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Janan Talafer : Innovation + Job News

12 Janan Talafer Articles | Page:

Local artists learn business skills at TEC Garage

Creative Pinellas and TEC Garage are collaborating on a program to help artists and creative professionals learn the entrepreneurial skills needed to be successful in today’s marketplace.

Thanks to funding from Creative Pinellas, artists and arts-related organizations in Pinellas County can apply to participate at no cost in TEC Garage’s nine-week Co.Starters Program that begins September 5.

TEC Garage is part of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, an innovation and entrepreneurship center for tech businesses that is managed by STAR-TEC Enterprises, Inc., a not-for-profit Florida corporation “whose goal is to foster jobs and promote economic development through assistance and support programs.” Located in downtown St. Petersburg, TEC Garage houses co-working and incubation space, as well as mentoring programs for emerging tech companies and entrepreneurs.

This will be the third time that Creative Pinellas has collaborated with TEC Garage to offer the course to the local arts community, says Barbara St. Clair, executive director of Creative Pinellas. Creative Pinellas is a nonprofit agency supporting the arts community with grant programs, events and activities.

The agency’s new emerging artist grant was featured in a March 21 story in 83 Degrees Media.

St. Clair says she first learned about TEC Garage when she inquired about the program’s co-working space before joining Creative Pinellas in 2016.

“I was impressed with the quality of the program,” says St. Clair. “Then after I was hired at Creative Pinellas, I met with Tonya Elmore, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, and we agreed that tech entrepreneurs had a lot in common with artists. Both are creative, independent, self-starters and on the leading edge of change. We decided if there was ever an opportunity for us to combine resources we would do that.”

About 20 artists, including Carlos Culbertson, a St. Petersburg mural artist better known as Zulu Painter, have participated in the Co-Starters Program since Creative Pinellas began offering funding for the course.

“Several artists have told us that it was one of the best programs that they had ever attended -- a life-changing experience,” says St. Clair.

Originally developed by an organization in Chattanooga, TN., Co.Starters is now being duplicated in cities across the U.S. with the mission of teaching entrepreneurs how to turn a creative idea into a thriving and sustainable business. 

According to Tampa Bay Innovation Center president Tonya Elmore, the partnership between Creative Pinellas and TEC Garage provides a “unique approach to the integration of the arts with entrepreneurship.”
 
“The Co.Starters program allows creatives to explore the probability of turning their passion into a thriving venture,” says Elmore. “The biggest take away from participants is that it saved them countless hours and mistakes of trying to launch their business on their own. The added value was being in the room with like-minded individuals experiencing similar roadblocks.“

St. Petersburg’s program is taught by Chris Paradies, president of Paradies Law, a boutique law firm specializing in entrepreneurs and small businesses. JJ Roberts, director of TEC Garage, is a guest speaker in the program. Participants meet once a week for three hours in the evening to discuss topics ranging from team building, problem solving and competition to understanding the customer, identifying the right message and marketing and understanding licenses, revenue, legal issues and distribution.

St. Petersburg’s Innovation District launches search for director

South of downtown St. Petersburg in the city’s Bayboro Harbor District, lies a powerhouse collection of marine science and oceanographic organizations.

The University of South Florida College of Marine Science, SRI St. Petersburg, the Florida Institute of Oceanography and U.S. Geological Survey and are among the half dozen or more marine-related organizations collectively known as the Ocean Team.

According to the City of St. Petersburg, the Ocean Team collectively employs more than 1,600 people, most in highly specialized jobs.

Just a block away, is another growing consortium of world-class educational, research and healthcare organizations.  There’s the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, known internationally for its journalism education, and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, which just opened the new Kate Tiedemann College of Business.

In addition, there is a thriving healthcare corridor that includes Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.  

The internationally renowned Dali Museum is also located here.

To capitalize on the area’s potential, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin have branded it as the city’s new Innovation District. A search is now underway to hire a director to help plan, manage and coordinate activities to take the district to the next level.

“The aspiration of the St. Petersburg Innovation District is to catalyze the major institutional anchors in one geographic space,” says Randall H. Russell, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, one of several anchor organizations working with the city to recruit a new director for the district.

