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Hiring in Tampa Bay: November 2015 job news

Fulfill online orders at a Tampa Bay area warehouse in a seasonal role; handle media relations and marketing for a local architecture firm fulltime; tee up for a position at a popular Pinellas County golfing resort.

All of these opportunities and more are part of the 83 Degrees Media monthly Tampa Bay jobs roundup. 
 
Here's who's hiring in Tampa Bay in November 2015:

Online giant Amazon is currently hiring for a number of temporary, seasonal positions at the megastore's Lakeland fulfillment center. Seasonal Fulfillment Associates must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent. To learn more or apply, visit the company's website

DHR Mechanical Services is seeking several full-time associates in Supermarket Refrigeration, Energy Management Systems, Installation, Foremen, Startup Technician, and other roles. Foreman applicants must have at least five years experience in a supervisor or management role.

Harvard Jolly Architecture is hiring a Marketing Coordinator for the firm's St. Petersburg headquarters. Responsibilities will include writing proposals, media relations, branding, content development, internal and external communications, database maintenance, and more.The successful candidate will be a creative thinker and problem solver with a flexible schedule.

HealthPlan Services, a Water Street Healthcare Partners affiliate, is hiring for 11 jobs in the Tampa Bay area, including Data Analyst; HR Analyst; Sales Engineer; Director, Data Warehouse; Website Content Manager; and more.

Tampa Bay's well-known Innisbrook Golf Resort is hiring for a number of fulltime positions, including General Maintenance, Cosmetologist, Regional Group Sales Manager, Greenskeeper, Mechanic, Night Auditor, and more. Responsibilities and requirements vary per position; visit the Innisbrook Careers website to learn more about each opening. 

Tampa Bay Partnership is hiring a VP Public Policy and Legislative Affairs. The position reports directly to the president and CEO and is primarily responsible for developing and implementing legislative priorities and public policy agenda. Successful candidates will have previous policy or legislative experience.

IT staffing firm TEKsystems is hiring for an ECommerce Business Analyst in Tampa. The successful applicant will have five or more years of experience as an IT Business Analyst; be knowledgable about creating diagrams and workflows; and have UX experience. Retail experience is a bonus.

TEKsystems is also hiring for a Business Systems Analyst and a VoiP Network Engineer. 

St. Pete Pedicab challenges employees to exercise while on the clock. Interested in peddling for the popular DTSP transport as an independent contractor?  

Hiring in the Tampa Bay region? Send a note to tips@83degreesmedia.com. Hired? Reach out on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

USF students gain real-world experience by shadowing alumni in new program

The University of South Florida aims to build a database of alumni volunteers around the world through a new career services program. Shadow-A-Bull will allow USF students to work directly in occupational fields and real-world situations at businesses owned or operated by USF alumni.

The program’s goal is to connect students with volunteer alumni worldwide, explains Alexandra Moubarak, a USF career counselor who developed the free Shadow-A-Bull program with the assistance of the school’s Career Services team.

“The real incentive to be a Shadow-A-Bull host is to make a difference and impact the lives of USF students,” Moubarak says. “Alumni hosts will contribute valuable, industry-related knowledge and assist students in determining their career paths and futures.”

To sign up as a Shadow-A-Bull Alumni Host, visit the USF Career Services website and follow instructions to register. 

Once they've registered for the program, students choose to connect with registered alumni and arrange to participate in a variety of activities, including half- or full-day shadowing, industry interviews or workplace tours.

“A Shadow-A-Bull host will be able to share valuable, industry-related knowledge and have a direct impact on USF students,” says Moubarak, who is also an adjunct instructor and consultant for USF’s College of The Arts, Honors College and School of Humanities.

While students do not earn school credit for participation in the program, Moubarak says, “We’re promoting networking and encouraging communication. It’s a great opportunity that will assist them with career decisions which will have an impact on them for life."

So far, students have shown a high level of interest in the Shadow-A-Bull program, Moubarak says. “We have numerous students who are eager to shadow and connect with professionals in the field, especially if they are alumni.”

