| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

innovation : Development News

171 innovation Articles | Page: | Show All

Tampa Bay area private schools grow, invest in new buildings

Tampa Bay area private schools serving students in kindergarten through high school are investing in their campuses as a way to enrich the educational experience for students.
 
Academy of the Holy Names
 
Located on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, The Academy of the Holy Names recently announced its groundbreaking on a new center for the arts. The $11 million facility will include a 350-seat theater, interior and exterior learning spaces, 2- and 3-D art labs as well as band, choral and dance classrooms.
 
“In addition to classes, the center will be used for full-run drama productions,” says Emily Wise of The Academy of the Holy Names.The arts are a central part of the Academy's curriculum and a critical factor in educating the whole child, mind, body and spirit.”  

Construction is expected to run approximately 13 months. While the center will be ready for use in spring 2017, classes will start in fall 2017.
 
Berkeley Prep
 
With a generous donation from the Gries Investment Fund to the tune of $4 million, last fall Berkeley Prep opened the Gries Center for Arts and Sciences. The 75,000-square-foot facility is home to the middle and upper division fine and visual arts departments, as well as upper division for math and science.
 
Other features of the center include multimedia labs, digital-ready study rooms, eight professional potter’s wheels, two outdoor kilns and a covered patio space.
 
One of the more innovative features of the building is the multimedia room, which includes a green screen, industry-editing software for film class and a whisper box that allows students to record voice-overs of sound studio quality for films and animation.
 
Jesuit High School
 
The historic all-male K-12 private school located on Himes Avenue in Tampa is planning a $35-million renovation and expansion project. Plans include adding four new buildings to the campus, as well as renovating others. Also, a full renovation of the chapel is planned.
 
“The refurbishment of the campus will begin with a full renovation of the chapel, which is the heart of the school,” says Pete Young of Jesuit High School. “The students gather every morning for Convocation, and we are maxed out on the number of students we can fit in the sanctuary, there is just no room for growth, so we need a larger chapel so we can accommodate more students.”

Innovative aquaponics facility in Tampa Bay to grow produce, farm fish

Looking for a place where you could get fresh organic fish, as well as produce free of chemicals and fertilizers here in the Tampa Bay area? Now, what if these fish and produce would come from a building and not the ocean or farm land?
 
That is the innovative concept behind Global Aquaponic Inc. (GAI). It is a concept that the company wants to bring to the Tampa Bay area..

The specific location has not been yet determined.
 
If you have ever taken a ride through ‘The Land’ exhibit in EPCOT at the Walt Disney World resort, you may have seen how similar systems work. Basically, it is an alternative way to grow produce and farm fish in a controlled environment without the use of pesticides.
 
“Aquaponics uses up to 90 percent less water than traditional soil-based farming and therefore preserves our fresh water,” Bradshaw says. “Chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are poisonous to our environment; therefore we do not use any of those.”
 
Bradshaw goes on to say that although there is no start date as of yet, the facility can be completed and fully producing in one year from start to finish.  Which also means green job creation for the area.
 
“The aquaponics system will be comprised of two separate entities: a fish facility and a greenhouse,” he says. The fish facility will require two dedicated employees, a manager and an assistant manager, as well as one full-time employee. The greenhouse will require 12 to 24 full-time employees for the greenhouse bays.”
 
For more information on the company, visit their website.

Tech company in Tampa invests $1M in expansion, 45 new jobs

As the growing list of tech companies based in the Tampa Bay area gets longer, one company that has called Tampa home for over a decade has big plans for its future. SunView Software, Inc., founded in 2003, is investing $1-million into expanding its headquarters located at 10210 Highland Manor Drive in Tampa.
 
“We are adding 6,000-square-feet of office space to the existing headquarters in the Highland Oaks office complex,” says John Prestridge, VP of marketing and products for SunView Software, Inc. “We are building out a modern workspace for the expansion designed to enhance collaboration and teamwork for the expanding SunView team.”
 
He goes on to say that higher sales and continued product innovation have contributed to the robust growth and need for more space. With the extra space, Prestridge says, the company plans on hiring 45 new employees. Positions include software development, services, support, marketing and sales.
 
