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Citi seeks to fill 100+ new jobs at Tampa headquarters

Citi’s recent decision to move jobs from its offices in Hartford, CT to the Tampa Bay Area, means more than 100 local jobs for skilled workers. Positions vary from compliance analysts to various HR positions, management to IT.

The number of employees being recruited by Citi to work in the Bay Area will grow as the company creates over 1,100 jobs by 2018 in exchange for approximately $15 million in incentives from the state of Florida and Hillsborough County.

“Our commitment to Florida is underscored by our decision to locate more of our U.S. employees here than in any other state, after New York,” says Citi CEO Michael Corbat.

Several vital business operational units are run out of Citi’s Tampa offices, including HR and accounting, as well as the company’s anti-laundering department.

“4,500 employees provide client service and risk modeling at our center in Tampa, which is also a hub for our anti money laundering efforts,” Corbat says.

As part of the agreement Citi made with the state and Hillsborough, the jobs are expected to pay an average of $75,000.

Corbat says that he not only hopes to bring jobs to the area, but plans to help local residents as well.

“Last year we provided more than $400 million in loans for affordable housing just here in Florida, he says. “And we extended more than $200 million in credit and loans to thousands of small businesses across the state. We’re proud of all the things we’ve done and will continue to do for our customers, clients and communities across the U.S. and around the world.”

To view the open positions at Citi, click here.

Enhanced intern website designed to connect employers, interns

A new website aimed to help interns and employers alike has been enhanced.  
 
CareerSource Tampa Bay in conjunction with CareerSource Pinellas has created Tampa Bay Intern, a website that connects interns and employers. Originally launched in 2014, the site was recently upgraded with enhancements for a more user-friendly experience.
 
“CareeerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas analyzed the results from various sources including employer surveys related to workforce development, feedback from area partners and employers were work with on a regular bases, “ says  Jason Druding of CareerSource Tampa Bay. “As a result of the information gathered, it was determined there was a great interest from the business community with regards to internships. With that in mind, we moved forward with initial planning and eventual development of the site.”
 
There are two components of the Tampa Bay Intern site, the employer view and the candidate view. For employers, they can log on and create an employer profile, post open internships and search for candidates based on company needs. For interns, they can also log onto the site, create a profile, create a bio, upload their resume and search for internships that match their career interests.
 
“Candidates may also reach out to our staff directly for assistance,” says Druding “Students are also afforded the opportunity to join our professional talent of Tampa Bay networking group, which focuses on areas of professional development such as networking, resume development, interview skills training and more.”
 
According to Druding the internship experience is invaluable.
 
“For employers internships offer a unique opportunity for employers to identify talent and exposes students to the opportunities available within their organization,” he says. “For the intern, the learning outcomes and experience gained are invaluable. Interns are granted a chance to put their years of schooling into practical applications in real workplace environments. This often leads to gained insights into areas of professional communication, project management and other vital areas of the business world.”

Save the dates for upcoming Tampa Bay Area tech events

Want to get plugged into the Tampa Bay technology community? In the coming months, there are a plenty  of meetups, gatherings and events focused on technology and innovation.

83 Degrees has the scoop on where these tech-centric events are taking place and when, so get ready to mark your calendars because there is a lot happening in the Tampa Bay region.

Friday, June 24: HomeBrew Hillsborough
Tampa Bay WaVE-4th Floor
8:30 a.m.
500 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa
 
Homebrew Hillsborough is a monthly collaborative coffee networking group for techies and entrepreneurs. The group meets at different locations throughout Hillsborough County. In June, the group will have its monthly meeting at Tampa Bay WaVE. Known for helping startups, Tampa Bay WaVE, is an incubator accelerator that helps turn ideas into growing tech businesses.
 
Tuesday, June 28: StartUp Xchange
 
St. Pete Brewing Company
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
544 1st Avenue North, St. Petersburg
 
Presented by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, this monthly networking event helps entrepreneurs, innovators and mentors connect.
 
June 30: Ignite Tampa
 
The Cuban Club
6 p.m.-9 p.m.
2010 North Avenue Republica De Cuba, Ybor City
 
This annual event best known for its fast, entertaining pitches, allows speakers the opportunity to share 20 slides in five minutes or less. The object is to tech, enlighten or inspire the crowd with your presentation.
 
Ignite is a production of Technova Florida Inc., a Tampa nonprofit, which is dedicated to creating inclusive tech communities that empower positive change. This all volunteer organization also produces the popular, Barcamp in Tampa Bay.
 
