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Travelogues In Tampa Feature Rocky Mountain, Everglades National Parks

Tampa Bay residents will have a chance to hear travel experiences depicted through photography and stories at Travelogues on Friday, June 7, from 7 to 9 pm at Cafe Hey in Tampa.

Travelogues, a mix of travel and monologue, have been represented in film and television for decades. The event series hosted by Vessel Collective started in Tampa Bay in January. Over 200 people have attended the events so far, which have included fun and insightful stories about travel experiences in India, Costa Rica, Macadonia and many areas of the United States.

"Cafe Hey is a great fit for the events, with its welcoming and community-oriented atmosphere," says Gina Moccio, founder of Vessel Collective.

Participants often share their stories and experiences as well, making it a truly collaborative experience.

The June 7 event will feature photographers Julie and James Branaman, who will share photographs taken during artist-in-residency programs at Rocky Mountain National Park and Everglades National Park. (Julie is managing photographer for 83 Degrees Media).

The Branamans decided to concentrate their efforts at Rocky Mountain on night photography, to feature the area in a different way than most people typically see it. The inspiration for this angle came from a quote by Enos Mills in the park ranger’s office: "By moonlight, the mountainous National Parks are enchanted lands. There is a serenity and a softness that is never known in its daylight."

Kristin Stigaard will also share stories from her travels to The Philippines, where she explored rice fields, ate and bartered at street markets, rode on horses and met her family for the first time. Stigaard will also provide a humble account of her first hand experience with third world poverty.

"“Everybody has travel stories," says Moccio. "It’s been really great to pull in these speakers that can come in and share."

The events take place the first Friday of every month, with different speakers each month.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Gino Moccio, Vessel Collective

Cardinal Solutions Group Expands, Adds 50 Jobs In Tampa

National IT solutions provider Cardinal Solutions Group is headed to Tampa Bay, expanding its operations to provide an extended level of support to its local client base. Plans call for the Tampa office to open in October 2013 and to grow from 10 employees to 50 over the next 36 months.

The firm is adding professionals having experience in MIS, IT, project management and business analysis.

"We are looking for people who are very dedicated and passionate about technology -- from recent graduates to senior-level employees," says Bill Nickley, director of business development for the Tampa office.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cardinal Solutions' portfolio touts a range of Fortune 500 companies, helping clients to build and deliver key software initiatives centered on mobile, cloud, social and data development solutions.

"Our customers want to work with a local firm, so new branch and new city expansions are a big element of our overall growth," says Chief Technology Officer Brandon Ebken.

Two years ago, Cardinal Solutions began to evaluate the next market in which to expand and deliver local client solutions. After researching cities throughout the Southeast and Midwest, Tampa Bay emerged as the number one place for the next expansion opportunity.

"We have a very healthy partner ecosystem that is encouraging the firm to go forward. We also have a very large list of employees who wanted to go for that next challenge," says Ebken.

As the firm presses toward the opening of the Tampa office this fall, the goal is to draw upon local interest and expertise in cloud, mobile, social and business intelligence while strategically collaborating and partnering with technology networks to introduce innovative IT solutions to the Tampa Bay market.

Cardinal Solutions partnered with Microsoft in May to host a case study focused on the benefits and business drivers behind moving to the cloud as well as the development and deployment of business-critical applications. The firm is hosting a Project Server 2013 seminar at the Microsoft Office on July 18th.

"All the information we collected on the area’s economic environment lined up with what we were looking for, and we have been very successful working together with Microsoft field sales and partner teams throughout the Southeast," says President Kelly Conway..

For information on hiring opportunities, visit Cardinal Solutions' website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Kelly Conway, Brandon Ebken, Bill Nickley, and Erin Stanley, Cardinal Solutions Group

The Green Can Collects Recyclables At Tampa Bay Apartments

A Tampa-based company has found an economically viable way to help the environment.

The Green Can places large green recycling containers in the shape of a soda can in apartment complexes and other high traffic areas. Described as "the perfect marriage of economic and social responsibility," the cans have a triple benefit: they make it easy for people to recycle, they support charities through the donation of proceeds from recycling, and they benefit local businesses through advertising.

