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Alakai Defense Systems' Mission Fuels Growth, Creates Jobs

"We were soldiers. Our children are soldiers. Our mission is to protect the soldier."

That’s the motto of Alakai Defense Systems. It drives who they are and what they do. It’s that kind of determination that helped them achieve compounded annual growth of 60 percent since the company’s restructure in 2009, bringing them to a current sales revenue on order of $8 million.

The Largo-based company provides explosive detection systems using laser and electro-optic sensing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and reliability. Products include sensors that detect explosives in excess of 100 meters away, as well as vehicle-mounted systems for use at checkpoint gates.

Its flagship product is the Standoff Covert Eyesafe Explosives Detection System (SCEEDS). About the size of a large footlocker, the SCEEDS is mounted on vehicles.

With explosives being the number one killer of soldiers on the battlefield, Alakai’s mission cannot be underemphasized. With key staff having served in the military, many of whom have children who are currently serving, the company is intimately familiar with end user needs. "We want to make a contribution and protect the solders, bring our kids home," says Ed Dottery, president of Alakai Defense Systems.

Dottery has a background in special operations and Special Forces. After doing army reserve tours at MacDill, he decided to make Tampa Bay his home.

The company is a graduate of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, which nurtures early stage ventures to help them grow and launch products. "It’s a great incubator," says Ed Dottery. "It helped me both as a small business and a second stage growth company."

Dottery attributes the company’s growth to a combination of factors, including the programs at the Innovation Center and other local economic development efforts, state tax incentives and its proximity to MacDill Airforce Base.

Alakai partners with universities such as University of South Florida and Florida A&M University on research and grant opportunities. Graduate students are able to obtain real-world experience and contribute their knowledge and research through industry practicum experiences. They also teamed up with USF recently to seek matching funds from the I-4 Corridor.

The company has 25 employees worldwide and is currently expanding its workforce to include 10 additional hires including a Senior Scientist, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and Software Developers.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ed Dottery, Alakai Defense Systems

Tampa Start-up Uses Crowdsourcing For Innovative Package Delivery

A new company based out of Tampa plans to revolutionize the way packages are delivered by turning regular commuters into couriers.

Titled HITCH, the company is the brainchild of Chuck Pasquotto, an entrepreneur who runs several transportation-related companies. Seeing the success of companies like Uber and Air BnB, Pasquotto wanted to use the power of crowd sourcing to help streamline the package delivery process. The idea is to find someone who is traveling daily to a destination and ask them to deliver someone else’s package. The network is connected through a mobile app.

"Think of us as a marketplace," says Eric Torres, USF graduate and VP of Marketing for HITCH. "We’re giving the crowd an opportunity to earn extra money via the shared economy."

Those who want to deliver packages (called travelers) sign up on the site and provide their origin and destination information. They can then see a list of deliveries on their intended route. Travelers receive a payment upon successful package delivery.

A shipper enters information about the item needing to be delivered, along with a picture and description. They can then see the fee and accept or decline the delivery. The pick-up location is determined by the shipper and can be a home, office or other public place. Once the transaction is complete, the shipper can request a signature. The traveler is also required to take a picture of where the item was delivered, and it can also be tracked with a gps.

The benefits are lower costs than a typical courier service, environmental benefits and an opportunity for the travelers to earn extra money.

The community is monitored, and users get ratings based on their reliability and effectiveness. For example, users can request to work with only five star rated travelers or shippers. Users also have to become verified by providing a bank account or credit card information.

HITCH recently partnered with Tampa-based creative agency PP+K to help launch the app. The app is currently in beta mode and aims for a soft launch in October in the I-4 corridor area. The company plans to expand nationwide after the launch.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Eric Torres, HITCH

USF Opens Futurist, Patient-Focused Pharmacy

Imagine a pharmacy where patients are fully involved with their health, utilizing the latest in technological advances to make the most of every interaction. Imagine pharmacists not only prescribing medications, but also mobile apps to help patients continue their health care at home. Envision prescriptions being filled by a robot and pharmacists using Google glass to interact with patients instead of staying behind the counter.

Sound futuristic? This is not only the pharmacy of the future, it’s the present too. The University of South Florida (USF) College of Pharmacy plans to open this pharmacy this month (September), featuring all of this and more.

