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TEDxYouth@TampaBay Celebrates Local Youth

What do a conservationist, a scientist and the youngest solo hiker on the Appalachian Trail have in common? They’re all Tampa Bay residents under the age of 18. They’re also all speakers at TEDxYouth@TampaBay.

The fourth annual event, November 16 at the John F. Germany Library in Tampa, brings the community together to celebrate the unsung heroes among Tampa Bay youth. The 18-minute "TED talks" are modeled after the larger TED organization, which originally stood for technology, entertainment and design but now includes any topic that is encouraging and inspiring.

This year's event is being held in conjunction with over 70 events across the globe during the weekend-long TEDxYouthDay

"We have a fantastic slate of presenters who are inspired by something and then go out and act on it," says Terri Willingham, the event’s organizer. "They’re not just thinkers, they’re doers."

The theme is "Spark of Inspiration." The six presenters, all from Tampa Bay, plan to exemplify the theme, each in their own way. For example:
  • 15-year old Neva “chipmunk” Warren is the youngest person to do a solo 1,700 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Her focus is encouraging people to move away from body image issues and focus on what your body can do.
  • Carrie Boucher takes art on the road to serve youth through the NOMADStudio (Neighborhood-Oriented Mobile Art & Design Studio) and the belief that art is for everyone.
  • James Geiger, a recent Masters’ degree graduate from the University of South Florida, is a multidimensional artist. Complications at birth left him with Cerebral Palsy, but that hasn’t slowed him down or stifled his ability to inspire and encourage others. His message is that there aren’t any disabilities. It’s all about what you can do with what you’re given.
  • At the age of 12, Avalon Theisen is this year's youngest presenter. When she was nine, she founded a nonprofit, Conserve It Forward, which promotes environmental awareness and action, especially among youth.
"We don’t always take a lot of time to listen to one another," says Willingham. "This is an opportunity for these young people to be heard, and for us to listen. It gives me reassurance and hope for the future."

The event is sold out, but can be viewed via live stream.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Terri Willingham, Learning is for Everyone

New App Captures Real-Life Recommendations From Friends

Like many newcomers, when Justin Davis and his wife moved to Tampa two and a half years ago, they didn’t know many good restaurants, entertainment venues or things to do. As they met people, they would ask for recommendations, only to forget them when it came time to actually go out and try a new place.

A new app named Drawer meets this need by allowing users to capture and track recommendations from people they know and trust.

"Think of it as Twitter meets Foursquare meets Pinterest," says Davis, Drawer’s founder.  

Users create virtual "drawers," giving each one a descriptive name such as "On the beach" or "Cuban restaurants." As they receive recommendations from others, they can add the location to the appropriate drawer. Other information can be added as well, such as who provided the recommendation or maybe a specific dish to try. Users can also create their own lists of places they want to recommend to others.

In a Twitter-style feature, users can also follow others to see their favorites.

The app was launched last week by Davis’s company, Madera Labs, a user experience firm based in Tampa. Although initially marketed in Tampa, the app can be used globally.

Drawer was part of Tampa Bay WaVE’s inaugural FirstWaVE Accelerator class, which provides entrepreneurs with resources such as mentoring and networking.

Next steps include expanding to allow businesses to deliver more customized experiences for their customers.

The app is available on iPhone and should be launched for Android and the web soon.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Justin Davis, Madera Labs

Triad Retail Media Expands, Adds 150+ Jobs In St. Pete

On November 1st, Triad Retail Media moved into its brand new 65,000 square-foot St. Petersburg national headquarters which will accommodate the firm’s growing staff as well as 150-200 new jobs created over the next three years.

The newly created jobs will focus on content, communications, IT, business intelligence, design and creative, ad operations, and video content management.

Triad creates, manages and operates online media programs for leading, high-traffic retail e-commerce websites including Walmart, eBay, Toys "R" Us, CVS, Sam’s Club, and several other recognizable brands.

The company’s move from the Westshore neighborhood of Tampa to the new office at Carillon in St. Petersburg was specifically selected because of the space available to accommodate the company’s expanding workforce.

"It will be a gradual, persistent hiring. We don’t expect to grow and then stop," says Misty Brown, Triad’s VP of communications.

