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New Port Richey : Innovation + Job News

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West Pasco Business Challenge includes $1K cash prize

Local Tampa Bay area businesses will have the chance to pitch their ideas and compete for cash prizes and services in the West Pasco Chamber "Business Challenge" on January 28.

“The goal of the Business Challenge is to say ‘New Port Richey is open for business,’ explains City of New Port Richey Economic Development Director Mario Iezzoni.

The Chamber of Commerce advanced the idea of a local business challenge “because West Pasco County consists of many family-run businesses,” Iezzoni says.“The Business Challenges is one of several conduits New Port Richey is implementing to provide as a resource for further business development.”

A long-time professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida and a CPA, Iezzoni says the city hopes to convey a message of community growth through locally owned businesses.

“I’ve come to realize that children raised in a family-run business environment, witnessing the challenges their parents experience in the daily grind of operating a business, do exceptionally well in their own enterprises,” Iezzoni says. “The business challenge is one small step in a chain of events that must occur to achieve this lofty goal.”

Business Challenge finalists will present to a panel of judges, which includes: 
  • John Gaston, of Tampa Bay MultiMedia
  • Steve Farrell, of Team Farrell
  • Minh Mai, of Venom
  • Irene Hurst, Director of the USF MBA Program
  • Bob Carroll, of Bob Carroll Building Contractor, Inc.
Event prizes include a cash prize of $1,000 from an anonymous donor and a variety of cash and service donations from local businesses, including Waverly Media, HITS 106, Wiseman Accounting and Bookkeeping, Minuteman Press, The Tampa Bay Times, 72HRPrint.com, WPCC, and ABCO Graphics and Printing.

The presentations, which are open to the public, will start at 3 p.m. on January 28 at the Richey Suncoast Theatre. An awards program will be held at 5 pm at Dulcet Restaurant & Lounge.  

“The goal is to activate what I believe is a rather large talent pool of potential entrepreneurs,” Iezzoni says. “The goal is to leverage generational talent as an economic development strategy to address many of the economic challenges that exist along the Highway-19 corridor.”

Along with an emphasis on entrepreneurial talent among local business owners, the city is taking strides toward a goal of defining itself “as the next New Urbanism City,” Iezzoni says.

Efforts include an emphasis on walking, biking and upgrading IT infrastructure, as well as the development of two residential complexes that Iezzoni says are being designed as “new urbanism concepts” geared toward millennials.

“Millennials don’t want to waste time traveling, they want resources - such as the business incubator we’ve developed in town that is a crossroads and gathering place,” Iezzoni says. “They want recreation, nice parks, affordable neighborhoods, and unique natural resources such as the Grey Preserve to be close by, all within 5 minutes. Our city offers that.”

January job news: Who's hiring in Tampa Bay in 2016

Digital marketing agencies, architecture consulting and stonework firms, beachfront customer service and other roles with expanding local companies are highlighted in the first 83 Degrees job news roundup of the year. 
 
Here's who's hiring in Tampa Bay in January 2016:

St. Petersburg-based A1 Marketing Concepts is seeking to fill several fulltime marketing and communications positions, including Marketing Coordinator, Public Relations Assistant, Business Management Associate, Sales Account Representative, and Customer Relations Associate. The company provides targeted marketing and promotional campaigns to clients in a variety of industries. To learn more about available roles or to apply for a position, click here

A digital marketing agency with the distinction of being a full-service HubSpot Gold partner is seeking a Marketing Director to join the Big Sea team in downtown St. Petersburg. Job requirements for the role at Big Sea include five or more years of marketing industry experience;  a BA/BS degree in Communications or Marketing is "strongly preferred"; excellent written and verbal communication skills; time management and organization skills; the ability to think creatively; HubSpot certifications, WordPress and web-based CMS experience preferred. To learn more or apply, visit the company website.

L-3 Communications is hiring an ISR Systems Engineer in the company's Tampa offices. Qualifications include a BS or MS in a relevant field, with eight or more years of intelligence analysis or C4ISR experience, or specialized training combined with 10 or more years experience. To learn more, visit the national security company's website.

Masonite International is hiring for a variety of roles at the company's Tampa offices; current openings range from senior roles in accounting and auditing to customer service or internship positions. To explore job qualifications for these roles, click here to visit the company website or visit the company's job openings on LinkedIn.