Shadow-A-Bull runs year-round, so students can work with local Tampa Bay area alumni during the semester and potentially form networks with alumni in their home cities during vacations, summers or school breaks. Where physical shadowing isn’t available, students and alumni will be able to participate in the program through email and phone or Skype calls.

The flexibility of the Shadow-A-Bull program “may potentially open up opportunities for students in terms of shadowing, internships, part-time, [or] full-time work in the future,” Moubarak says, “since it will assist with communication and networking."
 

International event for journalists to be held in St. Petersburg, November 2015

St. Petersburg-based World Partnerships, Inc. will host this year’s “Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists.” The annual event named after the legendary radio news broadcaster spans seven days in which journalists from around the world get a chance to meet up, share experiences and learn from one another.

“This is the tenth anniversary, and we will be having journalists coming from more than 80 foreign countries,” says Gary Springer, president of World Partnerships, Inc.

The event, November 4th to 10th, includes a community service project at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, a 2-day training symposium hosted and organized by the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg and a dinner honoring select journalists on Sunday, November 8.

“We have also partnered with U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command to do a briefing for all of these journalists, so that will be an exciting highlight during the week,” Springer says.

Attendees will include senior journalists, both on-air and behind the scenes, including reporters, editors and producers in TV and radio.

With an estimated 100 journalists arriving from all over the world, event attendees will examine the essential role of independent media in fostering and protecting freedom of expression and democracy around the world.

“This is a great opportunity for the area as it become more internationally oriented,” says Springer. “Also, this annual event brings together journalists who would otherwise never cross paths.”

For more information on the event or World Partnerships, Inc., visit their website.

Consider Water highlights sustainability message through the arts

“Consider Water” debuting in Tampa at Hillsborough County Community College (HCC) Mainstage Theatre in Ybor City this weekend, October 30-31 at 7:30 p.m., is a performance at the intersection of art and environment.

Acclaimed New York-based dancer/choreographer and activist Davalois Fearon will perform the collaborative piece, which combines dance with original music and visual art, to raise awareness about issues that most concern her, in this case, water. 

“It isn’t just about arts and dance, but getting in front of some of the current issues going on right now,” says Angela Walters, HCC’s Community Relations and Marketing Manager. “We live in Tampa Bay -- and our available, clean water is something that we have to start thinking about.”

According to the United Nations Clean Water Facts, nearly 800 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Six million to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. 

“Even here in the United States, 40 percent of the rivers and 46 percent of the lakes are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing or aquatic life,” notes Fearon.

The dance program at HCC, which Walters describes as “very, very, active,” regularly brings in artists from around the country to work with students onsite. However, Walters points out, HCC is also committed to sustainability and Fearon’s visit will serve to bridge the dance and science/sustainability departments through a series of workshops and discussion surrounding the performance. Fearon will also hold auditions early in the week for students to take part of Consider Water’s ensemble. 

“We are always looking for different ways to connect with other audiences and makes them think,” says Walters.  “The arts are something that connects individuals, a different medium, a creative way -- it’s showing them in an aspect that they can connect to.” 

The performance is open to the public with $10 general admission. All HCC students, faculty and staff are admitted free of charge with valid ID. For more information, click here.

Startup Weekend brings Global Startup Battle to UT campus in November

Startup Weekend events have helped shape the entrepreneurial community of Tampa Bay in recent years, with notable businesses and connections forming as a result of the 54-hour weekend coding and creating marathons.

83 Degrees asked Startup Weekend event co-organizer Michael LaPlante what's new and fresh about this year's meetup, who might want to attend, and how Startup Weekend has impacted Tampa Bay. LaPlante, who earned a BS in web design from Full Sail University in Orlando and runs a web development business in Tampa, has helped organize several Startup Weekend events and curates Tampa Bay Startup Digest.

