Commercial Real Estate to Remain Steady in 2020

Commercial Real Estate to Remain Steady in 2020

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read February 2020 If there were ever a time or place to consider investing in commercial real estate, now would be that time and the Tampa Bay region would be that place. 2019 proved to be another banner year for the real estate sector and with interest rates remaining low, consistent inmigration into Florida and the Tampa Bay region, rising rental rates and ongoing outside investment into the area, all indicators point to 2020 being just as strong if not better for the commercial real estate sector. 

 

 

2 min read February 2020 If there were ever a time or place to consider investing in commercial real estate, now would be that time and the Tampa Bay region would be that place. 2019 proved to be another banner year for the real estate sector and with interest rates remaining low, consistent inmigration into Florida and the Tampa Bay region, rising rental rates and ongoing outside investment into the area, all indicators point to 2020 being just as strong if not better for the commercial real estate sector. 

“Around $17 billion has migrated to Florida, the No. 1 destination for capital in the country followed by Texas, at $2 billion. People are leaving states that are not tax friendly and coming to Florida, which is very tax friendly. Because the stock market can go up or down, hard assets are attractive. The returns investors can get in commercial real estate are attractive. People are looking at commercial real estate as a means for retirement, passive income,” Christopher Travis, sales manager for the Tampa office of Marcus & Millichap, remarked to Invest:.  

Perhaps the clearest indication of the sector’s continued success has been the large-scale mixed-use projects that are happening throughout the region. Larry Richey, the managing principal and Florida market leader for Cushman & Wakefield, spoke about what these developments mean for the sector. 

“The most talked about projects happening in Tampa Bay at the moment are in the office and mixed-use sectors. In the Hillsborough County market, we have four mixed-use projects that are all very active. Those four new projects are Water Street Tampa in Downtown, Heights Union just on the northern fringe of Downtown, the Midtown project that is being developed at the intersection of I-275 and Dale Mabry and fourth is the MetWest project in the Westshore District on Boy Scout Boulevard,” Richey told Invest:. “We are seeing the highest office rents in the history of the Tampa Bay area right now, and it is because we have the strongest demand for office space that we have ever had. This is good news because it means new development and jobs in the commercial real estate sector. It also means that buildings that were always below what they should have been charging are now charging rents that are justifiable based on the investment that people have put into these properties.” 

These projects, and ultimately the continued success of commercial real estate in Tampa Bay, are the product of taking note and early adaptation to emerging and developing trends within the industry and local economy. While basically all subsectors of commercial real estate are prospering, there are some that industry professionals are keen to keep a particularly close eye on. What may come as a surprise to some is that one of these prosperous submarkets is retail. 

“The retail market continues to be very strong here.  Demand continues to exceed supply in many of the strongest retail markets throughout Tampa Bay.  This continues to drive up rental rates and has limited cap rate decompression for stabilized retail assets,” Scott Dobbins, the founder and principal of Hybridge Commercial Real Estate, said. 

Travis agreed that retail remains one of the stronger segments in commercial real estate, touching on the fact that the e-commerce trend is not as bad as some may think. “Retail has remained strong during the real estate market recovery. Everybody was scared about e-commerce, but it only makes up about 14% of the overall market. Retail is going to be just fine, especially retailers like dollar stores, gas stations, and fast food.” 

While all indications point to another strong year for the commercial real estate market, it will not be without its challenges. Besides 2020 being an election year that could possibly send the national economy into flux, Tampa Bay must address unaffordability in the housing sector and ongoing challenges with transportation in the region. 

Nonetheless, commercial real estate professionals continue to have a positive outlook for the Tampa Bay Region. 

It has always been in the core submarkets, like Westshore and the Central Business District (CBD). Historically, they’ve been the focus of development and I think that will continue. We are seeing new developments in areas like the Heights and Water Street Tampa. Time will tell how these developments impact the marketplace. I think they are both going to be extremely successful, but they are on the outskirts of the Tampa CBD. Perhaps we will see the core of the Tampa CBD start to shift,” Gary Godsey the Managing Director for JLL, said to Invest in regards to the next year for commercial real estate. “Additionally if you just look at the rooftops in Pasco County and in South County, it makes sense for these areas to be considered for future commercial real estate development, despite the lack of transportation. I think we will see developers get creative and maybe look at areas like this. If you look at the I-4 corridor, that is going to continue to be a main driver in the industrial sector.”

