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University Area Community Joins National Let's Move! Initiative

Children in the University of South Florida (USF) area community will get moving soon, as they join the nationwide fight against childhood obesity.
 
The efforts are being led by the University Area Community Development Corporation (UACDC), inspired by the first lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative. Let’s Move! supports local community efforts to increase exercise, health and nutrition among the nation’s children through leadership, community support and innovative programs.
 
Funded in part by a grant from Molina Healthcare of Florida, UACDC will be implementing a number of initiatives, including providing health and nutrition information in places where families typically gather, such as schools or parks. They’re also helping the local Mort Elementary School with its "Walking School Bus,'' a group of children who walk to school together under the supervision of a trained adult leader. This promotes exercise, reduces traffic around the school and reduces environmental impact.
 
Saturday Fitness Fun Days will feature scavenger hunts, nutrition and health-based prizes. A summer camp is being developed that will focus on physical activity.

The program is part of UACDC’s overall focus on the redevelopment and sustainability of the at-risk neighborhoods surrounding USF’s Tampa campus. They're starting with kids in the hope that the changes will have a positive impact on the entire family.

"We really wanted to reach out and make a difference to our young people, and hopefully in the process make a difference with their parents and grandparents as well," says Dan Jurman, executive director of UACDC.

The University area has high rates of malnurishment and preventable diseases such as diabetes. The goal is to increase education and nutrition in an effort to increase overall community health.

Along with the exercise programs, there will be nutrition and health-based initiatives such as cooperative community gardens and an affordable fresh produce market.
 
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Dan Jurman, UACDC

Tampa Bay Touts Itself As Incubator For Healthcare Innovation

The Tampa Bay Partnership has decided to target market four industry sectors identified in the Regional Business Plan as industries that provide high-wage, sustainable job growth opportunities, thus shedding light on the Tampa Bay region as an incubator for healthcare innovation.

The goal is to ensure that Tampa Bay, which accounted for 41 percent of the state’s job growth in 2012, is recognized as one of the nation’s hubs for medical innovation. The industry of applied medicine and human performance leads the region’s target sectors, adding more than 7,000 jobs since 2009.

The applied medicine and human performance industry incorporates core clusters of medical technology and research, including senior health and wellness, personalized medicine, clinical trials, medical instruments and devices, health information technology and bioinformatics.

“Our target sectors have performed better than jobs in Tampa Bay, better than jobs in Florida, and better than jobs in the nation as a whole. The wages in these jobs are higher, and these jobs create more spin-off jobs,” says Dave Sobush, VP of regional business planning and development at the Tampa Bay Partnership.

Tampa Bay not only has the foundation of medical research and the presence of such large medical firms as H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and revolutionaries such as M2Gen to create a supply chain for programs, but the region also has great technical training for people to work in laboratory settings.

“Pinellas County is among a handful of communities in the nation with a strong cluster of medical devices,” says Sobush.

Several companies have selected Tampa as a base from which they can conduct ground-breaking medical research.

“We realize that we have something and we want to have one broad message to share with the world. We’re a hotbed for medicine,” says Katie Franco, sr. VP of regional development at the Tampa Bay Partnership.

Tampa Bay is strategically positioning itself as one of the nation’s regions to follow.

“We chose target sectors that are regional in nature, and we present the region purposefully to showcase the strength of the region. There’s no place stronger than the State of Florida,” says Sobush.

For more information on Tampa Bay’s Regional Business Plan, visit Tampa Bay Partnership’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Dave Sobush and Katie Franco, Tampa Bay Partnership

Downtown Tampa Honors 9 For Urban Excellence

What do a hotel, a university, a medical simulation facility and a green river have in common? They are winners in the Tampa Downtown Partnership's 6th Annual Urban Excellence Awards.