Check out the Q&A below to see his responses and score a $25 coupon code for Techstar's Startup Weekend Tampa Bay, which will take place at the University of Tampa's John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center November 13-15, 2015.

83 Degrees: What's new or different this year at Startup Weekend?
MP: This year, we are really trying to blow it out of the park during the Global Startup Battle event. There are more prizes and tracks to advance to than ever before. We are really trying to connect to the community this event, and we have teamed up with the University of Tampa to also reach out to the younger crowd. 

83D: How is the event financed? Is the city or county providing funds? 
MP: In the past, we have worked with Hillsborough County through their EDI2 grant to help fund our event along with sponsors, but this year we are back to hitting the ground and finding local community sponsors that can make the event possible. If [you] want to get [your] name out there, definitely reach out. Nothing is too big or too small, and it all goes back to making the Tampa Bay community even more awesome.

83D: Who would you recommend consider registering to participate in Startup Weekend?
MP: Anyone with an idea, or an itch to solve a problem: this is your space to be. Whether you are new to the area, or have been here for years, you can always meet new people and grow your network. 

The amount I see people grow in the span of 54 hours during our events is tremendous. I can guarantee everyone will learn something. I have been doing these for almost five years, and have been involved in more than 20 in some way, shape, or form, and I still learn something new every time.

83D: Do you think SW events have positively impacted the community in the past few years? How/why?
MP: I certainly think the past events have greatly impacted our community. We have seen companies form, friendships and partnerships birthed, and ideas come to life. I still hear buzz all throughout the year about the events... I am constantly asked when the next event will be, because someone has an idea they would love to pitch.

Our goal is to show anyone they can follow their dream and build a thriving business here in the Tampa Bay region, and we work with awesome partners and sponsors to help bring that to life.

83D: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
MP: Readers can use code “83DEGREES” to get $25 off any normal price ticket.

Career fair for active, retired military Oct. 29 near Orlando

Veterans and active military service members -- and their spouses -- are invited to attend a free job fair on Thursday, October 29: the Military and Veterans Career Fair and Seminars in Lake Buena Vista.

The military career fair, hosted by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), will take place from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., with seminars beginning at 8:30 a.m. The fair is open to all active duty, retired, former and National Guard or Reserve service members, of all ranks, along with their spouses and government employees.
 
Career seminars before and during the military career fair will focus on topics that help active or retired veterans transition into post-military careers, including:
  • Network Your Way to Employment: 8:30 a.m.
  • Getting the Most from Your MOAA Membership: 9:30 a.m.
  • Evaluating Employee Benefits: 11 a.m.
  • LinkedIn Best Practices: 2 p.m.
"75 percent of employer hires are facilitated through networking," MOAA wrote on the group Facebook page October 24. "Find out why at #‎MOAA’s Networking Your Way to Employment seminar."

Along with attending seminars, job seekers can make connections with company representatives from both regional and national businesses, such as Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Best Buy, Edward Jones, Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, and other organizations, during the fair.

The MOAA Military and Veterans Career Fair will be at Buena Vista Palace & Spa, 1900 Buena Vista Drive, near Orlando. The fair is free to attend, but registration is required.

MOAA, whose members number more that 380,000 and include the full spectrum of military services, has led military-to-civilian career transition for decades. MOAA will host an annual meeting of military officers at the 2015 Annual Meeting in conjunction with the military career fair in Lake Buena Vista. MOAA also runs the nonprofit Voices for America’s Troops.

Military Hackathon challenges developers to innovate solutions to DoD challenges

A Hackathon focused on solving potential problems using military and defense tactics took place in Tampa over the weekend.

Hackathons are events at which groups of programmers and developers come together to create solutions to posed problems. The Mil-OSS Tampa Hackathon, which kicked off with a Friday night networking event and concluded with a Sunday evening awards ceremony, could “provide potential solutions to challenges faced within the DoD,” says event organizer Jeff Young.

The goal of the Hackathon: to “showcase talent that is interested in supporting the defense community,” Young explains.

