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RPE Expands to Pasco County, Adds 16 High-Tech Jobs

Retail Process Engineering made a major move to its new Devonwood office park location off State Road 54 in Pasco County, bringing 16 new high-tech jobs to the county with an average salary of $105,000 -- three times the county’s average wage.

"We recently renovated our office space to better serve our worldwide clients with the consulting and technical support they have come to expect from RPE. Shorter commute times for our corporate office staff and Pasco’s aggressive local incentives were two major reasons we chose to expand in Pasco County," says CEO Cliff Epstein.

Founded in 1999, RPE serves clients across the United States and Canada, specializing in delivering merchandising and supply chain consulting, technology and computing solutions to the needs of the retail industry.

"The retail economy is coming back. They were a little more conservative over the past few years, and now they are back to wanting to invest more on technology," says RPE’s Marketing Manager Jeanette Miller.

The company is currently hiring project managers, business development specialists and technology programmers having a significant level of experience in retail merchandising solutions, programming, technology and business consulting.

For the creation of each new job, RPE will receive a cash incentive of $5,000, payable over the next four years.

RPE has more than 100 current employees and also recently expanded its secure data center in Tampa.

Three other technology firms -- InvestCloud, Communication Concepts, Inc. and MB2x -- have moved to Pasco County over the past year.

"We’re thrilled about RPE’s decision to expand and bring high-wage jobs to Pasco County. Technology companies can operate from anywhere in the world, but thanks to Pasco’s strong sense of community and aggressive local incentives, they are choosing to do business in Pasco County,"  says John Hagen, president and CEO of Pasco Economic Development Council.

For information on career opportunities, contact RPE Solutions online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Cliff Epstein and Jeanette Miller, RPE; John Hagen, Pasco EDC

Absolute Mobile Solutions Combines Internships With Philanthropy

Real-world experience in internships and appreticeships in addition to classroom learning can greatly increase a student’s chance of finding gainful employment upon graduation. Internships are also good for the Tampa Bay region in that they encourage students to complete their college degrees and create a sense of belonging to the area, keeping talent local.

Absolute Mobile Solutions, a Tampa-based mobile app design and development company, is furthering this mission and helping the community with an internship program that supports local nonprofits.

The 10-week, paid program allows interns to experience the entire app design process from start to finish, beginning with the first customer meeting and a needs analysis to understanding the target audience and final solution delivery. The interns work with nonprofits, which receive the services free of charge.

Interns are given guidance and mentoring from internal experts within the company. During each phase of the process, they work directly with staff members who would cover that engagement with a paying client, making sure they participate and actively engage in the experience.

“We let them venture out of the safety of the classroom experience and actually engage,” says Alfred Goldberg, president of Absolute Mobile Solutions. “You have to give the interns the freedom to make some mistakes, but also to have successes and build confidence.”

One example is a recent project that provided a website resdesign for Westchase Foundation, which gives financial assistance to those in need.

Absolute Mobile Solutions hires interns from a variety of local colleges, including Hillsborough Community College, International Academy of Design and Technology , University of South Florida and The University of Tampa.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Alfred Goldberg, Absolute Mobile Solutions

EmbroidMe Adds 20 New Locations, 200+ Jobs in Tampa

EmbroidMe, a world leader in custom embroidery, screen printing and promotional products, has selected Tampa Bay for its next wave of expansion, adding 20 new locations that are expected to bring more than 200 professional jobs to the area.

It all began with Signarama, a custom brand signage franchise which has grown to more than 900 locations in 50 countries. In 2000, the EmbroidMe brand was added to create custom branded promotional solutions for businesses. With six different  brands under the United Franchise Group, businesses can grow their companies with brand solutions from outdoor advertising to convention planning to business brokerage and energy efficiency.

"We specialize in helping business from advertising to being more green. A lot of times our franchisees work together on providing solutions to businesses," says Erin Crawford, VP of Development.

The EmbroidMe brand has grown to more than 300 locations, with 200 in Florida and 15 abroad.

As the economy experienced a climate shift in recent past years, the company decided to focus its growth plan on strengthening its existing locations for long-term sustainability.

Now, the brand is opening up expansion and new franchise opportunities, centering its focus on the promotional products industry, which is one of the strongest forms of marketing for many businesses.

"We are not just an embroidery company; we are a full-service promotional marketing solutions partner. We’re growing and expanding throughout the United States, specifically in markets where we see things picking back up," says Crawford.