The Partnership presented Urban Excellence Awards to nine organizations for their contributions toward making downtown Tampa more bright, creative and inviting:

Floridan Palace, for turning a deteriorating hotel into a restored, vibrant place;

Lights on Tampa: Aqua Luces
, for illuminating five downtown bridges, creating engaging new media works of art;

Oxford Exchange, for creating a community hub that offers coffee, tea, shopping and dining in a posh atmosphere;

Sail Pavilion, for establishing a cocktail lounge on the Riverwalk offering 360 degree views of the city;

Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation
, for being a community leader providing recognition and funding to Tampa Bay nonprofits;

The University of Tampa, for providing a residentially based, intimate higher education experience that contributes to the downtown community;

USF Health CAMLS (Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation), for attracting people to the downtown core from across the country and around the world for specialized medical training.

Special Awards of Excellence were also presented to two organizations:

Mayor’s River O’Green for turning the Hillsborough River green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee for promoting the positive aspects of Tampa Bay to millions of viewers during the Republican National Convention
 
"It’s always greatly appreciated to be recognized for making a difference," says Robin Nigh, Manager of Art Programs for the City of Tampa.

The City’s Lights on Tampa initiative worked with property owners to place permanent lights on five downtown landmark bridges in less than eight months. The project has been recognized on both the local and national level, and is now proud to be among the Urban Excellence Award winners.

"We knew the lights would be a game changer for downtown,” says Nigh. "They complement our assets. It’s important to a community to have things like this that celebrate where we live."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Donna Chen, Tampa Downtown Partnership; Robin Nigh, City of Tampa

Humana Adds 100 Jobs, St. Petersburg

Healthcare firm Humana, Inc. is adding 100 telephonic nurses and health care coaches over the next six months in order to accommodate the needs of its growing national chronic care management division, Humana Cares/Senior Bridge.

Humana began Humana Cares nearly five years ago and acquired national care management and homecare organization Senior Bridge in 2012. The firm created a combined Humana Cares/Senior Bridge division with a special focus on providing personalized chronic care management and homecare services that would help to decrease the number of hospitalizations as well as assisting members as they age.

“It’s a team approach to care. Many of our team members are scattered throughout the [Tampa] Bay area providing personalized services to patients,” says Mitch Lubitz, media relations leader for Humana.

More than 700 employees currently provide telephonic support to members throughout the country, helping them navigate through the healthcare system while field care teams including nutritionists, healthcare coaches and social workers conduct personal visits to enhance the quality of life to those needing support.

“Humana Cares/Senior Bridge responds to the clear need for highly trained advocates to help individuals at risk for multiple hospitalizations to navigate the complexities of their care with a highly personalized approach,” says Humana Cares/Senior Bridge President Eric C. Rackow, M.D.

The company plans to increase the number of Humana Cares/Senior Bridge members from 225,000 to 275,000 by the end of 2013.

Humana is currently completing renovations to add 8,000 square feet to its existing 75,000-square-foot St. Petersburg offices, making room for additional nurses and health coaches as they join the team. Renovations are expected to be complete by late summer 2013.

Humana additionally has a large nationwide commitment to veterans and plans to hire 1,000 veterans and their spouses over the next year.

“As we improve and expand our presence, we hope to make an impact on the economy. We want to continue to look at what the opportunities are across the board for people in the Tampa Bay area,” says Lubitz..

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

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Eric Rackow and Mitch Lubitz, Humana

Walking Tours Explore Downtown Tampa's History

Tampa's lively, diverse, sometimes illicit past is explored this month (April) during walking tours.

The tours are part of the Tampa Downtown Partnership's Do the Local Motion Program, which hosts regular walking tours of downtown Tampa. The historical piece is led by University of South Florida graduate students as part of an Urban Public History course.

The first tour on April 6 unveiled Tampa's illicit past, taking walkers past sites where Charlie Wall, the undisputed king of Tampa’s mob world ran underground operations for three decades.

On April 12 the theme is mid-century shopping. Walkers will take a stroll down Franklin Street and explore the sites where department stores and other shops thrived in the 1950s.  

In the Line of Duty on April 19 takes a look at the historical role of military and civil service monuments in public spaces. The walk covers Morgan Street and Madison Street while discovering plaques, statues and other monuments such as the Confederate soldier in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse.