Wednesday, July 13: Build Your Own Mobile App
 
USF Connect-Oak View Room
3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
 3802 Spectrum Boulevard, Tampa
 
Ever wanted to build your own app? Here is your chance. The event is presented by Chris Tanner, a patent and trademark attorney, as well as an entrepreneur himself. Using iBuildApp.com, this interactive seminar will help attendees learn how to create an app from scratch.
 
If attending, you must bring a device to build your app on and visit iBuildApp.com before the event to become familiar with the content. Knowledge of HTML is not required.  
 
Wednesday, September 7: Tampa Bay Technology Forum
 
Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
333 1st Street South, St. Petersburg
 
This half-day event connects Tampa Bay’s best and brightest in the tech arena. The day features a morning of discussions on the region’s top technologies and its impact on the world by Tampa Bay’s top technology thought leaders and innovators. There will also be a lunch panel moderated by Ryan Dorrell, Chief Solutions Officer at AgileThought, and plenty of networking opportunities.
 
Are you, or an organization you know, hosting a tech-oriented event in the Tampa Bay area in 2016? Email us to have your activity included in a future 83 Degrees newsletter. 

Letting patients make choices for interventions may lower risk of diabetes, USF study finds

With more than 86 million people in the United States walking around with pre-diabetes, a professor along with her colleagues determined they needed to implement a study to help this group of people.

USF College of Public Health’s Dr. Janice Zgibor, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, led the study to determine which program would work best.

“Several studies show that diabetes can be prevented by making changes in lifestyle like healthy eating, and increasing the amount of time spent exercising,” Zgibor says. “Individuals living in rural areas are at higher risk than other populations for getting diabetes; therefore, we decided to implement a program that we knew would work in this high-risk group.”

Then participants were split into four groups. The first group would have face-to-face meetings for support on their lifestyle changes, the second would be given an instructional DVD, third an internet-based intervention and the fourth group would be able to choose which of these methods they preferred.

The intervention lasted 12 weeks, with a follow-up after 18 months.

With more than 550 participants involved from eight rural communities, what was the result? The group members who were able to choose the method of support for their lifestyle changes were most successful. Each participant was asked to lose at least five percent of their body weight, as well as decrease at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor following the intervention.

The fourth group, otherwise known as the ‘self-selection’ group, was more than twice as likely to maintain their weight loss after 18 months. Dr. Zgibor found that when people could make their own decisions about what they wanted to do it was the most effective.

“Once diabetes is diagnosed, it is progressive and may lead to complications of the eyes and kidneys,” she says.  “People with diabetes also have a higher chance of having a stroke or heart disease.  The earlier we can diagnose those at highest risk for diabetes, programs that work targeting lifestyle changes can be offered that lower their chance of getting diabetes.”

Seeking new employment? Here's a roundup of summer job fairs in the Tampa Bay Area

Summer is upon us, and for job seekers that means sprucing up that resume and heading out to job fairs. For those looking for employment, job fairs offer the opportunity to learn more about which companies are seeking candidates for part- and full-time positions.

Job seekers pull up your calendars, and get ready to mark down these upcoming job fairs for summer 2016:

Thursday, June 23: Tampa Talent Career Fair
8:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore
700 N. Westshore Boulevard, Tampa
 
Talent Career Fairs is a national company that hosts hiring events in cities around the country. According to their site, some of the positions they are looking to fill include Director of Sales, Detention Deputy, Software Developer, Human Resource Manager and more.
 
The event is free, to register click here.
 
Saturday, June 25: G4S Youth Services
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
G4S
9508 E. Columbus Drive, Tampa
 
Have a desire to work with youth? G4S Youth Services provides safe, secure and effective treatment to at-risk youth. Children who find themselves in the juvenile justice system after committing crimes get help through the treatment, monitoring and educational services provided by the organization.
 
With over 50 positions open including the need for RNs, Mental Health Therapists, Case Managers and Youth Works, G4S is the third largest private employer in the world.
 
For more information, click here.
 
Thursday, June 30: Jobertising Job Fair
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
DoubleTree by Hilton Tampa Airport-Westshore
4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa
 
This job fair, known for bringing out diversity in both job seekers and companies, proactively seeks out employers who are diversity-minded. Since 2006, jobertising has been hosting hiring events around the country; employers expected in attendance include State Farm, LaSalle Learning Center and CyraCom.
 