Tampa’s market for technology, art and talented workforce highly resonated with the firm’s decision to further expand its presence in the Tampa Bay region.

"There are many advantages and multiple levels of talent in Tampa Bay. There is terrific talent here, several tech hubs are here, and there great art schools," says Brown.

Recently named on the annual Inc. 500|5000 list as one of the nation’s fastest growing companies and #27 in Tampa Bay, Triad reached a three-year sales growth increase of 143% and employs more than 400 in seven offices nationwide.

"We are a company of entrepreneurs; if you have an idea, you can expect to see it grow here. We welcome challenges," says Brown.

The firm’s early 2013 acquisition by Rockbridge Growth Equity has helped to further position Triad’s stock in the Tampa Bay market as well as the company’s significant and continued growth.

"Rockbridge has been a fantastic partner to enable our growth. It’s been an aid to our continued growth," says Brown.

The City of St. Petersburg worked closely with Pinellas County to facilitate Triad’s relocation to St. Petersburg as well as working directly with Triad and Enterprise Florida to qualify the firm for tax refunds through the Qualified Target Industry program.

For career opportunities, visit Triad online or via LinkedIn.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Misty Brown, Triad Retail Media

USAA Invests $164.3 Million, 1,200+ New Jobs In Tampa

USAA (United Services Automobile Association) is undergoing a major expansion in Tampa Bay, announcing a $164.3 million capital investment to create 1,215 new high-wage jobs and grow its local operations by 2019.

USAA leads the industry in insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services for the military community and their families.

"It’s a big deal, and it will have a pretty significant ripple effect in our economy. Add to that Amazon’s 1,000 new jobs, Bristol-Myers Squibb adding 600 jobs, and HealthPlan Services’ 1,000 jobs -- this is pretty serious economic growth that secures our future and the development of our community," says Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

USAA has operated in Florida for more than 40 years, with a significant presence in Hillsborough County. With more than 1,800 individuals currently employed at USAA’s New Tampa facility and over 600 employees additionally located throughout Florida, the firm has already created nearly 370,000 new jobs in just two years.

"USAA is growing as the demand for our financial products and services among the military community increases. We’ve had a great team of employees in Tampa for forty years, and we are excited to grow that team in this great military community," says USAA CEO Joe Robles.

In April, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners approved a local incentive package of $729,000, supporting a commitment of $2,916,000 from the State of Florida through the State’s Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program. The total QTI allocation of $3,645,000 will provide the company with $3,000 for the creation of each new high-wage job, incentives which will be payable over a nine-year period.

The company will initially lease 50,000 square feet of office space at Lakeview Center in Tampa and will soon construct a new 420,000 square-foot facility at Brandon’s Crosstown Center by 2015. Once complete, the facility will be the largest built-to-suit office project in Hillsborough County since 2001.

"This is another sign that Florida is becoming the number one place for business. Not only has Florida’s unemployment rate continued to decrease, but we are still below the national unemployment rate at seven percent," says Governor Rick Scott.

Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the Career Center online for more information on available positions.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Joe Robles, USAA; Rick Homans, Tampa Hillsborough EDC; Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida

Salsarita's Plans 500 New Jobs In Tampa Bay

Mexican-inspired Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina is rapidly expanding throughout Florida, and plans to bring up to 500 new jobs to the Tampa Bay region over the next three to five years.

With two locations already existing in Florida, Salsarita’s has more than 80 locations across the United States. The brand has targeted the Tampa and St. Petersburg area as a prime location to plant 20 new locations.

"Growth of the brand is happening in two ways: we are going to continue to build company restaurants in the Carolinas. Outside of the Carolina’s we’re going to be growing through franchising," says Chris Bailey, head of franchise development.

After settling the sale of McAlister’s Deli two years ago, the former owners began to seek out brands having significant growth opportunities. The team identified and purchased Salsarita’s, immediately beginning plans for long-term growth development.

The company’s expansion in Florida is a part of a tailored approach to franchise development that will begin operational investments in Tampa Bay in early 2014. The brand is committed to protecting the market territory of franchisees, adding one or more new locations per franchisee per year.