Over the next five years, EmbroidMe plans to add at least seven new locations in Tampa, four in St. Petersburg, and one in Clearwater. The new additions will call for up to five new employees per store which can grow to have up to 15 employees focused on production and sales.

"We have a strong presence in this area and in this market, so we have a heavy growth plan for the bigger markets in Florida -- like Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and south Florida," says Crawford.

For more information on franchising and career opportunities, visit EmbroidMe’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Erin Crawford, EmbroidMe & United Franchise Group

Bus Toll Lanes Offer Innovative Approach To Tampa Bay Transit

Hillsborough County may become home to a different kind of transit solution that involves toll roads, bus lanes and shared road space.

Bus toll lanes (BTL) are managed lanes that will be added to existing expressways, allowing express transit buses to transport large numbers of people and avoid road congestion. Cars and other vehicles will also be able to use the lanes on a toll basis, with cost varying by traffic flow.

The concept is being developed by a partnership between Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART). The partnership utilizes the strengths of each system, with toll roads providing the operations and maintenance and transit moving large numbers of people.

Although not a new concept, Hillsborough’s BTL financial model is innovative. Federal funds would be used for the initial construction, and toll revenue would then take over to pay for the operations and maintenance of the buses using the lanes. Excess revenue would be used to help fund future transit improvements, keeping the money local.

"It’s a local solution for local transportation problems," says Bob Frey, planning director for THEA. "It’s Hillsborough taking care of Hillsborough, and that, to me, is a positive."

A concept study funded by a federal grant was recently completed, which is now being broken down into segments to determine the best placement of the lanes. The partnership is currently evaluating a variety of roadway which will provide both good transit routes and toll roads. Once the location is determined, a pilot project will be implemented.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Bob Frey, THEA

USF Entrepreneurship Students Use Paper Clip For Charity

Teams of students in the New Venture Formation class at the University of South Florida (USF)’s Masters of Science in Entrepreneurship in Applied Technologies program were given a challenge: Start a business and see how far you can get using one paperclip. They had one week to do it.

The challenge, presented by Sean Lux, PhD, was based on One Red Paper Clip, a 2005 project by Kyle MacDonald in which he traded a red paper clip with random people, item by item, until he eventually received a house.

Given the timing of the challenge, the night after the government shut down, one team had an interest in doing something that would benefit people. The thinking was that people who may have donated to local charities in the past may not be able to do so because of lost wages and furloughs. They put up a web site using Go Fund Me to see how much money they could raise for Feeding America Tampa Bay.

The team used the paper clip as a symbol of tying people together, adding a double meaning with the title “clipping hunger.” They reached out to family, friends and used social media to spread the word. In just four days, they raised over $2,000, with donation amounts ranging from $1 to $1,000.

"We were absolutely overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity," says Summer Decker, PhD, a member of the student team, which also included Victor Florez, Kelly Heckinger and Ronald Solis. Decker is an assistant professor in USF’s Department of Radiology who enrolled in the program to become more entrepreneurial in the lab environment.

"As entrepreneurship students, we learned that having a really good, sound idea and a good story would help people feel excited and passionate about your project and your group," says Decker. The group also learned the value of networks, as the largest donor was someone Decker connected with during a previous class assignment which asked students to get in touch with someone they had not seen in a long time.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Summer Decker, USF

FIVE By FIVE Art Show Returns To Tampa Oct. 18

The Hillsborough County Arts Council is hosting its second annual FIVE by FIVE fundraiser on Friday, October 18, at the Tampa Museum of Art. 

The $10 entrance fee is an excellent deal for catching up on culture and to possibly walk away with a valuable piece of art.

"The Tampa area has great artists both visual and performing,'' says Terri Simons, Director of Programming for the Arts Council. "This is a night you can come to one location and see a variety of visual arts, but you can also see scenes from theater, performances by professional musicians, actors, poets and dancers throughout the evening.''

Benefiting the Arts Council's individual artist grants, the FIVE by FIVE international call-to-artists has brought in more than 700 pieces of original artwork fit concisely to the required five-inch-square surface (artists are also permitted to extend five inches in depth). The individual artist grants program has provided $640,335 to 390 individual artists since 1989. Last year's FIVE by FIVE event raised $9,625. "It's truly small art for a BIG cause,'' says Simons.

This uniquely mosaic exhibit will be displayed in the Tampa Museum of Art's Stephen Dickey Lecture Hall and each piece will be available for sale from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. for a flat price of $25 each. The pieces are displayed anonymously, only after purchase is the artist's name revealed.

