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New Interactive Tool Helps High Schools Track Financial Aid Applications

Less than half of high school seniors in Florida complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which helps determine their qualifications for college financial assistance. A new online tool aims to help schools change that, and ultimately increase the number of students who enroll in college.

The Florida FAFSA Finish Line was created by Florida College Access Network (FCAN), a Tampa-based nonprofit whose mission is to improve college and career preparation for Florida students. The tool allows schools, researchers and other educational stakeholders to monitor the number of 12th graders who complete the FAFSA. The data is extracted from the U.S. Department of Education and Florida Department of Education for the 2011 – 2012 and 2012-2013 school years.

"If students don’t have money, they don’t have access to college regardless of their academic preparation. We want to be able to use the data in a more dynamic way and create a platform for other people throughout the state to use and interact with it," says Troy Miller, senior researcher and policy analyst at the FCAN and creator of the tool.

The interactive map is searchable by indicators such as school name, city and county and provides information at the school level such as percentage of low-income students and graduation rate.

The FAFSA is an important tool in the college application process because it alerts students to financial aid available -- both in the form of loans and free Pell grants. A growing population of students in Florida demonstrate financial need (during the 2012-13 school year, 59 percent of K-12 students were eligible for free and reduced lunch), but studies have shown that many don’t fill out the application because they don’t think they will qualify for aid.

The Florida FAFSA Finish Line is intended to be a resource for schools to track and monitor their own progress with helping high school seniors complete the FAFSA. They can also compare themselves with other schools to identify areas where they can improve.

"We want to provide useful, local, targeted data to raise the importance about the FAFSA," says Miller, adding that the data is timely, and taken from the most recent school year (February through June 2013).

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Troy Miller, FCAN

Tampa Native Creates Wallet With Slim Design

The Snapback Wallet was designed with minimalists in mind. With space for 10 credit cards, as well as receipts and cash, the wallet is made of stretchy elastic that can be carried on a wrist or in a pocket or purse.

The concept was developed by Nick Augeri, a Tampa native and University of South Florida graduate, who was frustrated with the lack of quality wallets in a slim size that would hold cards, cash and receipts. After Internet and retail searches came up blank, he decided to start sewing. "I had some terrible prototypes at first," laughs Augeri.

The product development involved a great deal of searching for the perfect elastic, as well as enlisting the help of his mother, an experienced seamstress. Once the design was perfected, he found a manufacturer located in Melbourne. All in all, the process took approximately five months from idea to final execution.

"There’s a lot that goes into making a product that I had no idea about," says Augeri. He learned, for instance, that the country of origin has to be on every product, as well as the nuances involved with shipping.

Augeri launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to make the first products. The campaign recently exceeded the initial $10,000 goal. He plans to launch two new colors if $15,000 is raised by the end of the campaign on September 27.

He contributes social media channels with helping him spread the word, as well as USF marketing professor Bob Pecoraro for giving him the guidance and direction needed to get the business started.

Augeri hopes to eventually turn the company into a full-time job, selling the wallets both online and in retail establishments.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Nick Augeri, University of South Florida

Granex Opens Manufacturing Facility, Adds 50+ Jobs In Tampa

New and emerging stone processing company Granex, Inc. is beginning construction on its new manufacturing facility and will create new jobs for more than 50 new employees. Over the next four months, the company will add crane operators, machine handlers, office administration, marketing specialists and accounting team members.

Granex specializes in processing dimensional stones like granite and marble. By sourcing stone from several different countries and importing them directly into the United States for processing here, it essentially creates a new industry segment for domestic engineering of distinct stones.

"It’s a new kind of industry. This industry will bring the Tampa Bay area onto the world map of manufacturing cities. We will be importing from almost 40 different countries, and we will proudly put Made in USA," says Granex President Raj Emandi.

The opening of the new northeast Tampa manufacturing facility is a part of a $6 million capital investment that will provide a place to process the direct imports, attracting American buyers while presenting a significant cost-savings alternative to purchasing from other countries.

"We are producing huge blocks of granite and marble stone and cutting them in America," says Emandi.

After production, Granex will also begin exporting to other countries including Europe, and Central and South America.

The company is obtaining final permitting for construction of the new facility, will complete construction within four months, and will go straight into production.

Emandi’s goals are to create a wholesome environment for employees by introducing them to the new jobs, offering training, and positioning them for long-term growth with the company's specialized services.

Granex’ growth plans include targeting $8 to $12 million sales within the first two years, expanding the capability and volume of the company and increasing sales, further creating additional job growth.