Tampa Bay is home to the U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command, and the two commands worked with the event organizers to develop the Mil-OSS Tampa Hackathon. The challenge was expected to bring out members of the government and military, as well as local students and professors.

Hackathon topics were selected by experts from the Department of Defense, Young says. Challenges for this event will focus on topics such as open source framework, cyber security and cloud security, tactical terrain models, and 3D model visualization.

The MIl-OSS Tampa Hackathon kicked off at SOFWERX, 1910 North Ola Avenue in Tampa, but teams were able to choose between working from the event headquarters or a location of their choosing. Participants were required to work on their own devices during the Hackathon.

Event organizers expected around 50-70 challenge participants and another 20 to 30 attending to observe. People from across Florida, as well as out of state, visited Tampa Bay to participate in the Hackathon alongside teams “from local industry and academia,” says Young, who is VP of Marketing and Business Development at Marjau Systems Corporation, a tech company that focuses on providing IT solutions for government and private entities. Young, who attended college at the University of San Francisco, previously worked for Brighthouse and Time Warner Cable and is a charter member of the Marketing Advisory Committee for United Way of Tampa Bay.

Mil-OSS goals include improving tech development and innovation through creating networking opportunities, connecting veterans, and creating solutions.

Expenses for the Hackathon are covered by a myriad of event sponsors; all remaining funds will be donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Hackathon sponsors include the University of Tampa, Kahwa Coffee, Hillsborough County, Tribridge, Agile Thought, Reliaquest, and other local businesses.

Tampa Innovation Alliance hosts global thought leader at dinner

Tampa Innovation Alliance will unveil an updated plan for revitalizing a section of Tampa once known as “Suitcase City” at a dinner celebrating author Bruce Katz on Oct. 29.

Katz, a renowned expert on innovation districts, is founding director of D.C.-based think tank The Brookings Institute and author of The Metropolitan Revolution. Tampa Innovation Alliance Founder, Mark Sharpe, a former Hillsborough County commissioner, who follows and engages with Katz on social media, invited him to speak at the dinner.

“We realized that as we launch an innovation district, there’s no one better to come in and assess the situation and be a part of it,” explains Kelley Sims, director of communications and community engagement for the Tampa Innovation Alliance.

“It’s time for us to really launch the vision for the district,” says Sims. “We have a sense for the change that can be made and how it will happen here, and it’s really time for us to share that with the community. A great deal of forward movement is happening.”

The Museum of Science and Industry will host the “cooking with science” concept dinner, which is open to the public. The event will “feature science and technology in a lot of different ways,” says Sims.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance was developed by Sharpe in 2014 and launched almost one year ago with four program “anchors”: the University of South Florida, Busch Gardens, Florida Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center

“Anchor institutions that were doing things on their own weren’t necessarily working together before,” Sims says, “but now, you see this incredible dynamic between them.”

Membership has increased to around 90 members since the Innovation Alliance launched, including community leaders like MOSI and big-name brands like Brighthouse. The addition of University Mall owners New York-based RD Management to the Alliance executive committee is “very exciting,” Sims says, “because they have plans to put as much as $150 million into a complete revitalization of that mall -- a completely new concept.”

The Alliance sees the mall “as sort of the town center,” Sims says, “a beginning of the revitalization of the whole alliance area.”

The area comprises about 25,000 acres -- bordered by Bearss Ave to the north and Busch Boulevard to the south, between interstates 275 and 75. Working with Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Corporation has helped the Alliance to identify an “inner core,” where an innovation district will be centrally defined over time, Sims says.

Discussions regarding some gateway projects have also begun; these could include freeway identifier signs to brand the district.

“There’s serious momentum with regards to change, and it will be nice for folks to see that as they enter the area,” Sims says.

Students and professors from USF are assisting the Alliance with studying the area and conducting planning studies.

“We feel that this is incredibly important: to involve the community that already lives in our area,” Sims says. “We want those who are living here to have opportunities for better wage jobs, better education, startup business support; and we want to make sure the community is involved and their ideas are represented in our planning."