The Fortune 1000 Pall Corporation is seeking a Manufacturing and Industrial Engineer to work from the materials science company's New Port Richey offices. Job requirements include a minimum BS in Engineering; at least three years related work experience in a technical capacity; five years preferred. Computer proficiency, with experience using SAP and CAD/CAM, and in the Filtration and Aerospace industries, preferred.

To learn more or apply for this role, visit the company's career website. Summer internships at the NPR location are also available.

PGT Industries has operated from Sarasota County for several decades as a leading industry supplier and manufacturer of custom aluminum, vinyl and impact resistant house windows, doors and porch enclosures. PGT plans to hire dozens of new employees in fields that range from sales to customer service to finance or engineering. To browse a complete list of all PGT Industries current job openings, click here to visit the company's job website. 

Downtown St. Petersburg-based Symphoni Media is hiring a Web Designer. Two or more years of experience with HTML and CSS is required, along with a portfolio, strong design skills, and excellent communication skills. To apply for this role and explore all job qualifications, click here.

The 20-acre beachfront hotel property Tradewinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach is hiring for dozens of positions in early 2016. Job roles are both part- and full-time positions, including Valet, Cook, Reservations Agent, Front Office, Security, Night Auditing, Bartending, and many more; available positions cover a range of experience and educational requirements. 

To browse available positions, click here to head to the resort's website.

Hiring in the Tampa Bay region? Send a note to tips@83degreesmedia.com. Hired? Reach out on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

Pitch competition offers prize money, mentorship to local winners

Startup companies affiliated with several business incubators in the Tampa Bay area will have the opportunity to win $1,000 in prize money at an upcoming business pitch competition.

Building Entrepreneurship Around Tampa (B.E.A.T.) Pitch Competition, sponsored by South-Florida based investors New World Angels, is a collaborative pitch event open to companies currently working with Tampa's USF CONNECT or Tampa Bay WaVE, Pasco County's SMARTstart and St. Pete's TEC Garage.

The B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition will provide local entrepreneurs from six finalist companies with the opportunity to pitch their ventures to angel investors on November 17, 2015. The winner of the pitch competition will receive $1,000 in prize money. Perhaps equally as valuable, winners also earn 20 hours of coaching. 

First, second and third place winners will also receive the opportunity to pitch in front of 15 investors at a New World Angels monthly meeting.

The pitch competition comes at a time when local innovation efforts are expanding through the leadership of groups like the Tampa Innovation Alliance and Hillsborough County. USF CONNECT Program Coordinator Amy Yonai expects the B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition to attract “an expanded network of individuals, due to the growth of the economic ecosystem in Tampa.”
 
The B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition is tapping into that growth by hosting a “TEC Talk” during the event -- attendees can sip coffee and start a conversation with Tampa Innovation Alliance Director Mark Sharpe and Stephanie Ashley, Director of Incubation Programs and Economic Development at USF Research.

Along with the TEC Talk, the B.E.A.T. Pitch Competition will feature a keynote speaker and “Entrepreneurship Breakout Sessions” that cover a gamut of topics from potential legal concerns to adversity and leadership or startup funding.

“B.E.A.T. is an event that supports the entrepreneurial ecosystem though a showcase of innovative start-ups, educational programming and opportunities to pitch for capital,” says Yonai, who received a BA from the University of California, Irvine.

Local start-ups, business leaders, entrepreneurial support organizations, [and] anyone interested in becoming involved in the economic ecosystem in Tampa" should consider attending the event, says Yonai, who has worked as a program coordinator at Duke University and a fellowship coordinator at UNC Chapel Hill.

Yonai stepped into the role of program coordinator at USF Connect and the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI) in May 2015.
 
USF CONNECT works to provide support for technology start-ups and connects new companies from counties across Florida to business opportunities with the school. USF CONNECT and the USF Research Foundation are located at the University of South Florida, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 100, in Tampa. To learn more about the B.E.A.T event, click here.

Caution: Flashing yellow left-turn arrows light up more Tampa Bay intersections

Florida motorists still getting used to flashing yellow left-turn signals, are seeing more of them at intersections throughout the Tampa Bay area. The signals have become increasingly common along major roadways, such as State Road 60 in Clearwater, Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa and State Road 54 in Pasco County. 