The final tour, Frontier Tampa on April 26, begins with the founding of Fort Brooke in 1824 and traces the diverse racial, ethnic and social classes that helped grow the city. Sites include Indian mounds and early saloons, billiard halls, government buildings and an opera house.

The project gets students out of the classroom and provides hands-on skill development. Barbara Berglund, associate professor and associate chair for the USF Department of History, likens it to writing a seminar paper in a traditional history course. The tours have a story line, supporting evidence and research, but are conducted in real time and space using built environments. "It’s really helped them hone their analytical skills," says Berglund.

All tours are free and open to the public. The tours meet in Gaslight Square Park in Downtown Tampa, and take place from noon to 1 pm.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Barbara Berglund, USF Department of History

Ideas Sought Florida Healthcare Innovation Competition, Tampa

Do you have an idea for a product or service that will help improve healthcare? Maybe you want to improve patient engagement or health provider effectiveness? Submit your innovation to the 2013 First Annual State of Florida Healthcare Innovation Competition.

The competition will be held Tuesday, May 14, at the USF Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa. The event is sponsored by Florida Blue, in partnership with the University of South Florida (USF) Center for Entrepreneurship.

A first of its kind for the State of Florida, the goal is to strengthen the life sciences and healthcare sectors throughout the state.

"It brings together the resources necessary to allow innovation to move from concept to the marketplace," says Michael Fountain, director of the USF Center for Entrepreneurship.

The intrinsic benefits are attracting more innovative, up-and-coming companies that may choose Tampa Bay as their home.

"I’d love to see as many of these as we can realize that with the hub we have in medical innovation, they can come here and become a part of our business ecosystem," says Fountain.

Submissions can be entered into one of two categories: the Student Competition, open to current undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a college or university in Florida or the Open Competition, which includes all other Florida residents.

Winners will receive cash prizes. Submissions will also be considered for Florida Blue’s Healthbox Florida Accelerator Program, which provides mentoring, staff and financial support to developing companies.

Applications can be submitted online until midnight April 19.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Michael Fountain, USF Center for Entrepreneurship

IGNITE Tampa Bay Stimulates Thought, Sparks Passion

What are you most passionate about? Can you answer that question in a five-minute presentation, using 20 slides that advance every 15 seconds?

On April 25, more than 20 community-minded individuals will take the stage at the Tampa Theatre to inform, educate and engage you about their favorite ideas and projects at IGNITE Tampa Bay.

With the mantra: "Enlighten us, but make it quick!" the event brings together the Tampa Bay community to share their personal and professional passions and experiences in bite-sized presentations.

Topics run the gamut and include arts, technology, health, education and business. You’ll hear Kip Curtis from the Edible Peach Patch Project talk about how community gardens in St. Petersburg are helping at-risk kids stay in school. Michele Northrup – aka the Saucy Queen – will discuss why companies can benefit from collaborating with their competitors. Ashley Mooney will teach how to constructively embrace failure to make it work to your advantage. Kevin Thurman from Connect Tampa Bay will discuss why you are the solution to Tampa Bay’s transportation challenges.

"There are so many people here in the community who don’t get a chance to speak publicly," says Sean Davis, co-chair of IGNITE Tampa Bay. "It’s a great way to get them out there."

Now in its third year, the attendance is expected to reach over 600 this year, with the new larger venue.

The event's unique format forces presenters to get to the point quickly, which further enhances the goal -- to stimulate thought and spark a fire with the audience, igniting them to take action and follow their own passions.

"Lots of people could benefit from understanding more about what’s out there," says Davis. "It starts to get other people thinking about what they can do."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Sean Davis, IGNITE Tampa Bay

Leadership Event Connects Nonprofits, Businesses In Tampa

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

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

New Efforts Aim To Attract Residents To Downtown Tampa

Now there’s even more reason to spend time in and around downtown Tampa.

Touring Tampa launched this week and features over 50 tours available of downtown Tampa and the urban core, which includes the Channel District, Ybor City, Davis Islands and Harbour Island. The campaign increases awareness of the tours that were already in existence.