“The unusual co-location of federal and local marine research, health care organizations, including the opening of the new Johns Hopkins All Children’s Research Center, combine to result in a unique combination of talent and opportunity,” says Russell.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is currently constructing a seven-story, 225,000-square-foot research and education center that will house laboratories and offices in four key areas: pediatric heart disease, children’s cancer and blood disorders, brain protection sciences and maternal, fetal and neonatal institute. There are also expanded facilities for the hospital’s nationally accredited pediatric bio-repository to support clinical research.

In a 2015 report outlining the vision for the district, GAI Community Solutions Group writes: “Many Sunbelt cities are interested in developing this type of integrated place, but very few have the necessary cornerstone elements in place as St. Petersburg does.  Even fewer cities have those elements situation in a location with compelling natural environmental resources and economic characteristics to attract talent and jobs.”

The city envisions the Innovation District as a driver of economic development, job creation and collaboration that will attract new investment and revitalization to the area. Click here for an overview of the area from the city’s perspective

The salary range for the new Innovation District Director is $70,000 to $90,000. Job candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major course work in urban planning, business administration or a related field, as well as five years of increasing responsible experience in a project management environment. Economic development, business development, marketing or public relations experience is preferred.

According to a news release, the new director “will work with the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County leadership, as well as Innovation District organizations to develop the infrastructure for the district and bring the concept to the next level.”

BLUE Ocean Film Festival: Whales, oil spills & oceans at risk

“If the boat is sinking, we will all have to sink together,” Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, tells Actor Leonard DiCaprio in the movie, “Before the Flood.”   

The movie documents DiCaprio’s three-year journey around the planet exploring the impact of climate change and the potential consequences for the oceans -- and the world, without a dramatic course-correct.

A screening of that film will kick-off the international BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit, which takes place this year in St. Petersburg from November 11-13.

Over four days, in venues ranging from the Palladium Theatre to the Mahaffey Theater and Sundial Muvico, 90 award-winning environmental films from 24 countries will be shown to the public.

Some of the films are awe-inspiring and adventurous, like The Kiteboard Legacy. Others, like Killer Whales: The Mega Hunt might make you want to never swim in the ocean again, at least off the southern tip of Africa. 

But most of the films, like “Dispatches from the Gulf”, about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or Coral Reefs: Trouble in Paradise are both beautiful visually and deeply disturbing. They’re meant to be. 

BLUE is on a mission to use “film and visual media to raise awareness and inspire ocean stewardship around the globe.” It’s all about creating a dialogue, separate from politics, about what can be done to solve pressing worldwide environmental issues.  

It might be easy to overlook news stories about the health of the world’s oceans or the dangers of climate change, but nothing beats the power of the visual to convert the skeptic. 

For example, were you aware that “whales can’t turn the volume down?” Escalating levels of man-made sound in the oceans are harming marine life and damaging the oceans. Watch Sonic Sea to learn more.

Launched in 2009, BLUE Ocean supports a number of initiatives, including the film festival, which rotates each year between the small principality of Monaco on the French Riviera and St. Petersburg, Fl. In 2015, co-Founders Debbie and Charles Kinder, decided to make St. Petersburg BLUE Ocean’s home base. 

Marine-related issues and concerns are a natural fit for St. Petersburg. The city is home to what local leaders call the Ocean Team, a consortium for marine science, oceanographic and environmental research agencies and educational organizations that include the University of South Florida’s Center for Marine Science.  

According to the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, St. Petersburg is considered to be one of the top marine-affiliated industry clusters in the nation.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker will be among the keynote speakers for the BLUE Ocean film festival’s opening night at the Mahaffey Theater on Nov. 10. For a schedule of events and ticket prices, follow this link to the festival’s website.

National stroke awareness group honors local marketing campaign for innovation, creativity

A campus event at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with national hip hop recording artist Dee-1 is not where you would expect the American Heart Association to promote its message about learning the warning signs of stroke.