The skill levels of participating artists range from beginning student to longtime professional. The organizers hope to encourage patrons to choose their art "democratically'' according to how it appeals to them visually, not by artist name.

Artwork submissions were largely from the greater Tampa Bay region, but a significant contribution came from artists around the nation and the world -- including pieces from as far away as Canada, the Ukraine Europe and Asia. 

Building on its inaugural success last year, which drew in a crowd of nearly 900, the surprisingly multidimensional event includes a powerful array of 38 professional performance artists donating their time, with five-minute performances non-stop throughout the night. Attendees can also avail themselves of the Tampa Museum of Art's current exhibitions during the event, which include the Modern Masters: Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, and Joan Miro as well as Fragile Waters: Photographs from Ansel Adams, Ernest H. Brooks II and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly.

New this year, and highly encouraged, is the availability to purchase tickets in advance to avoid cumbersome lines the night of the event.  Also, the exhibit will be maintained in its entirety until 9 p.m. so that guests will have the opportunity to view it as a whole before those purchasing the artwork will be permitted to leave with it.

Writer: Kendra Langlie
Source: Terri Simon, Hillsborough Arts Council

Amazon Deal Brings 1,000+ Jobs To Tampa Bay

Signed, sealed and delivered.

Amazon is set to open its newest fulfillment center in Ruskin, creating 375 new quality jobs having at least 115 percent of the state’s average wage. The new operation will bring more than 1,000 permanent jobs to Tampa Bay.

The expansion of Amazon into Florida will additionally create several hundred seasonal temporary employment opportunities as well as construction jobs.

"This is bigger than landing the Super Bowl, a national convention or the Olympics. It’s a mega-storm of growth that’s hitting our county with feeder bands that will create economic growth all over this area," says Commissioner Sandy Murman.

USAA Real Estate Co., a company that works with Amazon on the development of its distribution centers, and Ryan Companies US, Inc. reached an agreement late Wednesday, closing on the sale of land for the South Hillsborough County property that will house Amazon’s new distribution facility.

Amazon has signed a long-term lease with USAA for the South Shore Corporate Park property near Interstate 75 and State Road 674 in Ruskin. Construction of the fulfillment center will begin immediately.

The deal comes nearly four months after Amazon’s proposal to expand and create more than 3,000 jobs in Florida.

The company’s expansion project for the development of the center in Ruskin also includes a 3rd party investment of $200 million toward improvements and equipment, further increasing Amazon’s stock in the Tampa Bay market.

For additional information, visit Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Commissioner Sandy Murman, Hillsborough County

USF Energy Conference Designed To Be Conduit For Collaboration

A conference aimed at bringing together students, researchers, businesses and other members of the Tampa Bay community to network and exchange ideas on sustainable energy will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, in the University of South Florida's Marshall Center.

"IDEA: InterDisciplinary Exchange in Action'' is the name of both the conference and the student group organizing the event. A diverse mix of topics will be presented in the day-long conference, ranging from the emergence of "green'' computer networks to geothermal technology, energy-saving techniques for waste minimization, and the future of global sustainable societies.

"Our goal is to create an annual conference where ideas from different disciplines can be shared and eventually lead to collaborations,'' says Eleanor Clements, a PhD student in chemistry and president of the newly formed IDEA group. "We chose sustainable energy as the first topic and have had a great response from academics at the University who want to share their research.''

In addition to a full slate of speakers, the event will feature a trade show for local businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs involved in sustainable energy, Clements adds.
 