To learn more, visit:

https://www.marcusmillichap.com/about-us/offices/tampa-florida

https://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/united-states/offices/tampa

http://www.hybridgecre.com/

https://www.us.jll.com/en/locations/southeast

 

 

Spotlight On: Bill Cronin, President & CEO, Pasco EDC

Spotlight On: Bill Cronin, President & CEO, Pasco EDC

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read February 2020 — Successful economic development is a product of consistent improvement of the current situation of a region and consideration of what the long-term future could hold for that same region. In Florida’s Pasco County, economic developers are thinking about what is to come and how to create a sustainable economic growth environment by helping startups get off the ground while training a competitive workforce, taking advantage of the state’s first-rate education system. In a conversation with Invest:, President and CEO for the Pasco EDC Bill Cronin discussed these initiatives and actions at length. 

 

 

 How is Pasco County working to push forward economic development?

 

We want to make sure we have a good mix of both office and industrial investments in the county since large industry has a different multiplier because it attracts suppliers and others that the office investments do not. We are one of the only Economic Development Organizations to own and operate our own business incubators. These two incubators offer countywide programming, where you don’t necessarily have to be in that co-working space to take advantage of the curriculum that we offer for startups, and even for companies that are going into their second phase.

 

We offer micro loans through that program, and we have a regional license for CO.STARTERS, which is a curriculum that we use for startups and next-generation companies. We also use those incubators as a soft-landing place for our international FDI prospects. While many of our competitors in economic development are going after these large, established companies that have 100-200 employees, we work with them, but also with the company that says, “Hey, I just want to start sales with one or two people,” and we let them use our incubators as a landing place to get them started.

 

All areas, whether it is entrepreneurship, land development and making sure we have enough product, our buildings and sites, workforce development in the county as a whole — all of those are now part of the strategic plan, but also with a sense of innovation and smart growth that is interwoven through those protocols. They are verticals in our strategic plan, such as innovation and technology. When we look at a collision between areas, such as logistics and IT, or life sciences or agriculture and IT, life sciences and distribution, all of these can be tied together through innovation and smart growth.

 

How are you ensuring that your workforce is being trained to survive the changing economic environment?

 

There is a lot of confusion right now with some of these rapid changes in technology and business models. That also applies to the industries we focus on. Probably 80% to 90% of our workforce is being trained for jobs that do not yet exist. How do we make sure we are prepared for that? We started to hear this theme about competitiveness and we are making sure we have fertile conditions for that type of growth in the future. We may not know everything but what we do know is that we’ve got to be ready and have the right conditions for these things to be deployed.

 

How are you looking at sustainability regarding the county’s economic growth?

 

We need to make sure that when it comes to jobs and recruitment, we are creating jobs for everybody. If you put too much emphasis on high-impact jobs alone, they won’t trickle down by themselves. You still need to make sure that every single layer of the economy and socio-economic strata has the right jobs for the right people. That is important because if you don’t do that then people will have to move away, and we will have to import talent to some extent.

 

In the last couple of years, Florida has been among the leading destination states for migration. We are looking at around 180 people a day coming into this region, and the state sees around 1,300 people a day. With that many people moving in, our business community has been able to take their pick of all the people coming in, and in times of low unemployment it is usually hard to find talent. You have to steal it from someone else or grow it internally. But because of interstate migration, we have been at full employment for a long time now and we still have access to talent. That’s because all these people are moving here everyday. The reason they are moving here is because things are not as good somewhere else, or they prefer it here. We have to make sure that our environment continues to be better than that of our competitors, and that we provide a good tax environment, which we have. We are also the fastest-growing region in the United States and the largest consumer market in the Southeast. You see a lot of that migration because of things like that, and because of quality of life and education. Our state university system is now No. 1 in the nation.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

http://pascoedc.com/

 

 

Spotlight On: Silvana Capaldi, Founding Chair, Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors of Tampa Bay

Spotlight On: Silvana Capaldi, Founding Chair, Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors of Tampa Bay

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The long-term success of any economy is predicated on both organic growth and consistent M&A activity within the business community. Founding Chair of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors Silvana Capaldi believes the Tampa Bay Region is booming with new opportunities for business deals and the business experts she represents are there to help business owners and investors make the most of their businesses.

