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New Port Richey : Innovation + Job News

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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

Leadership Event Connects Nonprofits, Businesses In Tampa

The Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay and Bank of America are teaming up to present "Lead Yourself -- Wow Others." The 3rd Annual Leadership Conference, April 26 at the A La Carte Event Pavilion, offers networking and skill development for nonprofit professionals, board members and the business community.
 
The half-day event is unique in that it brings together professionals from nonprofit and for-profit businesses to discuss common goals and make meaningful connections.
 
"The event is targeted to be a melding of the nonprofit and for-profit sectors coming together to learn, but also for collegial networking,'' says Grace Armstrong, CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay.
 
The networking aspect is what most attendees identify as a major benefit of the event, as well as other programs provided by the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay. The center feels that companies have a lot to learn from each other, regardless of their company type.
 
A new addition to the conference this year is the presence of vendors who have products or services of interest to attendees, such as The University of Tampa’s certificate in nonprofit management, fundraising software company Bloomerang and the Nonprofit Consultants Connection.
 
Topics include: the new wave of entrepreneurship, how to inspire change and strategies for wowing the world. Keynote speaker Jon Acuff, author and CNN contributor, will speak about "The Map with Two Roads," or why now is the ideal time to make changes to your life or business. Donna Cuttting with Red-Carpet Learning Systems will talk about how to enhance he customer experience by engaging employees.
 
"It’s an opportunity to take a break from your daily work while still promoting your business and learning something new," adds Armstrong.
 
Registration is $75 per person until April 5 and includes lunch and a signed copy of Jon Acuff’s book.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Grace Armstrong, Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay

University of Tampa Aims To Increase Women in Technology

The University of Tampa (UT) is joining the national effort to attract, increase and retain the number of women in technology fields by participating in The National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Pacesetters program.

Launched in 2010, the Pacesetters program is designed to recruit untapped talent pools of technological women as well as retain women at risk of leaving their organizations -- commonly referred to as “net new.” The 2013-2015 initiative includes a two-year fast track program and a collaborative network of senior executives from 20 universities and 14 companies working to add almost 2,000 women to the U.S. technological field.

“Twenty-five percent of IT professionals are female,” says Natasha Veltri, assistant professor of information and technology management and lead on the NCWIT Pacesetters program at UT. The goal of the Information and Technology Management (ITM) Department at UT is to increase female enrollment in the management and information systems program (MIS) from 23 percent to 50 percent.

To heighten that effort, UT’s ITM professors are practicing “in-reach” -- connecting with students during early college years, learning about their career and technological interests, and introducing them to classes, opportunities, industry connections and mentors so that students can explore the field.

By 2020, an estimated 1.4 million technology jobs will be added to the workforce. With 56 percent of women in computing and technology leaving jobs at the mid-career level, women in technology represent a significant value-add to companies.

“We encourage students to learn computing and pursue careers in this field; this way we can address the IT shortage and create a new pool of qualified, educated workers,” says Veltri.

Veltri also reaches to her network of IT professionals who have been successful within the field to serve as role models to students. “There are many female professionals who are passionate about this issue and who want to serve. We can support students considering a career in IT and can share our experiences with them by using our business connections.”

ITM works closely with the business community in Tampa Bay including Tampa Bay Technology Leadership Association and Tampa Bay Technology Forum. They also have an advisory board that keeps updated with the industry’s needs in order to prepare students for workforce leadership.

Each month, the Office of Career Services lists several openings for IT positions. “We don’t have enough candidates to fill those roles,” says Veltri.

“The innovation in the IT field has been tremendous in the last four years, and for us to continue the innovation, we need the right supply of talent. For us to provide our region with the right talent, we have to grow this locally. That way we can attract new employers.”

ITM is additionally working to increase interest and career development for females in technology by partnering with Tampa Bay’s technology professionals and utilizing UT’s Office of Career Services to introduce students to internships and career opportunities. ITM also provides a hands-on technology and computing platform to middle and high school students through their Get Smart program.