"Within two years, we will be increasing the capacity of the company by adding a few more machines. We are anticipating to double sales and add more jobs," says Emandi.

For more information on unique business partnerships or career opportunities, visit Granex online or call 813.874.8400.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Raj Emandi, Granex

CopyPress Grows, Adds 5+ Jobs In Tampa

In the last two years, Tampa-based content creation and marketing firm CopyPress has grown significantly, adding creative writers, artists, designers and videographers to create content and multimedia capabilities for their clients.

After developing a successful product for another company, CEO Dave Snyder spun the prototype out as a “content mill” in 2011, launching CopyPress and pairing clients with creative writers to develop relevant and meaningful content for their project needs. The company has since adapted its model, delivering tailored, fresh content solutions designed to drive traffic for their clients.

"In 2011, we had to look at what we were doing from a business perspective, and we started going towards the realm of higher quality content," says Snyder.

In 2012, the company grew from 5 to 12 in-house employees and 100 contract creative writers, while merging with another group that focused on publishing.

"We started to really re-create what we were doing. When we made a big change to our current model in 2012, we didn’t know if we would be around for the next few months. But with a little bit of foresight and a lot of love -- but also the camaraderie and our culture here -- it really helped build up where we are now where people really hold each other accountable," says Snyder.

Focused on fine-tuning their content marketing and publishing process, the company developed a Content Life Cycle that matched creative writers with publishers, then further matching them with advertisers. This effectively offered advertisers the ability to create memorable, shareable content while offering publishers the ability to reach their demographic.

From 2012 to 2013, CopyPress grew its staff to 57 employees in-house and at least tripled sales in comparison to 2011 and 2012.

"We’ve been able to tap into what Tampa has -- its resources -- and really make the most of it, says Snyder. We train and put them on the path to professional development," says Snyder.

CopyPress plans to launch an open marketplace in 2014, a place where small businesses can go to connect with creatives in order to create the content necessary to grow a specific area of their businesses. The company now has 200 Certified Creatives and plans to grow to 500 over the next 12 months.

For more information on career opportunities with CopyPress, visit them online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Dave Snyder, CopyPress

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

JOLT Production School Assists Aspiring Filmmakers, Nonprofits

Two Tampa Bay nonprofits will benefit from the work of aspiring filmmakers and other Tampa Bay creatives.  

JOLT Production School completed its inaugural class of 15 students in July. Over the course of three intensive weekends, students spent time with teachers and mentors to learn the ins and outs of the film industry -- from conceptualization to full production.

The students worked in teams of six to develop pro bono public service announcements (PSA’s) for nonprofits in Tampa Bay. The process is very hands on, with the teams working with experienced mentors and visiting film studios to gain first-hand knowledge they might not be exposed to in other academic settings.

The nonprofit production school was founded by film professionals Chanse Chanathalansy and Pete Guzzo. Its mission is to mentor and teach aspiring film professionals while supporting local area nonprofits.

"We’re really trying to raise the production value and standards in the Tampa Bay market, as well as give back to our community," says Mike Compton, producer for JOLT Production School.

In doing so, JOLT hopes to bring more film industry businesses to Tampa Bay as well as produce more local talent that can be hired by large scale productions that film in the region. Currently, many companies are going outside of the area to find talent.

The nonprofits that will benefit from the inaugural class are Instruments of Change and the Tampa Theatre. The PSAs will be launched at a PSA Screening and Fundraiser, August 29, at 5 pm at the Tampa Theatre.

The process was a community partnership, with other creative businesses donating time and support, including PP+K, Greyhouse Films, First Unit Production Services, Red Gear Studios, WEDU, Digital Caviar.

JOLT Productions’ next class will begin in October.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Mike Compton, JOLT Productions

CGHJ Architects Grows, Adds 4+ Jobs In Tampa

For more than 30 years, Curts Gaines Hall Jones Architects, Inc. has built and followed a value system of innovation and trust relationships among staff and clients. The company is now experiencing significant market growth and is adding new architects to its 11-member team.

Between 2007 and 2009, private sector development of multifamily and high-end condominiums began to slip away -- hit hard during the economic climate shift -- significantly swaying the architectural and development community and forcing CGHJ to reduce the size of its staff of 55 team members by nearly 90 percent.

"That market practically disappeared, but that’s a market we see coming back strongly. Things are changing." says Bob Hall, Executive VP of CGHJ.

By Christmas 2012, new projects began to emerge and existing projects began further developments, indicating positive change and the call for additional team members. The firm has more than doubled its staff size in recent months.

