David Beattie, president of Hamilton, Beattie & Staff, a Washington, D.C.-based public opinion consulting firm, says Johnson's perception is on target. "If a product sells in Tampa Bay, it will sell in the state," he says.
The assertion is a little surprising because many of Tampa Bay's broad demographic categories don't mirror the state's. Hispanics, for example, make up 9.6% of the Tampa Bay region but 16.8% of the statewide population.
Beattie says he uses selected, more precise demographic categories, including employment status, occupation and income. It's Tampa Bay's similarities to the state in those categories that make it a good predictor of statewide behavior, he says. For example, 17.9% of Tampa Bay's workers make between $35,000 and $49,999 a year while 17.4% of Florida's workers report the same income.
Beattie says he's more interested in "overall behavior" and occupational statistics than in broader racial and ethnic data. He also considers it important that the Tampa Bay media market encompasses 26% of the state population, more than any other single media market, including Miami, which includes 20% of the population. And he says that the Tampa Bay region contains both urban, rural and suburban areas that encompass a range of income levels.
Johnson says he'll continue to use Tampa Bay as a gauge. His $3-billion mortgage firm tested a new loan concept in Tampa Bay two years ago tailored to home buyers interested in restoring old or historic homes. The concept sold well here. Last year, the company grabbed $30 million in sales nationwide from that product alone, and his company is currently testing three new products in the region.
Beattie says the Tampa Bay market is likewise the best measure of how Floridians statewide will vote. He says it accurately mirrored the results of the 2000 presidential race and the 2002 gubernatorial race. "The Tampa Bay media market is a real reflection of the state as a whole and more reflective of other areas in the nation," he says.
IN THE NEWS
Bonita Springs -- LocalTel Yellow Pages has moved its headquarters from Andover, Mass., to Bonita Springs, bringing 58 jobs.
Clearwater -- Clearwater-based Colliers Arnold Commercial Real Estate Services plans to build an $80-million, 100-unit condominium tower in downtown Clearwater in the summer of 2004.
Clearwater-based Aerosonic Corp. (Amex-AIM), an aircraft instruments manufacturer, overstated its earnings by $3 million over the past three years. The company says the discrepancy may have been the result of inventory problems. The $19-million company's customers include Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the Army.
Fort Myers -- Columbus, Ohio-based CallTech, a call center operator, is adding 50 to 75 employees at its 250-employee center in Fort Myers. The company may add 200 jobs by next year.
Naples -- F.N.B. Corp., a bank holding company, has acquired Charter Banking Corp., the holding company for Tampa-based Southern Exchange Bank, which has $701 million in assets and $482 million in deposits. F.N.B. Corp. now has $7.8 billion in assets, up almost $1 billion from a year earlier.
Polk County -- Polk County's effort to diversify its economy is paying off. During the 1990 recession, the county's unemployment rate was 10%; last year, the rate was 6%. Economic development officials cite an expanding employment base away from agriculture to include more health services, insurance and retail operations.
Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers has launched a heavy-equipment auction site at the Osceola/Polk county line. The site, at I-4 and U.S. 27, includes a covered auction theater and buildings in which equipment can be repaired and repainted.
Sarasota -- Vern Buchanan, chairman of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, recently donated $1 million to the museum's "Ringling Now" campaign, which has raised $5.4 million toward its goal of $10 million to fund programs. If the museum reaches its goal, the Florida State University board of trustees will release $21 million in construction funds that the Legislature agreed to give Ringling for an education facility and galleries.
Sarasota County -- Utah-based Central Wireless plans to build a 195-foot cellular tower in Sarasota County to be completed next month. The company will share the tower with Nextel Communications, Alltel Corp., AT&T and Cingular Wireless. The company says the tower will generate $250,000 in revenue a year.
St. Petersburg -- The City Council is considering easing Sunday restrictions on alcohol sales. Liquor is not sold at all on Sundays; beer and wine are sold only after 1 p.m.
Tampa -- Tampa-based Switch and Data, which provides facilities and infrastructure services to technology companies, has acquired Palo Alto, Calif.-based PAIX.net, an internet provider, for $40 million.
The University of South Florida's Center for Biological Defense was awarded a $323,600 grant by the Florida Department of Health to increase its bioterrorism training of police officers, firefighters and others likely to initially respond to a bioterrorism threat in the area.
Global Imaging Systems of Tampa recently acquired North Carolina-based copier distributor Raleigh Typewriter Exchange, its 58th acquisition since 1994. Details were not disclosed.
Tampa Bay -- Tampa and St. Petersburg will benefit from a part of $110 million in federal tax credits awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department to the Advantage Capital Community Development Fund, an affiliate of Advantage Capital Partners, a venture capital firm with offices in Tampa. The firm will invest the money in low-income areas.
Per capita Taxable Value Removed From Tax RollsCountyAmountCollier$6,193Monroe$5,741St. Johns$4,916Gulf$4,404Sarasota$4,297State avg.$1,731Sources: Florida Department of Revenue; Florida TaxWatch
Save Our Homes
OFF THE TAX ROLLS
The Save Our Homes amendment -- approved in 1992 and in effect since 1995 -- limits the growth in assessed value of homestead property to 3% or inflation, whichever is lower. Collier County leads the state in per capita taxable value removed from tax rolls as a result of the amendment.
In the Spotlight
TAMPA ELECTS NEW MAYOR
TAMPA -- Pam Iorio beat runoff competitor Frank Sanchez in a landslide to become Tampa's new mayor. Iorio, who won with 64% of the vote, had been elected Hillsborough County's supervisor of elections for three consecutive terms and has been involved in local politics for 18 years. Sanchez, a business consultant and political newcomer, was criticized for running a negative campaign against Iorio.
DESAL PLANT IN ACTION
TAMPA BAY -- The long-awaited $110-million Tampa Bay desalination plant has opened, initially producing 8 million gallons of water a day for Tampa Bay Water's 2 million customers. The plant eventually will produce more than 25 million gallons a day.