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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. 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]
  2. 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]
  3. 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....

    For the 24th year in a row, Bill Gates topped the Forbes 400 list of richest U.S. billionaires with $89 billion. Gates, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, is also helping fund the $3-billion Water Street Tampa development, a partnership with his Cascade Investment personal money management firm and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. [AP Photo/Mark Lennihan]



 participates in a session titled "Investing in Prevention and Resilient Health Systems," Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) NYML123
  4. HQ2 watch: As deadline looms for Amazon headquarters pitch, one metro bows out

    Business

    If there's one national business saga to keep up on these days, it's the frenzy by metropolitan areas — including Tampa Bay — to make their best pitches to Amazon in the hope of being chosen as the new location for the giant online retailer's second massive headquarters. HQ2, as it is called, would create upwards of 50,000 high-paying jobs and billions of dollars of new investment in whichever city it locates in....

    Cities across the country are trying to land Amazon's second headquarters, known as HQ2. In Birmingham, Ala., giant Amazon boxes were constructed and placed around the city as part of its "Bring A to B" campaign. [Ali Clark/Bring A to B Campaign]
  5. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially unveiled Monday morning. Its mission: To recruit more business talent and relocations to this metro area....

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]
  6. Trigaux: Feeling lucky? 13 questions to test if you're up on Tampa Bay business scene

    Business

    Tampa Bay's business community is not only growing in size but also in depth and diversity. There's simply a lot more going on, and what's going on typically is more sophisticated and, frankly, more interesting. Welcome to a maturing metro area. Tampa Bay's still has big aspirations, as it should. And it still has plenty of challenges, as most metros do.

    Here are a baker's dozen of multiple choice questions that should challenge most readers on some significant business events of recent times. Can you ace all 13? At the least, it's a good way to tell if you're really keeping up with our economic progress here. Good luck. Look for the answers at the end of the quiz....

    In the endless debate over the future of Tropicana Field, who recently questioned whether "the experience is such that there's nothing unique about going to a baseball game at this particular stadium?"
[WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]
  7. For older consumers keen to preserve their savings, report offers a helping hand

    Personal Finance

    Now that I am officially an "older" consumer — at least based on this report's criteria — I can offer firsthand confirmation that predatory lending and a poorly monitored debt collection industry are both alive and well in Florida.

    That's why a 35-page report issued Thursday — Older Consumers in the Financial Marketplace — that looks at financial complaints filed by folks 62 and older to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resonates more to me now than it might have a decade ago....

    A new report finds older Americans filed the most financial complaints to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about mortgage problems. In a 2014 photo, Fran Goodnow of  St. Petersburg talked about having to move out of her Kenwood home for failing to abide by the terms of a reverse mortgage. [SCOTT KEELER      |     TIMES]
  8. In high-level talks to sell Amazon on a new Tampa headquarters? Wishful thinking

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Was it a moment of irrational exuberance?

    Top Tampa economic development leader Craig Richard on Wednesday was most unhappy to learn secondhand — after agreeing to give a luncheon speech this Friday at the Centre Club — why he was allegedly forced to cancel his appearance.

    An online flyer issued by the Centre Club "Thought Leaders" group that had invited Richard claims his cancellation was "due to active, dynamic negotiations with Amazon senior management to relocate their corporate headquarters and 3,000 jobs to Tampa."...

    Tampa Hillsborough EDC CEO Craig Richard says he was dumbfounded Wednesday when he saw a flyer that said he had cancelled a speech on Oct. 13 because of high-level talks with Amazon officials about a second headquarters in Tampa. That is just wrong, he says. A second flyer from the group Thought Leaders @Centre Club apologized for the misinformation. The topic is sensitive given the approaching Oct. 19 deadline for Tampa Bay and other competing metros to send proposals to Amazon for its "HQ2" second headquarters that would employ up to 50,000 on a $5 billion corporate campus. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  9. Trigaux: Hearst $75 million stake in M2Gen tops Florida start-up funding deals in quarter

    Banking

    Thanks to a single mammoth injection of venture capital into one of its start-ups, New York City topped the nation's VC rankings in sheer dollar funding in this year's third quarter ended Sept. 30.

    The nation's biggest VC commitment is indeed a whopper: $3 billion going to WeWork, a Manhattan-based start-up involved in office rental and co-working space. The money comes from SoftBank Group billionaire Masayoshi Son who has pledged to invest many more billions in U.S. companies in the coming years....