But that’s exactly what the American Heart Association Tampa Bay chapter did this spring during National Stroke Month. And for that enterprising event, along with its creative use of social media and strategic partnerships with local businesses, hospitals and media, the chapter recently won a national award.

In September, the chapter received the American Stroke Association’s national award for Best Integrated Campaign for American Stroke Month 2016 among markets with a corporate sponsor. Frontier Communications is the Tampa Bay American Heart Association corporate partner.

According to Lily Conrad, communications director for the local AHA chapter, one of the goals for this year’s campaign was to engage millennials.  

“We wanted to reach them with the message that stroke can affect anyone at any time and how important it is to know stroke’s warning signs,” says Conrad.

To accomplish that, the chapter organized the USFSP event with Rapper Dee-1, who is a spokesperson for the national American Heart Association. His rap song communicates the association’s healthy lifestyle message.

“The USFSP event was our kick-off event for the stroke campaign and having Dee-1 there, along with games and other activities for the students, made it very successful,” says Conrad.

Dee-1’s song, “Salle Mae Back” about paying back his student loans after graduating from Louisiana State University was a record hit with millennials concerned about student debt.

The chapter also reached the community through widespread use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The results exceeded the chapter’s expectation.  

“We’ve been using social media for a while, but for this year’s campaign, we really took it to the max and had our largest engagement numbers ever,” says Conrad. “This was also our first time using Instagram for the campaign.”

To create a personal connection with the dangers of strokes, the chapter worked with Jen Petit-Homme, marketing manager for Frontier Communications, Tampa Bay, and her mother, Yolande Petit, a stroke survivor.  

Their images and story were used extensively to help promote the national stroke month theme:  “Stroke Hero – Stroke Heroes spot a stroke F.A.S.T.” Fast stands for face dropping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call 911.

“It is so meaningful to be nationally recognized for our efforts to raise stroke awareness,” says Kate Sawa, executive director of the American Heart Association Tampa Bay. 

“Frontier Communications and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association had a vision to equip our community with lifesaving education. We’ve been fortunate to accomplish this through unique community events, engaging corporate employees, and working closely with healthcare systems and incredible stroke survivors,” says Sawa.

The Tampa Bay Metro AHA chapter’s campaign was evaluated on the basis of creativity and innovation, planning, execution and evaluation. Judges noted the chapter’s “impressive” strategic alliance and volunteer engagement, as well as “expansive” market reach through social media posts, media coverage, sponsors and events. 

What's your story? Annual storytelling festival gets personal in October

“There is nothing more compelling than a real life story and few things that connect people faster or better,” says Lillian Dunlap, Ph.D., artistic director and founder of Your Real Stories, a St. Petersburg-based nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling.

In a celebration of the power of storytelling, Your Real Stories will host the third annual Tampa Bay Area Festival of Storytelling. The event takes place October 3-8, with five days of stories told through spoken word, dance, music theatrical performance and food. Over 20 events are planned.  

The role of food in storytelling will take center stage with a pre-festival kick-off dinner and discussion on Sunday, Oct. 2, at Urban Comfort Restaurant and Brewery www.urbancomfortstpete.com/ with Urban Restaurant Group Founder Andy Salyards.

Former Tampa Bay Times Food Editor Janet Krietemeyer Keeler continues the discussion of food with “Hungry for Stories: Connecting Food To Our Narrative” on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 10 am. in Davis Hall at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Aspiring writers interested in developing their memoir will find plenty of storytelling opportunities to improve their skills.  

Author Lisa Kirchner, a member of the Florida Literary Arts Commission and the New York Writers Workshop, presents “The Heart of Your Story” on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Morean Arts Center.

On Saturday, Oct. 8, Paula Stahel, past president of the Association of Personal Historians, and an expert in memoir writing, presents “Famous Last Words -- an Obituary Writing Workshop” at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in Tampa.

The same day, Barbara Riddle presents Memoir Mayhem -- Should You or Shouldn’t You Write Your Memoir at 1 p.m. at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg. 

Connection between art, music, poetry and storytelling will also be showcased at the festival.