To register for this free event, click here.
 
 Wednesday, July 27: Tampa Career Fair
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Airport-Westshore
4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa
 
This live job fair in Tampa is hosted by National Career Fairs. The event is free and open to the public.

To register, click here.
 
Thursday, July 21: Tampa Veterans Job Fair
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Amalie Arena
401 Channelside Drive, Tampa
 
RecruitMilitary, a national military recruiting firm established in 1998, in collaboration with DAV, a major veteran service organization established in 1920, are hosting a job fair for veterans of all eras.
 
Anyone who has served on active duty, for the National Guard or in the reserves, as well as their spouses, is invited to attend this free event.,
 
For a list of companies in attendance to the fair, as well as to register click here.
 
Tuesday, August 23: Job News Job Fair
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
George M. Steinbrenner Field
One Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa
 
Since 2006, Job News Job Fairs have been connecting jobseekers and employers. Past employer attendees include Target, GC Services, HSS Security and Express Scripts. A list of employers attending the event will be posted on the Job News website on August 19.
 
To register for this free event, click here.
 
Employers, are you hosting an upcoming career fair in the Tampa Bay area? Put potential future employees on the right path by sharing the details of your upcoming job or career fair in Tampa Bay with 83 Degrees. Reach out over on Twitter (@83degreesmedia) if our job listings put you on the path to success. Also, follow Florida Jobs - 83 Degrees Media on Facebook.

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? June job news roundup

From jobs in healthcare to technology to the nonprofit sector, the Tampa Bay region has plenty of opportunities for jobseekers. Read on to see who is hiring in this June job hiring roundup from 83 Degrees.

Make a difference in a person’s life with your work at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute. They are seeking a Research Coordinator III as well as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Sarasota. Both positions require a bachelor’s degree in nursing as well as three years of experience.

Technology firm ConnectWise in Tampa has an opening for an Accounts Receivable Specialist. In this role, the specialist is responsible for new client billing set-up, adjustments, invoicing and collection. Ideally, candidates will have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field, and three years of related experience.

As a growing company, there are several other positions at ConnectWise  including a Customer Service Liaison, several sales positions and a System Engineer. 

Emcare located in Clearwater is recruiting a Scheduling Coordinator. As a scheduling coordinator, you are responsible for ensuring clinicians fill shifts needed at various locations. To meet the requirements for the position, a candidate must have a bachelor’s degree and one year of scheduling experience, recruiting experience is a plus.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota is seeking an Event Relations Coordinator. This position requires excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. A bachelor’s degree and two years of even and/or hospitality experience required. The candidate must also be proficient in MS office products, be able to move 40 lbs, and be capable of setting up tables and chairs for catering special events.

Want to work near Winter the infamous dolphin? Clearwater Marine Aquarium is in search of a Development Assistant. Responsibilities include monitoring development fundraising programs, assisting with promotions, organizing donor communications and coordinating recognition events among other duties.

Other positions open at the aquarium include Manager of Sea Turtles and Aquatic Biology, Grant Writer, Major Gift Officer and Retail Support & Vendor Specialist. 

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.

Recent UT grad creates successful business concept

A new business created by a recent grad from the University of Tampa is already a success weeks after launching.

The idea came to John Publicover when he was a student at the University of Tampa, not too long ago. He needed a place to store his belongings over summer break. Looking into the conventional method of a storage unit, Publicover did the math; his possessions were not worth what he would pay for a storage unit.

Soon Storedby would be born.

“I looked at what investors were investing in, peer-to-peer platforms, like Uber or AirBnB,” Publicover says. “I thought there needed to be a similar platform where people could list spaces to rent.”

From there, Publicover connected with the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa, and started building his startup company.

“If someone has a closet, an attic, a basement, garage, basically any extra space in their home, they can rent it out on Storedby,” Publicover says. “In turn, someone looking for a place to store their items can browse the site and find an appropriate size space to rent.”

Storedby also offers parking listings as well.

The company, which just launched its site in April has users who have signed up from all over the world, according to Publicover. With a desktop and mobile browser version currently, an application platform is in the works and expected to be available in the coming months.

Publicover, who graduated from the University of Tampa in May, says he will continue his relationship with his alma matter.

“The entrepreneurship center has an incubator for businesses like mine, and as an alumni I can continue to work out of the university,” he says. “Moving forward as the company grows, I plan to keep the company headquarters here in Tampa.”