The idea came about when CEO and Founder Dennis Gallagher was working as a painter for apartment complexes. He noticed that none of them did any recycling, which he found odd. After crunching the numbers he realized the reason was probably economical, since the proceeds from recycling would only pay for the process itself. It was then that he came up with the idea of adding advertising to the process, to make the business profitable.

"To sweeten the deal, we donate the proceeds from the recycling, so everyone can benefit," says Gallagher.

There are currently around 200 cans at 130 locations in the Greater Tampa area. The company is expanding into Pinellas this week with the same of its first franchise to Boley Centers, a nonprofit that services the homeless, youth and those with mental disabilities in the Tampa Bay region.

Gallagher recently designed a cap for the containers to keep the water out and plans to start collecting clothing donations soon.

Close to one million cans have been recycled in roughly a year’s time, with an estimate of 4,000 pounds of aluminum and plastic being recycled each month.

The Green Can is one of 13 local businesses honored recently with The University of Tampa’s Earth Charter Sustainable Business Awards.The awards were based on three criteria: people (employee and community wellbeing), planet (environmental health) and profit (economic viability).

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Dennis Gallagher, The Green Can

Gulf Coast Commercial Expands, Adds Jobs In Tampa

Commercial real estate and business brokerage firm Gulf Coast Commercial, LLC (GCC) is on the move, expanding their corporate offices and adding real estate agents, business brokers, marketing analysts and administration to their 11-member team.

"We moved our corporate headquarters to Ybor because we have every intention to expand our staff, and this was a unique opportunity to occupy space within Ybor City. It’s historic Tampa and there are quite the amenities that are proving to be a good pool to attract talent here in the market," says Scott Dobbins, founder and managing partner at GCC.

In just a few short months, the firm added seven new agents and has settled into their chic, new 4,000-square-foot Centro Ybor digs. GCC will also retain their St. Petersburg office as a satellite location.

Traditionally focused on providing retail real estate services to regional and national retailers, GCC’s growth spurt is fueled by a unique blend of cyclical market changes and strategic investment opportunities.

As the real estate market experienced economic downturn, several of GCC’s clients approached the firm with requests to help sell their existing businesses or to find like businesses for them to acquire.

"It really jumped us into 12 to 18 months of underwriting the business brokerage business -- we hadn’t done it before," says Dobbins.

GCC struck up a partnership with Corporate Investments International (CII), the oldest business brokerage firm in the state of Florida, which had locations in Orlando, Jacksonville, and south Florida but no presence on the west coast of Florida. The strategic collaboration resultantly established CII Gulf Coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of GCC and the firm’s new business brokerage division.

"We are seeing synergies back and forth that are very exciting to us. What we’re seeing is a positive trend with business sales and business acquisitions," says Dobbins.

The firm is now concentrating on developmental opportunities and investments in up-and-coming markets like the west coast of Florida.

"The west coast has a lot of attributes that will lead to very positive population growth. We have a real potential to double in population in the next 15 years. With that population, it leads to infrastructure and jobs."

GCC also identifies “leading edge indicators” of three types of buyers emerging within the targeted growth areas:

    •    Retirement 2.0: Baby boomers with a shifted view of traditional retirement who have had their nest-eggs shrink are now buying businesses, therefore creating jobs for themselves or families.

    •    The Lost Generation: Post-college graduates with unconventional employment opportunities are adding parents as investors and growing businesses organically.

    •    International Community: Foreign investors are purchasing local businesses and effectively receive citizenship through various visa programs that are available to them.

"We are converging upon affordability, lifestyle, climate, and a younger group coming in. Couple that with the population growth, and we think it is a recipe for success -- both in our commercial real estate business and in our business brokerage business," says Dobbins.

Within 18 months, GCC plans to add a regional office in southwest Florida.

For information on hiring opportunities visit Gulf Coast Commercial’s website.