 

 

 

What is happening in the Tampa Bay Region market that makes it attractive for an advisory body such as the Alliance to decide to set up shop here?

 

According to the Census Bureau, Tampa Bay is one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States, which is great for our local businesses, businesses relocating here and startups. We have an enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit and a very strong, engaged business community. Our support system and services for our young, innovative business startup space continues to grow. We want to see businesses thrive and our goal is to provide education and resources to business owners and business professionals.  Business owners are reluctant to attend events for fear of being bombarded with people selling to them. It is our mission to provide a venue where they can hear local business owners share their lessons learned and showcase the talent pool of experts in our community: investors, business leaders, organizations and mentors who are invested in Tampa Bay.  

 

Have you seen a significant uptick in M&A activity in the region?

 

With our favorable economic condition, availability of bank loans and private equity accessibility, we have seen an increase in M&A activity. For example, ConnectWise acquired companies and then sold to a private equity group, while PGT Innovations acquired NewSouth Window Solutions.  

We see companies looking for strategic growth through M&A. They may be looking to gain market share, expand talent pool, gain resources or eliminate competition.   

In addition, the benefactors of the M&A deal now have capital to reinvest. These business owners are experienced people feeding back into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, building companies that will one day sell again.

 

Where are you seeing the most demand for the services the Alliance provides?

 

The Alliance is both an educational and resource platform for business owners. We want business owners to have an understanding of the options they have, whether they are selling their business, passing the business to family or employees, or growing their business with an investor. So often we hear from business owners stating that they were unaware of options available to them when deciding to exit. We engage speakers with the business owner in mind. 

 

What is the value added by the professional services you offer in facilitating business deals?

 

There are so many moving parts in a business deal. We provide valuable resources and have a network of professional experts to work with the business owner to maximize valuation and expose them to the right opportunities.

 

Companies that have approached a transaction intermediary, hoping to sell their businesses, are often turned away for not being “market ready.” Those that go to market sell for a lower value. Then there are deals that fall apart when they get to the due diligence. I worked as a consultant for an insurance agency and the owner claimed he was 100% owner. Through the due diligence process, the client neglected to share that there were two family members who had ownership in the company.

 

Business owners often think that their business is worth more, only to be disappointed at the number after the valuation. That’s when a professional can come in and suggest adjustments that would increase the value. For example, the buyer may want to know what prospects are in the pipeline, projected future sales, reports or what CRM they are using.  Not having that information or tools can decrease the value of the company.

 

What is your view of the Tampa Bay Area market in the near term?

 

This is an exciting time for Tampa Bay. We will continue to attract businesses that want to relocate here,  and companies that are being formed. Business owners that have exited their businesses are reinvesting into companies. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem will continue to draw young innovators. The University of Tampa’s John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, a partner of the Alliance, is committed to helping innovative startups gain traction, which equates to continually drawing and retaining entrepreneurs. Tampa Bay communities will continue to invest in an already exceptional entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing Tampa Bay to become recognized as the place to invest.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.amaaonline.com/tampa-bay-chapter/

 

 

Spotlight On: Stan Lifsey, Co-Owner, The Current Hotel

Spotlight On: Stan Lifsey, Co-Owner, The Current Hotel

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — In 2020, creating experiences and innovation are two of the main keys to success in the hospitality industry. Stan Lifsey, the co-owner of The Current Hotel, recognized this and used it to help develop one of the newest hotel offerings in the Tampa Bay region. After receiving an initial positive reception, Lifsey is looking to continue capitalizing on the momentum while also pushing the hotel’s innovative approach to hospitality as customer demands continue to change. 

 

 

 How are visitors and residents in the Tampa Bay community reacting to the newest addition to the hotel scene? 