“There is a pipeline of talent, and we can contribute by developing local talent to grow Tampa Bay's industries, businesses, and IT field in particular.”

Visit the website for details on all of the University of Tampa’s information and technology management degrees. For more information on the Pacesetters program, contact Natasha Veltri via email or at 813.257.3970.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Natasha Veltri, University of Tampa

Pasco's Microloan Fund Grows Small Businesses

The Pasco Economic Development Council (EDC)'s community-based microloan program is helping  to grow small businesses in the county.

The microloan program has funded 15 jobs since its inception in April 2012. Aimed at companies that have a difficult time obtaining traditional loan funds (mainly due to size), the revolving loan continues to support businesses as funds are paid back.

"It's really important to support start-up and small businesses and give them access to capital to help them grow and hire," says Krista Hakes, economic development manager for Pasco Economic Development Council.

Eight small businesses have received funding thus far:

BVT Products, manufacturer of the Go Caddy multicompartment carry all bag, is using the funding for inventory support.

Good Faith Insurance, a health and life insurance brokerage firm specializing in educating retirees about their Medicare choices and benefits. The owner was the first Hispanic and woman-owned business to receive a microloan, which was used to hire an additional staff member to help with recent growth.

The first loan recipient, Dr. Jay Harvey at Personal Pediatric Care, is fueling growth and a change in business plan.   

Statewide Blinds, a mobile company that installs window treatments and cleans and repairs blinds across the state, is purchasing a trailer and other equipment.

Suncoast Fire Safety, offering training to help businesses stay in compliance with state and local fire safety laws, is growing inventory and upgrading equipment.

Tampa Bay Urodynamics, serving local physicians through mobile medical testing and therapy, purchased equipment and expanded services.

United Underwriters of Tampa Bay, a woman-owned insurance firm covering auto, homeowners, business and motor vehicle insurance, purchased marketing collateral and created a new part-time office position.

And the newest recipient, 301 Designs is an online retailer offering apparel and electronics products.

Pasco EDC partners with SCORE to walk applicants through the loan application process. Recipients also continue to receive technical assistance after the loan is dispersed.

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

Manufacturer Moves To Pasco, Plans High-Paying Jobs

J.T.D. Enterprises, a company that makes tubular assemblies for various products, is planning to relocate from Michigan to Pasco County next year. The business will create 10 new jobs that are expected to exceed average annual salaries in Pasco County by 115 percent. The owners of J.T.D. Enterprises were drawn to Pasco County by tax incentives, weather and a significant regional customer base.
 
"My wife and I own the business, which was started by my father over 30 years ago,'' says Tom Nihra, VP of J.T.D. Enterprises. "We have a lot of customers in Florida and throughout the Southeast. Also, it's certainly a lifestyle change for us to move to a warm climate year round.''
 
J.T.D. Enterprises is unique from other manufacturers in that they have proprietary technology, which enables them to manufacture tubular assemblies used in golf ball accessories, flagpoles and defense technologies. With a growing customer base, the company will be able to expand as it relocates.

"The relocation is scheduled for the middle of next year,'' says Nihra. "We are looking at starting the first phase of hiring in April of 2013, which will be five or six positions. The balance of the jobs will be filled by September 1, 2013.''

Nihra says he plans to hire a couple customer service representatives, who will be expected to perform administrative support duties as well as sales. He will also be looking for qualified candidates who are skilled in machinery.

"For the skilled manufacturing positions, candidates will need to bring an applicable skills set, however, there will still be some training on the proprietary technology we use to make our products.''

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Tom Nihra, J.T.D. Enterprises

PQI: Pasco Manufacturer Adds Jobs, Sees More

Power Quality International (PQI), a manufacturer of transformers and filters in Pasco, was recently listed on GrowFL’s "50 Companies to Watch.'' The company doubled its workforce this year and plans to continue to grow and hire over the next few years.

PQI manufactures highly energy efficient transformers and filters that help various types of facilities reduce energy costs. The green products are well suited for LEED facilities, which has played a vital role in the company’s growth.