The Museum of Fine Arts and Venture House, a St. Petersburg nonprofit building affordable housing for local entrepreneurs, will present a Tapestry of Music and Poetry in the museum’s Marly Room on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

An event dedicated to the survivors of domestic violence will take place on  Oct. 8, with Catherine Weaver of Uniquely Original Arts, presenting Poetic Expressions: Art and Poetry Collage Workshop.

Additional events planned for the festival include a one-day seminar on digital storytelling with Andrew W. Thornhill from Thornhill Digital Storytelling, a Reggae and Poetry Night at The Chattaway Restaurant in St. Petersburg and a photo exhibit of cancer survivors presented by the Affirmations Project of Tampa

Click here to read a previous 83 Degrees Media story about Your Real Stories

Clearwater targets entrepreneurs with new business SPARK

The City of Clearwater has launched a new initiative to serve as a catalyst for economic development and business innovation in North Pinellas County.

The Clearwater Business SPARK brings together a network of resources targeting the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“It’s all about supporting our small business and entrepreneurial community,” says Audra Aja, who is with the City of Clearwater Economic Development and Housing Department and program coordinator for Clearwater Business SPARK.  

Rather than being an acronym, SPARK is simply meant to “embody the thought of sparking innovation through business success, growth and entrepreneurship,” says Aja.

Partners in SPARK include the city of Clearwater’s Economic Development and Housing Department, Clearwater Public Library, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, Florida Small Business Development Center of Pinellas County and Technical Arts Facility for Innovation and Entrepreneurship or TAFFIE.

“The real driver for launching SPARK was a study that identified the need to work together from a number of different angles to promote Clearwater as a viable area for business,” says Elaine Mann, executive director of TAFFIE.

An Urban Land Institute study undertaken by the city identified 23 software and information technology companies located in the downtown area. And those companies had over 800 employees.   

That was a surprise to a lot of people.

“People, even those who live here, tend to think of the beaches and tourism when they think of Clearwater, but we have a quite a number of large and small businesses and technology companies,” says Mann.

The study spurred the city to pursue a number of initiatives, including identifying the downtown Clearwater Redevelopment Area as a technology district and putting together a technology council focused on helping brand and market the downtown area as a tech hub. 

Putting together SPARK was the next step in the process. 

“We realized that we have a lot of great resources already here in Clearwater, but we did not have a cohesive, formal way of working together,” says Aja. 

To determine the best direction to take, she says the group visited the St. Petersburg Greenhouse, the Tampa Bay WaVE in Tampa, and the HuB in Sarasota – in total about nine different venues that support innovation and entrepreneurs.  

“We have spent about a year-and-a-half solidifying our programs and figuring out how to best deliver them to the community,” said Aja.

In a news release announcing SPARK, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos says, “The creation of Clearwater Business SPARK begins a relationship between the city and its local partners that will ignite entrepreneurship and business development in greater Clearwater and enhance the city’s future and its business community.”

SPARK partner Steve Allen is president and CEO of DocuPhase/iDatix, a Clearwater-based software technology company.

Allen is also the founder of TAFFIE, which is located in the iDatix corporate headquarters and serves as an incubator, accelerator and co-working space for local business startups.

TAFFIE opened in 2013 as a result of Allen’s interest in helping the city brainstorm how to create an ecosystem for attracting the right business talent, says Allen.  

“One of the things the group of us talked about was how we did not have an area for these small tech companies to congregate,” says Allen. “I had available space in my own company.  And after the Urban Land Institute study pointed out the need for an business incubator and accelerator, I decided to pull the trigger.’’

TAFFIE has evolved as a co-working and incubating space for emerging and small businesses, as well as the “go-to” site for several entrepreneurial programs open to the public, such as the monthly entrepreneurs’ roundtable and a twice monthly Rise and Shine morning education and networking meeting.

In addition to the resources offered by TAFFIE, other SPARK partners, such as the Clearwater Public Library provide free business-related tools like Lynda.com, a professional video learning library on topics ranging from business management to graphic design, and database access to mailing lists and numerous other topics.  