"The beginning of 2013 was when the doors started to open. By the end of the first quarter, we started looking at each other realizing that the light of the end of the tunnel was getting brighter and it seemed like it was going to stay lit. All we’ve had since then has been more indication of that," says Hall.

CGHJ attributes much of the market growth to the resurgence and community interest in urban living. Developers and residents alike are moving to pre-recession lifestyle habits, seeking out properties that place them in the heart of the city.

"It’s happening in St. Petersburg very strongly and happening in Tampa more, where people are moving out of the suburbs and close to the city core. That’s a very exciting type of project," says Gerry Curts, President & CEO.

As the firm continues to identify additional market opportunities, staff will be added to accommodate project needs.

"We have a terrific staff of seasoned, experienced architects that are coming back on board. We focus on doing things right, and have a great reputation as a result," says Hall.

For additional information on hiring opportunities, visit CGHJ online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Gerry Curts and Bob Hall, CGHJ Architects, Inc.

New Leaders Council Launches In Tampa Bay

There's a new opportunity for progressive leaders who want to play a role in shaping the future of our region.

New Leaders Council (NLC), a national nonprofit organization, recruits, trains and promotes the next generation of political leaders – whether they be elected officials, trendsetters or simply civic-minded individuals. The goal is to identify people from outside the traditional arena and provide them with the training and mentoring needed to become civic leaders.

The newly formed Tampa Bay Chapter of NLC officially launches August 20.

"It’s about building capacity for people who want to make the community better," says Rafaela Amador, co-chair of the Board of Directors for the Tampa Bay Chapter.

The organization seeks leaders under the age of 40 who are interested in becoming a part of their fellows program. Each class of fellows will meet one weekend per month from January through May, where they will be exposed to speakers and topics ranging from fundraising to media engagement. The class will also select a community project. The focus is on the go-getters in the community who have a lot of energy, want to get involved but don’t know where to focus that energy.

"We want to take all ranges of different individuals and bring them together. The end goal is to have people graduate who want to make our community better and move it forward" says Justin Day, co-chair of the Board of Directors for the Tampa Bay Chapter.

Interested applicants apply online through the national organization, with the final selection process being handled locally.

"There are so many of us who want to do something but don’t have the network to do it.  Bringing us all together and making us aware of what’s happening is what Tampa needs," says Amador.

For more information, use this email.

Writer: Megan Hendicks
Sources: Rafaela Amador, Justin Day, New Leaders Council Tampa Bay Chapter

USF Grads Create New Approach To Online Giving

People interested in charitable giving now have a way to donate to Tampa Bay's hidden gems with complete transparency and assurance that 100 percent of their donation will be used for the intended purpose.

Track Your Effect features little known Tampa Bay charities that are in need of assistance. Opportunities to give run the gamut – from hay for abused horses to personal energy transportation vehicles for victims of landmines.

The website is the brainchild of recent University of South Florida graduates Todd Lincoln and Jason Scolaro, who met in a class through the MBA program. The inspiration came from their mutual frustration with charitable giving, especially as fake charities tend to pop up after national tragedies.  

"We can provide some great insight into how the money is spent and used, who it’s delivered to, and how it’s delivered," says Scolaro, Tampa native and USF MBA graduate, and co-founder of Track Your Effect.

The team meets with each charity to determine their unmet needs and then sets specific goals. They then create a web portal for the community to donate to the individual project. Once the goal is met, they purchase the items and deliver them directly to the charity, being able to show donors copies of receipts. Videos are created at the beginning and end of each project to add another layer of transparency for donors.

The team also hopes to raise awareness of nonprofits that may have flown under the radar but are doing good work and have real needs. The first project raised enough money to buy over 6,500 diapers for families in need through Lithia-based Blessed Bottoms.  

"We hope this will increase charitable giving in the community, and inspire more do-gooders." says Lincoln, Track Your Effect co-founder and USF Masters in Entrepreneurship graduate.

Track Your Effect is part of a larger project called Transparency Initiative led by Scolaro and Lincoln. The two intend to take the idea of transparency to the next level and provide clarity into other processes that are not so clear, such as the political sector.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Todd Lincoln, Jason Scolaro, Track Your Effect

Hackerspace Builds A Community Home In Tampa

How would you like to use a 3D printer to turn a wild invention into a working prototype? At Tampa Hackerspace, this kind of dream will soon be a reality.

Sufficient funding for the group's founding members to set up shop at CoWork Tampa was met in early August.