"PQI has grown due to a deep understanding of the nuances of energy efficiency within facilities such as commercial buildings, hospitals, schools and data centers,'' says Shaun Ferguson, president of PQI. "By applying industry leading products in a solutions approach that provides real and significant savings to building owners, both in new construction and in retrofit scenarios, we are able to provide value added products and services to the market and enjoy growth and new market penetration.''

As PQI continues to add clients and projects, the company plans to hire additional workers with industry expertise.

"PQI expects to add technically oriented power-systems engineering positions, as well as other support positions as growth dictates over the next couple of years,'' says Ken Sparks, VP of sales and marketing.

In addition to the company’s listing on GrowFL’s Companies to Watch roll, PQI will be recognized at a special awards gala ceremony Friday, Oct. 19, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Shaun Ferguson & Ken Sparks, Power Quality International

Insurance Company Expanding In Pasco, 200 Jobs

1Brick, LLC, an insurance and financial services customer relationship management company, is opening a new office in Pasco County creating an estimated 200 jobs. The company, which is a virtual insurance agency and financial consulting firm, is licensed to operate in multiple states servicing mobile consumers over the phone and through mobile apps.
 
1Brick, LLC, recently received county tax incentives, which helped seal the deal for the company’s expansion in Pasco. While the company did look at other U.S. locations in the Midwest and on the West Coast, Florida seemed to be the best fit.
 
“We felt Florida was very competitive, not only from a tax perspective, but for its location and workforce as well,'' says Sam Bloomfield, executive VP of 1Brick, LLC. "We attended a local job fair last week and were very impressed by the resumes we received.''
 
Bloomfield says the company will be filling various positions including licensed insurance agents, IT professionals, quality assurance and supervisory managers. The salaries associated with the new jobs are expected to exceed current average wages in Pasco by as much as 115 percent.
 
"We could be hiring up to 40 people in the next 30 days,'' Bloomfield says. "We have a number of clients and relationships built that need us to get going, so we have a good reason to start hiring very soon.''
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Sam Bloomfield, 1Brick, LLC

Pasco Video Game Company Plans Expansion

Artix Entertainment, a developer of online video games, is working on several new projects that are expected to create new jobs in the near future. The company is currently looking for a mobile developer as they continue to grow in the mobile gaming market.
                                   
“If the projects we are working on now, specifically the 3D game we are building, take off we will need a much bigger staff,” says Adam Bohn who founded Artix Entertainment in 2002.
 
Bohn says he was working on a game is his spare time back in 2002, with no intention of starting a business. He simply was fulfilling a dream of making a video game. The original game, AdventureQuest, soon had millions of players and he started recruiting members of the gaming community to work on other projects.
 
“AdventureQuest was one of the very first, if not the first, Flash-based video games that could be played right in your browser,” Bohn says. “We now have six major games with two more in development.”
 
Artix Entertainment currently employs approximately 57 people, and has even more staff in the form of volunteers whom moderate forums. In addition to seeking a qualified mobile developer, Bohn says he may be looking for additional staff when his new games come out.
 
“With the projects we are working on, if they take off, we will need 3D animators and modelers, as well as 2D Flash animators,” he says.
 
As far as a time line for when those projects will be completed, Bohn says there is no specific deadline.
 
“In the gaming industry, a project is done when it’s done.”
 
In the meantime, Bohn plans to add a career section on his website so potential employees can check back for job openings.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Adam Bohn, Artix Entertainment

Verizon Launches Family Video Contest, Tampa Bay

FiOS Quantum, Verizon's latest home broadband service, was recently introduced to the Tampa Bay region. As part of Verizon’s announcement of the new service, the company is holding a contest called “Families on FiOS.” Tampa Bay area families, roommates and friends can enter the contest and the winner will receive a home technology makeover valued at approximately $9,000.

"We want to know how families and friends are using technology in this new day and age for their communications, information and entertainment needs,'' says Jeanmarie Milla, Verizon’s Florida region president of operations. "In turn, Verizon can use this information to help offer Tampa Bay residents the optimal consumer experience.''