"It’s another way of getting people downtown and discovering their city," says Karen Kress, director of transportation and planning for the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

Tours on the list include free walking tours, ghost tours, cigar factories, sailing charters, paddle boarding, public art tours and many at indoor facilities such as the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Aquarium.

Another benefit of the campaign is letting residents know about options to explore when they have out of town guests.

The campaign was organized by the Tampa Downtown Partnership, with support from Tampa Bay & Company and the Ybor City Development Corporation. Funding was received from the Hillsborough County Tourism Heritage Program.

The Downtown Tampa Arts and Entertainment Card also launched this week and features free or discounted items at 11 different venues in downtown Tampa.

For $30, the card includes admission to entertainment venues such as the Tampa Theatre and Tampa Bay History Center. It also includes free food and drinks at restaurants such as Mise en Place and Kahwa Expresso Café.

"We’re promoting all of the great things available in the urban core," says Kress.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Karen Kress, Tampa Downtown Partnership

Moffitt Cancer Center Fuels Biotech Startups, Tampa

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center’s Office of Technology Management and Commercialization (OTMC) is fueling medical innovations and helping to launch biotechnical startups within Tampa Bay.

Over the past four years, OTMC has launched 13 startups centered on the technological advancement of new drugs, new diagnostics and new devices that will improve the quality of patient care.

The core focus of OTMC is to set an infrastructure to facilitate the launch of faculty startups. By partnering with faculty, staff and industry leaders, medical innovations and discoveries are placed in an environment where technology can be further developed and eventually translated into commercial products that will benefit patients.

“Startups out of Moffitt are providing a number of benefits regionally and statewide. It’s creating new jobs, drawing attention to our region from outside investors so that we can access capital, and it’s also drawing attention from pharmaceutical companies and biotechnical firms interested in partnering or expanding to the state,” says Jarrett Rieger, director of OTMC.

The annual Business of Biotech conference is designed to create an atmosphere for faculty startups to interact with investors and the medical community to help further their success. The 2013 conference, which drew more than 350 participants as well as industry representation from outside of Florida, featured an investor forum, providing startups an opportunity to pitch business ideas to investors while receiving valuable feedback on developmental and funding milestones.

The 2014 Business of Biotech conference will focus on bringing additional business development officers from large pharmaceutical and biotech companies to foster more industry collaborations with the local area.

“It’s a high priority because the funding environment is changing. Academic institutions are looking to continue to support their innovations and research, and one way is to partner with industry. It is a big effort at Moffitt and other academic institutions to forge those types of relationships,” says Rieger.

Several of Moffitt’s faculty members have launched new companies and are gaining traction towards licensing medical technologies. Many startups are raising capital and have partnered with venture capitalists and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research to help fund critically needed medical studies.

Tampa’s growing medical market paired with technological innovations is a natural stimulant for the Tampa Bay region.

“The larger our presence in the biotech, life science and medical device area -- the more research and innovation going on here, the greater the probability that we’ll be able to attract biotech businesses to our region.”

For information on OTMC, new technologies, and startups visit their website or call 813.745.6828.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Jarrett Rieger, Moffitt Cancer Center Office of Technology Management and Commercialization

Hillsborough County Hosts Hack-A-Thon, Tampa

For the first time, Hillsborough County is opening up data from several of its departments for Tampa Bay coders, designers and others in the technology community to build apps.

The 3-day Hack-a-thon takes place April 12, 13 and 14 at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus, near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Coders and designers will work in groups to manipulate the data outside of the county’s firewall, so as not to disrupt any programs or services.

Event partners include Hillsborough County, HART, The University of Tampa, University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College and several private sector businesses.

"It’s kind of like the perfect storm," says Lori Hudson, communications and digital media services director for Hillsborough County. "Everybody’s coming together in a really cohesive manner."

Departments providing data include Permitting, Fire Rescue, Emergency Management, Public Works and Animal Services. There will be 75 layers of county facilities and amenities data that can be mapped.

As part of the Open Data Movement, the county hopes to meet citizens where they are by allowing the community to be involved in the design process.