The company received help from the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation in expediting the permitting process to get the expansion plans on the fast track.
 
“Hillsborough County’s burgeoning information technology industry is a major point of pride for this community,” says Lesley “Les” Miller, chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners in a news release. “Our formidable group of technology entrepreneurs, increasing numbers of highly skilled IT talent, and excellent business climate and quality of life are all helping to position us as one of the most desirable tech destinations in the country.”
 
Sunview Software joins several other technology companies that are also expanding their Tampa Bay headquarters including, Accusoft, BlueGrace Logistics, Connectwise, Hivelocity, ReliaQuest and Tribridge.

Historic Clearwater neighborhood petitions city for brick streets

A historic neighborhood in Clearwater may soon take drivers down memory lane as brick streets replace the paved roads. Harbor Oaks neighborhood, located just north of Morton Plant Hospital, is a 110-home community dating back to the early 1900s.

“Harbor Oaks is a very historic neighborhood, however, there is a myth that it once had brick streets,” says Mike Quillen, director of engineering for the city of Clearwater. “The truth is there have never been brick streets there, if the petition passes then the neighborhood will get brick streets for the first time.”

The petition Quillen refers to has been made by residents of the Harbor Oaks neighborhood, which is comprised of multi-million dollar homes, some residents have been waiting years for the brick streets to become a reality for the future.

“Over the last few years, we have been looking into different solutions for traffic calming in that neighborhood and brick is one solution,” Quillen says. “It also looks very nice, which would likely raise the property value on the homes.”

He goes on to say that the timing for this project is advantageous for those who support the cause because there is already an underground infrastructure project underway, so the pavement has to be removed regardless.

“To do the brick streets would be a $1.8 million project as it is, so if the residents want this now would be the time to do it.”

The city will not be footing the bill on the project. The city will be polling the residents affected by the project, and if at least 65-percent are in favor, the brick will be installed with a special assessment put on the homes to cover the cost.  

“We will know what the decision is in the next few weeks,” Quillen says. “If it is approved, work on the brick streets will start a year from now.”

In addition to being an innovative, yet expensive answer to traffic calming, it is also a unique solution.

“We have researched a lot of cities throughout the states and it is very unusual to find a neighborhood that desires brick roads, Quillen says. “These days it is more common to find cities replacing their brick roads with asphalt.”

Roads that could potentially become brick streets include parts of Druid Road West, and Druid Road South, Jasmine Way, Magnolia Drive, Lotus Path, Bay Avenue, and small areas of Orange and Oak Avenues.

USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute begins move to downtown Tampa

Tampa’s downtown revitalization continues to flourish as plans for the new USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute begin to take shape at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive.
 
The decision to place a facility in downtown was out of need and convenience.
 
“The current outdated medical school facilities were designed for a different era of medical teaching when large classroom instruction was the norm instead of today’s emphasis on smaller, active learning classrooms and on team-based, technologically intensive modes of learning,” says Dr. Charles Lockwood, Senior VP of USF Health and Dean of Morsani College of Medicine.  “Moreover, combining the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute into a single facility on the downtown site to be generously donated by Jeff Vinik will provide the university with an important competitive advantage in attracting the best and brightest students, the most talented young faculty and the country’s leading cardiovascular research scientists.”
 
While specifics of the building have yet to be determined, USF has already received an $18 million gift from Carol and Frank Morsani to assist with construction of the complex. Lockwood says it has been that kind of generous financial support from the community that led to the downtown plan.
 
“A series of events aligned, including our need for new facilities, Mr. Vinik’s visionary plan to develop the downtown Tampa waterfront, former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford’s championing of the Heart Institute’s funding, and a new spirit of collaboration and cooperation between USF and Tampa General Hospital,” he says. “After careful review of our situation, we seized upon the unparalleled opportunity to make the downtown location a reality. “
 
Last June, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott supported plans for the new facility by including $17 million in the annual state budget.
 