 

We wanted to take advantage of our strategic location on the water, so all 180 rooms have a waterfront view. We also wanted to partner with the best local brands in Tampa Bay and feature them, along with other local artists, in our hotel. This hotel is a one of a kind product and in a one of a kind location. We have been open for a short while, but so far we are very happy with how we have been received by the local community and the visitor turnout to the hotel. The customer feedback from both locals and visitors has been extremely positive, especially regarding the unique brand and design we have brought to Tampa Bay. We built this hotel with the idea to break the mold and cookie-cutter box that the hospitality sector in this region seemed to be stuck in with regards to architecture, interior design and concept.

 

Do you believe the demand curve will support the multiple new hotels coming online this year in the region? 

 

I believe the demand curve will be able to support all the new hotel inventory coming online, but that is with a caveat. I’d be interested to see how many of the current deals actually end up being built because of rising construction costs. Construction costs are at an all-time high, construction labor is incredibly tight and land is expensive. We were fortunate enough to have built when we did, but this market is becoming increasingly challenging. It requires a lot of equity to get these deals done and built.

 

Having all this new supply of rooms in the market is providing positive momentum and growth to the Tampa Bay Region and certainly makes entities like Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission’s jobs a little easier. Being able to offer this type of innovative product that is coming online really speaks to the evolution of the Tampa Bay hospitality market. We have been an undervalued market for quite a while, but with all the free press that Tampa Bay is receiving thanks to massive development’s like Water Street Tampa, it is driving more people into the region, which increases the demand for more hotels. All of which is ultimately great for the economy of the entire region.

 

How have you seen the hospitality industry adapt to changing customer demands? 

 

The overall hospitality market is moving more toward unique guest experiences. Guests want a different vibe and experience whenever they visit a new hotel. This is where the hospitality market is going not only for leisure travelers but also for corporate travelers. The upfront cost may be more to developers and owners but on the back end, your rate and the desire of people wanting to frequent your hotel is much greater.

 

The idea when building this hotel was that we didn’t want to adapt to anything. We wanted to be  contrarian and blaze our own path. When we started this whole process, we had to engage a branding company and we went through about nine months of branding. Current was not just something that we landed on. The Current name is to do with the fact that we are on the water. It is also a nod to our wave ceiling inside the hotel lobby rotating art gallery and that we want to always be current and innovative in our approach. We always want our brand to shine through in everything we do, which ultimately benefits the customer experience.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tparo-the-current-hotel-autograph-collection/

 

Spotlight On: Shaun Kwiatkowski, General Manager, The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa

Spotlight On: Shaun Kwiatkowski, General Manager, The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The hospitality industry in Tampa Bay welcomed several new hotel offerings into the marketplace in 2019, and 2020 is going to see the introduction of even more inventory. Invest: spoke to Shaun Kwiatkowski, the general manager of one of the newest offerings to the Tampa Bay region, The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa.  Besides a bountiful 2019, Kwiatkowski also spoke about the importance and benefits of operating as an independent brand in a market that is saturated with corporate offerings, as well as his view on the impact of the sharing economy in the Bay. 

 

 

 

How would you describe The Godfrey’s performance in 2019? 

 

In 2019, we enjoyed the continued market penetration of our brand. We are still pretty new and usually the ramp-up period for a hotel brand in this market can take up to five years to really penetrate and become established, especially a new, independent hotel like The Godfrey. We do not have the Marriott or the Hilton behind us, so we have to rely on a lot of specific strategies to execute. We feel that we have been able to penetrate the market effectively in a short period of time. We have had a lot of growth, which we measure by ADR growth. We had almost double-digit ADR growth last year, which equates to RevPar growth in the hotel’s revenue results. We’re very thankful and proud that we have been able to grow that ADR a little bit faster than the market as a whole. When you look at the Tampa Bay market this past year, occupancy rates had stayed pretty much flat, but I believe that has a lot to do with the additional room supply coming into the market. 

 

How has operating as an independent brand been beneficial and a challenge to the hotel? 

 

Being an independent brand can create benefits, but there are also challenges to that. As the business and the industry have evolved, demand has changed and today, many people want something different from the corporate type of hotel. Not to take anything away from those brands, but people do want to have the unique and fun experience that an independent brand can provide, similar to our food and beverage experience in WTR Pool & Grill. That is exactly who we are. If we look at the market as a whole, we are starting to see some of those big-name brands evolve into a more independent style. We are seeing those independent, millennial-focused brands growing in popularity, especially in this area.