"This will be a way to develop services and products that people in our community will be able to use," says Hudson.

The event is the beginning of an ongoing effort within Hillsborough County government to grow technology and encourage innovative start-ups and small businesses in Tampa Bay.

Students and community designers and developers can register to participate online through April 4.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Lori Hudson, Hillsborough County

New Mobile App Offers User-Directed Ads, Tampa

Tampa-based MobAdWin offers a new type of advertising medium that uses a mobile app to benefit both customers and businesses.

Users open the app on their smartphones and view ads based on their pre-determined preferences. They then provide feedback about the ads and earn cash and other perks based on their activity. The user maintains complete control over their information, with no cookies to download, monitoring of Internet traffic or other lead-building devices. Participation is voluntary, and contact information remains private.

"We wanted to find a way to advertise with less money and better results, and to track responses and ROI," says Alex Dammous, co-founder of MobAdWin. Originally from Belgium, Dammous moved to Tampa Bay after vacationing in the area, and earned a masters degree in International Law from Stetson.

The users provide feedback about the ads they view, which businesses use to measure the impact of their advertising. Ultimately, the ads also drive traffic to the businesses, presenting a win-win. Current clients include retail establishments, bars, restaurants and small businesses.

MobAdWin recently hired advertising students from the University of South Florida to help grow the business. Originally brought on to assist with promotions at events, the students quickly learned the product and contributed ideas. Dammous responded by moving them into leadership roles. The company plans to continue sourcing local hires as the business grows.

The app is available for iphone or Android.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Alex Dammous, MobAdWin

Absolute Mobile Solutions Adds App Designers, Tampa

Absolute Mobile Solutions, a mobile technology development firm, is growing its Tampa team to include additional designers, project managers and marketing interns over the next month. Absolute now employs 42 team members internationally and six in Tampa.

“Although we have a strong development presence overseas, it is important for us to provide local project management, design and strategy in the U.S.,” says Alfred Goldberg, co-founder and president of the Americas. As the firm grows, adding project managers having specific expertise in mobile technology and design solutions is expected to add to the firm’s success.

Absolute is best known in the technology and software application industry for helping organizations develop and execute lasting mobile strategies.

“We’ve been adding project managers and will continue to add project managers as more projects come along,” says Goldberg.

The firm started as a software application development shop focused on the PalmPilot, and for the past 14 years, Absolute has been one of America’s leading mobile design and development companies. As the software application industry grew from hand-held technology of the ‘90s, Absolute focused its strategies on developing key software applications for the swiftly transforming mobile technology market.

“We started in mobile, and we stayed in mobile," says Goldberg.

In a highly competitive and dispensable technical market, Absolute’s client strategies focus on designing application interfaces that impact the user experience as well as aligning clients’ business objectives with strategic marketing planning that results in successfully attracting and retaining application users.

“About 8,000 new apps get submitted to Apple alone each week. The chances of your app staying unique for very long time is very slim. Our clients count on us to provide the best possible user experience to their users,” says Goldberg.

As a global firm based in Tampa Bay, Absolute has a large presence and plays a major role in the region’s technology arena. Often referred to as the “Forefather of Mobile” in the Tampa Bay region, Goldberg created a mobile design and development curriculum for three universities, including the International Academy of Design and Technology Online -- one of the first in the country.

Advancements in mobile technology continue to increase demand for consumers and companies alike. For companies exploring mobile technology applications as a value-add and sustainable growth option, avoiding missteps is serious business for companies who are not strategically focused.

“People are paying attention to Tampa Bay -- to our work in the cloud, to our work with mobile, and to the quality of life. More than anything, time is what’s going to settle some of the hype and let the world see where the best and brightest are.”

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

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Alfred Goldberg, Absolute Mobile Solutions

Socius Marketing Hiring Web Designers & Writers, Tampa

Within seven years, Tampa-based search engine optimization firm Socius Marketing has grown over 400 percent, recently expanding to an 8,300-square-foot office.

