Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tis the season (and year) to shop

The cash registers are ringing loudly around Manatee County with last-minute shoppers. If you finished up your shopping last weekend like I did, you may have thought "What bad economy?" as parking lots and store aisles were packed. I've talked with many local retailers this holiday season who say they are pleased with sales this year.

The Florida Retail Federation and the National Retail Federation expect holiday sales will be up 3 to 4 percent this year. But as I looked at how retailers have fared all year for tomorrow's retail industry report, I found they've been doing quite well in 2010.

Year-to-date sales tax collections through November for Manatee County total $226 million, up from $204.5 million over the same period in 2009, according to the Florida Department of Revenue. Click here for comparable tax collection data starting in 2003.

Retailers expect the spending momentum to carry over to 2011 as they believe the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and a possible reduction in debit card transaction fees will put more money in consumers' pockets.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Economic series reports on jobs, Port Manatee

The Bradenton Herald's economic report continues today with a look at employment and a grim look at just how slow recovery will be in terms of getting people back to work. A highlight: state economists say Florida's unemployment rate, currently 12 percent, won't fall below 6 percent until 2019 or 2020.

Port Manatee will be a piece to Manatee County's economic recovery. On Thursday, the Bradenton Herald series will take a look at what's in store for Port Manate in the year ahead.

Port officials say 2011 will focus on infrastructure improvements and new marketing initiatives. Those priorities are a part of Port Manatee's bigger plan to capture more cargo that will be routed through the Panama Canal when its expansion is completed in 2014.

Update: Here's a link to the full story.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tourism industry focuses on new strategies

The Bradenton Herald  launched a year-end series this week in which we take a look at how various industries in Manatee County fared and what's on the horizon for 2011. We started with an overall report on the local economy and its recovery.

Today, I took a look at tourism in this report. The industry saw the ramifications of one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history, but the latest statistics show the area has come out without significant losses. The story also looks at what the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport have planned to drive more travelers to the area.

We'll collect this two-week series here at and include updates and your comments.