 

A big challenge for us across the industry is employee retention and finding the right talent. We drive employee retention through the culture that we create within the hotel. If we find a good employee, we reward them and we guide them through their career. When we are looking at recruiting people to fill our open positions, it is more about the person than their skills. I can teach you most of the skills to be a front desk agent or to be a server, but I can’t teach you to smile. I can’t teach you to be positive and warm. This means we always have to be in our recruiting mindset and look for those individuals who have the hospitality spirit.

 

How has the sharing economy impacted your business, if at all? 

 

In regards to the impact from the sharing economy and things like Airbnb, there’s enough room for everyone to play, from our perspective. The Godfrey has not seen a major impact from the sharing economy. If the average person does a normal search of Airbnbs in this region, there is not as large an inventory as you might find in Boston or Chicago. That being said, when we look at what Airbnb is doing and the future of their booking channel, that is something that’s on our radar. If there is an opportunity there that works for us, we are going to investigate it and see if there is enough return on investment to try and implement something similar.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.godfreyhoteltampa.com/

 

Face Off: The Sunshine City’s Future Shines Bright

Face Off: The Sunshine City’s Future Shines Bright

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

 

4 min read January 2020 Deliberate, calculated and fast-moving are just a few of the ways to describe the economic growth happening in the city of St. Petersburg. Long known as the “Sunshine City,” St. Pete has developed into an economic and arts and culture powerhouse within the Tampa Bay Region. This is in large part thanks to efforts by a motivated business community and community leaders. Invest: spoke with two of the prominent figures in the St. Pete community about their organization’s efforts to maximize the potential of their city. J.P. DuBuque, the president of the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation, and Alison Barlow, the executive director of the St. Pete Innovation District, also discussed their view of the future and the challenges that await. 

 

How are you working to promote economic expansion in St. Petersburg?

J.P. DuBuque: As an EDC, our primary role is to help grow jobs in the St. Petersburg area. One way we can contribute to that is by attracting new companies into our community. The most effective means of doing this is by telling our story, and to tell the story we have to know what the story is. This means we have to understand what our local community looks like. We are spending a good bit of time focusing on our local community to really understand the targeted industries that we want to enhance and grow. We are working with groups like the data analytics community and marine science community to best understand their needs. This in turn relays to us where the opportunities lie to attract new businesses to the region. Apart from this, we spend a lot of time out of the market, meeting with individual companies and other markets to tell them the great story of doing business in St. Petersburg. Sometimes this is through coordinated business development missions, while other times it is by leveraging non- economic-development-related conferences like South by Southwest or through focused sales development efforts.

Alison Barlow: The entrepreneurial ecosystem and talent development are two big areas of focus for us. We are doing a program called Innovation Scholars, which provides unique job shadowing opportunities for first-year students at USF St. Petersburg. We have already paired 39 students with companies in the Innovation District and around Downtown. We are also exploring ways to incubate more marine technologies, such as sensors, drones and ROVs, as well as encouraging the link between marine and life sciences.

As part of our efforts to attract businesses and talent to the district, we offer a variety of office space types. We are also focusing on connecting people who are located near the St. Pete Innovation District and making them part of the district. We are supporting the creation of social spaces by encouraging restaurants and retailers to come to the area. We are also supporting the full range of housing, from fully-assisted affordable housing to workforce, multifamily and luxury condos.

From your perspective, what is one of the most significant challenges for economic growth in St. Petersburg?

DuBuque: The biggest challenge for us is perception versus reality, and I believe this is a statewide challenge. When you look at what people think regarding some of the things that are necessary to build a successful business, and a successful quality of life, there are some perception challenges for Florida. The perception that Florida is not a good business environment, and that our school systems are not up to par are a real challenge. The perception, and reality, of Florida’s lack of mass transit is a real issue that needs to be overcome. When we have an opportunity to show folks what the reality is, they are typically pleasantly surprised.