“The move will be critical in placing both the medical school and future heart institute within five minutes of Tampa General Hospital, USF’s primary teaching hospital where our students do most of their clinical rotations and our clinical faculty admit most of their patients,” Lockwood says. “This downtown location is precisely where millennial medical students and young faculty want to be.”

Smart Gigabit Community coming to Pasco County, first in U.S.

A developing neighborhood in Pasco County will have the distinction of being the first planned “Smart Gigabit Community” in the United States to be built from the ground up.

Tampa-based Metro Development Group, which has developed planned communities that utilize the latest innovative technologies across the state of Florida since 2003, will drive planning and development for the new “Connected City Corridor.”

Innovation group US Ignite, which was established in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, designated the area a “Smart Gigabit Community.”

The nonprofit group will work with MDG, which has also developed a partnership with Pasco County, on the project.

Mike Lawson, Director of Land Development for MDG, praised the project for being “the first of its kind in the country.”

Lawson, who is working together with MDG VP of Operations Kartik Goyani to lead the “Connected City” team, “values the opportunity to work with US Ignite” to plan the project.

The “Connected City Corridor” will be located between Wesley Chapel and San Antonio in southeast Pasco County. Preliminary development work for the new community, located in a special planning area bordered by State Road 52, I-75, Curley Road and Overpass Road, began in late 2015.

Areas called Epperson Ranch, Cannon Ranch and Ashley Groves will be built up as residential developments part of the new community.

The Connected City project will be unique from the few other “Smart Gigabit Communities” in the U.S.  because those cities, such as Kansas City and Cleveland, were retrofitted with Gigabit Internet access; the new Florida community will be planned around a fiber network that provides Gigabit Internet access from the start.

“This project gives Metro Development and Pasco County the possibility to create a better future that will accommodate what's next in connectivity,” Lawson says.

Additionally, Lawson says, the Connected City Corridor is expected to “create economic development for the area, with new businesses and residents moving to the area.” 

Based on results in other connected cities, the area is poised to attract businesses, retailers and residents. Along with new services and Gigabit applications, US Ignite will work with MDG and Pasco County officials to make the new community visible to tech-savvy companies who may be looking for a new location.

“Gigabit technology is transforming the business landscape around the country, and this new community will be one of Florida’s top destinations for companies looking for the advantages this connectivity can provide,” Goyani said in a press release.

HART, St. Pete College team up on sustainability project

HART and St. Petersburg College are teaming up to find innovative solutions for more sustainable living. The initiative created by HART is part of the company’s Environmental & Sustainability Management Program (ESMS). Together with students from St. Petersburg College’s (SPC) College of Business the team has already started to implement a solid waste recycling program.
 
“The initial goal of the recycling project is to increase the landfilil diversion rates at two facilities from zero to 10 percent, and reduce the solid waste management costs at those facilities by 10 percent,” says Sandra Morrison of HART.
 
Morrison explains that the project is also part of the “Design for Six Sigma” HART project, which uses Lean Six Sigma techniques and tools to find solutions for the great amount of solid waste the company produces.
 
To meet all of these goals, college seniors from SPC enrolled in the Sustainability Management degree have been recruited to work on this project. Together HART environmental staff and SPC students are developing innovative ways to decrease solid waste management costs, quantify how much waste is disposed by passengers and improve resource optimization.
 
According to Morrison, HART not only has its doors opened to students for this current project, but will continue to accept students for future projects as well.

“Any individual student or group of students who are in the capstone course at St. Petersburg College’s College of Business can use our operations to conduct their senior projects,” she says. “HART has electricity, carbon, water, and waste reduction initiatives currently underway so there are plenty of opportunities for students to apply their skills in a real-world context.”

Revolution Ice Cream Company plans move to Seminole Heights, Tampa

Fans of Revolution Ice Cream Company will no longer have to drive to Brandon to buy a scoop or two of their favorite flavors. 

The local, independent ice cream parlor that is popular for its unique flavor blends (such as pumpkin-spiced RumChata) is opening its second store in the trendy Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights. 

The new store is slated to open at 6701 North Florida Avenue in Tampa in mid-December. 