With a full-time staff of more than 35 employees, the company is continuing to grow and is hiring additional web designers, web developers, and staff writers. In the last year, Socius has grown an additional 55%, adding more than five new team members.

Founded in 2006, Socius Marketing specializes in creating customized internet marketing solutions, organic search engine optimization and website design and development for national clients in the healthcare, home improvement, office furniture, and military defense industries.

“We continue to grow and are focusing on expanding into new industries,” says President Chris Behan.

Because the firm helps a wide variety of national companies establish brand recognition as well as generate leads for their local networks, Socius’ employees have very specific specialties and capabilities that are a tailored fit for their clients.

“We create original content for our clients’ websites so that they own the marketing solution. We are always looking for talented writers,” says Public Relations Manager Jacintha Anderson.

Hiring employees having expertise in such areas as law, engineering, electronic media, commercial art and multimedia technology is a value-add to Socius’ clients.

Placing a keen focus on targeting client needs and accomplishing results has helped Socius continue to grow in a shifting economy. “Marketing is even more important than ever. By focusing on the results, what converts, and having phenomenal employees, we are able to produce those results for our clients,” says Anderson.

“We are excited to serve our clients and are proud to be a part of their growing businesses as a result of the work we do,” says Behan.

The corporate culture at Socius is built around employees working closely with each other to accomplish company and client goals while experiencing flexible regular business hours -- and half-day Fridays.

Interested writers should have degrees and experience in English, public relations, marketing or communications. Candidates interested in web design and development should have 2-3 years of experience in php, html and design. To apply, visit Socius’ website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Chris Behan and Jacintha Anderson, Socius Marketing

Tampa Bay Positions Itself As A Key Global Market

As an incubator for entrepreneurship and business growth, Tampa Bay’s community leaders, partners and business owners are positioning the region as a key global market.

The 2013 International Town Hall hosted by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation provided leaders and business owners with key insights on entering the international marketplace and attracting foreign direct investments beneficial to the region and that also open new trade markets for local companies.

"This is an exciting opportunity for area business leaders to learn more about the international initiatives taking place in Tampa Bay,'' says Jim Pyburn, co-chair of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC’s International Trade and Foreign Direct Investment task force, and director of Trade Development & Latin America for the Tampa Port Authority.

Tampa’s community partners have a strategic focus on global expansion opportunities, particularly through importing and exporting. As Tampa Bay businesses and community leaders explore and prepare for international expansion initiatives, it's essential to evaluate core strengths unique to the region.

"Look at the intersection between assets and opportunity. Trade changes your economic future, not only your pocketbook, but also in job creation,” says Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, whose city was the 2011 pilot market for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Export Initiative.

Rybak also presented leaders with a community case study that explores key objectives significant to the development of a regional export plan. "If we do this right, it changes who we are. It makes us better able to work together and affects us competitively,'' says Rybak.

As communities make shifts toward global expansion opportunities, it is important to build bridges that focus on leveraging community and governmental partnerships and strengthening business to business relationships that result in capitalizing on the strategies and expertise that have been effective for established local businesses that have traded in other places.

By concentrating on "globalized'' versus "globally interested,'' the region can benefit from fostering relationships among local businesses that have been successful in the international marketplace, and entrepreneurs and small businesses considering global expansion opportunities.

The 2013 International Town Hall workshop sessions gave attendees an opportunity to get advice from such experts as Joe Phillips of OCO Global, an authority on foreign investment and global economic development strategies. It also allowed information share on available resources and key steps involved in the international marketplace as well as valuable insights on trends and challenges businesses face in international business development.

"These workshops are invaluable for businesses considering global expansion,'' says Andrew McIntosh, co-chair of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC’s International Trade and Foreign Direct Investment task force.

What's next as Tampa Bay grows as an international market?

Focusing on building a pathway that others follow by strategically emphasizing Tampa’s rich cultural history, capitalizing on business bridges, and growing the region from the inside-out in order to attract international investments and development projects.

For more information on Tampa Bay's international business initiatives, visit the Tampa Hillsborough EDC's website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Andrew McIntosh, Jim Pyburn and R.T. Ryback
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