One of the library’s coolest new offerings is the “Makerspace,” which gives individuals, inventors and startups access to 3D printers, and other high-tech equipment.  All it takes to participate is a Clearwater library card.

In addition, through SPARK, the city is also offering business coaching, site selecting and permitting assistance, access to financing and grant opportunity exploration.

For more information, contact Audra Aja, program coordinator, at 727-443-0217 or info@ClearwaterBusinessSpark.com

Marlow’s Tavern hires 62 new employees, opens in Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa

Marlow’s Tavern, a neighborhood-style tavern known for its low employee turnover, is making its first foray into the Tampa Bay area with a new restaurant in Tampa’s Carrollwood community.

Although the company eventually expects to open several restaurants in the region, opening first in Carrollwood in September made good business sense, says Harold Phillips, local operating partner for the restaurant.  

“Carrollwood is an established community with a diverse, fairly affluent residential base and a significant number of homes are within a five mile radius of our location,” says Phillips.

The restaurant will be located in the Village Center (13164 N Dale Mabry Highway), a high-traffic area that has seen substantial investment in the last few years.  

In 2014, the shopping and dining destination completed a multi-million dollar renovation project that resulted in an updated courtyard, a reconfigured entryway and a major remodel for anchor tenants, including an expanded, 49,000-square-foot Publix grocery store.

Marlow’s Tavern opened its first location in Alpharetta, GA, in 2014 and now has restaurants throughout Georgia, as well as locations in Orlando and Winter Park.

In an industry known for its high turnover – the average restaurant has a 100-to-150 percent annual turnover – Marlow’s Tavern has been averaging 18-to-20 percent, perhaps attributed to the company’s rigorous employee screening process.

“We’re looking for people who fit with our culture, what we call Marlow’s Magic,” says Phillips. “It’s a set of principles, beliefs and promises we make to our stakeholders, which includes everyone from our guests to vendors, the neighborhood and our employees.” 

Sixty-two employees were hired for the new Carrollwood restaurant from an initial applicant pool of nearly 1,000 online applicants, says Phillips. Personality tests, an interview with the management team, pre-orientation and then a two-week training program are all part of the hiring process.

Celebrating the art of storytelling in Tampa Bay

Stories told through dance, photography, song, documentary and theater performances will be celebrated at the second annual Story Days in Tampa Bay from Sept. 8-12.

Presented by Your Real Stories, a nonprofit organization headed by co-artistic directors Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon, Story Days offers an “opportunity for people to tell and hear stories in all kinds of ways,” says Dunlap.

An affiliate member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg and CEO of Communication Research Enterprises, Dunlap says, “Stories have an ability to cut across previously impenetrable barriers and divisions to reach people. They have a magical power.” 

Another one of Dunlap and Sheldon’s ongoing projects is St. Pete Stories featured earlier in 83 Degrees.  

The featured event at this year’s Story Days in Tampa Bay is the screening of a powerful documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China

The film will be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg on Sept. 9 and at the University of South Florida School of Music Concert Hall on Sept. 10. In the documentary, Paula Madison, former GM and President of KNBC in Los Angeles and former news Director and VP for diversity at NBC in New York, recounts her search for her ancestry, which she traces back to Jamaica and before that, China, where her family’s tree goes back 3,000 years – 153 generations.

Several of her Chinese family members live in Tampa.  

“I’ve known Paula since the 1990s and she has wanted to tell her family’s story for many years,” says Dunlap.

Madison’s narrative begins with the story of her grandfather, Samuel Lowe, a Chinese laborer who immigrated to Jamaica in 1905. He fathered several children and then returned to China decades later. Madison’s mother, who was his oldest child, was three years old when he left. She never saw him again and always felt the loss.  

After retiring from NBC in 2011, Madison decided to begin the search for her grandfather, eventually finding her ancestral village in Shenzen, China. She reunited with hundreds of relatives who had not known about the existence of their extended family in the U.S.

Additional storytelling events during Story Days include an opening night reception on September 8 at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum www.woodsonmuseum.org in St. Petersburg. The museum will host a photography exhibition titled: My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work. 