“We’re entering an age in healthcare where we need to not only just exist in health, but also try to optimize health," says Kevin Sneed, PhD., dean of the College of Pharmacy at USF.

Located on USF’s campus, the 1,500-square-foot facility will serve patients at the Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare. It will also allow pharmacy students to learn using the most advanced in technology and personal patient care.

At the facility, automatic will be achieved in a very uncommon way. Prescriptions will be sent to the center electronically, reviewed by a pharmacist and then sent to a robot. The robot will place the pills in a bottle, label and cap the bottle. A picture will be taken of the pills that is cross referenced against a known reference for that drug. The entire process will then be barcoded and reviewed in order to ensure the utmost accuracy.

In the ultimate in personalization, USF will use pharmaco genomics, a technology that uses the DNA of a patient to track their health and eventually predict how they will respond to a medication.

In a true community-based approach, a section of the pharmacy will display pharmaceutical-related items that were manufactured and marketed by Tampa Bay entrepreneurs.

The idea first came to Sneed just over a year ago, when the pharmacy USF maintained at the time was being shut down. He created the plan and proposal within 48 hours and was able to make it a reality in less than a year. The main goal is to give students a chance to experience what the pharmacy they may be working on in the future will look like, providing the critical hands-on component to what is discussed in classrooms.  

"We want to have them exit the program with the full intention of changing the healthcare landscape," says Sneed. "We want to build leaders in healthcare"

Sneed attributes the success of the facility and USF healthcare overall to the interprofessional collaborations among USF Health colleges, noting that a team-based approach is critical to any kind of success in healthcare.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kevin Sneed, USF College of Pharmacy

Carrollwood Day School Hosts Startup Weekend For Youth Entrepreneurs

Pitch an idea, form a team and become part of the world’s largest entrepreneurial community in 54 hours. That’s the strategy behind every Startup Weekend around the globe – and it’s the mission for the first ever Startup Weekend Tampa Youth on September 12-14, 2014.
 
The intensive, team-based concept at the backbone of the global Startup Weekend movement has gained steam in Tampa Bay over several years of biannual events.

Growing, innovative local startups such as Wazinit, and breakout success stories like Eventjoy (formerly EXMO), are the result of previous Tampa Bay Startup Weekends.
 
Ryan Sullivan, a “Global Facilitator” and local organizer for Startup Weekend Tampa Bay and Startup Weekend Tampa Youth, says that the goal for the events in over 200 cities worldwide “is to educate and inspire people in the community to take action in entrepreneurship.”

Startup Weekend Youth is specifically geared toward 5th–8th graders - “the next generation’s entrepreneurs.” Sullivan notes that the event will look and feel a little different this time around. Participants will still pitch ideas and work in teams, but with a focus on teaching and inspiring young thinkers. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with coaches who are experts in their field and successful entrepreneurs.

“This is something special,” Sullivan says. “We will create an atmosphere of exercises and experiences that will inspire creative ideas in young minds and help kids to learn how to move those ideas forward towards action, and in the process, collaborate with their peers.”
 
Students are encouraged to register under one of three categories (Creative/Design, Coding/Programming, Business/Finance) based on their interests. Hands-on activities will be geared toward helping students identify a challenge to solve, learn to understand potential customers or users, work effectively with others, “and in the end, build something they are proud of as a team,” says Sullivan.

“Today’s youth are full of creative ideas for how to make lives and the world a better place. This will be a place for them to take those ideas and move them towards reality,” he explains. “This event will also help build confidence in creating and sharing ideas for those that tend to keep them inward.” 

Along with Sullivan, Nicholas Catania, Deborah Neff and Todd Broyles are co-organizers of the event. They expect more than 50 students to attend and participate in Startup Weekend Tampa Youth.
 
“We like to say that it is the least expensive babysitter at $25 for the weekend,” Sullivan says.

Startup Weekend Tampa Youth starts Friday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. and concludes on Sunday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m. The event will take place at Carrollwood Day School, 1515 W. Bearss Ave. in Tampa. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here for $25.00. 

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Ryan Sullivan, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay

Eckerd College, FSU Partner For Accelerated Law Degree

Students studying at Eckerd College can now obtain a law degree in just six years.

