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Bradenton Company Ups Employee Educational Support

Many businesses value educational attainment and appreciate the impact on the local economy. Bradenton IT support and consulting firm United Systems Computer Group not only recognizes the external benefits, but takes it one step further to integrate it into the company culture. 

Now in its eighth year of business, the company delivers IT support services to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Tampa Bay region. The company is growing and thriving in a down economy, something they attribute, in part, to the value placed on employee educational attainment.

"Education is paramount to our success,'' says David Spire, president and CEO of United Systems Computer Group.

In addition to the typical tuition reimbursement, the company takes it a step further by providing paid time off for employees to study. They also have an on-site lab where employees can take a study break during the work day. Education is also an integral part of each employee's individual strategic plan.

In a world where long work hours are encouraged, the company truly supports work/life balance by telling employees to go home if they're working too long. Spire has even been known to pay for an employee to go on a date with his wife. "I don’t care if you like me, as long as your wife likes me,'' jokes Spire. 

Support from the business community is essential to increasing educational attainment in the region, a goal of the Graduate Tampa Bay initiative launched in March of this year in conjunction with the Talent Dividend. A 1 percent increase in the number of Tampa Bay residents with college degrees would result in an additional $3 billion for the region in the form of increased productivity, innovation and social benefits.

A perpetual learner himself, Spire is currently pursuing an MBA degree at Webster University's Sarasota campus.

"I'm the champion for my people,'' says Spire. "If I make their existence in the organization solid and enjoyable, they're going to take that out to our clients. Our clients are happy, and that's based on the happiness of our staff.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Spire, United Systems Computer Group

Startup Weekend Tampa Generates New Social Interaction Platform For Events

EXMO, winner of Tampa's third annual Startup Weekend, represents the Tampa Bay region in the first-ever Global Startup Battle. The team is competing against 137 other regional Startup Weekend winners for a chance to travel to Rio De Janeiro for the Global Entrepreneurship Conference, as well as other prizes to help with the company’s launch. ?

EXMO is an interactive platform designed to facilitate communication between organizers, vendors, sponsors and attendees to help people EXperience MOre at conferences and other events. The app provides a localized feed that integrates with other social networks, allowing for real-time virtual interaction. Virtual conversations can occur pre-event, during and post-event, allowing for more personalized connections.

?The motivation for the concept came from co-founder Todd Goldberg, who was looking for a better way to connect with people at large events. As he prepared to attend Startup Weekend, he realized the only way to connect with other attendees was through Facebook or individual messaging. The original idea was to provide attendees with a way to communicate even if they didn’t know each other.

"During Startup Weekend, the concept evolved into a full conference solution that not only provides an amazing attendee experience, but also enables event organizers to offer more,'' says Nancy Vaughn, co-founder of EXMO and principal, pr & marketing director for White Book Agency.

The founders, all of whom reside in the Tampa Bay area, worked together for the first time at Startup Weekend Tampa. Their identification and understanding of the target customer ultimately led to their selection as the winner. 

The next step is additional feature enhancement and a beta release using Tampa Bay technology events, expected in late January. 

"The Tampa Bay area has a growing and diverse tech community, with many events bringing people together from all aspects of the industry,'' says Karl White, co-founder of EXMO and Founder of Charisma Studios. "We would love to be able to lead the way with a global flagship product, promoting both Tampa Bay’s technology events and its highly skilled community.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Todd Goldberg, EXMO; Nancy Vaughn, White Book Agency; Karl White, Charisma Studios

3 Tampa Marketing Companies Merge, Create 7 Jobs

Visual Alliance Media, Moonstruck Marketing Group and Good Dog/Bad Dog Creative Design will be merging to create Exakt Marketing, a full service marketing agency in Tampa. As part of the merger, the newly created company plans to create seven jobs.
 
"There are two overarching reasons to why we decided to merge,'' says Kerek Lee, CEO and partner of Exakt Marketing. "The first stemmed from the realization that we couldn't be experts in every aspect of marketing whether we wanted to or not. Also, coming together allowed us to bring together three organizations that were experts in their own respective areas of marketing. We can’t begin to stresss enough the importance of cohesive marketing strategy as it relates to a brand and an organization’s success.''
 