“We’re building an innovation district where people want to 'live, work, play, study, and stay.' Having involvement at every age is really important to us.” 

Unconference draws tech crowd to USF College of Business

Annually each fall, a group of technology enthusiasts from the Tampa Bay community comes together at the University of South Florida’s large, airy College of Business building to listen to local speakers give off-the-cuff presentations about all things tech.

BarCamp Tampa Bay 2015, which is now in its eighth year, bills itself as an “un-conference,” one where tech industry programmers, developers, designers and entrepreneurs come together to share knowledge and develop connections. Marketers, copywriters and other web-related content creators are also welcome at BarCamp events.

One constant of any BarCamp is change. Each year’s speakers and topics are laid out in a first-come, first-served informal format. Instead of assigning topics or asking for presentation outlines ahead of time, BarCamp organizers crowdsource topics and the speakers from the local tech community. Topics can range from agile development and user experience design to 3D printing, startup funding or networking tips. 

“We never know until the morning of the event exactly what is going to be presented,” explains event co-organizer Ken Evans.

The one-day event took place on Saturday, October 17, with early morning speaker signup and a steady stream of topics presented from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A break for lunch included a mile of subs donated by Firehouse.

Startup Monkey Founder Evans hopes to see participants walk away “with an appreciation for what others know and a willingness to freely share with each other as peers. BarCamp’s greatest asset may be that someone in the audience last year is inspired to get up and be a speaker this year.”

"Cool T-shirts" and an after party are also part of the BarCamp package. This year, the after party took place at the newest location of the successful Tampa-based tavern, World of Beer, on Fowler Ave. 

The event has been hosted at USF for the past four years, and Evans, who attended Syracuse University in New York, was “delighted” to see the event welcomed back to the campus in Tampa's growing Innovation District for a fifth.

USF’s Muma College of Business is “a wonderful venue host,” Evans says. “I know they see the value in what we are doing for the students, as well as the broader tech and business community.”

Collaboration is key for technology professionals, Evans says. BarCamp Tampa Bay is a “fun and rewarding program that has meant so much to the growth of the local tech ecosystem.”

Evans estimates that coworking spaces, dozens of companies, and “an effort to bridge government, economic development and the tech community all began as a result of BarCamp and the people involved in fostering that spirit. It all comes down to the fact that BarCamp is not only a day of sharing, but also a day of action.”

Action that Evans hope to see last through the rest of the year. “Get involved and keep that spirit of sharing technical and start-up business knowledge alive,” he urges.

BarCamp Tampa Bay is organized by Evans, Joy Randels and TechNova board members, along with community volunteers, and it is supported by Hillsborough County's Economic Development Innovation Initiative fund (read more about EDI2 here).

TechNova is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization based in the Tampa Bay region that organizes annual community tech events like Ignite Tampa Bay and BarCamp.

Kickstarter campaign launches for Florida conservation

Less than 10 days before the controversial hunt for Florida’s barely-off-the-endangered-species-list-black bear begins, the Florida Wildlife Corridor will launch its Kickstarter campaign Thursday, Oct. 15th, to promote its new film and forthcoming book, The Forgotten Coast: The Return to Wild Florida, based on months of expeditions inspired by the Florida black bear’s journeys through the interior of the state.  

“[The Florida Wildlife Corridor] is hiding in plain sight -- we are all situated on the coast looking outward, and maybe forget about Florida heartlands,” says Florida Wildlife Corridor Executive Director Mallory Dimmitt who is spearheading the project and the expeditions behind it. She notes that there is an urgency to conservation and awareness as Florida’s population is estimated to reach 35 million by 2060. “We can still maintain wild Florida and all the creatures that rely on it as Florida grows.” 

The Florida Wildlife Corridor is both the name of the environmental advocacy organization as well as the term used to describe the territory it is dedicated to conserving: nearly 16 million acres of “lands and waters essential for the survival of Florida’s diverse wildlife” – including the 9.5 million acres already protected – that span the length and width of the state. 