Working under a "short deadline to make it happen,'' founder Bill Shaw explains, the group appealed to Facebook members to help raise enough initial revenue to secure their new space, a large open-floor plan venue on the ground floor of the West Tampa building.

Education is the primary goal of the Tampa Hackerspace, says Shaw, founder of nonprofit Inspiration Labs. Shaw hopes to "build a community of people who like to experiment and tinker.'' 

Along with offering free classes and facilities where individuals and groups can work on projects, Tampa Hackerspace will house "equipment that's mostly too expensive for people to purchase on their own. We'll have 3D printers, laptop location equipment, soldering stations -- there will be a lot of things that people can come to use as members,'' Shaw explains.

Classes will be taught by members and the curriculum will be regulated by member interest, but Shaw notes that the Tampa Hackerspace hopes to bridge the gap between a "hackerspace and a makerspace.''

He emphasizes, "The type of audience that we're targeting are people who are into the do-it-yourself thing -- and not just traditional 'hardware' people. We have a pretty large number of people now who are into electronics and robotics and technology, and I think we have the potential to bring in members who enjoy different types of art projects, like the Tampa Bay Steampunk Society.''

Classes will also cover a broad range of topics: "Technology is not the only component; there's a large creative side to what we're trying to accomplish, as well,'' Shaw explains.

The group relies on the community it brings together, with "a small amount of revenue from classes,'' Shaw says, to raise enough funds for furnishings, equipment, and consumable resources.

"Primarily, our revenue will come from members. … There are a lot of other operating expenses now that we've secured the space,'' explains Shaw, "but CoWork Tampa has been really supportive in helping us make it work. And as we grow, we'll be improving equipment and adding new things to make it more valuable as a member.''

Tampa Hackerspace will offer 24/7 access to "keyholder'' members for $100 monthly, while lower-priced options are also available. Meetings, which Shaw hopes will becomes a weekly occurrence as Hackerspace finds footing, are open to the public.

Over 35 participants attended the group's second meeting. The next Tampa Hackerspace event will be held tonight (Aug. 20), at 7:00 PM, at 3104 N Armenia Ave.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Bill Shaw, Inanimate Reason, Inc.

ODC Construction Acquires Farro Construction, Adds 50 Jobs In Tampa

Orlando-based shell construction contractor ODC Construction recently expanded its service market and acquired Tampa-based Farro Construction. The expansion brings about an integrated team of more than 500 construction experts, with plans to add 50 more skilled construction laborers by December 2013.

"This was a one-of-a-kind opportunity for both companies,'' says CEO Isaac Lidsky. "Integrating Farro Construction into ODC Tampa will guarantee ODC’s industry-leading service and quality as we continue to grow in that market.''

In June 2011, Lidsky and a team of partners acquired ODC Construction and began to set an ambitious expansion plan in motion -- including developing new projects and strengthening business relationships in Tampa Bay.

By mid-2012, ODC had launched its Tampa division which quickly grew from 2 employees to more than 100.

After developing a successful business partnership with Mike Farro, founder of Farro Construction, ODC saw a unique opportunity to further develop the Tampa market while integrating the expertise of Farro Construction’s team to continue ODC’s rapid growth.

"Farro Construction has a great reputation as a shell contractor in Tampa -- they’ve been doing it for years. We got to talking with Mike, and it was a remarkable situation. I think it was meant to be," says Lidsky.

With home prices having risen 15 percent in Tampa -- 11 percent over the last year -- ODC’s expansion plans include further cultivating the Tampa market to produce continual solid company-wide growth.

"Construction is really leading a broader economic recovery. The new home market in Tampa is a phenomenal and obvious place to be," says Lidsky.

The company additionally recently launched a new Carolina office based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Farro’s previous experience in the Charlotte market will only add value to ODC as the company continues to move forward in its growth strategy. Farro is now ODC Charlotte’s construction manager.

"I know we will do great things together. We’re just getting started," says Lidsky.

For more information on career opportunities or unique business partnerships, visit ODC’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Isaac Lidsky, ODC Construction

USF College Of Pharmacy, CoreRx Develop Market-Ready Talent

The University of South Florida College of Pharmacy and Clearwater-based CoreRx recently received a $200,000 grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor designed to train students to meet local demand for pharmaceutical careers.

Pharmaceutical companies in Tampa Bay historically have had to look outside of the region to find talent, from pharmaceutical hubs such as New Jersey or Michigan. USF’s long-term goal is to create a hub in Tampa Bay so companies can find the talent they seek.