“Seminole Heights seems to be the place for food,” says Bill Workman, owner of Revolution Ice Cream. “It’s a neat, tightly knit community.”
 
Workman opened the innovative ice cream parlor at 220 W. Brandon Boulevard during March 2013 with his wife, Leslee, after growing a thriving ice cream business from their home. 

“I started making different flavors of ice cream in our kitchen using a Cuisinart, and soon we were filling orders for friends’ parties. We had people pulling up into our driveway, leaving their cars with cash in hand, and walking out of our house carrying brown paper bags five minutes later.” He laughs, “It’s a good thing the cops were never called on us!”
 
Revolution Ice Cream, which carries about 20 flavors – roughly a dozen regulars and eight seasonal flavors – would seem to be the brainchild of a master chef with training in a multitude of confectionary cooking disciplines. Not so. Revolution Ice Cream represents Workman’s first foray in the restaurant business. 

“People ask me how I come up with these flavors, but I don’t know. It just happens – it’s a God-given talent.” 

Workman mentions his mom was a dietician and prepared meals for him when he was growing up that none of his friends ate. 

“I guess you could say I was a foodie before ‘foodie’ was even a term,” says Workman, who is in his early 40s.
 
For Workman, running an ice cream parlor is just one of the many hats he’s worn in his eclectic career. 

“I’ve worked in insurance, mortgage lending, and big box retail,” he says. “I took a few college classes but didn’t graduate, so I guess you could say I went to the School of Hard Knocks.”
 
So how did he venture into making a smorgasbord of ice cream concoctions with names like “Pomegranate Rosemary,” “Eurotrash” (Nutella ice cream and Biscoff cookie crumbles), and “Porky’s Delight” (vanilla with bacon and bacon brittle)? 

“I get inspired when I walk through the grocery store and say ‘I want to make an ice cream flavor out of that.’” 

Meanwhile, the concept for the hip ice cream hangout came from a trip the Workmans made to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

“I came across a store called Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee. I thought it had a cool vibe and neat flavors of ice cream,” he recalls. “When we came back to Florida, we couldn’t find anything like it here.” 

The couple launched a Kickstarter campaign and later took a chance by offering free ice cream for the first four days the new store was opened. “On Day 5, we started charging, and people still came.”
 
In addition to the Brandon storefront location, Workman also operates a Revolution Ice Cream food truck, which draws a crowd wherever it stops. Revolution Ice Cream has more than 5,500 followers on Facebook and a Yelp* rating of 4.5 with over 100 ratings. It’s therefore no surprise that Workman expects good things for the new location in Tampa. “I think Seminole Heights will blow Brandon out of the water!”

5 new restaurants pick Westshore area of Tampa to call home

Five new restaurants are about to be calling the Westshore area of Tampa home. Three of the restaurants are going into International Plaza, making for a night out for foodies a cinch if you want to try all three in one trip.
 
YO! Sushi
 
One of the most innovative concepts coming to International Plaza is YO! Sushi. The sushi joint has become popular and well-known for its unique ordering process.
 
“To make ordering fun and easy, dishes are served via the “kaiten” otherwise known as a conveyor belt, with color and price coded plates ranging from $3 to $7 dollars,” says Darren Wightman, VP of Operations for YO! Sushi.
 
In addition to ordering off the “kaiten,” guests can order other dishes using an airline style call button.
 
Wightman, who graduated with a degree in catering and hospitality from William Angliss College, with a certificate in wine studies from the UK Wine and Spirit Education Trust, says the restaurant serves a variety of sushi including sashimi, maki hand rolls, spicy tuna rolls and vegetarian options. Yo! Sushi also provides a variety of wine, beer and sake.
 
This will be the second location in the Tampa Bay area, with the other being located at The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota.
 
“We love the Florida market,” Wightman says.  “Due to our recent Sarasota opening and the positive response, the Tampa market was a natural next step for the brand. It is a vibrant market, with a diversity of cultures.”
 
Yo! Sushi will be having a grand opening celebration when they open October 28th.
 