Conference speakers include:
  • Dr. George Philippidis, Patel College Associate Professor of Sustainable Energy, will discuss his research in biomass and algae technologies for sustainable production of transportation fuels and  renewable power. As director of the Renewable Fuels Laboratory, Philippidis has engineered technologies to grow fuel-producing algae while reducing water and energy consumption.
  • Kenneth Christensen, a professor in USF's Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will be discussing his research on energy efficiency of computer networks or "green networks.''
  • Professor James Stock will speak about environmental and energy implications of "reverse logistics'' and the energy required for product returns, including remanufacturing, repairing, and refurbishing of products, packaging reuse, recycling, minimization and substitution.
  • Dr. E. Christian Wells, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Founding Director of the USF Office of Sustainability, will share his global perspective on  environmental economic decision making, sustainability science and social issues such as the global culture of environmentalism and sustainable societies of the future.
  • Allan Feldman, Professor of Science Education, will discuss his research on the role that K-12 teachers and students can have in scientific and engineering research projects, particularly in fields related to sustainability.
  • Cheryl Hall, Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs, will look at the ways in which different understandings of freedom, happiness and sacrifice influence our imagination of the possibilities for creating environmentally sustainable societies.
  • Michael J. Lynch,  Professor of Criminology,  will address environmental justice in the United States, the distribution of hazardous waste sites and chemical accidents, global warming, environmental law and regulation, and  environmental crimes.
  • Friedemann Buschbeck, Green Party liaison to Germany, will speak on his recent visit and how the German government encourages green innovation.
  • Ashleigh Stewart of Young of Americans for Liberty will discuss free markets in relation to energy innovation.
  • Jay Egg of EggGeoThermal will discuss geothermal technologies  and  his recently published article in National Geographic on the same topic.
The conference is open to the public and will be held in the Royal Palm Ballroom in the Marshall Center. Admission is free; sponsors and exhibitors may follow this link for more information.

Writer: Marcia Biggs
Source: Eleanor Clements, IDEA

Tampa Summit To Feature Driverless Cars As Transit Option

Automated Vehicles or driverless cars are on their way to Tampa Bay as part of a future trend that will be discussed at the first Florida Automated Vehicles Summit November 14th-15th at the Marriott Tampa Waterside Hotel.
 
Hosted by the Florida Engineering Society, the summit is sponsored by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) and Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn are some of the dignitaries expected to attend.

"The purpose of this summit is to monitor the use of AV technology, and to identify the relevant policies that should be in place for AV technology to become mainstream,'' says Jason Bittner, Director of CUTR and a leading proponent of using AV technology to make Florida cities better.
 
The summit is expected to draw students, research scholars, elected officials, automobile and equipment manufacturers, transportation planners and engineers, trade and industry organizations, public agencies and consulting firms. You can RSVP here.

"The summit is going to address key institutional challenges in fully implementing the technology,'' says Bittner.

Apart from fulfilling basic human transportation needs, autonomous vehicles (AV) provide automated navigational capabilities by using advanced control systems that interpret surrounding sensory information. In the last decade, numerous breakthroughs in information technology and significant advancements in the auto sector have resulted in Google taking a lead in developing the AV technology.
 
In April 2012, Florida became only the second state to allow the testing of AVs on state and public roads. The first and third states were Nevada and California respectively.

The summit will be a key event to discuss the nuances of AV technology with public officials, consulting professionals and industry organizations. In addition, the event will provide Florida university students and reserachers an opportunity to showcase their work related to AV technology.

"At the end of the summit, the attendees will have a framework to set up AVs in the Tampa Bay Area and a plan to follow-up with additional meetings in spring 2014,'' says Bittner. "The summit is essentially setting up Florida to become a leader in this technology and its use in our Cities.''

Writer: Vinod Kadu
Source: Jason Bittner, Director of Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)

Tampa Startups Compete For National Attention At Tech Cocktail Event

Have you heard of Taskvilla, a Tampa company that offers business-hiring software? How about Tie the Knot, a custom website and iPhone app builder for the modern bride and groom?

Tonight at Fox Jazz Cafe on West Kennedy Boulevard, these local startups, along with LilyPad, Seat by Seat, and Valet Boss, will each compete for the title "Hottest Showcasing Startup'' and the chance to continue on to a two-day national conference in Las Vegas.

Since 2006, Tech Cocktail has hosted "Socials'' in cities worldwide, including tech hubs like San Francisco and Austin. For the first time, Tech Cocktail is coming to Tampa.

"Tech Cocktail was created to stimulate local tech communities,'' explains Gracie Stemmer, marketing director for Tampa Bay WaVE and head of the Tech Cocktail Committee in Tampa. "The event will showcase some of the area's most exciting tech companies and most supportive organizations.''

Entrepreneurs, supporters of the tech community or members of the public who are interested in what is taking place in Tampa Bay's tech world are welcome to attend, Stemmer says.

Criteria for selection of the five startups that will demo tonight included being established less than three years ago, raising less than $1 million in total funding, and having a working product in at least beta stage.

Each startup will have two minutes to pitch their products, while attendees will have the opportunity to network with members of the local entrepreneurial community and area tech enthusiasts.

Community-building events are an asset to Tampa's entrepreneurs, Stemmer says. "When our local community comes together and rallies around our startups, we are re-enforcing and strengthening what Tampa Bay has to offer.''