Total Quality Logistics opens new office in Sarasota, adds 100 jobs

Ohio based freight-brokerage firm Total Quality Logistics (TQL) is expanding to open a Sarasota office, the company’s seventh location in Florida. The new Sarasota office joins TQL locations in Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. 

TQL’s new office in the BB&T Building at 1800 2nd Street in downtown Sarasota is scheduled to open in June, and will include a $600,000 capital investment. The expansion was made possible through partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Sarasota County, The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Sarasota County, and the city of Sarasota. 

“This expansion will bring job opportunities to Sarasota, and we think it’s a great fit,” says TQL Communications Specialist Mark Motz. 

Total Quality Logistics plans to create 100 jobs in Sarasota by 2020 including sales, managerial positions and customer service agents to manage the processes and logistics of transportation between shippers and truck carriers. TQL opened its first offices in Florida in 2010, and currently employs 450 people in the state.

“Whenever we look for a new office, one of the first things we seek out is a good pool of professional talent. Sarasota is an excellent location, and we were fortunate to be able to work with the city, the county and the state of Florida to make that happen,” Motz says. 

Jennifer Taylor, EDC of Sarasota County VP of Business Development, says that Sarasota’s pool of talented professionals and its exceptional livability are two of the region’s greatest assets in attracting new companies like TQL to Sarasota. 

“TQL is expanding and growing very quickly all over the nation, but Florida is definitely a hotbed for them. Access to talent and quality of life are critical to their success. When analyzing a new location, they look for communities where talented people not only want to work but also want to live. It didn’t take them long to realize that Sarasota was a natural fit,” Taylor says.

Total Quality Logistics is headquartered in Cincinnati OH and employs over 3,800 people nationwide. In 2015, TQL’s sales topped $2.2 billion.

Tampa Bay WaVE offers more workshops with help from grant

Tampa Bay WaVE can now do more workshops with the help of a grant from Bank of America.
 
WaVE, a local nonprofit, that helps entrepreneurs with their start-ups, received $27,500 from the large bank to help them with their workshop series. The workshops will educate local entrepreneurs on a variety of subjects with the hope that the companies started here will stay and create high-wage tech jobs in the Tampa Bay region.
 
“The workshops are open to the public and are instructed by Tampa’s best industry experts,” says Gracie Stemmer of Tampa Bay WaVE. “They cover everything from marketing, CEO Leadership, design and development, accounting, legal and finance.”
 
To date, the nonprofit has supported over 70 startups and created over 300 jobs as a result of those new companies. Bank of America recognized the work Tampa Bay WaVE has done in a statement.
 
“Tampa Bay runs on the sweat and innovations of small business owners and entrepreneurs, and we're all lucky to have Tampa Bay WaVE growing this important part of our economy," Bill Goede, Tampa Bay president of Bank of America.stated in the news release "Supporting our future technology leaders and the economic health of our community is a no-brainer."
 
The Startup Workshop Series will have over 100 workshops over the next year. Each workshop is an hour long and are free to members, $25 for the public and $10 for students.
 
For more information, visit Tampa Bay WaVE’s website.

App created by Tampa developer plans to change the way you shop, share favorite brands

A new app created by a developer in Tampa could be a consumer choice game-changer.

MeSpoke, a social media app that gives power to the consumers, is set to launch this summer. The app allows members, known as "Speakers'' the opportunity to express themselves, while promoting their favorite brands and retailers. In turn, it offers brands and retailers an opportunity to follow a more cost-effective business model.

“MeSpoke really shifts all of the power from the business to the consumer,” says Sid Khurrum Hasan, co-founder of MeSpoke.

Hasan goes on to say that he has observed that while business to business commerce is down; consumer to consumer business is on the rise.

“If you’ve ever been out and see someone with a fantastic purse, or a beautiful bracelet, chances are you may ask where they got it from,” he says. "MeSpoke allows its Speakers to basically do the same, but take it a step further. It allows members to post an image and then whatever content is uploaded can be tagged, and other consumers can not only click on the content to see where the shirt is from, but take the consumer directly to the brand or retailer’s site to purchase.”

He explains that he wants MeSpoke Speakers to be brand ambassadors in the same way that sports figures and celebrities are today.

The developer on this innovative concept is Steve Tingiris of Dabble Lab who is also located in Tampa.

“We interviewed 24 development companies, but hands down Dabble Lab was the best decision,” Hasan says.