    Dr. Bill Dalton, founder and now chairman of start-up M2Gen in Tampa. In the third quarter of 2017, Hearst Communications invested $75 million in M2Gen, a cancer-fighting start-up subsidiary of Moffitt Cancer Center. That's the largest venture capit6al funding sum in the state for the quarter ended Sept. 30. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  10. Trigaux: Promise our firstborns? Metros go wild in pursuit of Amazon HQ2

    Economic Development

    I truly wonder if Amazon and billionaire founder Jeff Bezos fathomed what they were about to unleash when the Seattle retail juggernaut announced publicly that it was inviting pitches from larger (and not so large) metros across the United States and Canada.

    The goal: To claim the ultimate bragging rights as the new site for Amazon's second headquarters.

    It's called Amazon HQ2. And for the now hyperventilating world of metropolitan area economic developers, site selectors and business and political leaders, the pursuit of HQ2 may rank up there as the Economic Holy Grail....

    If the competitioin by so many hungry metro areas becomes a bidding war for Amazon's HQ2 second headquarters, Amazon may leave the list of fiinalists large in order to encourage more bidding among more metros, says Tampa Hillsborough EDC chief executive Craig Richard. Hillsborough and Pinellas EDCs are joining forces to pitch the region as a whole to Amazon. Deadline is Oct. 19.  [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  11. Two Florida leaders in CSI-style forensic training join forces

    Business

    LARGO — A 22-year-old non-profit specializing in forensic training "CSI"-style for law enforcement and military customers is partnering with a major South Florida university well established in forensics education.

    Largo's National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) and Florida International University (FIU) announced Thursday they are joining forces to make a bigger impact in the field of forensic science. The partnership will expand the university's diverse offerings and bring NFSTC's wealth of training skills to a broader audience in this country and abroad....

    At the National Forensic Science Technology Center in Largo, students from the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement practice photographing footprints. The NFSTC is merging with Florida International University's International Forensic Research Institute, the organizations announced Thursday. [Courtesy of NFSTC]
  12. Trigaux: Beneath veneer of our economic rebound, distressed communities are stalled

    Personal Finance

    Perhaps rosy statements of our economic rebound in the United States, Florida and Tampa Bay — from low unemployment and record stock markets to rising GDP growth — should be delivered more like those drug ads pitched on TV. They all briefly promise blissful relief but must end the ads with an asterisk detailing their lengthy and often scary side effects.

    Here's how the economic asterisk might read:...

  13. Trigaux: A hyperloop may take you from Orlando to Miami in 26 minutes

    Business

    Orlando may one day get its own "Tomorrowland" — one that has nothing to do with Disney's Magic Kingdom.

    The city has been picked as a finalist for an ultra-high-speed transit system known as a hyperloop that would travel between Orlando and Miami in — wait for it — 26 minutes. The ground transportation system was first proposed in 2013 by Elon Musk, cofounder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and founder of space transport company SpaceX. An electric-powered hyperloop would propel passengers seated in pods through what are, in effect, pneumatic tubes at speeds potentially near 700 miles per hour....

    Hyperloop One, a private Los Angeles startup, earlier this year successfully tested its XP-1 passenger pod at a test site in the Nevada desert, reaching speeds of up to 192 mph and levitating off the track as it accelerated in a tube that is 500 meters lone. The goal is to boost that speed above 700 miles per hour. One route, if built, would connect Orlando to Miami via a hyperloop system. [Courtesy Hyperloop One]
  14. Jabil reports strong fourth quarter, closes fiscal year with bullish outlook

    Corporate

    ST. PETERSBURG – Electronics manufacturer Jabil finished its fiscal year with a financial upswing, reporting strong gains for the fourth quarter ended Aug. 31 in both revenues and net income over the same period a year ago. Net income was $46 million, up from $38 million.

    For its full fiscal year, Jabil reported revenues of $19.1 billion, up from $18.4 billion in the prior year. Annual net income, however, fell to $129 million from $254 million a year earlier....

    Mark Mondello, CEO of electronics manufacturer Jabil in St. Petersburg, discussed the company's strong end to its 2017 fiscal year with analysts on Wednesday afternoon. {Courtesy of Jabil]
  15. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    This is not a new predicament for Tampa Bay. I wrote about this frankly discouraging bottom-of-the-wealth-barrel last year when Tampa Bay also ranked 25th with median household income in 2015. The increase from 2015 to 2016 comes to about 3.5 percent. That's commendable growth. But is it keeping up with Tampa Bay's metro neighbors?...

    The hunt for better jobs: Financial services company USAA said this summer that will bring as many as 1,000 more jobs to Hillsborough County by  early 2019 as it expands existing operations in Brandon. USAA CEO Stuart Parker, shown in photo, spoke in 2015 at the company's new Crosstown Center location in Brandon during a visit following its opening. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]