Barlow: We are leading conversations with local health institutions about how changes in our oceans have an impact on our people. Human and ocean health are becoming much more related. For example, last year we had a significant red tide, and while the marine scientists were looking at the causes that were making it worse and the impact on marine life, the physicians in our area were seeing an uptick in asthma issues due to the airborne aspect of red tide.

We have some of the best sea level rise experts in St. Petersburg. It is encouraging to see the progress of their research looking at temperature fluctuation, the infiltration of bacteria and nutrients in the water that is contributing to algae blooms such as blue-green algae and red tide. They are turning this deep research into practical knowledge for the community. 

What has you excited for the future economic growth in St. Petersburg?  

DuBuque: It is important to remember that growth is necessary for us to move forward as a society. If we are not growing as individuals and as a community, then we are actually moving backward. That said, the level of proactivity from the Economic Development Corporation allows us to select the types of businesses that we want to really bring here. That in and of itself will help move us forward. We also have a full community commitment to the Grow Smarter Strategy, which gives us a common road map for every person in the economic development game. Those things allow us to maintain the culture and character of St. Petersburg while still moving forward. The worst thing that we could do is to kill the golden goose, which for us is the vibrancy, authenticity, arts, creativity, innovation and “funk” of St. Pete.

Barlow: We are excited about our progress on our smart city project. The St. Pete Innovation District is partnering with Spectrum and US Ignite to test concepts around smart city technology to improve the lives of the people in our community. It is also a chance for us to try sensor technology and think about what it would mean for educational and workforce opportunities. We are getting closer to installing four smart light poles on the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus that will have power, internet and the ability to host environmental and traffic sensors.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://stpeteinnovationdistrict.com/the-district/

https://stpeteedc.com/

 

Spotlight On: Alan Higbee, Managing Partner, Shutts & Bowen

Spotlight On: Alan Higbee, Managing Partner, Shutts & Bowen

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — Expertise on the local market is a must in the legal sector, especially within the competitive landscape of the Tampa Bay region. Understanding the nature of the business community within the region and the apparent challenges are keys to a successful practice. Shutts & Bowen law firm’s Managing Partner Alan Higbee discusses the benefits of having specialized practices in the Tampa Bay area, as well as how to deal with economic cycles and not lose talent in the process.

 

 

Why is Tampa Bay a good location for a firm such as Shutts & Bowen?

 

A full service firm like ours has experience in many areas, including some areas that are not necessarily customary for this market, such as our experience in international trade and transactions, experience with large industrial companies and experience representing large and small federal government contractors. Interestingly, the demand for these specialty practices is actually pretty high in this market. Such specialties have often been sourced from larger markets in the past. In our experience, businesses in this market are generally very happy to see that these specialty resources are available here to help and that they don’t have to look to other markets such as Washington, D.C., or New York.  For areas like federal government contractors, it makes sense to have that expertise here. I believe Florida is the third-largest market for federal contracting in the country and we are sitting outside the doors of MacDill Air Force Base, which has virtually every federal agency you can name, from all the defense agencies and divisions to the IRS. 

 

How does the firm take part in the business brought to the Tampa Bay Area by new companies and startups?

 

Startup businesses in the Tampa Bay area come in many varieties, but some of the most promising are often spinoffs: people who have had very successful careers in larger businesses and have decided to go out on their own. Many of these companies have a need for legal services in areas of high specialization, such as healthcare, technology and government contracting. We also see an awful lot of companies that are relocating some kind of division or business unit, or their entire U.S. operations, to this market and, candidly, besides being a pretty sophisticated business center, this area is also a pretty nice place to live.

 

In the market for legal services, we also see an increasing need for trusted advisers. Lots of lawyers can tell you what the law is, but very few have the industry and business experience to also tell you what you probably should do and should not do. Lawyers who have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in a particular industry or business segment and can tell clients, “we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends,” are extremely valuable to their clients and are in greater demand than ever before. 

 

What are the top challenges for the legal profession in the area?