TAPS
 
Also located at International Plaza is TAPS, an upscale bar nestled in the heart of Bay Street across from Bar Louie and The Blue Martini. TAPS had its grand opening in September.
 
With flat screen televisions located both inside and outside the establishment, this is a great place to go to watch games and drink craft beer. In addition to the wide variety of beer, wine and spirits, the restaurant also has a reputation for great food. Known for their house-baked meatballs and Tuna Crudo, which is served at their other locations throughout Florida, it is a staple for the brasserie. Other menu items include short rib ragu, steak fritz and burgers.
 
Doc B’s
 
The third International Plaza newbie is Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen. Named in honor of the owner’s father, who always said ‘Everything in moderation,’ this restaurant is one of the healthier choices for foodies.
 
Options include kale salad, roasted chicken and salad -- all made from with ingredients from local farmers. There are also more indulgent offerings including burgers, crispy chicken sandwichs and filet-mignon. Remember what Doc B says? Everything in moderation.
 
Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen is scheduled to open in November.
 
 Lucky Dill
 
The former Boizao Steakhouse location at 4606 West Boy Scout Boulevard, will soon be transformed into the Lucky Dill Deli. Lucky Dill already runs a deli and bakery in Palm Harbor.  
 
Lucky Dill is a New York-style deli offering soups, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and an array of entrees. Favorites include matzo ball soup, corned beef sandwich and Coney Island Potato Knish. The restaurant is also known for its breakfast menu and bakery, especially when the weekend rolls around.
 
Lucky Dill in Westshore is expected to open by end of 2015.
 
Thai Prime
 
Located in the MetWest retail and office complex across from the International Plaza mall you will soon find Thai Prime. The restaurant is a concept from the owners of Thai Samurai in Trinity. Like the established restaurant in Pasco County, Thai Prime will serve authentic Thai cuisine.
 
With 2,613-square-feet, the restaurant will also feature a full liquor bar and outdoor seating.
 
Thai Prime at MetWest is expected to open in December.

Westchase foodie alert: New restaurants opening

For all you foodies out there, the Westchase area is serving up two unique options to try the next time you dine out. One is a local favorite expanding and opening a second location in the Tampa Bay area, the other an innovative twist on a new trend.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Known for being one of the first craft breweries in the Tampa Bay area, Tampa Bay Brewing Company  (TBBC) has had digs in Ybor City for nearly two decades. So it was time for the company to do what most of us do at some point in our lives and move to the suburbs.

The second location at 13937 Monroe’s Business Park, is a 17,400-square-foot beer haven with a brewing operation on-site, as well as 4,300-square-feet of restaurant space serving everything from typical pub fare to steak and salmon. The site also features a 3,500-square-foot patio with an outdoor bar and plenty of outdoor seating.

“We wanted to be on the west side of Tampa for our second location,” says Michael Doble, whose family founded TBBC and still runs the company today. “Westchase and the surrounding areas hit the target demographic we are looking for, we had to make some adjustments to the menu to compete with neighboring restaurants, but it’s a friendly competition.”

The restaurant and brewery opened in mid-August and offers brewery tours by reservation on Saturdays.  

 Fat Beet Farm

The farm-to-table trend has been growing rapidly as more people become conscious of not only what they are putting in their bodies, but where it comes from. But imagine actually seeing the farm from your restaurant table?

That is the innovative concept that co-founder of Bonefish Grill, Tim Curci, is bringing to Westchase. Fat Beet Farm, which has not announced an opening date yet, will be located at the intersection of Tampa and Racetrack Roads. Plans are underway for the property to be a nine-acre working farm that will supply two restaurants.

In addition to the restaurants, Fat Beet Farm will offer a Saturday Farmers Market, a commissary and Florida agriculture student internships with housing.

For more information on Fat Beet Farm, visit their website.

Unique theater prepares to open in West Tampa

West Tampa is experiencing a great amount of change as development plans by the city are underway, and in response to all the change, a new theater company is moving into the neighborhood to offer a place of peace, thoughtfulness and innovation.

The Space at 2106 Main, an old restaurant, is being revitalized into a theater that will house performances from band and vocal representations to one-person shows to full-blown Broadway acts. The theater company’s goal is to bring a variety of art to the area.