The degree is a part of partnership between Eckerd College and Florida State University (FSU) College of Law. Students complete the first three years of undergraduate study at Eckerd and then transfer to FSU as seniors. They then complete the usual coursework for a first-year law student, with the courses also counting for the senior year at Eckerd, essentially allowing them to skip a year. Students can then graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from Eckerd and continue on at FSU to complete the final two years of law school.

Eckerd decided to move forward with the program after looking at the curriculum and realizing the courses would be accepted for both programs as transfer credits. The rising cost of higher education was also a determining factor.

"College costs have increased, yet a college degree is still tremendously important not only for someone’s future career success but also in terms of the way in which students develop during the four years they spend in college," says Suzan Harrison, PhD., dean of faculty for Eckerd College.

The program is designed for high achieving, ambitious students who know their career plans early and plan out their three years at Eckerd carefully, making sure they complete the correct requirements for their major. The benefits to the student are saving a year’s worth of tuition and being able to start their law careers sooner.

The program is brand new and could start as early as this fall, as students qualify. Students are already expressing interest.

The program is the third of its kind for FSU. Other programs exist at FSU and the University of Central Florida.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Suzan Harrison, PhD., Eckerd College

Tampa Bay's First Senior Care ER Opens In St. Petersburg

Seniors looking for emergency care in Pinellas County will now have an option for a more personalized experience.

St. Petersburg General Hospital opened the first Senior Care Emergency Room in the Tampa Bay region in mid-August.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 23 percent of the population in Pinellas County is over 65 years of age, and this population continues to grow each year. The hospital noticed that approximately 20 percent of patients are over 60. That, combined with the growing number of seniors in the Tampa Bay region prompted the emphasis.

The hospital talked with patients to find out what they could do to better meet their needs. The result was a remodeling of a 4-bed wing and waiting area in the emergency room into a senior care area. The remodeled space includes non-skid floor, dimmer lighting and more comfortable chairs at the bedside for family members. The stretcher pads themselves are also thicker and more comfortable.

"We tried to make it a little bit more of a healing, comfortable environment," says Diane Conti, director of ER services for the hospital.

A section of the waiting area is now set aside for seniors as well, with softer lighting, more comfortable chairs and a larger television. Hearing and visual aids are available for patients who may have forgotten their hearing aids or glasses. Three parking spaces close to the building are designated as senior parking.

The hospital’s staff also underwent training on the needs of senior patients, such as dementia screening, fall risks and social screening. Emphasis is placed on working with caregivers to maximize the at-home healing experience.

"We don’t want them to be thought of as a different group, but rather a group with different needs," says Conti.

The move is part of a national trend, with over 50 hospitals in the U.S. opening senior specific emergency centers since 2011, according to the ECRI Institute.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Diane Conti, St. Petersburg Hospital

Clearwater Continues Greening Efforts With LED Streetlights

Residents of Clearwater will soon have softer streetlights and fewer outages as a result of the City’s latest efforts to go green.

The City is replacing the standard incandescent light bulbs in all 11,290 streetlights with LED bulbs. The new bulbs will produce the same amount of light, but use less energy and last longer.

"In light of the city’s green policy, we wanted to say the whole city is green and reduce the carbon footprint," says Paul Bertels, traffic operations manager for the City of Clearwater. "It’s important to the City Council and to the residents that we try to do everything we can to reduce our impact on the environment."

The major benefit from the move will be less outages. Standard bulbs typically have to be replaced every 18 months. The new LED bulbs will last an average of seven years before outage problems are experienced.

The decision was made by the City of Clearwater and Duke Energy, which currently provides maintenance for the streetlights. In a true public-private partnership, the bulbs will be funded by Duke Energy, so the replacement will be at no cost to citizens. Duke’s costs will be reduced due to less frequent maintenance.

Residents will mainly notice the white color of the lights vs. the orange color of the current bulbs. They will also notice a lot more stability with the less frequent outages.

The move is part of the city’s overall efforts to go green, which include a full service citywide recycling program, streetscaping, and water management.

"Clearwater has always been a very progressive place, and I think this policy on being green fits right in line with that thinking," says Bertels.

The project will begin in the Northeast quadrant of the city, with an estimated citywide completion in 18 months.   