Each new Salsarita’s location would add between 15 and 22 new positions, including full-time restaurant managers, shift managers and servers.

Franchising has become a source of professional re-birth and a second career investment opportunity for many seasoned professionals seeking solid entrepreneurial opportunities.

"There is a growing appreciation and eagerness to work with franchises. Of all of the areas in industry and business that have been impacted adversely by the last several years of economic challenges, franchising has been the least impacted and the most consistent. It is, by nature, designed to give that go-getter entrepreneurial spirit the engine in which they can execute a good business," says Bailey.

For information on franchising and career opportunities, visit Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Chris Bailey, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina

Need A Ride? RideCommand App Promises To Get You Where You Need To Go

A new partnership makes it easier to find a taxi service when you need it within the Tampa Bay region.

Tampa-based Cab Plus, an upscale taxi service in the Tampa Bay region recently partnered with mobile app RideCommand  to provide a way to book transportation on demand or up to three months in the future through the web or a mobile phone.

The "ride now" feature lets you request an immediate pick-up from the location of your choice, including airports or places of business. The network identifies the closest car who will get to you in the shortest amount of time. A countdown clock displays within the app, and after 90 seconds if no car is available a message displays to please try again.

The "ride later" feature allows car services to compete for business by placing bids that you can choose from. You can pick the type of car and desired fare from those presented. The information provided also includes the company’s customer rating.

"We call it 'RideCommand' because we’re putting the passenger in command of their fate," says Alan Stapleton, founder and CEO of RideCommand.

The idea came about when Stapleton had a bad car service experience while trying to attend a wedding a few hours away from the airport. Having no idea where to start or what competitive prices should be, he went through a frustrating experience only to end up stranded at the airport. Although the company is based in Maryland, the app launched recently in Tampa based on connections made at a recent limo show in Atlantic City.

"We’re in Tampa because it’s innovation-friendly," says Stapleton.

The app is free and available on Android and iPhone.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Alan Stapleton, RideCommand

USF Offers Seed Capital To Companies In Technology Incubator

A new source of capital is available for startups that were formed based on the licensing of University of South Florida (USF) technologies.

Companies affiliated with the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI) at USF Connect can apply for up to $50,000 in funding to help take their products or services to the next level.

The goal is to assist these companies with reaching their goals within a year or less. The money is designed to help them overcome obstacles that may be keeping them from taking the next step -- whether it be taking a product to market, developing a prototype, paying salaries or purchasing needed materials.

To qualify, a company must have been formed using USF-licensed technology. Companies at TBTI span all industries, from a skateboard briefcase to science education materials, to mobile structures that will be deployed in therapeutics.

The funding is available through the Seed Capital Accelerator Program and is sourced from the USF Research Foundation, which set aside money from its long-term earnings for this purpose.

"One of the biggest things these early stage companies struggle with is getting proof of concept that helps them get investment or move them to the next level," says Valerie McDevitt, assistant VP for Patents & Licensing at USF.
"At the beginning stages it can be really hard to get that money, and it makes a huge difference."

Funding will be based on agreed project objectives being met. The deadline to apply is November 15, 2013.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Valerie McDevitt, USF

American Strategic Insurance Grows In St. Petersburg, Adds 22+ Jobs

American Strategic Insurance is continuing to grow, moving forward on the construction of its newest structure, expanding to new markets throughout the United States, and adding more than 20 jobs.

The $42 million construction development investment is a part of the firm’s new 13-acre complex for its new St. Petersburg headquarters.

As ASI continues its expansion, claims representatives, underwriters, customer service representatives, marketing representatives, and product managers will be added to the team to accommodate the firm’s bustling growth.

"We are in the process of starting the planning for new hires in 2014," says Executive V.P. Kevin Milkey.

In May 2013, ASI completed construction of its three-story 110,000 square-foot headquarters. The second building in the complex will be complete by the spring of 2014 and will house ASI’s operation center, a new daycare center for employees, and other tenants planning to rent office space.

Founded in 1997, ASI began selling personal and commercial lines insurance in key markets throughout the state of Florida. In 2007, ASI set out on a massive expansion plan to share their product services beyond the state of Florida.