The Forgotten Coast documentary is gleaned from the thousands of hours of footage taken during two Florida Wildlife Corridor expeditions traversing Florida undertaken by Dimmitt, wildlife Photographer Carlton Ward, Biologist Joe Guthrie, and Filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus on foot, bike and paddle. The idea, says Dimmitt, was to “explore wild Florida the way a bear or a panther could still travel through our state.” She says she hopes the film “inspires people to protect our quality of life, for all of Florida.”

During the first expedition in 2012, the team trekked more than 1,000 miles in 100 days from south-to-north, starting in the Everglades and finishing in the south of Georgia. From January to March of this year, the east-to-west expedition took the team from the Everglades Headwaters to the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Florida Panhandle. 

The Kickstarter campaign will run until Friday Nov 20th, the day after the broadcast premiere of the film. The urgency to raise funds is critical and ambitious for the organization as Kickstarter is all-or-nothing crowdfunding, dependent on reaching the target fundraising goal of $37,000.  

The film’s exclusive broadcast premiere will air November 19th on WUSF-TV with a premiere event the week prior at the Tampa Theatre.  The new funds will allow the organizers to raise awareness and promote the film to PBS channels and film festivals around the country. 

Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission wins award for best practices

Hillsborough County’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) was honored this month by Sustainable Florida, a statewide organization with a vision to “protect and preserve Florida’s environment while building markets for Florida’s businesses” through sustainable best practices. The group awarded its Best Practice Award for Community Engagement to EPC’s annual Clean Air Fair initiative.

“Our agency is really big on outreach,” says Jeff Sims, General Manager of EPC’s Air Division, which runs the fair. The fair, he says, “becomes a big interaction point for the public.” Sims says the award is new to Sustainable Florida this year and that the EPC was among stiff competition, about 20 businesses, competing for it from around the state. 

Margaret Rush, the EPC’s Sustainability Coordinator says beyond providing a forum for educating the public on what the exhibitor companies are doing – something that is not always easy to understand in the abstract – the Clean Air Fair also creates a unique networking opportunity for a cross-section of business, civic and governmental groups “to talk about minimizing pollution” and for businesses to gain peer-to-peer knowledge on sustainable best practices. 

Launched in 2001, the EPC’s Clean Air Fair is an annual event meant to celebrate the month of May as Clean Air Month, as designated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Air Fair is open and free to the public and exhibitors alike, with the aim of raising awareness and promoting environmental and sustainable practices.  

This year’s event attracted more than 1,000 attendees, with more than 50 exhibitors from a wide range of businesses – from solar management and conservation organizations to major companies like TECO and Publix. The bustling, open-air event purposely takes place at a location that is “great for pedestrians” at the Poe Plaza in downtown Tampa. In addition to live music, complimentary food items and other give-aways, for the past several years they have showcased alternative vehicles – such as the fully electric Tesla, which claims to get 270 miles to a single charge. The innovation on display, Sims says, “draws in people to the more cutting-edge stuff.” 

Rush says she is noticing a greater interest in sustainability ”especially if you can make an economic case for it as well as social. More and more [sustainable initiatives] are coming in line as the cost of ‘business as usual.’ It just makes sense,” she notes. “That’s why it is important to learn about them.” 

USF rolls out succesful share-a-bike program

Students at USF's Tampa campus now have an innovative solution to the challenge of maneuvering such a large property as the bike sharing program is rolled out. The Share-A-Bull Bikes program, which officially launched September 28th, allows students the opportunity to borrow one of the 100 bikes on campus to get to their destination.

“Since we have an urban campus with lots of traffic, we had to come up with an alternative to help students get where they need to go,” says Francis Morgan, Assistant Director for Outdoor Recreation. “There were three things that really pushed this initiative, one being that is would increase physical activity, the second being it would decrease carbon emissions and finally it would get people from one place to another.”