Written By: Kaye Brown
Sources: Scott Dobbins, Gulf Coast Commercial, LLC

M-ize Launches My Products App, Adds Jobs In Tampa

Temple Terrace-based consumer and brand experience start-up M-ize has officially launched its new My Products mobile app, designed to enhance customers’ purchasing experience by connecting them to brands, family and friends via mobile and social networks.

Earlier this year, M-ize opened a 30-member development center in Hyderabad, India, and is now adding designers, software engineers, sales consultants, product managers, data architects and interns to grow their headquarters in Temple Terrace.

Kick-started in May 2012, M-ize was founded by entrepreneur and TiE Tampa Bay Charter Member Ashok Kartham after successfully developing a platform for 4CS, a service life-cycle management firm for high-end industrial products.

Kartham utilized the same life-cycle management concept, but custom-tailored it to the growing mobile and lifestyle needs of consumers. He created M-ize to focus on bringing smarter consumers together to connect them to products, community, advice and technical support by leveraging mobile, social, cloud and analytic technologies.

The new My Products app is a two-ended network where consumers can plug into any given brand’s products while being connected to trends, customer reviews and product information that is valuable to making significant purchasing decisions.

"The key is placing everything about products in a single, digestible format. We give you the big picture and also give you a more intimate picture by allowing you to ping your social network. It’s a more personalized picture," says CMO Bruce Burke.

The My Products app also connects consumers directly to a brand’s support, services and necessary accessories post-purchase.

The advantage for brands? Aggregation of customers during different stages of the purchasing process. The new app also integrates Smart Block for companies, where brands receive the benefit of utilizing the existing app platform while allowing them to customize their theme and share their tailored brand messaging to customers using the app.

"We currently have about one million products in the app. It’s the first generation of what will be a much larger community ecosystem that supports it," says Burke.

M-ize has already launched Support Me, a consumer-end app giving customers access to product support from anywhere.

Both M-ize and key team members are socially and technologically invested in Tampa Bay as well as the firm’s growth and innovation.

Kartham recently invested in the new Feathr app, designed to enhance networking connections at business events. Burke has been selected to receive Google Glass, and plans to utilize key innovations, trends, and technologies to help enhance the consumer experience for M-ize app users.

"Sometimes things come together because people are actually communicating with each other," says Burke.

For information on hiring opportunities and unique business partnerships, visit M-ize’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Bruce Burke, M-ize

Tampa Company Aims To Help You Organize Online Experience

In today's digital world, it can be difficult to keep track of emails, social networks and files in one place. KiteDesk has developed a cloud-based application to address this need and help individuals and companies better organize their online space.

Launched in December 2011, the application links content from user accounts, allowing for real time integration, aggregation and personalized information streams. By integrating multiple sources of data, customers have access to complete and up-to-date information that is easily accessible through multiple portals.

KiteDesk is one of 18 Florida-based companies (five in Tampa Bay) that will be pitching at the Florida Venture Forum Early Stage Conference in Orlando May 15. They are attempting to fund expansion, which will include strategic hiring in sales and marketing.

The company's founders, Jack Kennedy and Jared Rodriguez, have been working together in the software start-up arena for over 15 years. They plan to remain in the Tampa Bay area because of the strong support network for entrepreneurs.

"We see a lot of really positive movement, both in terms of organizations that help us be a catalyst for innovation and funding as well as the great connections in terms of talent in the area," says Jack Kennedy, Tampa native and USF graduate, and current CEO of KiteDesk. "We think it’s an exciting place to be all around, from the ability to hire and the costs to run a business."

The company will be launching a new product that focuses on social customer relationship management (CRM) within the next few months. The product will help companies mine information from employee relationships to create warm introductions to prospective customers.

Long term plans include additional product offerings in the social business arena, including a recruiting based platform. "Our intention is to stay in Tampa and grow in this community," says Kennedy.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jack Kennedy, KiteDesk

Humana Adds 170 Telesales Jobs In Tampa

Humana is bringing several new jobs to Tampa Bay and is adding 170 full-time employees to its 500-member Medicare telesales team over the next two months.