"We wanted to see how it would go in some of the Midwestern states, and it’s been very receptive. Based on that, we believe we can expand into all of the other states because we’ve had success," says Milkey.

By 2012, the firm had expanded into 25 new states. After completing the expansion project, the company decided to further their expansion throughout the United States.

"It just made sense to be a full national company," says Milkey.

ASI will complete development in six to eight additional states per year, expanding into the majority of the United States by 2017. The company will also be hiring marketing and field claim representatives specific to the new markets in other states.

"We will have additional hires that will work remotely in the states that we enter," says Milkey.

For career opportunities with ASI, visit them online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Kevin Milkey, American Strategic Insurance

Amazon's New Lakeland Facility Adds 1,000+ Jobs

Amazon confirms additional expansion in Florida with plans to open its newest fulfillment center in Lakeland, kicking the job meter to more than 1,000 full-time jobs to and sticking to their proposed plan to create more than 3,000 jobs in the Sunshine State.

"We look forward to offering more than 1,000 full-time jobs with comprehensive benefits at our new fulfillment centers. We appreciate the state, city and county officials who have worked with us to bring these fulfillment centers to Florida. We’re excited to join the community, bringing great jobs and investment to the area," says Mike Roth, Amazon’s VP of North America operations.

The announcement to open Amazon’s newest fulfillment center in Lakeland comes less than one month after the company’s purchase of land in Hillsborough County to begin construction on a fulfillment center that will create more than 1,000 permanent, seasonal and construction job opportunities in Tampa Bay.

On average, Amazon’s fulfillment center jobs pay 30 percent higher wages than traditional retail jobs.

The Lakeland facility will be developed by Johnson Development Associates, Inc. and will feature more than one million square feet of operational space. The Lakeland team will focus on picking, packing and shipping large items such as kayaks and TVs to customers.

The company additionally offers stock grants for full-time employees as well as healthcare benefits, 401(k), and company stock rewards. Through Career Choice, which pre-pays up to 95 percent of tuition courses related to in-demand fields, employees also have the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees and further grow within the company.

"This announcement signifies that Florida has the infrastructure, workforce and business-friendly climate needed to support companies like Amazon. We are extremely fortunate in Florida to have announced numerous game-changing competitive job projects over the last two years, and we look forward to watching Amazon grow in our state," says Gary Swoope, Secretary of Commerce and President and CEO of Enterprise Florida.

Click here for a list of career opportunities and to learn more about working at an Amazon fulfillment center.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Mike Roth, Amazon; Gray Swoope, Florida Department of Commerce, Enterprise Florida

Bristol-Myers Squibb Brings 579 Jobs To Tampa Bay

Bristol-Myers Squibb is moving forward on development plans to open its new North America Capability Center in Hillsborough County. The expansion project will bring 579 highly skilled jobs in life sciences to the Tampa Bay region.

"We are pleased to locate our North America Capability Center in Hillsborough County. We evaluated many locations and considered many factors before deciding that Florida was the best state for our new facility," says Senior VP Gareth Morgan.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, a BioPharma leader in the research, development and manufacture of therapeutic prescription medicines, specifically selected Hillsborough County for several reasons: talented work force, strong university presence, the Tampa Bay region’s business climate, economy and quality of life, and availability of the necessary logistics and office facilities.

Set to open in January 2014, the new 70,000-square-foot center located at 5104 Eisenhower Boulevard South in northwest Hillsborough County will begin staffing in the first quarter.

The company will focus on hiring 250 knowledge workers having an expertise in information technology, marketing services, business and finance, and other functions supporting the company’s biopharmaceutical business in the United States.

The 10-year lease agreement includes an option to lease an additional 60,000 square feet. The firm also plans to locate and add 325 more jobs supporting scientific and technical activities by 2017.

"We are seeking people in the Tampa area who are looking for an opportunity to change lives, including their own," says Morgan.

The company has a large focus on a culture of innovation that translates to the delivery of high-quality services.

The new center will help the company improve overall quality, efficiency and productivity while increasing competitiveness by housing these services in a single location.

"Innovation and continuous improvement are hallmarks of our culture at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Our new North America Capability Center will help us build our capabilities and expertise in order to more effectively and efficiently meet the needs of our customers in an increasingly complex and competitive industry," says Morgan.