The flashing left-turn arrows started appearing across the United States several years ago and caught on quickly as innovative devices to improve traffic flow. The first one was installed locally at the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and Belcher Road in Palm Harbor in November 2009. 

“Since then, the use [of these signals] has been implemented at state and local intersections throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties,” says Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Kristen Carson. 

In some respects, the distinctive-looking, four-lens traffic signals generally function in much the same way as the more widely recognized three-lens traffic signals; a green arrow provides a protected left turn; a red arrow tells drivers to stop. It’s the blinking yellow arrows that sometimes confuse drivers.

The flashing yellow arrows (actually an amber color) indicates that motorists in the left-turn lane are permitted to cautiously make left turns, but they must yield to oncoming traffic. 

A solid yellow left-turn light signifies that a red light is about to illuminate and therefore motorists should prepare to stop if they have not yet proceeded into the intersection. 

The flashing yellow lights have been replacing a common five-lens traffic signal widely referred to as a “doghouse” signal. Doghouse signals, featuring a clustered arrangement of four lenses topped with a single red light, provide drivers with a green left-turn arrow for a short time; once the protected green left-turn light disappears on the doghouse signal, a solid, circular green light indicates motorists should yield to oncoming traffic before making left turns. 

“Research from the Federal Highway Administration found that the flashing yellow arrow made significant improvements to left-turn safety compared with the circular green signal,” Carson reports. 

There are currently about 90 intersections in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties with the flashing yellow left-turn signals. More are on the way.

“The department has received positive feedback from citizens with continued requests for locations, on a case-by-case basis, to be modified with the flashing yellow arrows installed.”

Florida Farm Bureau offers grants to local schools for agriculture, gardening projects

Florida's teachers have an opportunity to grow their classroom budgets this school year by snagging one of dozens of mini-grants from the Florida Farm Bureau Federation (FFBF) -- but they'd better hurry to beat the Sept 15 application deadline.

The organization is awarding $9,500 in grant money for creative school projects that teach students from Pre-K through high school about the importance of one of the state's top industries.

Core academic subjects like math, English and science are essential to agriculture, and the grants are meant to encourage teachers to incorporate it into their curriculum, says Michael Rogalsky, Field Services Director for the Federation.

"The idea is to familiarize children with where their food comes from," says Debra Jones, Rogalsky's assistant.

Teachers are asked to think outside the box, and the Farm Bureau will kick in up to $250 to help fund each project chosen.

Last year, 57 Florida teachers received grant funding for agricultural projects ranging from schoolyard gardens, to projects involving honeybees, fish and quail eggs, says Jones.

Pizza gardens, where students grow the ingredients needed to make pizzas they prepare for the class, are especially popular, she adds.

Last year, many of the schools in the FFBF's District 5 -- which includes Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and other Central Florida counties -- opted to grow hydroponic gardens.

Among them: a class at Young Middle Magnet School in Tampa, 4th and 5th graders in the gifted program at Valleyview Elementary in Lakeland and Plant City High.  

Jones says she was surprised to discover that only five schools in District 5 have applied for a grant for the 2015-2016 school  year, and she encourages teachers to make the most of the opportunity.

The mini-grant program is part of the Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee’s push to support agricultural education in the state's classrooms, and recipients will be selected by the committee.

But the funding doesn't stop there, says Jones.

"A lot of our county farm bureaus will pick up the ones we don't fund, just to get gardening back in the classroom."

Grant applications are due Sept. 15. Winners will be notified by Nov. 15 via email. Teachers can apply for the grant by visiting the Florida Farm Bureau Federation website.

Who's hiring in Tampa Bay? Media outlet, design business, marketing firm, and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for growing companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay region. Here's who's hiring in the Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater area in July 2015:
 
Catalina Marketing

Full service advertising and marketing agency Catalina Marketing is hiring for a number of full-time positions in St. Petersburg, Florida, including:
 
Account Manager, Campaign; Account Manager, Content; Accountant; Accounts Payable Clerk; Accounts Payable Supervisor; Contract Specialist; Director of Business Process Innovation; Director, Data Science; Enterprise Solutions Architect; HR Service Center Representative; Senior Java Developer; Senior Project Manager, Technology; and Staff Attorney.