The new jobs will support Humana’s Direct Marketing Services (DMS) call center at NetPark in East Tampa and will focus on meeting the increased demand and support needed during Medicare’s annual open enrollment period from October 15th to December 7th.

"These new jobs will ensure that we are well-positioned to offer world class enrollment support to the Medicare beneficiaries and those seeking enrollment assistance for individual health plans. We’re pleased that acting on our mission of helping people achieve lifelong well-being is leading to more job opportunities in Tampa Bay," says Khursheed Zafar, VP of direct marketing services for Humana.

The announcement comes just one month after Humana committed to hiring 100 health coaches and telephonic nurses to accommodate the needs of its growing chronic care management division, Humana Cares/Senior Bridge.

Humana’s newest job additions are permanent positions extending beyond the Medicare open enrollment period and are also part of the initiative to hire more than 500 telesales and client specialists throughout the country, including 80 in Miramar, FL. DMS specialists will receive paid training and insurance licensing and are expected to start working on-site between June 3rd and July 15th.

"When a company such as Humana is expanding in Florida, that’s a good sign. And these jobs will help folks in both Tampa and Miramar," says U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

DMS telesales and client specialists will focus on offering national support and enrollment assistance for Humana’s Medicare benefit plans and senior products while additionally helping customers find the best healthcare options available. As services have the potential to change from year to year, it is increasingly important for employees to be well-versed in Humana’s healthcare services.

Humana’s expansion throughout Tampa Bay further solidifies Tampa Bay’s position as a major healthcare market. The company employs more than 3,000 associates in the Tampa Bay area and close to 6,000 throughout Florida.

"We are a major player in the Medicare Advantage market in Florida. We have 700,000 Medicare Advantage members in Florida, and we’re growing," says Nancy Hanewinckel, east region media relations manager.

For information on hiring opportunities, visit Humana’s career services website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Khursheed Zafar and Nancy Hanewinckel, Humana; Senator Bill Nelson, U.S. Senate

Second-Stage Companies Find Advice At Tech Talk In Tampa

Tampa Bay Innovation Center (TBIC) is hosting a panel of CEOs from local second-stage companies at the May TECH Talk program on May 14 in Tampa.

While opportunities seem to abound for companies just getting off the ground, second-stage companies (or, those with $1 million to $25 million in revenue and 10-15 employees) often find themselves seeking mentoring and other resources to assist with their unique challenges.

"It's a pivitol point for a company," says Danielle Weitlauf, new venture manager for TBIC. "It's often make it or break it when you get to that level."

It's also a point where a lot of job growth occurs, and with a large number of Tampa Bay companies in this stage the opportunities are tremendous. May’s TECH Talk will highlight the importance of these companies to the region while providing success stories to help both those starting out and those in the second-stage.

Panelists from Mercury New Media, Seibert Insurance Agency and CBT Development Corporation will share their stories about the growing pains and unique challenges of second-stage companies, such as attracting and retaining quality employees, positioning yourself for growth, and how to work ON your business instead of IN your business – removing yourself from the day to day details in order to move your business forward.  

TBIC is the local provider for the statewide Grow Florida program for economic gardening at the University of Central Florida, which aims to support these companies to get them to the next step. TBIC’s Economic Gardening program also provides companies with technical assistance to help with business strategy and roundtable events to discuss business management with peer CEOs.

Applications are currently being accepted for the next group of participants in TBIC’s Economic Gardening program.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Danielle Weitlauf, Tampa Bay Innovation Center

USF Heart Institute Opens New Genomics Laboratory In Tampa

Did you know your genetic makeup can predict your risk for disease, severity of certain diseases and how they will respond to treatment?

The University of South Florida (USF) Heart Institute is opening a genomics laboratory on May 14 that will use state-of-the art technology and equipment to study this unique, personalized approach to medicine.

The 7,550-square-foot space is located on the fifth floor of the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and will house technology-heavy laboratories to conduct intensive research on regenerative medicine, genomics (DNA analysis), personalized medicine and heart disease prevention and treatment.