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Paul Bertels, City of Clearwater

Greco Middle School's Outdoor Classroom Promotes STEM, Environment

Students and teachers at Greco Middle School in Tampa will soon have a new classroom alternative, providing hands-on access to environmental learning and other real world skills.

The outdoor classroom project is being led by the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The collaboration is also supported by the School District of Hillsborough County as well as parents, teachers and administrators at Greco Middle School.

The classroom will include Florida-friendly landscaping improvements and other educational tools that will be integrated into the curriculum. Teachers will be able to reserve the space for a given period during the day to teach outside. Lesson plans might focus on storm water management or structural support for bridges.

"The whole idea is to incorporate aspects that are environmentally friendly and can serve as teaching points," says Travis Barnes, board member for Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of USGBC. "We’re also getting the school more engaged with the community at large."

The classroom is a nice pairing with Greco’s strong focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and on-site community garden, a collaboration with the City of Temple Terrace.

The implementation is part of USGBC’s Green Apple Day of Service on September 27. The goal is to promote sustainability at K-12 as well as college campuses on a global scale. This is the third year the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter has participated in the event. Last year’s project was a school garden at Muller Elementary School in Tampa that has since been formally incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

40 – 50 volunteers are expected to help with the buildout, including parents, students, teachers, staff and the business community.

The project’s title sponsor is Julius the Architect. Other sponsors include the Phoenix Agency and Tampa Bay Trane.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Travis Barnes, USGBC

Business Incubator Brings Coworking Space To Bradenton

A new “innovation center” for entrepreneurs and small business owners is unofficially open in Bradenton. 

Collaborative coworking, along with an incubation program to provide formal education and mentoring for client companies, is the focus of the space. The Innovation Center will also house a cafe, training areas, open workspaces, and several dedicated workstations for regular visitors. Offices for incubator clients are currently being built out. 

The space may be rebranded from Bradenton Innovation Center in the future, but “we know that the name of the incubator lies in the history of the firehouse and area of town we're located in -- the historic Village of Manatee, now part of the City of Bradenton,” explains cofounder Stan Schulte.

Bike racks, lockers, mail facilities and free parking in a historic downtown setting round out the amenities that will be offered to community members.

Fundraising and architectural renovations are currently underway. Applications for client companies will be accepted in late fall 2014, and programs should begin in early 2015.

Currently, meetings are being held with community supporters and potential partners for the Bradenton Innovation Center, says Schulte.

The incubator will be organized as a 501(c)3, Schulte explains. “The building is city-owned, and support will come from both the city and county,” he says. “Grants and sponsorships will be utilized for build-out and programs, but the majority of sustainable funding will come from coworking memberships, office rentals and incubator program fees.“ 

In order to qualify for the incubator program, companies will have to complete an application process along with a prerequisite 4-week Excellence in Entrepreneurship course. 

They will be evaluated quarterly for suitability to the program based on growth and meeting plan objectives, says Schulte. Mentors and partner businesses in the community will also have to apply.

Goals of the incubator include creating “sustainable, knowledge-based, high wage jobs that will stay in the local area, and to help to mitigate the “brain drain” from local universities & companies,” says Schulte. 
 
The programs at the Innovation center will be geared toward companies that have already launched and are seeking sustainable, rapid expansion. 

“There will not initially be any lab or industrial space available, so it will be most suitable to knowledge-based companies not needing specialized facilities,” says Schulte.

“It will serve as a catalyst for development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem for creation of new companies in high-growth strategic industry sectors,” he explains.

“Communities today need innovative companies and strong entrepreneurial networks to link and leverage assets to boost productivity and convert 21st Century brainpower into wealth through innovation.”

Schulte and Sara Hand, founder of SP Hand and Associates, are cofounders of Spark Growth in Sarasota and jointly back the BIC project.

The Bradenton Innovation Center is located at 912 7th Ave. E. Photos of progress can be found on the center’s Facebook page.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Stan Schulte, Bradenton Innovation Center

Hillsborough's EDI2 Program Celebrates Successes

Hugs, handshakes and a bit of humor keep the energy level high at Tampa Bay WaVE as a growing number of technology entrepreneurs leading the local startup community and public officials celebrate the 1st anniversary of Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2) program. 