 

The tightness of the labor pool is difficult, there is no question about that. It is certainly a major challenge for us. The other challenge is the general expansion of the needs of the market. We are becoming more sophisticated. When I moved here in 1980, the needs of this legal community were really pretty basic. In 2019, the businesses in this market are extremely sophisticated and that means their problems and issues are also very sophisticated. I think law firms generally need to consider developing or acquiring some of the specialty areas that are not necessarily indigenous to the Tampa Bay area. Acquiring such specialists can be hard. We have to go out and convince them that they will have enough work here.

 

How would a legal firm such as Shutts & Bowen deal with a potential economic downturn?

 

Things always happen in cycles. Like any business, we have to be prepared to handle those cycles. You have to position yourself to be adaptable and flexible, to learn to change what you are doing when necessary and to be able to pick up different kinds of work in the down cycle and be able to look outside your box to keep your talent busy. The down cycles are actually the best times to hire talent, because if your platform is doing well and you are able to find talent on other platforms that are doing well personally while their current platforms are struggling, you have a unique chance to capture that talent.

 

After every down cycle there is an up cycle. If you failed to keep your talent pool, and were not able to keep the collective resources and experience that you had, you start at a huge disadvantage when the market goes back up. On the other hand, if you are able to keep your talent pool intact through a down cycle, you generally have a huge advantage when the market recovers.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://shutts.com/

 

No Lull for Football Fans in Tampa Bay

No Lull for Football Fans in Tampa Bay

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 If the last few weeks in the Tampa Bay region have felt like a nonstop marathon of events and gatherings, that’s because it has been. While the region has been celebrating the multiple holidays and enjoying the dozens of holiday happenings around the area, there have also been some significant sporting milestones, specifically in the world of football. As the season closes for the NFL in Tampa Bay, another one begins for the new XFL and the beginning of 2020 also marked another successful bowl game in the Bay. 

 

The end of the NFL 2019 regular season was lamented by a 28 to 22 Buccaneers loss to the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. While it was not the season Bucs fans were hoping for, it did leave some room for hope in the next season as well as some shining moments that will be enshrined in Buccaneers history. This season saw the complete dominance of what could possibly be the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, Buccaneers Mike Evans and Chris Goodwin. Between them they had almost 2,500 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns and they were both chosen to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. 

Then there is the curious case of the Buccaneers starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who was just the eighth quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 passing yards in a season, becoming the passing yards leader for the 2019 season. This in itself should be a huge advantage on the resume of the quarterback, who was playing for a new contract this season, but that same resume for this year is marred with a new NFL record – Winston is the first quarterback to throw for 30 passing touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a single season. So while head coach Bruce Arians has a lot of positives on the offensive side heading into his first offseason with the Bucs, there are some significant decisions to be made this offseason in regards to the future face of the franchise. 

Jan. 1 not only marked the beginning of the new decade, it was also the day to catch the annual Outback Bowl held at Raymond James Stadium. The bowl game, which has been played in Tampa Bay since 1986, is a staple in the community and receives support from some of the largest local institutions like Pilot Bank and Visit Tampa Bay. The game itself saw the #18 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the #12 ranked Auburn Tigers in what was an exciting game through all four quarters. While both teams jumped out to strong starts in the first quarter, Minnesota capitalized on the momentum by scoring 14 in the 2nd quarter and ultimately Auburn was never able to make a push to get ahead. With Auburn trailing for the rest of the game, the final score resulted in a 31 to 24 victory for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. 

With the end of the Bucs season and the passing of another Outback Bowl, the Tampa Bay region would normally go into a football lull, but thanks to the introduction of a new XFL team, the Tampa Bay Vipers, there will be no shortage of football to enjoy. Invest: recently spoke with the president of the Tampa Bay Vipers, Josh Bullock, about the process of bringing this team to the region and why Tampa Bay is perfectly suited for another football franchise. “The process of bringing this team to Tampa Bay has been exciting, intense and rewarding. Thankfully, we have great leadership, both in the region and throughout the league, starting with the chairman of the XFL, who gave us the time and resources to build this league the right way,” Bullock stated. “We anticipate playing a fast, fun style of professional football at Raymond James Stadium for Tampa Bay fans. I believe Tampa Bay is perfectly suited for this XFL team because of the great sports fans we have throughout our community. There are many entertainment options available and our community will continue to gravitate to products that are enjoyable, engaging and offered at an affordable price. That is exactly what the XFL is going to provide.”