To learn more about job requirements or to apply for these positions, visit the Catalina Marketing website.

KAX Media

KAX Media is hiring an Accountant

Job responsibilities include: record, upload and reconcile all financial transactions into electronic database; maintain trial balances and ledgers; manage sales invoicing system, accounts receivable and accounts payable; file digital receipts; and more. 

The successful applicant will have at least two years of direct bookkeeping experience and advanced proficiency in accounting software programs as well as in Microsoft Excel. Position requires a bachelor’s degree or higher for consideration.

To learn more or apply, visit the KAX Media job listing on LinkedIn.

Laicos

Tampa-based startup Laicos is hiring for two full-time roles: an Executive Administrative Assistant and a Senior iOS Developer.

The Executive Assistant will coordinate meetings and schedules, manage calendars, plan events, manage social media and more. Room for growth within the company. Preferred requirements for a successful applicant include a bachelor's degree and 2-3 years of executive support experience, preferably in a startup environment.

The Senior iOS Developer Senior iOS Engineer will manage a team of Full Stack Engineers, Architects, Project Managers, and interns, working under the leadership of the CTO. Requirements include a BS or MS in computer science; two or more years of experience in iOS development; four or more years of SDLC experience; expertise with Objective-C, Swift and Xcode; and more. 

To learn more about job requirements or to apply for these positions, visit the startup company's website.

MediaLab 3D Solutions 

Local graphic design company MediaLab 3D Solutions is hiring for three full-time jobs in Tampa Bay, including an Account Manager, an Animation Sales Professional and a 3D Artist / Motion Graphics Artist.

The Account Manager role will primarily be responsible for preparation and information collection for client projects, creating and negotiating proposals, managing projects, and ensuring client satisfaction. The successful applicant will also work with the Builder Sales team to help grow accounts through sales.

The Animation Sales Professional role includes selling Media Lab 3D and 2D imagery and animation services, contacting and securing new business accounts, and growing sales within an assigned territory or market segment. A successful applicant will have at least four years of experience in digital media sales, advertising sales or a related field, and a bachelor’s degree in business, communication, marketing or a related field. Knowledge of 3D / 2D animation, digital imagery, movie making and the visual effects industry preferred.

The 3D Artist / Motion Graphics Artist should have previous professional and team industry experience, be comfortable with industry standard 3D software, processes and techniques, and possess a knowledge of photo-real lighting, material application, optimized modeling, and texturing.

To learn more about job requirements or to apply for these positions, visit the company website.

Tampa Bay Times

The award-winning newspaper the Tampa Bay Times is hiring for multiple positions, including:

Business ReporterCity of Clearwater ReporterCourts ReporterEpilogue Feature WriterFeatures Page DesignerHealth and Medicine ReporterSports Editor; and Enterprise/Narrative Editor.

To learn more about job requirements or to apply for these positions, visit the Tampa Bay Times jobs website.
 
Tampa Hillsborough EDC

Tampa Hillsborough EDC, whose goal is to recruit high wage jobs and capital investment in Hillsborough County, is hiring a Market Research Analyst and an Associate Project Manager to work with the growing Business Recruitment and Business Retention and Expansion team. Both position require occasional travel. 

The Market Research Analyst is the EDC’s local market expert and primary resource for data collection and analysis; responsibilities will include researching and producing monthly economic indicators reports; making efforts to attract and retain jobs and capital; market research identification and data collection analysis; and more. A bachelor’s degree in Economics, Business, Statistics, Marketing or similar field and professional experience in managing research projects are required.

The Associate Project Manager, Business Development/Business Retention role will primarily provide professional support to the business recruitment team, working with the Director, Business Recruitment, and the Associate Project Manager. Duties will include providing responses to prospect inquiries; assisting in prospect site visits, sales, and trade shows; and assisting with project management and marketing as necessary. A bachelor’s degree in Business, Economic Development, Public Administration or a related field is required.

To learn more about the roles or apply, click here to send an e-mail including a resume and cover letter.

Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email the 83 Degrees Innovation & Job News editor with "Hiring" in the subject line. Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

On the job hunt? Upcoming career fairs in Tampa Bay

Whether job seekers are searching for that first post-graduation job or planning to change professional directions with a new career, attending a career or job fair can sometimes be the best bet for finding the right new role. There are several upcoming career or job fairs in Tampa Bay that can connect job seekers in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas with the industry leaders and resources who can help open doors for new hires. Here are a few:
 
Wednesday, May 6: Pinellas Career Fair
noon-3 p.m.
Bright House Field
601 Coachman Road, Clearwater

Title sponsors include Bright House Networks, Home Shopping Network (HSN), Tradewinds resort hotel, and Center for Technology Training. Open to the general public.

Employer exhibitors include:
  • Big Brothers & Big Sisters
  • Bright House Networks
  • Eckerd College
  • GSP Marketing
  • H&T Global Circuit
  • Hydro Dyne Engineering
  • Kannon Heath Services
  • Lakeside Oaks Care Center
  • Pinellas County Schools
  • Pride Staff
  • Teachers R Us
  • Utica College
  • Vology Inc
  • YourMembership

Click here to learn more about the Pinellas Career Fair
 
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Wednesday, May 6: Tampa Career Fair
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress St., Tampa

Sponsors include MetLife, Southern Green, Dress for Success Tampa Bay, Mary Kay and Fleetistics. Can't make it? Tampa Career Fair will also be held on August 18, 2015. 

Click here to learn more about the Tampa Career Fair.

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Thursday, May 14: FCC Statewide Career Fair
10 a.m.- 3 p.m.
UCF Arena
University of Central Florida, Orlando

The Annual Statewide Job Fair at the University of Central Florida in Orlando offers employers the unique opportunity to recruit graduates and alumni from Florida’s state universities all at one centrally located event. More than 150 employers typically attend to meet and recruit students and alumni who are seeking fulltime, professional positions.

Click here to learn more about the FCC Statewide Career Fair.
 
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Monday, June 8: Tampa Bay Job Fair
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport
700 N. Westshore Blvd, Tampa

Sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times. Free admission, free parking. No pre-registration required. Over 50 local employers will be in attendance.

Click here to learn more about the Tampa Bay Job Fair.

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Wednesday, June 17: Job Fair Tampa
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore Hotel
2225 N. Lois Ave., Tampa

Business professional attire and resume required.

Click here to learn more about Job Fair Tampa.

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Tips for job seekers from the Tampa Bay Job Fair:
  • Wear proper business attire.
  • Bring at least 20 copies of your resume.
  • Arrive with a positive attitude. 
Employers, are you hosting an upcoming career fair in the Tampa Bay area? Put potential future employees on the right path by sharing the details of your upcoming job or career fair in Tampa Bay with 83 Degrees. Email the 83 Degrees Innovation & Job News editor with "Hiring" in the subject line. Reach out over on Twitter (@83degreesmedia) if our job listings put you on the path to success.

Pasco County opens its first STEAM magnet school

The nation’s best schools are places where children can grow, discover and learn in a collaborative environment, asking questions to help them gain a deeper understanding of subject matter in a way that facilitates lifelong learning.

That’s what Pasco County’s Sanders Memorial Elementary School plans to be when it opens in August, 2015. 

The county’s first magnet school for elementary students, Sanders has a unique emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) subjects. 

The STEAM focus is workforce-driven, with the prediction that jobs in STEM fields are increasing at double the rate of non-STEM fields. The addition of the arts exemplifies the role arts play in creative problem solving and innovative thinking critical to all careers. 

“That’s important to Pasco, when we look at college, career and life readiness,” says Jason Petry, recently appointed Principal at Sanders. “We want to start installing an excitement and curiosity about these subjects in students at a young age.”

A New Port Richey native and University of South Florida graduate, Petry has worked in Pasco County schools for all of his career. His passion and excitement about the learning environment at Sanders is evident by hearing him speak. 

“This school will look different, and it will feel different,” says Petry.

The LEED-certified buildings will feature group learning stations, where students will at times move in between classrooms during the day. The hands-on instruction will allow them to make real-world connections. To borrow from entrepreneurship education, Sanders will employ a “failing forward” philosophy, which believes that perseverance through failure is key to providing a positive learning experience. 