Hillsborough County commissioners led by Mark Sharpe, who will join the Tampa Bay Innovation Alliance after he leaves office in November due to term limits, set aside $2 million to provide financial support for growing the startup community. The Alliance includes USF, University Community Hospital, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Busch Gardens.  

Setting aside funding for EDI2 is a recognition by Hillsborough that future economic and job growth, particularly in the Tampa Bay region, is much more likely to result from the cumulative effect of nurturing innovative startups than by investing the bulk of additional resources into attracting giant corporate headquarters.

So far, since its launch in June 2013, 55 applicants have received $598,583 to support networking and educational events, industry promotions and service providers. Additional program and application information is available online.

Some of the programs funded include:
  • East Tampa Business and Civic Association for the 2014 MLK Technology Business Expo
  • Hillsborough Community College Foundation for the Veterans Entrepreneurial Symposium
  • Learning is for Everyone, Inc. for the Robocon Tampa Bay 2013
  • Moffitt Cancer Center for the Business of Biotech 2014
  • Startup Bus for the Startup Bus Tampa Bay
  • Startup Grind, Inc. for eight monthly meetings
  • Tampa Bay Technology Forum for the Tech Trek 2014, Engine Peer Network Event, and Entrepreneur Network
  • Technova Florida, Inc. for the Tampa Code Camp and Ignite Tampa Bay
  • TiE Tampa Bay for the TiE Breaker III and TiE Angel Forum
  • University of Tampa for the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference 2014
For more information about EDI2, contact Economic Development Manager Jennifer Whelihan with Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Department at 813.272.6217.

Writer: Diane Egner
Source: Jennifer Whelihan, Hillsborough County’s EDI2

Urban Conga Transforms Downtown Parking Spaces On National Park(ing) Day

On September 19, a handful of metered parking spaces in downtown Tampa will take on a different purpose.  Instead of cars, you’ll find car parts, art and musicians.

As part of National Park(ing) Day, Urban Conga, a group of local creatives who promote community awareness through the use of play, will be taking over random parking spaces and turning them into parks. The goal is to encourage less driving and more walkability in the downtown area.

National Park(ing) Day is a worldwide event that began in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio. The idea is for artists and activists to create debate about how urban space is allocated by transforming parking spaces into temporary public spaces. The event is now a global movement, with 162 cities in 35 countries expected to participate this year.

Urban Conga collaborated with University of South Florida art student Maeghann Coleman to design the spaces in downtown Tampa. The music-themed area will feature old tires and other car parts that can be used to make music, as well as a musical bench with piano keys. Jazz musicians from USF will also participate.

"It’s the idea of tactical urbanism," says Ryan Swanson, co-founder of Urban Conga. "We want to bring people there, not only to hang out but also to play."  

The Florida chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Florida) recently ran a statewide parklet competition, in which Urban Conga received second place for their design. The $1200 prize will be used to fund the project. The City of Tampa is also supporting the project through the allocation of the parking spaces for the day.

Urban Conga is also promoting collaboration by asking people to send in pictures of what they’re doing in their areas.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ryan Swanson, Urban Conga

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

Pecha Kucha V15: Engaging, Enlightening, Inspiring

Creatives, designers, students and community advocates will convene at the Tampa Museum of Art September 5 to hear unique ideas and experiences that make Tampa Bay a better place.

The event is Pecha Kucha, named for a Japanese term for "chit chat."

Speakers will talk for just over six minutes about something they are passionate about. In an effort to keep things interesting and moving, the format is 20 slides, each lasting 20 seconds each. In true "anything goes" style, speakers don’t know much about the participants ahead of time, and vice versa. Speaker names are released, but topics remain unknown until the event.

Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay is held four times a year and begins with an hour of socializing, followed by an hour of presentations.

"As always, there is no theme," says Ken Cowart, the event’s organizer. "It’s a mixed bag of creative people sharing their ideas."

Hope Donnelly, co-owner of 8-Count Studios at the Rialto, plans to speak about her experience as an entrepreneur renovating historic space in downtown Tampa. She first attended Pecha Kucha V13 in November of 2013 and immediately knew it was something she wanted to be a part of.