Rather than a traditional trial and error or "one drug fits all" approach, personalized medicine uses individual physiology and genetic makeup to determine the best treatment options.

"The way medicine is practiced today, we don’t take advantage of this wealth of information that can be obtained from someone’s genetic makeup," says Dr. Stephen Liggett, vice dean of research for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. Dr. Liggett was brought to USF in June of 2012 specifically to develop a program to work on genetic medicine.

The lab was funded by a combination of $8.9 million in funding from the State of Florida and Hillsborough County. Additional funding is being sought to build a larger, stand-alone Heart institute. Future plans for the genomics lab include working with The Villages retirement community in Tampa to gather information from their electronic medical records.

USF plans to hire seven additional faculty and post-doctoral fellows as well as technicians to work in the space.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Dr. Stephen Liggett, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

TIE Investors Back Event Networking Mobile App

A group of investors in Tampa Bay is backing a new app designed to better facilitate networking connections at business events.

Four members of the Tampa Bay chapter of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, recently invested in a 20 percent ownership of Feathr, a start-up created by former University of Florida students Aidan Augustin and Neal Ormsbee. The mobile app is designed to create better connections during events and conferences by serving as a virtual business card. It provides profiles and contact information for speakers, exhibitors and attendees, allowing people to connect instantly for meaningful communications. It also provides real-time schedule and room updates as well as logistical information about the event.

"Feathr has assembled a very talented team to build a mobile app to revolutionize the age old practice of business card exchange," says Ashok Kartham, TiE Tampa Bay Charter Member and board member for Feathr.

TiE Tampa Bay was founded in 2012, and is part of a global organization with 25,000 members in 17 countries. The organization provides local entrepreneurs with connections, education, mentoring and financial support. There are 22 charter members who provide most of the investment funding. The group is also open to general members, most of whom are local entrepreneurs and business owners taking advantage of the expertise.

The philosophical foundation’s primary goal is to nurture and invest in up-and-coming companies with good ideas. Quarterly pitch sessions provide general members with a chance to have their idea heard in front of potential investors.

"We hope the Tampa chapter can make a huge difference in helping to grow tens if not hundreds of businesses in Tampa and Florida in the coming months and years," says Kartham.

TiE has already helped Feathr with product repositioning and marketing and billing and accounting systems. The app will be launched at VenturePitch Orlando on May 7.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ashok Kartham, TiE Tampa Bay

Universal Window Solutions Adds Six Jobs, Sarasota

As a result of strategic business development objectives, Universal Window Solutions (UWS) has successfully expanded their operations, staff and facilities to accommodate their continuous growth. The company recently hired six new employees, invested in new service equipment, and is adding six more team members within the next six months.

After brothers Bob and Rocky Smith purchased UWS in 2000, the Sarasota-based company grew from exclusive windows and doors installation experts to a full-service distributor of windows, doors, store fronts, window films and hurricane protection products for builders, architects and homeowners.

UWS recently expanded its facility space, transitioning from a 10,000-square-foot space to a 25,000-square-foot space complete with a brand new 10,000-square-foot customer design center. The company’s original design center was a showroom where builders sent homeowners to make product selections on windows and doors for new construction projects.

"We felt like if we increased the number of products that we showed, we can enhance the experience even further," says CEO Bob Smith.

Five years ago, the company started a retail division targeting homeowners and strategically focused their efforts on growing the new line of business.

"It was a natural fit. We already had the products and services in place and started gearing our efforts toward that business. It was extremely successful and is now about 40 percent of our total sales," says Smith.

As a result of creating the design center, coupled with calculated development objectives, business grew tremendously, and the company added additional lines of business including a door shop to focus on making doors instead of purchasing them,'' Smith says. "It gave us control over quality and lead time while improving our margin."

The firm has expanded to offer exterior and interior door solutions as well as windows and pre-finished siding for homeowners and builders, extending a cost-savings to customers and allowing clients to make the majority of their project selections in one place.