Football fans won’t have to wait long to start enjoying everything the XFL promises to provide as the first game is slated for Sunday, Feb. 9, against the New York Guardians. The team’s home opener at Raymond James Stadium is scheduled for Saturday, Feb 22, versus the Houston Roughnecks. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.xfl.com/en-US/teams/tampa-bay

 

Spotlight On: Anddrikk Frazier, President & CEO, Integral Energy

Spotlight On: Anddrikk Frazier, President & CEO, Integral Energy

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

3 min read January 2020 — A growing economy in the Tampa Bay region equates to growth mode for most local businesses. One of the most important aspects of keeping this growth consistent is reducing costs in a smart and consistent manner. This can be achieved through an emphasis on reducing energy consumption. Full-service energy management companies like Brandon-based Integral Energy have recognized the opportunities in the market and have found demand for their multiple services throughout the Tampa Bay region. Invest: spoke with the president and CEO of Integral Energy, Anddrikk Frazier, about his business, demand for services and much more. 

 

 How is Tampa Bay a strategic location for your business operations? 

My first job was in the energy sector in Tampa and watching the growth in the region over the course of my lifetime is impressive. What separates Tampa from other cities across Florida are features like ports, airports and the ability to connect to anywhere in the Florida within three hours. 

Where have you seen the most demand among the variety of services you offer? 

Integral Energy is a full-service energy management company. We provide natural gas marketing services for commercial customers throughout the state of Florida. We also provide solutions for transportation companies as it relates to alternative fuels. Thirdly, our energy management division helps large businesses that consume large quantities of energy to understand their operating costs on a per plate or per widget basis and then we find ways to reduce those operational costs. I think the biggest demand for service comes from energy management requests and natural gas marketing. Many of our customers do not understand how energy costs are passed on, simply because that is not where the priority lies for hotels, convention centers and other large businesses. We have the ability to reduce energy costs without reducing the quality of their product, which is a huge bonus for them. That has been our biggest growth opportunity. 

A lot of demand comes from the private sector, mainly because public procurement processes can be intensive. We do get enquiries from the public sector, but most of the time they are looking for the cheapest price. Our value is based on return on investment, which does not always translate well to public sector work. In the private sector, there is greater understanding of the concept that each dollar spent now is an investment in future CAPEX reductions. We have had a lot of success in working with companies such as Saddle Creek Transportation and Waste Connections because we are able to explain to them the true cost they are saving with our services. 

How have the needs of your clients evolved over the last three to five years? 

We are the only minority-owned natural gas marketing company in the state of Florida, and this is what started our relationship with Waste Connections. But as we began to evaluate their business, the largest overhead was their employees. We had to find ways to work with them to increase service while keeping rates the same. Over the course of the last four years, we have saved Waste Connections around $2.5 million. 

On a local and national level, what emerging or continuing trends could have an impact on your business? 

There is so much development in the Tampa area, and with new residents come new commercial activity, which is part of our core business. As long as the economy is growing at this pace, we will have the opportunity to provide our services. Regulation is a big indicator for us, and one thing we are monitoring closely is the recent push for carbon footprint reduction. We all have to be mindful of environmental impact and, primarily in the private sector, the main goal is to save money. If we can provide ways to do this while also reducing their carbon footprint, these are the best business models for all parties. 

It is vital for everyone to work toward clean energy solutions. We take pride in being subject-matter experts and understanding what our customers need. CNG and liquid natural gas (LNG), while more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum options, may not be suitable for all modes of transportation. There is room for electric and hydrogen technologies too, so we need to understand which technologies pair better with which fuel source and the impact that has on the environment. 

How is new technology impacting how companies develop and administer environmental energy solutions? 

The smaller the company, the lesser the disruption. Take a huge company that has made large investments in a particular technology. It takes a lot of momentum to make that company change course. Small businesses are nimbler and have the flexibility to try things out on a smaller scale before launching. On the metering side, we have AMR-AMI, which allows meter readings to be sent out electronically, meaning customers can understand energy usage on a daily or even hourly basis. There will only be greater focus placed on data collection and analysis going forward. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

http://www.integralenergyus.com/