For more information, visit the company’s website

New roastery in NoHo Tampa helps you create your own coffee blend

Tired of your usual cup of joe?

There is a new coffee shop that can help with that, but The Lab in Tampa's North Hyde Park neighborhood is much more than your average coffeehouse. For one, co-founder Roberto Torres, calls his establishment a coffee bar and roastery. In other words, you can buy one of the rotating rare brews Torres and his team has brewed, or you can make your own. You can create your own coffee here.

“There are less than five facilities in the world like The Lab,” Torres says.

Torres says he got the idea after becoming familiar with the craft beer scene in Tampa. He saw the growing popularity with individuals wanting to brew their own beer, even distribute it and sell it. He figured why not coffee?

The Lab at 1703 W. State St. is a “collaborative community,” according to Torres, where anyone can try their hand at roasting.

“What I love about this concept is that it can serve so many purposes,” Torres says. “For example, a bride and groom can come in and make a blend that they can use as party favors at their wedding, or a boutique hotel in the Tampa Bay area can create a private label and put it in their rooms.”

Different coffee beans are rotated all the time and rare microbatches are served at the coffee bar, for those looking to just taste and not brew.  

Torres who also owns Blind Tiger Café in Ybor and Seminole Heights has been a successful entrepreneur in the Tampa Bay area for a few years. So what is it about the Tampa Bay area that is so attractive for innovators like himself?

“Tampa is in an expansion mode,” he says. “We are competing with other cities like Atlanta, Charlotte and Austin, but what we have going on in Tampa is exciting and I am looking forward to how we can continue to contribute to this expansion.”

USF medical study hopes to lessen back injuries

A study being done at USF could lead to fewer back aches and longer careers.
 
Dr. John Mayer of USF Health is spearheading a $1.3 million study that will analyze how exercise can prevent lower back injury. The study is specifically looking at how worksite exercise can prevent low back injury in firefighters. USF and Tampa Fire Rescue have launched randomized controlled trial tests. Eventually other fire departments in St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County will be included.  
 
So why focus solely on firefighters? 
 
“Firefighting is one of the most stressful occupations in the world,” says Mayer. “Firefighters work in an extremely dangerous, physically demanding, and psychological stressful work environment. Given this environment, firefighters have very high rates of disabling back pain and injury, as well as other wellness concerns.”
 
Mayer goes on to explain that lower back pain and injury is the top cause of early retirement and disability for firefighters. He also says that he and his team are currently working on a feasibility assessment to expand the back injury prevention research to other high-risk occupations, such as police officers.
 
Based on the results of the current study, Mayer says the back and core exercise programs can then be shared with the general public in an effort to prevent low back injury in all populations.
 
“If effective, we will make results available to the general public, and lead efforts for dissemination, knowledge translation and implementation for the general public and high-risk occupations,” Mayer says. “Results of our study will be made available through our website, training, scientific journals, peer magazines and presentations.”

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? May job news roundup

Jobs with some of the most well-known companies in the Tampa Bay area are yours for the taking if you can convince them you are the right candidate for the position. Read on to see who is hiring in May's job hiring roundup from 83 Degrees.

The Florida Holocaust Museum is looking for a Raiser’s Edge Development Specialist. This individual will report to the Director of Advancement. A bachelor’s degree is required for this position, along with two to three years of experience managing the Raiser’s Edge fund-raising database.

For more information on this job listing, click here

Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is seeking a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to be a steward of its finances. The ideal candidate has a minimum of five years of related experience and previous supervisory experience. The CFO will be responsible for all aspects of the business, finance, accounting and payroll of the organization.

MOSI is also seeking a Director of Accounting. This person will be responsible for the oversight and supervision of all daily accounting functions. A bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, along with three years of experience in bookkeeping or financial record-keeping is required. For more information on both of these positions, go to the museum’s website.

AAA, also known as The Auto Club Group (ACG), which provides travel, insurance, financial service and memberships to approximately nine million members and customers, is filling several critical roles in its Tampa office in the Westshore area.

One of these positions is a Social Media Marketing Specialist. A bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, business administration or computer science is required. Online digital marketing experience is also required, preferably in the social media environment.

Another opening at AAA is for an Accountant/Financial Analyst. This position requires a bachelor's degree in accounting, business or finance as well as experience preparing financial reports and analyzing data.