"We’ve been fortunate that the products we’ve selected have been well-received by our existing customers, and it’s also drawing new customers."

Several of UWS’ manufacturers and trade partners are anticipating and encourage the company’s additional growth. "They are seeing their market share increase as we have success," says Smith.

The company is now eyeing Tampa and Naples as possible marketplaces to focus their newest expansion initiatives.

"We are having more fun with this business model than we’ve ever had before. The methodology is applicable as a business model to pick to up and drop it in a new location."

For information on hiring, products and services, visit UWS’ website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Bob Smith, Universal Window Solutions

USF Professor Connects Careers In Healthcare, STEM For Women

Grisselle Centeno, Associate Professor at the University of South Florida’s Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, is applying case studies and other active learning tools to encourage more women to enter into STEM careers.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, women are more likely to enter into a career in healthcare than engineering. This could be because, due to the predominantly male field, women may not see a clear career path in engineering. Traditional careers also may not give women the impact on society they often seek.

Centeno is putting these theories to the test with a series of in and out of the classroom experiences to help all students, but especially women, understand how they can apply their engineering knowledge to healthcare-related problems. As a result of the case studies she has implemented in the classroom, several female students have decided to pursue careers as engineers in healthcare/social services as well as become researchers to address opportunities in the healthcare environment.

"If women could understand that they could have an impact on healthcare from an engineering perspective, they would be more engaged and motivated to follow a degree in engineering and join the workforce," says Centeno.

Centeno recently received a $5,000 Faculty Research Award from Women in Leadership and Philanthropy at USF to support her efforts. The award will be used to invite female engineers who work in healthcare environments to campus to interact with faculty, students and the administration.  

Centeno is also developing more case studies with local partners, such as Moffitt Cancer Center and the Veterans Administration to provide real world application.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Grisselle Centeno, University of South Florida

Stantec Grows, Adds Civil Engineering Jobs, Tampa

Infrastructure design consultant firm Stantec is growing its employee base and strengthening services in the Florida marketplace, having acquired civil engineering, land planning and surveying firm Greenhorne and O’Mara in late 2012. Stantec has since experienced significant statewide growth, and plans to add a land planner and GIS specialist to its 85-member team in Tampa.

In early April, Stantec consolidated the two offices, merging staff from the former Greenhorne and O’Mara office into Stantec’s historical Ybor City workspace.

"We’re excited to welcome our newest colleagues to our historic building in this vibrant neighborhood. Step one is integrating the two teams into one. The go-forward part is completing our current work and looking for opportunities to grow our practice," says David Kemper, senior principal and manager of Stantec’s Tampa office.

Since the acquisition, Stantec Tampa is looking to strengthen its three core service areas in urban land development, power and transportation design while capitalizing on the transportation market locally, particularly in design-build projects.

The acquisition created a window of opportunity -- adding more employees per core service area and broadening their capabilities, therefore giving Stantec a competitive edge and depth as they compete in significant FDOT and private sector projects.

"Our projects are largely qualification-based. Having a stronger, more qualified team gives us the ability to compete for larger-scale projects," says Kemper.

Kemper is now focused on utilizing the expertise and strength of the urban land division as well as the planning and landscape architecture division, effectively helping to grow the transportation practice while complimenting Stantec’s private sector practice.

"We’re optimistic that we’ll continue to be in a growth mode. Our goal is to grow the staff and get to the 100 mark. We’re committed to growing our Tampa practice -- we’re here for the long haul."

For information on hiring opportunities visit Stantec’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: David Kemper, Stantec

USF Student Makes Cosmetics From Moroccan Oil Plant

Chafik Abdellaoui has always considered himself an entrepreneur. Originally from Morocco, he first came to the United States in 2008 to pursue a BA in business. After traveling and launching a website in France, he returned to the U.S. in 2011 to attend the University of South Florida. He graduates this spring with an MBA degree.

Abdellaoui's mother was a beauty professional for many years, owning a spa in Casablanca, Morocco. Seeing his mother's success gave him the inspiration to get into the business himself.

