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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: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates

    Banking

    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    Florida ranks 45th in the nation based on average student debt load, mainly because so many students in this state attended public universities. Graduates in New England states — where pricey private schools are more prominent and more out-of-state students pay more to attend public universities — dominated the most indebted ranking. The west coast generally enjoyed the lowest debts. ...

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Today, Hearst — a name once known for newspapers but who is now a powerful player in health care and technology — will announce a $75 million investment in the Moffitt spin-off known as M2Gen. ...

    "That a company like Hearst is investing in M2Gen to the level they are signals we are making progress," said Dr. Tom Sellers, executive vice president and director at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. [Moffitt Cancer Center]
  3. Trigaux: Waiting for your next pay raise? Keep dreaming, employers hint

    Working Life

    The economy's bouncing back. The stock market keeps hitting new records. And the jobless rate in Florida may soon drop below 4 percent. Surely, these are robust indicators — key signs that an annual raise is just around the corner. Right?

    Allow me to offer this insight: Bwahahaha.

    Traditional markers may signal a raise is due. But not in the 21st century business world. In its 41st annual survey asking more than a thousand businesses for pay trends, consultants Aon Hewitt found that companies plan to keep budgets for raises relatively flat in 2018....

    Who doesn't want a pay raise? Demonstrators have rallied for years in a number of states for a $15 minimum wage. But many workers across a broad pay range are unlikely to see much if any raises this year, a new survey says. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
  4. Trigaux: Florida winners and losers aplenty in wake of Hurricane Irma's wrath

    Business

    Face it. Everybody in Florida was a loser to the statewide rampage by Hurricane Irma. Floridians suffered distress and fear, expense, the home-vs-work tug of war, evacuation (and post-storm return) hell, personal discomfort, damage and — even now for too many residents and businesses — oppressive power outages that Irma delivered from the Keys to Jacksonville to Tampa Bay.

    Still, out of this mess there are winners of a sort. And there are clearly losers of all kinds....

    A view of the old Merriwhether Building on the 1000 block of 22nd Street South next to the Boys and Girls Club that collapsed overnight as Hurricane Irma passed through St. Petersburg. on Monday. This week came time to sort out the winners and losers post-Irma.  
[WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  5. Vinik-backed Dreamit Ventures unveils first urban tech startups at Water Street Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner and now partner in the joint venture real estate development known as Water Street Tampa, may one day become best known as the man who helped turbo-charge Tampa Bay into a major tech community.

    An early step in this process was Vinik's recent decision to recruit Dreamit Ventures to serve as the in-house accelerator program to recruit a group of startup companies focused on "urban tech." They will work hand-in-hand with the 50-plus-acre, $3 billion Strategic Property Partners project backed by Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment....

    Dreamit Ventures managing director Andrew Ackerman recently pitched the potential of a new "urban technology" accelerator program made up of hand-picked startup companies in Tampa in conjunction with the Jeff Vinik-Cascade Investment-backed Strategic Property Partners redevelopment project in the city's downtown area. Eight startups have now been named. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  6. Trigaux: Tampa joins most competitive pursuit — to capture Amazon's new HQ2

    Economic Development

    Amazon HQ2 will be Amazon's second headquarters in North America. We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs – it will be a full equal to our current campus in Seattle. In addition to Amazon's direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community. from Amazon's website....

    Seattle-based online retailing giant Amazon wants to find a North American location tto build a second headquarters. Tampa Bay will make a pitch that Amazon's "HQ2" should be here. In this photo, pedestrians walk past a trio of geodesic domes that are part of the Seattle headquarters for Amazon. The second headquarters would cost as much as $5 billion to build and run, and house as many as 50,000 employees. [Stuart Isett/The New York Times]
  7. Trigaux: Businesses wonder if Irma, Harvey are flukes or signs of nastier disasters ahead

    Business

    Whenever words like "catastrophic" and "apocalyptic" spew globally in tandem with "Florida" from the mouths of 24-hour TV anchors and meteorologists, concerns spike over the future impact on the Sunshine State.

    • If Hurricane Irma delivers a breathtaking hurt on Florida, will U.S. and international business communities grow wary of the potential liability of relocating or expanding to this state?...

    In Miami, a business sign reads,Be Prepared Go Away Irma, as people prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Irma. The rest of the state is bracing, unsure what exact direction powerful Irma may track and how widespread its impact may be felt. [Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
  8. Trigaux: State of working Florida? Great — if you've got a job worth having

    Working Life

    "The latest employment report reflects a rock-solid economy eight years after the end of the Great Recession. An influx of millions of new jobs has boosted the confidence of Americans, lined their pockets with more cash and induced them to spend more." — as reported by MarketWatch on Sept. 1

    ***

    At first glance, the latest U.S. unemployment rate of 4.4 percent remains impressively low as the spending habits of most consumers continue to rise. It all makes for good reasons to savor this year's Labor Day. As the excerpt above of recent business coverage of our "rock-solid" economy attests: What's not to like?...

    Two years ago, protesters gathered in support of increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour outside City Hall in St. Petersburg. The movement has not taken off here. For a majority of U.S. workers, wages have flatlined or declined since 1979. [


MONICA HERNDON | Times file photo]
  9. Trigaux: Drop TV remotes, smart phones long enough to thank some cool inventors

    Business

    Indulge me. Put down the TV remote or smart phone — just for a moment — and give a nod of thanks and appreciation to eight cool scientists here in Florida.

    Their inventions have helped pave the way for folks to more easily use the Internet, to fight against glaucoma, to further research at NASA, and to push the boundaries of artificial intelligence, among other accomplishments....