"It’s a sincere, organic way to connect with interesting people," says Donnelly. "It’s really engaging and human, and I love that!"

Other presenters at Volume 15 include:
  • John Denger. Director and advocate at The Well
  • Marcus DeSieno. USF art student
  • Tony DeSisto. Founder of Citizinvestor, a kick starter for cities and public projects
  • Courtney McCalden. Graphic designer
  • Sarah Ogdie, Community Tampa Bay
  • Jim Reiman. Photographer, art professor and founder of SwedeFest Tampa
  • Mark Weston, Architect and digital fabrication professor at USF

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ken Cowart, Pecha Kucha; Hope Donnelly, Rialto

Florida Bookstore Day Celebrates Local Bookstores, Authors

Tiffany Razzano was driving down Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg when she spotted a poster in the storefront window at Daddy Cool Records promoting Record Store Day. She then drove past Wilson’s Book World and thought, "Why is there no bookstore day?"

She did some research only to learn that California is the only state that has fully developed the concept of a bookstore day.

So why not Florida? Why not now? she thought. The result?

The inaugural Florida Bookstore Day will take place at independent and used bookstores in cities throughout the state on November 15, concentrating on the Tampa Bay area, where Razzano runs Wordier Than Thou, a group that supports creative writers through open mic events, a literary magazine and a radio show.

"I wanted to do something big," says Razzano. "It’s a celebration of independent bookstores and the writing community. People won’t even know they’re at a literary event."

Her goal is to showcase local bookstores and the writing community. Soon after she started talking up the concept in social media and elsewhere, Razzano connected with book lovers in Orlando who wanted to be part of the celebration. Bookstores from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys have now signed on to participate. Expect a day of book releases and author signings, open mics and workshops on literary topics

Local participants include: Inkwood Books, Mojo Books and Music, Old Tampa Book Company and Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Standup Librarians, Wilson’s Book World and Wings Bookstore in St. Petersburg, Book Bank in Largo and Back in the Day Books in Dunedin.

An after party will take place at the Venture Compound in St. Petersburg, featuring local authors and literary organizations, the Bluebird Books Bus, raffles and food trucks.

The event is sponsored by Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and also received a grant from Awesome Tampa Bay.
 
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Tiffany Razzano, Florida Bookstore Day

Working Women Of Tampa Bay Expands Statewide

A Tampa-based networking group for female professionals and entrepreneurs is expanding throughout Florida.

Working Women of Florida is an expansion of the Working Women of Tampa Bay professional networking group, which Jessica Rivelli founded in Tampa in 2009. WWoTB currently has 750 local members in Tampa, with an additional 100 statewide. The group expanded to include an Orlando chapter in 2012.

"Our immediate goal is to grow Working Women throughout the state of Florida to includes chapters in Fort Myers, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville,'' says Rivelli.

Events include lunch-and-learns, coffee chats and educational seminars with local and national successful female entrepreneurs and businesswomen.

The group's second annual state conference will be Sept. 11 and 12, 2014, at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL. Rivelli expects 300 female entrepreneurs and executives from around the state to attend.

Keynote speakers include Alex Sink, former Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida; Bevan Gray-Rogel, Encore Tampa Bay president and founder; Lisa G Jacobsen, Executive Coach at Workplace Solutions Tampa; and Dr. Jennifer Hall, Director of Coaching at the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College.

Tampa Bay-based speakers also include Angela Ardolino, founder of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine; Dotty Bollinger, COO and president of Laser Spine Institute; and Lee Lowry, past president of The Junior League of Tampa.

Registration for the Working Women of Florida State Conference is available on the event website.

To help grow WWoF, Rivelli hired Lauren Tice as Director of Development for Working Women of Florida. Tice is a Florida native who grew up in Temple Terrace, northeast of Tampa, and graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Communications.

"Lauren's role is to expand Working Women through out the state,'' says Rivelli. “She'll be traveling regularly to grow chapters and get talented professionals involved. I'm very excited to have her on board.''

Tice has a background in networking and communications, having previously served as Coordinator of Member Services for the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce for close to five years. More recently, Tice worked as events manager and eventually director of The Regent, a special events and performance venue in Riverview, southeast of Tampa.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Jessica Rivelli, Working Women of Tampa Bay
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