Tech Cocktail Celebrate, to be held in Las Vegas on Oct. 22-23, will offer 30 worldwide finalists the opportunity to showcase their companies to big names in the tech world.

"Becoming a recognizable tech community in the national entrepreneurial arena will not only keep our talent here in Tampa Bay, but also allows us to move talent in to our thriving area,'' says Stemmer.

Tech Cocktail's Social is Tuesday‚ Oct. 8th‚ 6-8:30 p.m., at Fox Jazz Cafe at 5401 W. Kennedy Boulevard.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Gracie Stemmer, Tampa Bay WaVE

Citizinvestor Partners With Schools To Feed Hungry Children

A partnership between Citizinvestor, Feeding America Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County Public Schools allows the community to fund meals for at-risk children in Tampa.

The effort is the first community-wide initiative for Citizinvestor, a Tampa-based crowdfunding platform that allows citizens to fund municipal projects. The platform puts decision-making in the hands of the community by allowing them to provide funding for the efforts they deem most worthwhile, with the added benefit of being able to directly see where their dollars are spent.

With the title “Weekend Food Backpacks for Kids,” the $10,800 target goal will provide 12,000 meals over the school year to students in need at Oak Park Elementary School in Tampa. 99 percent of the school’s students qualify for the county’s Free and Reduced lunch program. The students receive free breakfasts and lunches during the school week, but often go home to empty pantries on the weekends. These children are at risk for decreased educational performance, health problems and behavior issues.

"Success would be getting this funding as quickly as possible so Feeding America can pay for the meals that these children need in our community," says Jordan Raynor, co-founder and partnerships director for Citizinvestor.

The concept of crowdfunding is new to Feeding America Tampa Bay, but it seems like a logical fit because of Citizinvestor's knowledge of what the local community likes to support.

Citizinvestor recently celebrated its first anniversary, having funded 70 percent of its projects during this time. The startup’s success led to their recent opening of 550 square feet of office space in downtown Tampa. They will also be hiring a full-time Developer and Project Marketing Associate.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jorday Raynor, Citizinvestor

ROBOCON Tampa Bay Celebrates Technology, Learning

Elementary, middle and high school students from the Tampa Bay region and across the Southeast are coming together for the ultimate in community-based STEM collaboration.

ROBOCON Tampa Bay, a two-day event October 25 and 26 at the University of Tampa, features demonstrations, workshops, a college and career fair and robotics competitions. FIRST Robotics teams will participate in Ultimate Ascent, a high speed game of ultimate robot Frisbee. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national organization that inspires youth to discover science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through robotics competitions.

Workshops will be taught by Tampa Bay business leaders on topics such as programming and technical skills as well as how to run a business, providing students with real-life application to accompany the educational aspect.

One unique attribute of the FIRST programs in Tampa Bay is that teams are formed across schools and even from homeschool environments, giving students a chance to interact and collaborate with people from a variety of backgrounds.

The event is produced by Learning is for Everyone, a Tampa-based nonprofit that provides creative learning opportunities for all ages. Funding was received by a matching grant from the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation as well as from Hillsborough County's new program, EDI2. Tampa Bay Sports Commission is also an event partner.

An important goal of the event is to grow economic opportunities in Tampa Bay, particularly in technology fields, to help retain local talent.

"We want to show the connection between childhood technical hobbies and jobs in a strong economy," says Jamie Klingman, board member for Learning is for Everyone.

The event is free and open to the public, and local businesses are encouraged to attend to meet students for possible internship and apprentice programs.

"We need to highlight and celebrate our students and their achievements, especially in technology," says Klingman. "They will be the next big leaders in the technology world, and the drivers going forward."

The organizers also hope to use this event to attract the national FIRST competition to the Tampa Bay area.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jamie Klingman, Learning is for Everyone

Ignition Deck Offers DIY Funding For Startups

A Tampa entrepreneur and his Canadian business partner are offering individuals and companies an alternative to crowd funding that removes the middle man and provides more control over the process.

Their creation is Ignition Deck, a Wordpress plug-in that allows you to create your own crowdfunding platform and raise funds using your own website. Unlike traditional platforms, the cost is a one-time fee rather than a percentage of funds raised.

The product is the brain child of Tampa resident Nathan Hangen and Sean Christensen of Alberta, Canada. Their parent company, Virtuous Giant, also provides crowdfunding consulting as well as designs mobile and web applications.