For more information on career opportunities, visit Bristol-Myers Squibb online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Gareth Morgan and Frederick Egenolf, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Hillsborough Community College Launches Certificate Program, Event For Entrepreneurs

Hillsborough Community College (HCC) enhances its offerings for current and aspiring entrepreneurs with a new certificate program open to the public and an event focused on active military and veterans.

The 12-credit, one semester certificate program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation launches in January 2014. Students will learn from local business owners and HCC faculty as well as conduct field research in the business community.  

"It will give our students a chance to develop their ideas and collaborate with other entrepreneurs to begin contributing pretty substantially to the local economy," says Andy Gold, business faculty member at HCC and a driving force behind the program’s creation.  

A lifelong entrepreneur, Gold moved to Florida a year ago and has since immersed himself into the Tampa Bay entrepreneurship ecosystem. "I’ve met some really amazing people in Tampa Bay. We’re well on our way to building a substantial program at HCC that can work with everybody."

Students will start off in the same cohort, and will then be broken into groups based on where they are in their entrepreneurial journey:

Path one – Intrepreneur: People who enjoy the innovation, adaptability and problem solving skills that come with entrepreneurial education but still want to work in a traditional corporate environment.

Path two – Specialization: People with a desire to be self-employed but without a business idea. After the certificate program is completed, they can take additional courses in a specialized area of focus such as event planning or computer repair.

Path three – Launch: People who are prepared with a concept and ready to start their own business. The program will help students develop their idea and make it more scalable.

HCC is also hosting a Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium (VETS) October 26 at its Dale Mabry campus in Tampa. Open to active military, veterans and their spouses, the program will provide entrepreneurs with a day’s worth of seminars about starting a business.

Greg Celestan, local entrepreneur and CEO of Celestar Corporation and U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel is the keynote speaker. At the end of the day, a business pitch competition will award $5K in assistance to the winning pitch.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Andy Gold, HCC

Valet Boss App Among Hottest Tech Startups In Nation

After lunch one summer afternoon, Susie Steiner stood in the hot sun for "what felt like forever.'' Steiner was waiting for her valet-parked car to be retrieved by an attendant at International Plaza in Tampa.

"It felt like 95 degrees,'' she recalls, "and I was frustrated that there was not a faster way to retrieve my vehicle.''
 
Steiner, who is CEO of ExecuTrans Services in Tampa and organizer and facilitator of Startup Weekend Tampa Bay, is no stranger to the startup community. So when she identified a need for a more streamlined valet retrieval service, she created one herself. The mobile app Valet Boss was born.

At last week's Tech Cocktail Social at Fox Jazz Cafe, Valet Boss competed with four local startups for the title of Hottest Showcasing Startup in the area, and for the opportunity to continue on to a national conference and showcase in Las Vegas.
 
The October 8th demo "went so well that we couldn't demonstrate the product fast enough!'' Steiner says. "Fortunately, we were allotted two minutes to pitch on stage and ended up winning the community vote -- as well as corporate Tech Cocktail's vote.''

Now, the startup will join 24 other companies from around the country to compete for the title of Hottest Showcasing Startup in the Nation at Tech Cocktail Celebrate, held Oct. 24-25 in Las Vegas.

Valet Boss will launch in Tampa in Dec. 2013, in anticipation of the holiday season. With no outside funding to date, the Tampa startup is completely bootstrapped. The app, which is free to the consumer, can be implemented at restaurants, bars, hospitals, casinos, hotels, airports and private events.

Valet Boss provides as a great a benefit to locations that implement the service as it does to consumers, says Steiner.

"Our peers have spoken, and 100 percent of valet users said they would use the app,'' she explains. "Additionally, many stated they would valet park more frequently because of the cashless system Valet Boss offers.''

The startup's public launch will include Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, LA and Minneapolis, Steiner says. To join the queue, visit ValetBoss.com.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Susie Steiner, Valet Boss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For information on career opportunities, contact RPE Solutions online.

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

Absolute Mobile Solutions Combines Internships With Philanthropy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EmbroidMe Adds 20 New Locations, 200+ Jobs in Tampa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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