As a public school, Sanders will mirror other schools in the district. The curriculum will include the same core standards that other public schools adhere to, but with the addition of STEAM-focused subjects such as computer coding. Arts subjects such as design thinking, music and humanities will be integrated into the curriculum.

“Engagement is a big factor,” says Lauren Burdick, STEAM coordinator, K-12 for the Pasco County School District. “We want to create a felt need in students and relate that to concepts around STEAM.” 

With 1,699 applicants for the 762 openings at the school, the need is evident. According to Burdick, the county has implemented project-based learning and cross-curricular connections in other schools throughout the district as well. 

Pasco aims to expand the model to middle and high schools in the future.

Pasco Citizensí Academy allows residents to connect with government

Pasco residents who want to learn more about the inner workings of county government now have an opportunity to do that and more.

The Pasco Citizens’ Academy is an educational program for citizens who want to learn how the government works and how they can get more involved.

The academy brings together a cross section of community representatives for 10 weekly interactive discussions about the county. Residents visit county offices such as the Historic Courthouse, Starkey Park Environmental Center and the Fire Rescue Training Center. They learn about subjects such as budget and management, public safety, elections and emergency management. The program allows them to now only learn how government works but engage in dialogue about how the county can improve services based on the citizens’ perspective.  

"It’s all about trying to improve communication with our citizens," says Paula Baracaldo, planner I – strategic policy for Pasco County. "We try to share not just our message but what staff are doing every day to improve our community and make this a great place to live, work and play."

Participants are also encouraged to become more involved through volunteer opportunities on committees such as the Library Advisory Board, Suncoast Health Council or Tourist Development Council.

The inaugural class began in January 2014 with 21 participants. Participants have gone on to become more active in civic engagement and volunteer for various county opportunities.  

Twenty spots are currently being filled for the next class, which begins September 24. The next application process will open in November.

SMARTstart Business Incubator In Pasco Expands Services, Space

Startups and growing businesses in Pasco County will soon have more opportunities for learning, development and shared space.

The SMARTstart Business Incubators in Dade City and New Port Richey provide free workshops and classes, monthly roundtables, networking events and coworking space for entrepreneurs in Pasco County.

The Dade City incubator opened in July of 2013 and has already helped create 42 jobs with a total of 65 additional ones projected over the next two years. Four additional offices were recently added to the space, with another 3,800 square feet expected that will include an additional conference room and kitchen.

The 9,000-square-foot New Port Richey facilitate opened in June and plans are to expand with an additional 3,000 of space pending city approval. The space currently includes a large classroom and coworking space, and the expansion will mean more office suites as well as space for events such as pitch sessions.

During the opening of the New Port Richey incubator, the Pasco EDC was presented with a $50,000 sponsorship from Florida High Tech Corridor Council and University of South Florida which will help fund the expansion. Funds will also be used to invest in additional technology and support staff.

"It’s been kind of a rocket approach, which is really exciting," says Krista Covey, program director and economic development manager for the SMARTStart program. "We’ve had a lot of success stories, even as early as we are in the process."

The incubators are a project of the Pasco Economic Development Council, whose goal is to help new and growing businesses in Pasco County. According to a study from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, 87 percent of businesses who graduate from an incubator program remain in business after five years, compared with 20 percent who don’t.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Krista Covey, Pasco Economic Development Council

Pinellas Tech Company Adds Local Jobs, Expands In California

A Tampa Bay area company and major player in the technology solutions provider market is expanding its West Coast presence while adding jobs locally.

Oldsmar-based Vology in Pinellas County has acquired a California division of Govplace, a value added reseller (VAR) to the federal government.

With the acquisition, Vology will need to create additional sales and engineering resources in Irvine, CA, along with additional back office staff in the Tampa Bay region to support them.

Vology will likely add between 100 to 120 "really good'' jobs in Florida over the next three years, says CEO Barry Shevlin.

The majority of the positions will likely be technical resources, with the average Vology employee earning "a bit over $75,000 per year,'' Shevlin says.

The company currently employs approximately 200 people in the Tampa Bay region, with plans to double its Florida business over the next three years.

"We're committed to the Tampa Bay area,'' says Shevlin. "It's a great place to work and live.''