    Phillip Frost is being inducted into the 2017 Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. He is a leading philanthropist, physician, businessman and entrepreneur in the medical and pharmaceutical fields, and current CEO and chairman of OPKO Health in Miami. Frost is being recognized for inventing a revolutionary disposable punch biopsy tool, as well as various therapeutic methods for treating rhinitis, cell disease, and diabetes.He holds nine U.S. patents. [Courtesy of USF]
  10. Weak earnings sink Tech Data Corp. shares in after-hours trading

    Business

    CLEARWATER — Coming off a major acquisition early this year, technology distributor Tech Data Corp. on Thursday reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings. The loss of momentum following the well received $2.6 billion purchase of Avnet's Technology Solutions division sent Tech Data shares plummeting in after-hours trading.

    Net income for the fiscal second-quarter net income ending July 31 totaled $47.5 million. Net income per share was of $1.24, down 5 percent from the same period last year. Earnings adjusted for one-time gains and costs were $1.74 per share, up 23 percent....

    Tech Data Corp. CEO Bob Dutkowsky spent most of his time on Thursday evening's conference call with analysts defending the company's weaker-than-expected financial performance in its fiscal second quarter. Shares fell by at least 19 percent in after-hours trading Thursday. [Courtesy of CNBC]
  11. Trigaux: Who is Duke Energy Florida and what have they done with that arrogant utility?

    Energy

    Who's slipped Kool-Aid to Duke Energy's leaders? Please keep it coming.

    On Tuesday, Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris came by the Tampa Bay Times and dropped a small bombshell. Or two.

    First, he said Duke's Florida ratepayers will no longer have to pay for any more costs remaining on the never-built Levy County nuclear power plant project.

    An absurd state law passed in 2006 let Duke charge customers for such costs, in effect eliminating the financial risk of taking on big nuclear projects. Duke's relentlessly raised rates to cover $800 million spent on a Levy nuke plant that was never built....

    In 2014, protesters gathered outside Duke Energy Florida's headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg to show their dislike for Duke charging ratepayers for a planned Levy County nuclear power plant that would never be built. The protest was organized by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The Alliance offered $3.45 to each of the first 500 Duke customers who brought a copy of their bills. The $3.45 symbolized what the average person paid in their bills toward the canceled Levy County nuclear project. On Tuesday, Duke Energy Florida said it would no longer charge customers for the remaining $150 million in Levy expenses. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  12. Trigaux: As Iron Yard coding school exits, LaunchCode arrives to spur tech opportunity

    Business

    It's just a coincidence of timing.

    As the for-profit Iron Yard coding camp closes its doors in St. Petersburg this October, a non-profit coding school based on a different business model will open in Tampa. But the hope of the tech and greater business community is the same — that the arrival of the non-profit LaunchCode can deliver a supply of program grads with software coding skills that can start making a dent in the demand for such work....

    Matt Mawhinney, who is helping bring the non-profit LaunchCode school for coding to Tampa this October, poses with Rep. Kathy Castor in Tampa on Monday at a job fair. LaunchCode, started in St. Louis and now spreading to various cities including Miami, offers coding courses free to students and also helps in finding a tech job once the course is complete. [Courtesy of Matt Mawhinney]
  13. Trigaux: Abandoning another nuclear project, Duke Energy mimics its failed Levy plant

    Energy

    After years of hemming, hawing and spending hundreds of millions of dollars, Duke Energy on Friday said it will abandon plans to build a new nuclear power plant at its Lee Nuclear Station site in South Carolina.

    Just to finish this sordid tale properly, the giant power company will seek regulatory approval to recoup the $368 million in preliminary costs spent on the now-ditched plant by charging its North and South Carolina ratepayers for up to the next dozen years....

    Southern Co., the parent of Georgia Power, may yet defy the odds and try to finish its Vogtle nuclear power plant in southern Georgia, despite massive delays and cost overruns. In South Carolina, SCANA and Santee Cooper this summer abandoned plans for their nuclear power project and Duke Energy on Aug. 25 said it will cancel its new nuclear project at its Lee Nuclear Station near Gaffney. Several years ago, Duke abandoned its plan to build a new nuclear power plant in Florida in Levy County. [Courtesy of Georgia Power]
  14. Trigaux: Sabal Trail gas pipeline faces bumpy start, but state lacks options for electricity

    Energy

    Now that Florida's the third most populated state in the country at 20 million people and counting, and hungry to absorb millions more in the coming years, here's a timely question:

    How will Florida ever feed all those citizens?

    I don't mean food. We're talking energy.

    Per person, electricity use is not a booming business. But with new folks and retiring boomers pouring over the state border these days, Florida's electric utility industry will need to keep generating more kilowatts — just to keep up with the demand of the next wave of Floridians....

    Construction continues on Duke Energy Florida's combined cycle natural gas plant at the Crystal River Energy Complex in Crystal River in Citrus County. The power plant will be fueled when it begins operating in 2018 via the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline. Duke is a partial owner of the Sabal Trail pipeline, which will also supply gas to FPL in South Florida.  [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  15. Trigaux: As Florida seeks top 10 status as best business state, red flag rises on workforce

    Business

    In the eternal quest to appeal more to business than other states, Florida's managed to haul itself out of some pretty mediocre years. After scoring an impressive 8 among 50 states way back in 2007, Florida suffered horribly during and immediately after the recession. Its rank sank as low as No. 30 only four years ago, but in more recent years rebounded to score a spot at No. 10 last year and a still commendable No. 12 this year....

    Florida's trying to make strides in preparing its high school and college graduates for the rapidly changing skill sets of today's workforce. But the latest CNBC ranking of the best and worst states for business gave Florida poor marks for education, ranking No. 40 (tied with South Carolina for education) among the 50 states. Still, Florida ranked No. 12 overall in the best business states annual ranking. [Alan Berner/Seattle Times]