In March 2012, Abdellaoui launched Prettymanagement.com, an online solution that allows beauty salon and spa managers to manage their customers, inventory, staff and marketing.

In March of this year, he started another company by the name of Pretty Argan. The cosmetics company produces organic, all-natural products using argan oil, a plant oil extracted from the kernel of the argan tree in the Souss Valley of Morocco.

The oil is extracted from the argan fruit, which grows on a 200-year-old tree that only grows in that part of the world. Women in a local cooperative pick the fruit, break the kernel inside and extract the oil from the kernel by hand.

Abdellaoui and his fiance discovered the oil while traveling to the Souss Valley. They noticed the Berber people there used it for almost everything – their skin, hair, food and some medicinal purposes. The oil is very popular in Europe, but isn’t as well known in the United States. Abdellaoui decided to dive in and launch a company to increase awareness of the benefits of the oil in the U.S. The oil is imported from Morocco, and the products are formulated and marketed in Tampa Bay.  

"I enjoy the entrepreneurial venture of trying to achieve something using my energy, time and investment," says Abdellaoui. He also likes that the company helps guarantee jobs for women in the Souss Valley.

Abdellaoui attributes the connections made while in the USF MBA program with helping him get the business launched. His graduate assistant position gave him direct access to the resources in the USF Center for Entrepreneurship. He also joined Tampa Bay WaVE’s roundtable and is using their co-working space.

"I'm trying to take advantage of as many resources as possible that are available to entrepreneurs in Florida," says Abdellaoui. "Tampa is a very good area because it does provide a lot of these resources."

Once becoming more established in Tampa, Abdellaoui plans to distribute Pretty Argan statewide and eventually across the nation.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Chafik Abdellaoui, Pretty Argan

DTCC Expands in Tampa, Adds 255 Jobs

New York based Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) has selected Tampa as the location to expand its operations, adding 255 high-wage jobs over the next three years at more than double the average regional salary of $46,000.

The company is also spending $4.8 million in capital expenditures dedicated to hiring initiatives, new equipment and the renovation of its 180,000-square-foot facility.

Since 2012, DTCC weighed in on several competing offers, considering both Tampa and Jersey City, NJ as locations to expand its financial processing and operations support center. The company will focus its expansion initiatives on adding information technology, infrastructure, operational, human resources and finance specialists.

Hiring will begin immediately, and over the next three years, DTCC will carry out additional hiring and facility renovations in phases.

“Our existing facility gives us the ability to continue to hire. As we continue to expand, we’ll have other support functions that need to grow as well,” says Eric Miller, managing director and head of DTCC Tampa.

The expansion project also includes $4 million in state and local incentives, including a $1.79 million Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund and $1.23 million from the Quick Action Closing Fund.

Nine years ago, as a post 9-11 security measure, DTCC planted a hub in Tampa as a larger business continuity strategy to protect critical financial operations and “decentralize the processing and operations support the firm provides to the global financial services industry.”

“This expansion aligns with DTCC’s workforce location and sourcing strategy and allows us to continue to provide our clients with exceptional service while meeting the needs for long-term sustainability,” says Miller.

DTCC Tampa has since grown from 300 to 530 employees, and cites Tampa Bay as a region with a great technological and veteran talent pool and a prime place to continue its growth while strengthening its local, state and educational relationships.

“Tampa is an excellent environment for businesses to grow and thrive, and it has proven to be the right choice for us.”

The firm has also joined the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a collaborative network of employers dedicated to hiring transitioning service members and military veterans by the year 2020. “We are working very closely with MacDill AFB to help with the training that is required to help transitioning veterans.” To date, 64,628 veterans have been hired through the initiative.

“DTCC has been positively impacting our community in many other ways as well by seeking out our retired military for many of these positions, working with our local universities and supporting disadvantaged schools and organizations in Tampa,” says City of Tampa Mayor Buckhorn.

For information on hiring opportunities, visit DTCC’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Eric Miller, DTCC and Mayor Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa
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