Vology launched in Oldsmar in 2002 as Network Liquidators before rebranding in 2010. The company offers services like IT consulting and engineering, virtualization and storage, and end-to-end technological solutions. Vology has been ranked in the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. for eight consecutive years, beginning in 2006.

California is Vology's second largest market. Acquiring Govplace allows Vology to bring in the company's 18 years of experience exclusively serving state, local government and education (SLED) customers in California through enterprise IT solutions.

The Govplace acquisition also gives Vology a second physical location in California to support a growing customer base. Vology is headquartered in the Tampa Bay region, with current offices in Irvine, Sacramento, Syracuse, New York City, Denver, Austin, and Oklahoma City.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Barry Shevlin, Vology CEO

WellCare Contributes $1M To Step Up For Students

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. is offering scholarships to improve health and educational opportunities for students in need.

WellCare announced its participation in the Step Up For Students scholarship program, contributing $1 million to help provide K-12 students coming from low-income families or poverty circumstances the opportunity to participate in learning environments tailored to their scholastic needs. Since 2004, WellCare has contributed $9 million for 2,400 students throughout Florida.

"WellCare always has a health focus, but we understand that you actually have to touch people’s lives to improve their health. When we start young, we know that we will have healthier adults in our community. Start young and build their futures and potential through these scholarships," says Denise Malecki, Corporate Communications Manager.

Through the Step Up For Students initiative, students are given the opportunity to excel in their educational environment by being able to participate in private schools or out-of-district public schools that may be more tailored to their individual learning needs.

A significant long-term benefit of the program is the potential break in cyclical poverty situations and the creation of successful life paths for children in challenged economic circumstances.

The program recognizes the differences in children’s learning styles and aims to give families choices in their child’s education -- an option that many financially stable families may already have.

Since the program’s start, more than 331,000 scholarships have been awarded.

"For 11 years, our program has been helping our state’s most disadvantaged and academically vulnerable children access the schools that best meet their needs. The program exists to promote equal educational opportunity, so all of Florida’s children have a better chance at a successful future. We are grateful to WellCare for heling us make this mission a reality," says Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill.

For more information on WellCare, visit them online. For information on Step Up For Students and how to get involved, visit their website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Denise Malecki, WellCare; Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students

Tampa Bay Arts Summit Promotes Regional Collaboration

A first-of-its-kind regional arts summit will take place Oct. 25, 2013 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, bringing together arts organizations, arts advocates, legislators and administrators from the five counties surrounding Tampa Bay. 

The Regional Arts Summit: Return on Investment aims to promote collaboration between arts organizations of all disciplines to better leverage advertising and marketing dollars, avoid scheduling conflicts and to build and share audiences.  Through interactive presentations and breakout sessions, participants will discuss topics such as cooperative programming, advocacy, regional funding, cultural tourism, and arts in healthcare. 

“To be successful, the arts have to be regionalized,” says attorney Peter Zinober, Chairman of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and shareholder at the law firm Greenberg Traurig, who came up with the idea of the summit. He envisions the event as a powerful brainstorming and networking session, “Putting people in the same room to develop strategies and ideas, develop more revenue while spending less.”

Presented by the Hillsborough County Arts Council, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and Creative Pinellas, the full-day event will feature keynote speaker Randy Cohen, VP of Research and Policy for Americans for the Arts from Washington DC. Cohen who will speak on the future of the arts in America -- “Where will we be in 10 Years?” He is a noted expert in the field of arts funding, research, policy, and using the arts to address community development issues.

Registration is available online through the Hillsborough Arts, Inc. website

Writer: Kendra Langlie
Source: Peter Zinober, Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Metropolitan Ministries Grows, Adds 20 Jobs

Metropolitan Ministries plans to open the doors to MiraclePlace on North Florida Avenue in Tampa in August, and is expanding staff to accommodate growing outreach initiatives.

Listed as one of the Top Places to Work in 2013, the organization has increased its staff by 20 percent over the past year and is now adding 20 new client services team members, including social workers, resident services assistants, counselors and administration.

"We look for what we call four C’s: confidence, character, chemistry and calling. It’s critical that our team believes in what we do and believes in recovery and self-sufficiency for our clients," says Keri Howard, director of human resources.

