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Innovation + Job News

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Omega Communities, Sarasota Churches To Develop Senior Living Communities, Create 300 Jobs

Omega Communities, a Birmingham, Ala.-based organization that develops senior living communities on land leased in partnership with faith-based organizations, is bringing its unique business model to Florida's Gulf coast.

Omega is partnering with the Church of Hope in Sarasota and the South Biscayne Church in North Port to develop two assisted living and memory care campuses in Sarasota County.

Omega works with qualified investors in the financing, development and operation of senior care facilities, which are built on land leased by local faith-based organizations. In return, the churches receive a percentage -- between 10 and 25 percent -- of the profit generated by the senior living communities.

"These senior living communities are designed from the inside out. What that means is they are built with a core mission -- a partnership with a large, community impacting church -- and that foundation becomes the center of not only the design of the facility, but more importantly, the core programmatic level of care that will be provided in that community,'' says Omega Communities COO James Taylor, Jr.

Taylor says that the project cost on each Sarasota County facility is just over $30 million, and that once both facilities are completed, the economic impact on Sarasota County is estimated to be in excess of $30 million per year.

The Springs at South Biscayne Church broke ground in January 2014, and the project is expected to reach completion in early spring 2015. The 11,000-square-foot facility will feature 38 memory care units and 95 assisted living units.

The Fountains of Hope broke ground in Sarasota earlier this month (July), with an estimated completion date in fall 2015. Between 150 to 200 jobs will be created during the construction phase, and upon completion, the 9,000-square-foot facility will require 100 fulltime employees.

"We have built a model that utilizes the very best of both the nonprofit and for-profit models for senior care communities. At the core, we've developed a partnership with the church that will provide ministry, volunteers and marketing … to provide a vital resource for the local community,'' says Taylor.

Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: James Taylor, Jr., Omega Communities

Manufacturer Of Herbal Supplements Moves To Venice, Hiring 78

Enzymedica Inc., a life sciences company that develops and manufactures therapeutic enzyme supplements, is renovating a site at the Interstate Business Center at 771 Commerce Drive in Venice as part of its plans to relocate from its current facility in Port Charlotte.

The Venice location provides Enzymedica more space for its laboratory and production activities. It also means new jobs in Sarasota County over the next five years.

Enzymedica CEO Scott Sensenbrenner says the company plans to hire around 75 employees over the next five years due to Enzymedica's continuing growth.

"Our growth has come through educational effort as well as naturally at a grass roots level," says Sensenbrenner. "It's also due to the hard work of our sales people. And the economy is a big factor. I'm at an expo now and it's obvious our industry is doing very well. As the economy is coming back, consumers are looking at their health again -- for healthy alternatives."

Sensenbrenner says the positions to be filled include personal assistants, customer care and inside sales. "We just filled a position in scientific affairs," he says.

The renovations are possible through $432,000 in Florida and Sarasota economic development incentives the Sarasota Economic Development Corporation helped them attain. 

Enzymedica researches, develops, manufactures and distributes targeted enzyme supplements made from plant-based enzymes. The company markets a full line of dietary supplements, including its Digest and Digest Gold, designed to support digestive health, food intolerance, cardiovascular, immune, weight loss and other bodily functions.
Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Scott Sensenbrenner, Enzymedica, Inc. 

New Alert System Helps Caregivers Sleep, Tampa Bay

Weary caregivers of chronically ill loved ones may be able to sleep a little sounder this summer.

CareAlert, an electronic sensor alert system, goes on the market in June, according to its creator, Dr. Meredeth Rowe. Rowe is on the faculty at USF's College of Nursing. The system is comprised of silent motion detectors and a handheld device that gives off a sound alert and text message communicating a patient's whereabouts in the house. This is especially useful for those caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients who tend to stray when getting up to go to the bathroom at night. 

Rowe says the CareAlert system will go a long way toward protecting not only the patient, but the caregiver too.

"Caregiving and lack of sleep are related to heart disease," says Rowe. "Poor sleep is one of the reasons caregivers have poor health. When I was working on ways to provide caregivers better quality of sleep, I looked for systems and there were none. I realized that unless I invented a system that allowed them quality sleep, I was never going to have an impact on improving their sleep.''