The pair got into crowdfunding because they wanted to raise money for a project but couldn’t find the solution.

"Our philosophy is that we want to build tools that help entrepreneurs succeed," says Hangen, CEO and co-founder of Virtuous Giant. "We just love building stuff for entrepreneurs."

Bands such as A House for Lions and Big Tree Bonzai used Ignition Deck to fund their first albums. Robert Space Industries recently used the platform to raise $13 million over the course of a year to build Star Citizen, a space simulator game.

The most recent company to use the platform is Ski Nation. Developed by former Olympic ski team member Jack Turner, Ski Nation is trying to raise $300,000 to build a mobile network of skiiers that they can call their own.

Next steps for Virtuous Giant include a fully hosted crowd funding solution, allowing people to customize their own website in a Wordpress-like function to provide even more control of the end product.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Nathan Hangen, Virtuous Giant

MOSI Tampa Hosts STEAM Summit On Innovation

What do science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) have in common? They’re all part of Tampa Bay’s growing reputation as a region that nurtures innovation, and they will all be discussed at an upcoming professional leaders forum.

Hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), the forum on October 10 is a first for Tampa Bay and brings together professionals from all industries and across the region.

"The goal is to have a conversation with business leaders in the community about the importance of STEAM education, the opportunities that brings to Tampa, and our challenges as a region as we strive to be an innovative place," says Molly Demeulenaere, VP of development for MOSI.

Panelists include Raul Cuero, PhD., MOSI's 2013 National Hispanic Scientist of the Year. A microbiologist originally from Columbia, Cuero is a national spokesperson for STEAM and innovation who discovered through growing up in poverty that creativity can help bring about a better way of life.

Kerriann Greenlagh, Ph.D., a local organic chemist and University of South Florida graduate will provide an entrepreneur’s perspective of taking her liquid bandaid, KeriCure, from lab to market.

The panel is rounded out by local artpreneur and biologist Jeff Hazelton whose innovations include medical games, animation and imaging technology.

In addition to the panelists, the event is intended be an interactive conversation with involvement from the entire community.

STEAM is a focus of MOSI’s masterplan for 2025, but it has always been an important part of the educational process for the museum.

"As a science center, we have been teaching STEM/STEAM since MOSI opened in the 1950s," says Demeulenaere, adding that many people don’t realize that art is already integrated into STEM initiatives. For example, architecture plays a critical part in building design, as does design as an element in automobile manufacturing.

In bringing the STEAM conversation to the masses, MOSI also hopes to inspire the next generation of our region’s youth to take advantage of careers in STEAM fields. "We want people to know that it’s accessible, that it’s not hard for them to accomplish."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Molly Demeulenaere, MOSI Tampa

Spectrio Grows, Adds 20 Jobs in Oldsmar

Oldsmar-based audio/video marketing firm Spectrio is growing, adding 20 sales jobs to its 80-member team over the next year and a half. The company is adding sales administrators, sales support staff and telemarketers.

To understand what Spectrio does, consider the pleasant background music heard in hotels, banks, retail establishments and on corporate telephone messaging systems. Spectrio provides the creative energy behind helping to brand companies with appropriate sounds and music.

"We make sure that the content that we’re delivering is top quality," says CEO Aaron Kleinhandler.

Spectrio’s team features technical writers, programmers, professional voice talent, spokespersons, designers and more, all who collectively create audio and video content as well as digital signage and demonstrations for companies throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Founded in Clearwater in 2001 as Audio Messaging Solutions, business partners and friends Mitch Keller and Aaron Kleinhandler joined forces to create a company dedicated to serving the brand needs of other companies. The firm soon acquired other businesses, consolidating products and services to offer supplementary services that complimented their product offerings.

"We view ourselves as a marketing partner. The content we provide helps a company maintain their brand, extend it and reinforce it," says Kleinhandler.

By 2005, the firm had 13 employees in its Clearwater office, soon moving to Oldsmar and growing to 40 by 2013. Spectrio now has more than 80 employees and over 50 contractors.

"We’ve almost outgrown our facilities in Tampa. We are continuing to acquire other businesses and are now starting to expand our sales force," says Kleinhandler.

The company has additionally attracted interest from investors and private equity groups. Spectrio’s growth plan includes opportunities that will allow long-term scalability to the firm.

"We really like the area, and we’ve made a long-term commitment to the Tampa region."

For more information on career or business opportunities, visit Spectrio online or call 727.787.2440.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Aaron Kleinhandler, Spectrio
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