According to Milla, FiOS Quantum is a record-setting broadband service, which features download and upload speeds that are twice as fast as those previously offered.

"Verizon is able to offer Internet at speeds two to three times as fast as the competition because it has the nation’s largest all-fiber-optic network,'' Milla says. "The competition can't touch our FiOS Quantum speeds because of their hybrid fiber/copper networks, which constrain their speed.''

To enter the contest, residents must film a short video (three and five minutes long) and upload it to the contest website. All films must be submitted by Aug. 6. Verizon's team will select five entries, and the public will be voting for their favorite video beginning Aug. 13. The contest is open to anyone residing in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties, where FiOS is offered.

"We want to see Tampa Bay in action,'' Milla says. "This contest is about residents showing they're at the cutting-edge of technology trends. Also, being a little entertaining never hurt anyone’s chances.''

The winner of the grand prize will be announced Sept. 19.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Jeanmarie Milla, Verizon

Florida Offers Economic Gardening Certification

Krista Hakes of the Pasco Economic Development Council (Pasco EDC) is one of six people in Florida to complete the Economic Gardening Certification offered through GrowFL.
 
Economic Gardening is part of a larger movement that takes an entrepreneurial approach to economic development through a model created by Chris Gibbons of Littleton, CO. The goal of economic gardening is to create jobs and improve the economy at the local level.
 
“Economic gardening helps second-stage companies with the challenges they face,” says Tammie Nemecek of GrowFL, which is the state’s branch of the larger economic gardening movement.

The certification program that Hakes completed is part of the National Center for Economic Gardening at the Edward Lowe Foundation, which follows the Chris Gibbons model. The certification enables Hakes to launch and administer a successful economic gardening program in Pasco that will help local entrepreneurs and small companies to grow their businesses.   

“The certification process involves online courses and webinars,” says Jessica Nelson, operations manager of the National Center for Economic Gardening at the Edward Lowe Foundation. “Overall the certification takes three weeks to complete.”
 
In addition to Hakes, the five other individuals in Florida who have completed the program include Paul Mitchell of the Volusia County Economic Development Council, Chelsea Jones-Finely of the Southern Florida Minority Supplier Development Council, Debrah Forester of the Charlotte County Economic Development Council, Mandy Hines of DeSoto County and Kara Palmer of the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee.
 
GrowFL has plans to certify more people in the future; those interested in becoming certified should contact Jessica Nelson at the National Center for Economic Gardening. Entrepreneurs seeking support for accelerating their business should contact their local economic development council or GrowFL.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Tammie Nemecek, GrowFL, and Jessica Nelson, National Center for Economic Gardening at the Edward Lowe Foundation

Virtual Job Fair For Youth Seeking Employers, Tampa Bay

The Suncoast Workforce of Sarasota, in partnership with WorkNet Pinellas and several other Tampa Bay area workforce organizations, will hold a virtual job fair for youth starting May 13th and running through May 19th. The live week-long event will be free for job seekers and is catered to the younger demographic, ages 14-24.

“Businesses can benefit from a younger worker's perspective and new ideas,” says Sally Hill, communications director of Suncoast Workforce. “They tend to be open to learning and they thrive on coaching and mentoring from others. Youth are the workforce of the future.”

This is the second consecutive year for the virtual event that spans six counties. Other workforce organizations include Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance in Hillsborough, Career Central in Pasco, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida, the Pinellas Education Foundation, and Tampa Bay area public school districts and colleges.
 
Unlike a traditional job fair, where businesses set up booths and employers and job seekers engage in formal exchanges, the virtual job fair is done completely online in a much less ceremonial fashion. Employers will post their open positions and job seekers can browse jobs and apply during the week-long event. The virtual environment also takes pressure off employers to hire on the spot.

“Employers have the option to review candidate resumes at their leisure and they can decide whether to interview candidates by phone or in person before making their hiring decision,” Hill says.

Hill says that there is still time for employers to participate in the job fair and they would like more businesses to register. Businesses interested in virtually attending the job fair can register by visiting this link.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Sally Hill, Suncoast Workforce
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