Saints and sinners: Hey entrepreneurs, are you looking for the next big product or service for which a grateful world would enrich you?Fuel costs to hit construction: Detroit's SUV makers are worried a lot these days. But they will soon have some company to share their worries on rising fuel costs.No turkeys here: The Tampa Bay area's chief judges David Demers and Manuel Menendez Jr. must be smiling.We might talk a little banking, too: Nearly every room has a balcony facing a breathtaking body of water.Home sales up: Home sales increased 17% in the Tampa Bay area in February, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.
Coffee Talk (Tampa)
Saints and sinners
Hey entrepreneurs, are you looking for the next big product or service for which a grateful world would enrich you?
Have you thought about hearing aids for people who want to start their own companies?
That was Coffee Talk's brainstorm as we sat through something called a "pitching workshop" at Holland & Knight LLP's plush new Tampa offices earlier this month.
A Connecticut company that matches investors with startups was in town to do just that.
A panel of three venture funders patiently spelled out the dos and don'ts of pitching business ideas to capitalists such as themselves. Things like make your financial projections somewhat realistic. And don't grandly proclaim that you know more about software than Bill Gates.
Then, one by one, the roomful of small business owners and wannabes had the floor. Most had two minutes to make their speech. And wouldn't you know it, many did exactly what the experts advised them not to do.
Oh, well. Fortunately for Florida, there weren't many economic opportunities lost here.
One woman hopes to corner the market for Christian toys and brought along an adorable stuffed animal with a halo over its head. A guy from South Florida wants to install spas in airport terminals and shopping malls where passersby can sneak a nap.
Perhaps the most promising idea plays to a true Tampa Bay area industrial strength: adult entertainment.
A Tampa man has started an encryption service that claims to be able to hide the computerized evidence for anybody who downloads pornography.
With sex sites among the few on the Internet able to charge for content, Coffee Talk believes there is a market for concealing the Web prints of porn freaks.
Fuel costs to hit construction
Detroit's SUV makers are worried a lot these days. But they will soon have some company to share their worries on rising fuel costs.
Construction companies see it hitting them.
David Amore, president of Amore Construction Co., says trucking costs are going up when it comes to importing and exporting earth.
And sooner rather than later, he says.
Moving base materials and asphalt will be affected and "more specifically the cost of site work contracts will go up."
This was not what the construction industry expected after a year's continuous rise in the costs of construction materials such as cement and steel. Last year, the cost of concrete blocks went up 12%-15% and steel products 15%-20%, Amore says.
No turkeys here
The Tampa Bay area's chief judges David Demers and Manuel Menendez Jr. must be smiling. Florida TaxWatch, the nonprofit research group, supports the state judiciary's argument it needs more money from the state Legislature to dole out equal justice in all 67 counties.
In fact, the Tallahassee group - known widely in Florida for the annual list of "Turkeys," or legislative excess, it identifies in the state budget - says the judiciary needs $35 million more this year to meet local trial court needs. That's about 30% more than the $115 million the Legislature allocated during its first year of fiscal responsibility under Revision 7 to Article V of the state Constitution.
At the top of the list, TaxWatch recommends the Legislature pay for 108 new circuit and county judges. That's the number the state Supreme Court certified in its annual November report to the Legislature.
If the Legislature heeds the advice, that could mean six new circuit judges in Hillsborough and five more in Pinellas-Pasco. It also could mean five new county judges in each circuit.
We might talk a little banking, too
Nearly every room has a balcony facing a breathtaking body of water.
The beach is only accessible by cliff-straddling cable car and private boat.
Counselors teach the kids to kayak or snorkel.
Coffee Talk says sign us up!
The preceding vivid images come courtesy of J. Lamar Roberts, president and CEO of First National Bank of Pasco in Dade City. As the 2005 president of the Florida Bankers Association, Roberts is hoping for good attendance at the annual convention.
Where are Florida banking executives gathering this year? Not in the Sunshine State, as it turns out.
When Key West seems crowded, Marco Island is getting old, and even Amelia Island just won't do, there's always Wyndham International's El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico.
Roberts is leading the charge across the Caribbean and he can hardly contain his enthusiasm.
"While searching for the perfect place to hold this year's convention, my wife, Cindy, and I knew we wanted a memorable location that would appeal to both our hard working Florida bankers and their families," writes Roberts in the current issue of the association's monthly magazine.
Well done, Lamar and Cindy.
Home sales up
Home sales increased 17% in the Tampa Bay area in February, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.
Compared to 3,223 sales a year ago, a total of 3,771 homes were sold last month in the Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area. The median sales price rose 24% - up from $141,000 to $175,000.
A convenient location, job opportunities and appealing lifestyle continue to draw people to the Tampa Bay area, said Philip Rogers, president-elect of the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors and broker-owner of Realty Executives Suncoast in Clearwater.
A total of 17,562 single-family existing homes changed hands statewide last month for a 6% increase over a year earlier. The median price rose 25% statewide, from $160,800 to $201,400.
Bill Kalish defeated Jeff Warren for the open 13th Circuit seat on the Florida Bar Board of Governors. The Akerman Senterfitt tax attorney, a former bar governor, replaces Jack Rudy, who retired following two terms.