Rowe partnered with others such as Stephen Greenstein and RoBrady Product Design to help her develop a system. This formed the genesis of Caregiver Watch, LLC, the company through which CareAlert will be sold.

Rowe says trials run on the CareAlert system resulted in 86 percent reduction in injuries to patients with dementia, and she hopes to begin a study that will identify ways to help caregivers relax that will coincide with the launch of the CareAlert system in June.

The ultimate goal of that research is to understand why caregiver health is worse as a result of the caregiving experience. All of the research will take place at the caregiver's home using Skype and iPad technologies along with a sleep interventionist, says Christina McCrae, an associate professor at the University of Florida. "We’ll be measuring for heart disease and see if they get better when sleep improves."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Dr. Meredeth Rowe, Caregiver Watch, LLC 

Tech Company To Add 5 To 7 New Jobs In Sarasota

A Sarasota company taking "drug interaction" to the next level is reaping benefits and hiring new employees to meet demand.

voiceTech, a technology services company that provides interactive solutions to the pharmacy industry, launched ServiceLink-Rx in September 2011. The product enables patients to interact with their pharmacy to fill prescriptions, receive vital health information and be informed of special discounts via text, email or phone call through their cell phone or computer. voiceTech President Tim Garofalo says the success of the product has necessitated a move from Venice to bigger facilities in Sarasota, along with the hiring of more people to meet demand. 

"My crystal ball says five to seven people in 2012," he says. "The talent pool in Sarasota and south Tampa is promising. the move will bring us closer to that and provide more space and room for growth."

Garofalo says positions he intends to fill include technological as well as administrative. "Candidates for technological positions need to be tech savvy, of course," he says. "But they don't necessarily need a degree. We're looking for sharp people with a strong skill set. And they need to have good people and customer service skills as they will be going out to visit clients at times. Administrative candidates need to be good with paperwork and detail oriented."

Garofalo credits the ServiceLink-Rx product with the growth voiceTech is enjoying. "We’ve been providing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions for a long time," explains Garofalo. "Cell phones -- particularly smart phones -- have changed the technology. We've created an application that allows the user to interact directly with the computer system in the pharmacy and track user preferences. This is sparking our growth." 

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Tim Garofalo, voiceTech

Venice Aluminum Company Obtains Patent For Reinforcement Beam

Not far from the home where Thomas Edison made his innovative and groundbreaking inventions, a Venice company has created and acquired a patent for its own creation: an interlocking aluminum beam that can withstand hurricane-force winds.

Tom Teffenhart, chief executive officer of Commercial Residential Aluminum (CRA ) in Venice, recently received a patent for his newest invention, the Channel Lock Self-Mating Beam, also known as Channel Lock SMB. The beam is designed for use to fortify pool cages, lanais and other aluminum structures.

"The Channel Lock SMB will not only help the home building industry, but the insurance industry as well," says Natalie Rockefeller Lane, CRA's director of marketing and sales. "This product will stand up to more natural disasters and will benefit homeowners by providing a safer and stronger enclosure."

According to a CRA, the new beam may very well be the strongest of its kind, and will require less material as well as lower the cost of pool-cage construction as well as screen enclosures. The new beams make the structures stronger and more durable when compared to those of competitor manufacturers.

CRA was founded and run by Tom Teffenhart and has been in business in Venice for over 17 years. In addition to pool enclosures, CRA also builds car ports, fascias, windows and walkway covers. Some of CRA's partners are Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Gilbratar Homes and Guardian Building Products.

CRA has plans to take a portion of their savings and apply the funds to a company campaign which they plan to give to those in need in the area.

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh    
Source: Natalie Rockefeller Lane, Commercial Residential Aluminum

Tervis Tumbler Expands In Venice In Sarasota County, Plans To Add 80 Jobs

Tervis Tumbler Company of Sarasota County plans to expand its plant in Venice, adding 80 jobs by the end of 2010 to meet growing demand for its popular drinkware products.

In south Sarasota County since the 1960s, Tervis Tumbler will thus bring its total employees up to 400.

A new 40,700-square-feet building should be ready to occupy during the first quarter of 2011.

The Tervis Tumbler Company manufactures insulated double-walled drinkware that keeps hot drinks hotter longer and cold drinks cooler longer.

Tervis products can be purchased on the company website and at 6,000 retail outlets across the country.