For more than 40 years, Metropolitan Ministries has served the Tampa Bay region, providing special care for at-risk and homeless individuals and alleviating suffering through resources that instill hope, love and reconciliation.

"Over the last six years, we’ve seen a great recession take hold of many families in our community that are living paycheck to paycheck. The needs of the community have really expanded, and we’ve expanded to meet that need," says President Tim Marks.

Two years ago, Metropolitan Ministries presented a value proposition to its board that would stir local economic change and stimulate sustainability for families in crisis:

Double the organization’s capacity, serving twice as many families at just a 25 percent increase in overall expenses.

Thus, MiraclePlace was born, an initiative to stamp out homelessness while offering transitional housing, crisis counseling, life skills, and educational and career development.

Prior to MiraclePlace, more than 50 families in crisis were on the waiting list to receive housing -- a number that did not sit well with Marks.

"We just thought it was wrong. We were just disturbed that many that were on the waiting list -- 25 percent or so -- were children," says Marks.

The first phase of MiraclePlace will open in August, featuring 52 new units of housing, an early childcare education center, an expanded dining room and a new welcome center. The opening allows Metropolitan Ministries to increase capacity to serve a 20 percent growth in families living on campus.

The final phase of MiraclePlace is expected to open by March 2014, adding another 47 units of housing and leading to a transition plan for 99 additional families. As the organization meets the needs of the initiative, forward growth includes a new K through 5 school, a new gymnasium, an assembly hall, a youth activity center and additional warehousing.

"We expect to be in construction for another 24 months at the main campus. We are also trying to put together a capital campaign for Pasco County to build out a new kitchen and 24 units of housing," says Marks.

The construction of MiraclePlace will add more than 115 construction jobs as well as additional subcontract positions. As developments continue, Metropolitan Ministries will continue to engage partners, staff and volunteers.

"Our civil engineer teams will continue to be engaged with us at the main campus and some additional resources will be involved in construction in Pasco. We have a very vibrant volunteer program, and we’d like to provide more volunteers and mentors that can be involved with the day to day activities," says Marks.

For information on hiring or volunteer opportunities, unique business partnerships, or the donation process, visit Metropolitan Ministries’ website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Tim Marks and Keri Howard, Metropolitan Ministries

Tampa Bay Touts Itself As Incubator For Healthcare Innovation

The Tampa Bay Partnership has decided to target market four industry sectors identified in the Regional Business Plan as industries that provide high-wage, sustainable job growth opportunities, thus shedding light on the Tampa Bay region as an incubator for healthcare innovation.

The goal is to ensure that Tampa Bay, which accounted for 41 percent of the state’s job growth in 2012, is recognized as one of the nation’s hubs for medical innovation. The industry of applied medicine and human performance leads the region’s target sectors, adding more than 7,000 jobs since 2009.

The applied medicine and human performance industry incorporates core clusters of medical technology and research, including senior health and wellness, personalized medicine, clinical trials, medical instruments and devices, health information technology and bioinformatics.

“Our target sectors have performed better than jobs in Tampa Bay, better than jobs in Florida, and better than jobs in the nation as a whole. The wages in these jobs are higher, and these jobs create more spin-off jobs,” says Dave Sobush, VP of regional business planning and development at the Tampa Bay Partnership.

Tampa Bay not only has the foundation of medical research and the presence of such large medical firms as H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and revolutionaries such as M2Gen to create a supply chain for programs, but the region also has great technical training for people to work in laboratory settings.

“Pinellas County is among a handful of communities in the nation with a strong cluster of medical devices,” says Sobush.

Several companies have selected Tampa as a base from which they can conduct ground-breaking medical research.

“We realize that we have something and we want to have one broad message to share with the world. We’re a hotbed for medicine,” says Katie Franco, sr. VP of regional development at the Tampa Bay Partnership.

Tampa Bay is strategically positioning itself as one of the nation’s regions to follow.

“We chose target sectors that are regional in nature, and we present the region purposefully to showcase the strength of the region. There’s no place stronger than the State of Florida,” says Sobush.

For more information on Tampa Bay’s Regional Business Plan, visit Tampa Bay Partnership’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Dave Sobush and Katie Franco, Tampa Bay Partnership
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