It may feel like Forbes magazine is picking on the Tampa Bay area lately. In just the past month, the prestigious business magazine has dinged the region twice — ranking it dead last in commuting among major U.S. metros, then putting it at No. 2 (behind Miami) among the top 10 cities in economic free fall, based on factors such as rising unemployment and falling home prices.
While few people are disputing the figures put forth by Forbes, they say it might already be a bit outdated compared to the way things are going right now. For example, the latest data cited by the magazine is from January or February, though it uses those months as a baseline to draw comparisons between 2007 (when things were booming here) and this year.
Plus, since it takes numbers from peak to trough, cities most involved in the real estate bubble come off worst — and the list proves that.
“It's not news, it's history,” scoffs David Hurley, president of Landmark Engineering and Surveying Corp. in Tampa and an active member of the National Federation of Independent Business. He tells Coffee Talk that he has noticed a visible increase in business since the start of 2010 and is more confident in the Bay area's ability to rebound from the recession.
Meanwhile, other observers say we should heed such reports and try to improve in the interest of economic development. Larry Richey, senior managing director of Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa and a past chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100, points out that such reports are noticed by executives not just nationwide, but around the world.
“Whether we agree with it or not, we shouldn't ignore a report or an article such as this,” Richey tells Coffee Talk. “This is Forbes magazine, after all!”
The news about Tampa-St. Petersburg isn't all bad, though. In March, tax advisory powerhouse KPMG ranked the Bay area as the nation's least-expensive place to do business. And we're inclined to think decision-makers always look at several different reports in comparing markets anyway.