Before becoming executive artistic director for The Space at 2106 Main, Jared O’Roark, was working with youth for over a decade at Ruth Eckerd Hall. He even gained national attention for his work in the documentary Project: Shattered Silence, which won several awards and even a Emmy nomination.

“After working at Ruth Eckerd Hall for 14 years, the owner of The Space at 2106 Main, Robert Morris, came to me and told me about this building, and when we went inside, he asked me if I saw potential for a theater, and I said, 'yes'.”

O’Roark goes on to say that the theater will be immersive, meaning actors and acts will be moving around the whole theater, even in the audience, unlike traditional theater that all takes place on a stage.

“Everything in the room can move, so every time you walk in the room it should look different,” he says. “The chairs can move, tables can move, the booths can move, so immersive also means whatever the director has in mind, he can do without being tied down.”

O’Roark says this project is also important to him due to the fact that he is able to work with a diverse group of people in a diverse community.

“We are really pushing diversity, and we are not just saying it, the three of us at the top are all minorities. Robert, the owner is Lebanese, I myself am gay, and Erica Sutherlan, the managing artistic director is African-American. We want to not only present art for people outside the community, but we want to do stuff that involves the community. We want people in the community to know that we are not keeping them at arm’s length. This is their place too. This is a diverse community, and we welcome that diversity.”

The Space at 2016 Main will open its doors in September, for a list of upcoming shows check out their Facebook page for updates.

Stantec receives award for Amazon center in Ruskin

Stanec, a Tampa-based architectural and engineering firm, was recently recognized for its work on the Amazon fulfillment center in Ruskin. The firm received the 2015 planning award from the Florida Planning and Zoning Association (FPZA) for “Outstanding Development,” based on the project’s innovativeness and implementation.
 
“The FPZA Award recognized the project for its overall success as a large scale and complex project, successfully delivered into a master planned park on a fast track basis,” says David Kemper Sr. principal with Stantec.
 
The 1.1 million-square-foot facility, which is located on an 80-acre parcel off I-75 in southeast Hillsborough County, was a $200 million investment for Amazon. The building is used to pack, ship and store goods for Amazon, and has also brought 2,500 jobs to the community.
 
According to Kemper, it was that economic impact that contributed to Stantec receiving the award,
 
"The Amazon project was an extremely important and impactful project from an economic development perspective," he says. "The extent of new job creation and related economic impact was and is substantial.” 
 
Kemper goes on to say that it was a team effort between his company, Ryan Companies, which was the business park developer on the project, and USAA real estate company, which bought the property under the direction of Seefried Industrial Properties. He also credits the Hillsborough County government and the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation for adhering to an aggressive schedule for permitting.
 
“We received approval for permitting within three and a half months,” he says. “The Amazon project was completed in approximately 15 months; from commencement of design to completion of construction.”
 
The Amazon fulfillment center is at 355 NE 30th St. in Ruskin.

Heritage Village in Pinellas upgrades its paths with innovative, sustainable pavement

The pathway through yesteryear that winds in and around Heritage Village is now environmentally friendly, thanks to a company based out of Pinellas and its trademarked product.
 
KB Industries (KBI), recently installed its signature product known as Flexi®-Pave, a porous pavement made of recycled tires that allow for water to flow through the material. This process eliminates standing water, which reduces pollution from storm water run-off while also controlling erosion.
 
KBI Founder and CEO Kevin Bagnall explains just how well the product can process water.
 
“We allow water to go through our materials at a rate of 3,000-gallons-per-square-foot-per-hour, and we make sure the water does not come back up or crack, it is very stable,” he says.
 
Bagnall, who moved to this country from England in 1992, has been in the industry for nearly 30 years. His company, which is headquartered in Pinellas Park, employs 15 full-time employees at the corporate office, and over 150 employees worldwide, with more growth to come.
 
“This year we expect to add six more employees at our corporate headquarters, as well as contracting positions around the country to install our products,” Bagnall says. “We plan to add a chief mechanical officer, national sales director, an internal sales position and some technical sales positions as well.”
 
