has covered a range of beats including banking and finance, technology, telecommunications, energy and economic development. He has received various awards for business writing, including two Green Eyeshades from the Society of Professional Journalists, a commendation for column writing from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and a first place in business columns from the National Association of Newspaper Columnists.

In the late 1970s, Robert started his business journalism career in New York writing for various business publications covering topics from technology to the furniture industry. At the American Banker, a daily national newspaper, he covered the financial industry in New York and London, then served for eight years as its bureau chief in Washington, D.C. He holds an economics degree from Colgate University.

Phone: (727) 893-8405

Email: trigaux@tampabay.com

Blog: Venture

Twitter: @VentureTampaBay

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  1. Up for sale? Activist investor grabs stake in Tampa's Bloomin' Brands

    Retail

    TAMPA — If you tread water too long in the same spot, someone might start asking why you're not trying to swim somewhere.

    Tampa's Bloomin' Brands — parent company of such prominent restaurant chains as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill — has been treading water the past few years with flat restaurant sales and a lukewarm share price. Recent earnings fell sharply....

    Barry Rosenstein, principal owner of hedge fund Jana Partners. Jana took a 8.74 percent stake in Tampa's Bloomin' Brands, parent of Outback Steakhouse and three other restaurant chains, because Bloomin' is perceived as an underperformer. Jana may push to sell the company. [Courtesy of Jana Partners]
  2. We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

    Business

    What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?

    The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.

    RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there's a plan to fix that. ...

    Roberto Torres, founder of  Tampa's Blind Tiger Cafe and Black & Denim Apparel: Find opportunities for bigger companies to help startups by giving them a business problem to solve.  [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there's a plan to fix that

    Business

    How are we doing?

    That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining or losing competitive ground versus other significant metro areas across the country. That's major progress .

    A day later, leaders of the University of Tampa's Lowth Entrepreneurship Center issued their critical annual review of the regional support system built to help startups in Tampa Bay. Also a big step....

    What's missing is that Tampa Bay is not village-like as are some of the metro communities that have succeeded in developing their entrepreneurial ecosystems, says Paul Sanberg, USF senior vice president for research, innovation & knowledge enterprise. [Courtesy of  USF]
  4. Florida personal income grows, but national gap widens

    Personal Finance

    The wallets of most area Floridians continue to grow. Just not as fast as they might like.

    Personal income rose in 2016 in most counties making up the greater Tampa Bay area, with Pinellas boasting both the highest average income of $49,186 and the fastest rate of growth in the metro area at 1.5 percent, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    The bad news is the national average growth of personal income in counties located in metropolitan areas was 2.5 percent. That's a full percentage point higher than Pinellas' income growth and the latest signal that Florida incomes, even in metros with stronger economies, in general are failing to keep up with cities across the country....

    In Pinellas County, fast growing personal finance information provider The Penny Hoarder announced this week it will hire by 2020 more 165 new employees at an average annual wage of $66,098. Founder and CEO Kyle Taylor, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and other business and political leaders joined the company's staff to celebrate the expansion in downtown St. Petersburg. Pinellas County boasts the highest average personal income among Tampa Bay area counties, says the Bureau of Economic Analysis. [Company handout]
  5. A year after first assessing Tampa Bay startup scene, a call to nurture more veteran dealmakers

    Business

    TAMPA — A year ago, an academic team of business experts announced they would put a "Fitbit" on Tampa Bay to help measure how its start-up scene or "entrepreneurial ecosystem" was doing and where it needed help. Two areas of concern were cited: the lack of connectivity across the Tampa Bay startup community and lean capital resources.

    That report also recommended steps to improve leadership, collaboration, investor education and even a stronger marketing brand for the Tampa Bay region....