Both archival photos and original portraits by Tampa Bay Times Director of Photography Boyzell Hosey will document the life of local domestic day workers – the African-American maids – and the white families that employed them during the time period from the 1930s through the 1970s.  

Photography and storytelling will also be highlighted at The Florida Holocaust Museum through another archival photography exhibition, This Light of Ours:  Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. That exhibit will be on display Sept. 8 through Dec. 1.

The power of storytelling through dance will be showcased in I Remember the Days. USF graduate Vanessa Vargas has choreographed two dance movements, one based on her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease, and the other on the grief she experienced after the death of her fiancée.

For a little lighter fare, a evening of Reggae and Stories will take place at the landmark Chattaways Restaurant in South St. Petersburg, and Bicycle Stories, sponsored by Shift StPete, a nonprofit advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, invites the public to share personal stories about the joys of bike riding, including learning to ride a bike and favorite bike trips. 

For those interested in telling their own stories, Dunlap and Sheldon have invited digital media expert Andrew Thornhill to discuss the art of digital storytelling and the steps required for success.  He offers two presentations at the Poynter Institute and the USF Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications in Tampa.

Local storytelling expert, Paula Stahel, past president of the Association of Personal Historians, will present a workshop offering tips on who to write your own memoir.

For more information about Story Days, including where to purchase tickets, send an email here, call 727-432-1602 or go to the Your Real Stories website.

NY Times columnist Charles Blow kicks off Presidential Event Series at Eckerd College

New York Times Columnist Charles Blow, known for his thought-provoking Op-Eds and recent memoir, “Fire Shut Up My Bones,’’ will be the opening speaker for the 2015-16 Eckerd College Presidential Event Series.  

His talk, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Eckerd College Fox Hall.

The annual Presidential Event Series brings well-known scholars, artists, writers, scientists and other distinguished individuals to the campus for conversations about critical issues affecting the world today. This year’s focus is on race, class, gender and sexuality.

Blow’s frank discussion of race, social injustice, culture and politics has earned him a considerable following both in the New York Times and as a TV commentator for CNN and MSNBC. His memoir details his experience growing up in poverty, his history of childhood sexual abuse, graduating magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, and eventually landing a job with one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country.

The Presidential Event Series continues on Thursday, Sept. 17, with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee. The author of “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War,’’ Gbowee led the women’s peace movement that played a role in ending the second Liberian civil war. 

She is currently president of an organization providing educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and teens in West Africa. Her TED Talk discusses the untapped potential of girls to transform the world.

For more information about the Eckerd Presidential Series, including additional talks throughout the year, follow this link.

Tarpon Springs launches new water treatment system

Tarpon Springs is the latest Tampa Bay area community turning to an alternative water treatment system to ensure that residents have a safe, affordable supply of drinking water far into the future.

A new reverse osmosis water treatment facility is designed to take brackish or slightly salty groundwater from the Floridan aquifer and send it through a series of filtration systems and treatments to make it safe to drink.

The project has been in the planning stages since 2002, when the city first undertook a feasibility study. It was approved by a local voter referendum in 2006 and groundbreaking took place in 2013. The Southwest Florida Water Management District provided $20.1 million in funding.

Combined with city-owned fresh groundwater treatment facilities, the new reverse osmosis treatment facility will boost Tarpon Spring’s water supply to 5 million gallons of drinking water per day, a quantity that is expected to meet the city’s water needs for the next 20 years, say city officials.

In comparison, the previous system relied on water purchased from Pinellas County and Tampa Bay Water, along with city-owned fresh groundwater treatment facilities, to deliver some 3.2 million gallons daily.

According to Judy Staley, City of Tarpon Springs Research and Information Officer, construction of the reverse osmosis water treatment facility will allow Tarpon Springs to achieve greater water supply independence and more local control over costs, water quality and planning for future needs.