He goes on to say that the need to create more jobs is related to more projects including plans to do work at Yellowstone National Park, and other projects out West. There are also plans to open an office on the west coast.
 
As for Heritage Village, the park that attracts tourists, students and families, the sustainable pavement provides a solution for their need to meet ADA requirements, while blending in with the historic landscape.
 
“The Pinellas County chief engineer contacted me because the pavement they had before was cracking and did not meet the ADA requirements,” Bagnall says. “With our product not cracking, and also being sustainable and flexible for use around trees, we fit the bill.”
 
To see Flexi®-Pave at Heritage Village, you can visit the park at 11909 125th Street North in Largo. For park hours, visit their website.

For Good: Home ownership program helps low-income families

The American dream of home ownership is becoming a reality for low-income families because a local nonprofit helps people help themselves become homeowners.
 
Florida Home Partnership, a program that has served Hillsborough and Pasco counties for the past 21 years, has assisted over 700 families, veterans and seniors in achieving their goal to become homeowners.
 
“There are a lot of people that are shut out of the chance at home ownership,” says Earl Pfeiffer, Executive Director for Florida Home Partnership. “Our program is not a handout, it is a hand up.”
 
Pfeiffer explains that the program, which has built communities in rural areas throughout Hillsborough and Pasco counties, helps those who otherwise would not have the chance to own a home.
 
“The first criteria an individual or family must meet, is that they be under 80-percent of the area median income,” he says. “In Hillsborough and Pasco counties, for a single person that income cannot exceed $33,050, and for a family of four it cannot exceed $47,200.
 
In addition to the income level, individuals and families must have good or repairable credit, a reliable source of income and be willing to work on their own home.
 
“This is a self-help program,” Pfeiffer says. “Families in the community work on the homes they will be living in, and are required to work a minimum of 600 hours on skilled tasks.”
 
The innovative program is funded by a variety of sources. Program funding comes from the Department of Agriculture, as well as both Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Funding for the homes, comes from Congress in the form of the Section 502 loan, as well as down payment assistance from the State of Florida.
 
“As a real estate agent myself, I see how the rates are going up, it can be very difficult to buy a house,” Pfeiffer says. “We all want to be a part of the American dream, and this program helps people achieve that dream.”

BLUE Ocean Film Festival opens new headquarters in St. Pete

As waves lap the Gulf of Mexico shoreline less than two miles away, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit opens its new global headquarters in the heart of St. Pete. The main office at 646 2nd Ave. S. is already abuzz with activities surrounding preparations for the city to host the 2016 BLUE Ocean Film Festival.

The annual festival sheds light on problems plaguing the world's oceans and solutions for conservation by showcasing the best in ocean filmmaking and scientific research. The seven-day event moved to St. Petersburg in 2014 from Monterey CA, will be hosted by the government of Prince Albert II in Monaco in November 2015 and then will return to St. Pete in November 2016.

The nonprofit works year-round to educate people on the importance of ocean life and conservation. From summits and conferences to workshops and educational outreach programs, the organization tries to teach as many populations as possible.

“It’s always been a part of our long-term strategy to use film as a tool to raise awareness,” says Debbie Kinder, CEO and co-Founder of BLUE Ocean. “We have always wanted to have workshops, activities and mentoring to show that conservation work is a great career option.”

The organization’s “Blue on Tour” program travels the world showcasing its films and engaging conversations on the global value of the oceans.

“We need one strong home base and St. Pete is it,” Kinder says. “We would love for BLUE to be associated with St. Pete the way that Sundance is associated with Park City.”

The 6,000-square-foot headquarters that Kinder refers to as ''home base'' is being leased, though the nonprofit is getting a temporary break on rent.

“There is a long-term lease, however, early on there are no rent payments due,” says Robert Glaser, President and CEO of Smith and Associates. Glaser did minor renovations on the property, although he says the building was in excellent shape and did not need much done. Long-term, when the festival is more financially sound, he anticipates collecting rent for use of the building.
171 innovation Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts

Underwriting Partners