In order to participate in the program, students must enroll at which point they receive a 16 digit account code that they will use to unlock one of the bikes. Once they have unlocked a bike, they can ride up to two hours per day at no cost. Each bike is equipped with a GPS system, which helps student locate available bikes through a Smartphone app or through the USF website.

According to Morgan, there are over 1,600 active members who have registered to date.

“This program has been very successful,” he says. “In fact, it is six times more successful than any other bicycle system in the world.”

Share-A-Bull Bikes program is funded through USF’s Student Green Energy Fund, which is a student fee funded program that the student body voted on. The purpose of the fund is to reduce the carbon footprint on campus.

“This is something the students asked for, and from its success so far, it’s seems to be something they appreciate.”

Robotics competition brings STEM-focused K-12 students to Tampa

More than 50 teams of students from kindergarten age through to high school seniors will build robots, create lego structures, and participate in technology-themed challenges at Roboticon Tampa Bay on Saturday, Oct. 10, and Sunday, Oct. 11.

Roboticon Tampa Bay will host a series of FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) educational events during the two days at the Bob Martinez Athletics Center at the University of Tampa in downtown Tampa: a LEGO League, Tech Challenge and Robotics Competition. All of the events are open to the public.

FIRST Robotics programs around the world are largely volunteer-run; nearly 200,000 worldwide volunteers work with around twice that many students. Studies of students involved in FIRST activities have shown that involved students are 50 percent more likely to attend college than their peers, four times more likely to pursue a career in engineering, and 2.5 times more likely to volunteer in their communities, says Roboticon Tampa Bay organizer and Eureka Factory Founder Terri Willingham.

“Ultimately, we want to build a capable, technically literate and professional workforce of future employees and business leaders in Tampa, and we need young minds like the ones that will be at Roboticon,” Willingham says. “This is our chance to make a powerful impact on visiting students. Caring business professionals make a difference in children’s lives, and can influence our economic future, as well.”

By highlighting technology and robotics at the local Roboticon, Willingham seeks “to show youth attending the event why they might want to live, learn and work in Tampa as they move on from high school.”

Highlights of the two-day Roboticon Tampa Bay events include:FIRST LEGO League team scrimmages will “give folks the chance to see some of our youngest engineers in training,” says Willingham, while robot-building will earn some high school students awards.

In addition to educational workshops and interactive competitions, Roboticon Tampa Bay will feature music by teenage DJ Jake Delacruz, as well as a “tropical Star Wars” performance by Steel Pan Band from the Maestro Maines School of Music on Oct. 11 at 1 p.m.

Also on Sunday, visitors can browse the FIRST Robotics Teams fundraiser.

“Robots and a sale! How awesome is that?” Willingham exclaims.

In early fall 2015, FIRST released a Newspaper in Education special edition dedicated to STEM themes to middle and high school students statewide in an effort to bring student -- and administrative -- attention to STEM fields.

Rather than allocating funds primarily to sports or non-academic programs, Willingham says, public high schools that invest “school dollars and student time into more STEM-related programming will provide a far higher return on the investment for schools, students and the community.”

Roboticon Tampa Bay is one of many innovative local events to receive funding from the Hillsborough County Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2) grant.

“The outlook for science and technology careers is robust,” Willingham says. “The future is what Roboticon is all about. What it’s showing: just a slice of a world full of empowered, educated, supported and inspired youth can do.”

Hillsborough County “sees that future,” she adds, “and we’re grateful for our county’s dedication to these goals.”

All of the weekend’s Roboticon Tampa Bay events are open to the public, and Willingham anticipates up to 1,000 students, parents, and interested attendees from around Tampa Bay and across the state of Florida to stop by the two-day weekend expo. Over 50 teams are slated to compete; double 2014’s numbers. 

Uber hosts "ride-and-pitch" for Tampa Bay investors, entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and aspiring startup founders in Tampa Bay enjoyed a new way to reach an investment audience for one day only: in an Uber car.