Other opportunities at AAA include various sales roles, support staff, travel agent and a customer service position. To view these opportunities, visit the AAA career website.

Airgas a distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gasses and hard goods in Tampa, is also hiring. Airgas is looking for a Safety Sales Specialist. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor's degree and 1-2 years of experience in business-to-business sales.

Other career opportunities at Airgas include a re-test technician, Director of HR, and a customer service position. To view these opportunities, click here.

Allegro, the senior independent living company, is seeking compassionate job seekers for positions at both of their Bay area locations.

At their St. Petersburg location, Allegro is seeking an Assistant Director of Nursing. A minimum of an associate degree in nursing is required, bachelor's degree preferred. Must have two years experience in long-term care, including at least one year supervisory experience.

In Tampa, Allegro is seeking a Senior Living Advisor. This person is responsible for building and maintaining high occupancy levels. Bachelor's degree preferred, and a minimum of one year experience in sales, geriatrics and/or other related background with a proven successful sales record.

To apply for these positions, or see all career opportunities with Allegro, click here.

Insight Global, an IT firm in Tampa, is actively seeking college graduates to work as an Recruiter/Account Manager with their company. In this role, the candidate will be expected to source, interview and place technical consultants and contractor candidates with clients, among other tasks. The Recruiter/Account Manager will be expected to entertain clients over lunch, dinner, concerts and sports events. Training will be provided, including training classes at the company's professional development center in Atlanta, GA. This is an entry-level position so no experience is required, other than the educational requirement of a bachelor's degree. To apply, click here.

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.

Car sharing network zips into downtown Tampa

A car sharing network has arrived in downtown Tampa.
 
Zipcar, which offers on-demand, self-service access to cars, is now up and running with a fleet of 14 vehicles. These vehicles can be accessed at several locations, including the Tampa Convention Center, the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, the Skyhouse Channelside Apartments, the University of Tampa, Tampa International Airport and the Tampa Westshore Marriott.
 
“Reservations can be made on our mobile app for an hour or several days; gas, insurance and 180 miles of driving is included,” says Katelyn Chesley of Zipcar.
 
Six new Zipcars are now available downtown by the hour or by the day. In addition to using the mobile app, reservations can be made on Zipcar’s website or over the phone.
 
The benefits of having a car sharing network in the downtown area are plenty, according to Chesley. It gives residents and visitors the opportunity to travel to local destinations that are not within walking distance, it helps reduce the amount of cars on the road and businesses can use it as well.
 
“The official launch in Tampa builds on successful Zipcar programs at the University of Tampa, Tampa International Airport and the Tampa Westshore Marriott,” says Chesley. “With a number of members already using Zipcar in Tampa, we were eager to expand to the downtown area to provide more residents and visitors with convenient access to wheels where they live, work and play.”
 
In addition to the fleet of vehicles in Tampa, Zipcar members can reserve and drive vehicles in 12 other Florida cities where the company operates. For more information, visit the company’s website

Escape game room opens on Kennedy near downtown Tampa

A new form of live-action entertainment has popped up on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. Who's the center of the action? You!

Escape Countdown joins downtown Tampa's Great Escape Room and Town N' Country's Can You Escape? as the latest in a series of puzzle and adventure games for groups. 

Inside Escape Countdown and the sistering Sarasota location, visitors will have to use their wits to escape from an interactive room in 60 minutes or less. 

Room themes are immersive, ranging from fantasy -- Alice in Wonderland -- to sci-fi -- it's up to your team to save the world! Other adventure themes include Paris and Jail Break. Finding and solving clues and puzzles, while working together with your team, will help players "escape" the room in the allotted time.
 
Room escape games, which gained popularity in Asia before making their way through Europe to the United States, have gained traction even in Florida in recent months.

“We are excited to see how the public will respond to this unique concept that is taking the world by storm,” explains Houdini Partner Group CEO Brent Alexander. 

Escape Countdown has locations in Tampa and Sarasota, with a third location opening in Atlanta in 2016. 

“Our goal is to make this a premium experience," Alexander said. "We want to be more like the Disney of escape room attractions.”

Alexander and Escape Countdown plan to keep the experience fresh for visitors by adding new themes to the attraction during the upcoming summer months.
 
While participants are not actually locked into rooms during the one hour of gameplay, exiting the room and not returning before the end of the game will mean disqualification. 

Games are $29.99 per player, and teams of 2-8 can register to play. Parties and corporate outings are encouraged.
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