    A University of Tampa academic team unveiled its first annual check-up on the health and needs of the Tampa Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem Wednesday evening in Tampa. The effort to boost stsartup acltivity is led by Rebecca J. White, professor of entrepreneurship and director of the the university's John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center: [University of Tampa handout]
  6. Trigaux: Can we grasp potential of two new ways to track region's ability to compete?

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Two fresh ways to track how Tampa Bay is doing compared to other metro areas were unveiled Tuesday to business and community leaders here during a luncheon held at the University of South Florida. The Tampa Bay Partnership introduced its first (hopefully one of many in the coming years) Regional Competitiveness Report that broadly benchmarks how this metro is doing compared to 19 other competitive areas in the country. ...

    Tampa Bay Partnership chair Rhea Law talks about the new Regional Competitiveness Report introduced Tuesday to Tampa Bay business and community leaders at a luncheon at USF in Tampa. She also praised USF Muma College of Business's plan to use more timely, non-traditional data to track how this community is doing. She wrapped up the luncheon echoing the business school's pitch that the best way to predict Tampa Bay's future is to take a more direct approach in shaping it. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  7. Tackling Tampa Bay's talent challenge

    Business

    Troy Taylor runs one of this region's faster-growing businesses as chief executive officer of Tampa-based Coca-Cola Beverages Florida. So who does he spend the most time with in this demanding role? His senior vice president of human resources. It shows his priority: finding and cultivating the best talent available.

    "It is a passion point for me," Taylor says.

    RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: What's our weakest link? To compete as a region, first fix our talent gap ...

    Troy Taylor, CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, is heading a new task force on workforce talent development for the Tampa Bay Partnership. [Courtesy of  Coca-Cola Beverages of Florida]
  8. Trigaux: What's our weakest link? To compete as a region, first fix our talent gap

    Economic Development

    We are about to learn where Tampa Bay stands versus its peers, so perhaps we finally can better focus on — and fix — what needs the most attention to become more competitive.

    A sweeping set of regional indicators that compares Tampa Bay's performance to 19 other metro areas shows we rank high in job growth, the pace of people moving here and even less driving congestion than other places. But we land among the worst in possessing the workforce talent needed to support higher-wage, higher-skilled work....

    Tampa Bay Partnership chair Rhea Law, head of the Florida offices of the Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney law firm, believes coalitions will emerge to help improve weak spots in the Tampa Bay community in the wake of a new analysis tracking how the region is doing compared to other metro areas. Left in photo, Tampa Bay Partnership CEO Rick Homans says the idea to be competitive is critical -- "not in some silo, but to see how we are doing relative to other markets." [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  9. Trigaux: Tampa parent of Outback, Carrabba's still struggling amid glut of restaurants

    Retail

    Will Bloomin' Brands ever find a way to regain the restaurant mojo of old when its core chains like Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill were hot properties?

    The Tampa company Friday morning reported a tepid, at best, third quarter earnings and issued a litany of reasons and excuses for a 5.6 percent decline in revenues, a startling 79 percent drop in net income and more per-store slippage in sales at three of its four major chains....

    As Tampa's Bloomin' Brands struggles in a competitive industry, its restaurant chains have continued to experiment in ways to revive sales. In this 2015 photo, 
Jay Smith, head chef of Carrabba's Italian Grill, worked on the chain's then-new small plate offerings for a new menu at  the Carrabba's test kitchen in Tampa. In the latest quarter, Carrabba's per-store U.S. sales in company-owned locations fell 2.8 percent. Bloomin' also owns Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and Fleming's. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  10. Trigaux: At last, Tampa Bay embraces one set of indicators to gauge its future course

    Economic Development

    It's not your typical event when close to 90 top organizations — from businesses, philanthropic groups, chambers of commerce and hospitals to universities, public schools, major sports franchises and local governments — meet around one table and over the course of a year agree on a single mission:

    If a broad spectrum of Tampa Bay leaders can agree on a common set of regional data that objectively measures over time how this metropolitan area is doing in comparison to other key U.S. metros, then our weaknesses can be better identified and improved, our strengths bolstered and celebrated, and this region can emerge a more competitive and prosperous place....