Earlier this summer, Clearwater cut the ribbon on its own reverse osmosis water treatment facility – the second one that is now in operation in that community. In addition, Clearwater is undertaking a pioneering project that will recharge the Florida aquifer with up to 3 million gallons per day of reclaimed water that’s been purified to higher than drinking water quality. Tracy Mercer, Director of Public Utilities for the City of Clearwater, says that project “is like banking water for the future.”

Tampa also announced plans this summer for a proposed project that would allow the city’s reclaimed water to be filtered naturally over time through SWFWMD wetlands.  That project still requires permitting and is not expected to be completed until some time in 2020.

USF Tampa wins green awards for renewable energy project

When Hometalk, the largest home improvement and garden how-to online network, wanted to offer readers cool eco-friendly and sustainable ideas for green living, they turned to the nation’s universities and colleges.  

“We decided who better to reach out to for great ideas than colleges students,” says Tikva Morrow, editor of Hometalk.  

A renewable energy project at the University of South Florida was among five projects selected by Hometalk staff as the best examples across the country for “green living initiatives” that readers could duplicate at home or work, says Morrow.

“Hometalk has a large audience and our readers are real people who want to find better ways of living that help the environment.” Says Morrow.  “It’s all about changing the world by helping people change their daily practices.”

USF’s project, called Renew-a-Bull-Biodiesel, is a student designed, operated and maintained project in which students pay a voluntary green energy fee toward the cost of turning dining hall waste oil into biodiesel to run university buses.  David Townsend, USF student and co-project leader, said the program is a “prime example of the efforts made at USF to reduce the university’s carbon footprint.”

While Morrow points out that readers might not easily develop their own biodiesel, they could reduce their carbon footprint with simple green practices, such as turning off lights and adding better insulation to reduce electric bills and using green cleaning products that are better for the environment.

To identify the top college green living initiatives, Hometalk staff researched sources that included the Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges. USF was one of only 22 schools in Princeton Review’s 2014 Green Honor Roll.

From several hundred possible university projects, the Hometalk staff then narrowed the list to 25 potential finalists. The next step was to reach out to the various schools and talk with student leaders who were running the projects, says Morrow.  After much discussion, the final five were named.  

The other university projects selected included a campus farm at Duke University in North Carolina; a water conservation program at Stanford University in California; a recycling program at Green Mountain College in Vermont ; and a green living program called Ecovillage at Berea College in Kentucky.

Hometalk’s designation is not the only green accolade that USF has earned in the last year. Sierra Magazine ranked USF seventh out of 173 schools in the annual Sierra “Cools School” green list. USF’s 20,000-watt solar charging station for electric vehicles was mentioned as an example of an outstanding green initiative.

Tampa Entrepreneurs Develop BuzzMe App

Imagine that it’s 5 o’clock and you just remembered that today is a friend’s birthday. What do you do other than admit you forgot? You could call, post on Facebook, send her a text, or do something really cool, like buy her a martini at a local restaurant. You don’t even have to be at the venue to make it happen. And neither does she.

Thanks to BuzzMe, a new startup by Tampa entrepreneurs Nathaniel Waring and Philippe Theodore, users can browse a venue’s drink list or menu (pre-loaded on the app) from anywhere in the world, select and pay for the item they want, and then send or “buzz” the surprise to a friend. The recipient can redeem the gift whenever they happen to be at the venue. BuzzMe takes a small commission on each order.

What’s in it for the venue? “It doesn’t cost the restaurant or bar anything to participate, it gives them great visibility and they’re getting a sale from someone not even in their place of business,” says Waring. “It’s absolutely risk free.”

BuzzMe launched in June and so far, says Waring, about 15 local places are participating as are several national liquor brands. 

“I get pitched every day about different marketing ideas and this is one of the best,” says Alex Steppacher, Florida sales manager for Russian Standard Vodka. “People ages 25 to 35 are very social media-oriented. The brand exposure for us could be tremendous.”

Waring’s goal is to sign up 100 bars and restaurants in the Tampa region by fall, eventually expanding to Orlando and Gainesville and then to other areas around the country.

Writer: Janan Talafer
Sources: Nathaniel Waring, BuzzMe; Alex Steppacher, Russian Standard
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