"We create the talent right here and then the students get the opportunity to get into positions where they can create opportunity and build leadership," says Srinivas Tipparaju, assistant professor at USF’s College of Pharmacy. "We want to be in the forefront of what’s going on in the industry."

CoreRx provides drug development from the pre-formulation stage all the way through to manufacturing. The grant will allow for multidisplinary collaboration among USF’s College of Pharmacy and College of Engineering, providing undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to work with CoreRx’s scientists through hands-on projects and internships. The cross-college collaboration helps address the need for a more highly skilled workforce in STEM fields.

Among other things, students will learn about the development of drug delivery systems, the functionality of ingredients found in modern drugs and techniques involved with quality control. Students will also be challenged to use technology to develop new solutions that will overcome current issues with drug delivery systems.

The idea is for students to be market-ready, with no lag time in transitioning from an academic setting into industry.

The program is initially for one year, but long term goals are to extend it beyond that, and eventually develop patentable technologies.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Soure: Srinivas Tipparaju, USF College of Pharmacy

Where Love Grows: Meals Reconnect Tampa Families

A family is anyone under your roof for a day or a lifetime.

That’s the motto of Where Love Grows, a Tampa-based nonprofit with the mission of enriching families so they may in turn enrich themselves.

The organization was founded in 2012 by Vicki Anzalone, who moved to Tampa from New Jersey six years ago seeking warmer weather to help her fibromyalgia.

The inspiration came from watching her two sons, Chase and Chad, help their friend raise his son, Cam. Cam was being raised by single parents who had no extended family in the area. Anzalone watched the "it takes a village" concept come to life as Cam’s family became a network of his parents’ friends, who would often gather around the dinner table for laughs and good conversation.

The most recent initiative is Victoria's Good Table. Inspired by Anzalone’s grandmother, Victoria, the program provides a safe dinner table for hungry children in the Tampa area.

"My best memories came from around the table," Anzalone recalls of growing up. Her idea is to create these memories for children who would not otherwise have them due to poverty.

Anzalone cooks the meals out of her own home with just a 4-burner electric stovetop and receives help from volunteers for the delivery and serving, feeding 70 – 130 kids at a time, mostly at the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay. Meals are served family style, while people engage in conversation.

 "I’ve been asked to cook and come live with many children," laughs Anzalone.

Victoria's Good Table has fed 800 kids in Hillsborough County since its launch in January. Anzalone has received support from organizations such as Feeding America Tampa Bay, Chobani and the Tampa Yankees, who recently donated tickets to the Field of Dreams event which fed 130 kids.

"I’ve been blessed to be able to serve, but what I get back in return outweighs any efforts or cost," says Anzalone.  
Future plans include larger scale events with parents in attendance.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Vicki Anzalone, Where Love Grows

Healthbox, Florida Blue Team Up To Create Jobs

Florida Blue is partnering with Chicago-based Healthbox to bring to Florida the platform designed to stimulate healthcare entrepreneurialism and expose the healthcare industry to innovative solutions.

Just two years old, Healthbox is experiencing significant growth, expanding to Boston and London with a mission to create opportunities for healthcare entrepreneurs while fostering broader system collaboration.

"We saw a need in the industry for more innovation. From that, we saw that entrepreneurs needed to be introduced to different groups within the healthcare industry, but we also wanted to learn from them and learn to grow within the context of the industry," says Healthbox Communications Manager Abbie Ginther.

Since the program's inception in 2012, 37 early-stage healthcare companies have received capital investments with more than 80 partnerships while creating nearly 20 new jobs.

"Success of startups lead to growth and infusion of capital which leads to economic development and job creation across the state. It is certainly something that will help spur the economic development statewide," says Les McPhearson, innovation and business development executive for Florida Blue.

With each new emerging local program, 10 healthcare startups are targeted to be selected into the program and receive $50,000 in seed capital in exchange for 7 percent equity.

"The exploration is a journey. There are insights and intelligence to be gained that can add value," says McPhearson. "It is a combination of a very disciplined and rigorous program to help these companies become successful and grow while providing them the opportunity to run their companies. We want to help them find that right balance to help them become successful.''

Florida's resilient healthcare entrepreneurial ecosystem paired with technological innovations and the incubation of startups presents an opportunity to capitalize upon regional growth opportunities that lead to economic stimulation and job creation.

"Florida poses some interesting dynamics that other regions don't face. Our hubs in Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, central and south Florida bring different dynamics around access to capital, research, acadamia, and entrepreneurial support. We view it as an opportunity to weave some of this together," says McPhearson.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Abbie Ginther, Healthbox; Les McPhearson, Florida Blue
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