    "Over time, what these regional indicators can do is unite us in our understanding of where we are and where we need to go," says CEO Marlene Spalten of the $224-million-asset Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. "If we are using different references, then we are not working together." A major philanthropic group in this area, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay helped fund the Tampa Bay Partnership's undertaking of the soon-to-be-released Regional Competitiveness Report. The report will measures over time how Tampa Bay is performing across more than 50 specific indicators compared with 19 other U.S. metro areas. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  11. Trigaux: 5 economic trends that will drive Tampa Bay's future

    Business

    Tampa Bay and Florida are like most metros and states — vying to get bigger, stronger and eager to do more. What they don't have, they want. And what they do have needs to be remodeled often to remain bright and shiny. (If somebody has the money.) With Florida and Tampa Bay unemployment rates at 3.8 and 3.3 percent, respectively, economic aspirations are predictably high. More jobs. Better airports. More sports stadiums. More spending by the rich. Here are five business trends that shed some light on what's happening here. And yes, the last trend may deserve the most attention....

    The Tampa Bay Rays want a new stadium. The University of South Florida wants its own football stadium near the Tampa campus. The Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team continues to enhance its converted baseball stadium as the franchise grows in downtown St. Petersburg. To keep the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin for spring training, an $81 million deal to enhance the stadium and area facilities is under way. Stadium fever is alive and well. Pictured is a rendering of the proposed new Rays ball park location near Ybor City. [Courtesy of Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan]
  12. Trigaux: Top Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs invests $30 million in cyber fighting KnowBe4

    Business

    CLEARWATER — If this isn't a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, then what is?

    Wall Street's best known investment firm, Goldman Sachs, is committing the sizeable sum of $30 million to help advance the fast-growing Clearwater cyber security training startup called KnowBe4.

    That's a ton of money for any startup in the bay area. And the Goldman Sachs' imprimatur adds a whole other layer on this deal, making the investment a great win for KnowBe4 but also a big victory for recognizing potential in Tampa Bay's entrepreneurs and its expanding market of startups....

    Earlier this year, employees of KnowBe4 gathered on bean bag chairs wearing renditions of purple during an end-of-month wrap-up meeting on the 11th floor at the company's headquarters. Now there's something new to celebrate. Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs just agreed to invest $30 million in the cyber security training startup. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  13. Trigaux: Amid wealth inequality, is middle class losing habit of giving to charities?

    Business

    In the slow economic recovery since the nasty recession a decade ago, researchers are wondering if the hard times back then broke middle class America's habit of charitable giving.

    The numbers are revealing. In 2015, only 24 percent of taxpayers reported a charitable gift. That's down from 2000 to 2006, years when that figure routinely reached 30 or 31 percent.

    "Fewer Americans appear to be giving to charity," concludes a Chronicle of Philanthropy report this month following an analysis of Internal Revenue Service tax data. "The number of households making room in their budgets for charitable giving is shrinking." ...

    Les and Pam Muma, left, are big backers of the Junior Achievement program in Tampa Bay and in 2014 pledged $25 million to the University of South Florida College of Businiess in Tampa, which now bears the Muma name. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and wife Penny, right, are also high profile and generous philanthropists in the area. In this 2014 photo, the couples attended a benefit for the Tampa General Hospital Foundation. [AMY SCHERZER | Times]
  14. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Put politely, they are doing okay, outperforming some other states and metro areas — including Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville within the Sunshine State.

    Most places in the country are rebounding after the miserable recession of a decade ago....

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
[SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  15. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    No surprise — given the soaring stock market with today's Dow briefly topping 23,000 Tuesday — most billionaires got richer in the past year. Florida's richest billionaire, Thomas Peterffy of Palm Beach, saw his net worth top $15 billion this year, rising more than $2.5 billion in just the past year....

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]