Tervis is also adding new products and designs to its inventory, including new drinkware decorated in Disney characters.

To keep up with the new product line, Tervis will be expanding its sales and marketing departments.

Sarasota County is awarding Tervis $100,000 over the next three years as a performance-based incentive grant for the 214 jobs added.

The grant requires Tervis to pay employee annual wages greater than the county average.

To search for current openings at Tervis Tumbler, visit the company website.

Writer: Mandy Erfourth
Source: Kim Livengood, Tervis Tumbler

Home-Tech Air Conditioning Adds Jobs, Plans Sarasota Expansion

As summer draws closer in Florida, it becomes apparent why companies that install and service air conditioners are well-positioned to survive and even grow during tough economic times.

A good example of that is the announcement that Home-Tech Service, Inc. plans to hire 22 employees over the next five years. The air conditioning and appliance repair and replacement company is receiving incentives from the Manatee County government as part of the plan. The new jobs must pay more than the county's annual average wage of $33,582 to be eligible for the incentives.

Home-Tech's president Steve Marino founded the company in 1981. It now employs 115 people and serves customers in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties.

Home-Tech is employee-owned and Marino says that provides benefits to the company. "Our philosophy is that you take better care of something if you own it.That's why we believe in employee ownership."

Employee training is also a big part of the company's business model. "Our technicians never stop learning. We are the only air conditioning company that has an on-site training facility and full-time trainer," says Marino.

Home-Tech is headquartered in Ft. Myers and serves customers in Sarasota and Manatee counties from an office in Venice. The company is planning to open a new facility in Sarasota.

Writer: Brad Stager
Source: Carolyn Rogers, Briggs & Rogers

Sarasota Foundation Seeks Emerging Leaders For Institute, Apply Now

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation is accepting applications for the 2010 class of the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. Participants are being sought from across the region for this three-month leadership development program.

"Our program will help leaders with individual leadership skills and then use them in the group as they grow through the class," says Teri A. Hansen, president and chief executive officer of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

The Gulf Coast Leadership Institute is made up of seven training sessions that run from May through July, and they are held in Venice. The Fanning Institute, a public service and outreach unit of the University of Georgia, will lead the training.

The seven training sessions will cover: understanding leadership, communicating effectively, valuing community diversity, managing conflict, building communities through collaboration, making group decisions and leading community change.

Up to 25 participants will be chosen from various industry sectors. To ensure a diverse group of participants, the Foundation will try to get representation from private businesses, government employees, community volunteers and nonprofit organizations, says Greg Luberecki, director of marketing and communications.

Applicants are likely to be selected from Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. The deadline to apply is April 23. Interested participants may click here.

Fifty-four professionals and volunteers already have graduated from the leadership development initiative.

Writer: Nancy Vaughn
Source: Teri A. Hansen and Greg Luberecki, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Koala Tee In Sarasota Adds New Account Manager For Florida Suncoast

Koala Tee, an apparel manufacturer specializing in embroidered items, promotional products and company gift items has added new Account Manager Rob Harman, for the Florida Suncoast region. Harmon brings 17 years of experience in the imprinted sportswear industry and is a 30-year resident of Sarasota.
Harman will be responsible for new business development for Koala Tee's products in a territory that ranges from Tampa to Fort Myers.
"We have a great base of long-time customers; however, we know our core concentration should be bringing small businesses who need help increasing their marketing/branding efforts," says Carmen Manley, VP of business development. Adding an additional experienced account manager will help this business focus, and, if increased outside sales efforts prove successful, Koala Tee plans to expand more outside sales force to further penetrate existing territory, she says.  
Koala Tee, Inc, was started in 1983 in Sarasota as a trophy shop doing mainly team uniforms. The organization has since expanded and now occupies a nearly 11,000-square-foot facility in downtown Sarasota where a team of embroiderers does all made-to-order work in-house. Manley says quality control is one advantage of doing much of their production work in-house.
Koala Tee also owns and operates Life Safety International, a company that sells men's clothing to retail stores on military bases throughout the world. Koala creates catalogs that include military fashion designs that mirror current fashions. The company also started selling the Red Shirt Fridays " I support our troops" line of apparel and products.
Writer: Lisa Clementi
Source: Carmen Manley, Koala Tee
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