For three hours on Friday, October 9, select Uber drivers hosted investors from the local Tampa Bay area, giving entrepreneurs the chance to "ride and pitch." 

Following two successful stints in its home base of San Francisco and in Philadephia, ridesharing company Uber paired up with Florida Funders, LLC to bring Tampa Bay investors and entrepreneurs together - for 15 minutes per ride. 

David Chitester founded Florida Funders, a Tampa-based company that connects local businesses with investors and financing, in 2014, after noting that the Tampa Bay region was "losing too many young, promising entrepreneurs to places like Silicon Valley and Austin. If we can fund some of these firms, they can grow here, and the local community will benefit.''

Using modern technology to give them a few minutes of investors' time could be a good way to keep those young, promising entrepreneurs. 

Chitester found himself hesitant to get involved with the UberPitch contest initially - "but when I returned the call from Uber and discussed the concept, it really made sense for us to get involved," he says. "We are well connected in the Tampa Bay region with both investors and entrepreneurs. Also, we are disrupting the investment industry and Uber is disrupting the transportation industry, so it is a great match of philosophies." 

Since Uber has run the pitch contest in only a few cities around the country, the unconventional company's selection of Tampa as a host city "shows we are getting national recognition for the efforts everyone here is making in the local startup community and eco-system," Chitester says.

Each Uber car involved in the pitch contests hosted two investors, riding separately, for an hour and a half each on Friday morning. Altogether, two UberPitch cars could be requested around downtown St. Petersburg; two in Tampa's downtown and West Shore business districts; and one in the University of South Florida's growing "Innovation District." That means that selected riders were able to talk about their ideas with ten potential investors during the three-hour event.

To access Uber cars with investors, individuals simply input a code (TBPITCH) when reserving a ride through the Uber smartphone app. Once an investor car picked them up, riders had 15 minutes to pitch to an investor before getting dropped back off at their original locations.

Not all rider requested were granted in the "lottery-style" special event time frame.

Several of the participating investors are based in Tampa Bay; all in the state of Florida. Investor riders include:Interested in learning more about the Uber Pitch events? Search the hashtag #UberPITCH on social media sites and follow @Uber_Florida on Twitter for real-time updates.

Marlow’s Tavern hires 62 new employees, opens in Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa

Marlow’s Tavern, a neighborhood-style tavern known for its low employee turnover, is making its first foray into the Tampa Bay area with a new restaurant in Tampa’s Carrollwood community.

Although the company eventually expects to open several restaurants in the region, opening first in Carrollwood in September made good business sense, says Harold Phillips, local operating partner for the restaurant.  

“Carrollwood is an established community with a diverse, fairly affluent residential base and a significant number of homes are within a five mile radius of our location,” says Phillips.

The restaurant will be located in the Village Center (13164 N Dale Mabry Highway), a high-traffic area that has seen substantial investment in the last few years.  

In 2014, the shopping and dining destination completed a multi-million dollar renovation project that resulted in an updated courtyard, a reconfigured entryway and a major remodel for anchor tenants, including an expanded, 49,000-square-foot Publix grocery store.

Marlow’s Tavern opened its first location in Alpharetta, GA, in 2014 and now has restaurants throughout Georgia, as well as locations in Orlando and Winter Park.

In an industry known for its high turnover – the average restaurant has a 100-to-150 percent annual turnover – Marlow’s Tavern has been averaging 18-to-20 percent, perhaps attributed to the company’s rigorous employee screening process.

“We’re looking for people who fit with our culture, what we call Marlow’s Magic,” says Phillips. “It’s a set of principles, beliefs and promises we make to our stakeholders, which includes everyone from our guests to vendors, the neighborhood and our employees.” 

Sixty-two employees were hired for the new Carrollwood restaurant from an initial applicant pool of nearly 1,000 online applicants, says Phillips. Personality tests, an interview with the management team, pre-orientation and then a two-week training program are all part of the hiring process.
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