Visual Alliance Media specialized in social media marketing, while Moonstruck Marketing and Good Dog/Bad Dog specialized in creative design. Lee says that the merger will allow Exakt the ability to offer clients a full range of services including branding, graphic design, website development, search engine optimization and social media marketing.
 
In order to give clients the array of services Exakt plans to offer, Lee says the new company will need to expand right away.
 
"We are anticipating bringing on two sales positions prior to the end of this year,'' Lee says. "We’re also expecting to add two to three additional positions in the realm of social media management, web development and design. The remaining positions will be filled over an approximate 18 month period.''
 
Exakt Marketing plans to serve several different market sectors; with an emphasis on hospitality, health/wellness and conference planning.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Derek Lee, Exakt Mareting

Pasco Logistics Company Plans Move To Palm Harbor, Creating 60 Jobs

FreightCenter, a full-service freight logistics company in Pasco County, plans to relocate its headquarters to Palm Harbor in Pinellas County. The company’s need to move is due to the amount of growth the successful business has had and the continued growth that is planned.
 
"We’re running out of space at our current location,'' says Terese Kerrigan, director of marketing at FreightCenter. "We’re moving into a modern office building in Palm Harbor that has 13,000 sq ft of space, which triples the square footage of our current location.''
 
Kerrigan goes on to say that the move is designed to attract a larger group of qualified workers since the new location will be closer to a metropolitan area. With the company needing more workers, she says FreightCenter is already hiring.
 
"We’re looking to create about 60 jobs between now and the end of the first quarter of 2013,'' Kerrigan says. "We're hiring immediately. We will be transitioning groups to the new building in waves. March is our busiest month and we're hoping to get new hires trained and ready to go before that time next year.''
 
FreightCenter is currently hiring account managers, however, as the company continues to expand, there will be openings in marketing, IT, accounting and customer service.
 
"Our immediate need is for account managers who manage inbound calls from customers who need to ship a piece of freight,'' Kerrigan says. "These positions offer excellent mobility and benefits after 90 days.''
 
For more information on FreightCenter, or to apply online visit the company’s website and job page.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Terese Kerrigan, FreightCenter

Local Coderetreat For Tampa Bay Software Developers

In a typical day’s work, software developers focus on specific tasks and end results, but may not have a chance to explore alternative approaches to the craft of coding.

Enter Global Day of Coderetreat. The day-long worldwide practice event on December 8, 2012, gives coders a chance to practice different approaches, styles and philosophies in a focused and intense environment.

The organizers aim to engage 3,000 developers in 200 cities around the world, asking them to solve the same problem, but in their own unique way.

Now in its second year, the Tampa area event is hosted by 8th Light, Inc. on North Dale Mabry Highway. Coders break into pairs and participate in six to eight sessions throughout the day, each with different challenges and learning opportunities. The challenges are designed so that the teams won’t finish them during each session, purposely encouraging questions and issues. At the end of each session, the group reconvenes for a retrospective -- discussing what they liked, didn’t like, achievements and frustrations.

“It’s more about the practice,” says Gavin Stark, VP of product development for Real Digital Media and co-founder of Tampa Coderetreat. “We’re getting people away to improve their development skills.”

The event attracts a wide range of participants, from experienced developers to those just starting their software careers. Developers code in whatever language they know, and some will try a new language or learn a new approach to coding.
Last year’s event spawned monthly coding practice nights in which Ruby developers continue to practice the craft outside of the constraints of the workplace. The group plans to eventually expand these monthly events and form software communities throughout Tampa Bay to include other coding languages.

“Any time the community can help people reinforce or improve their skills, we improve as a community,” says Stark.

Source: Gavin Stark, Real Digital Media
Writer: Megan Hendricks

New App Helps Parents Monitor Children Online And On The Road, Tampa

Now there’s an easy way for parents to keep track of their children and monitor their online presence regardless of their technical expertise. The recently launched MamaBear app is the first of its kind to combine location tracking with monitoring of both social network usage and driving speed.

The inspiration for MamaBear came from a conversation co-founder Stuart Kime had with a parent who described keeping up with a child as a fulltime job. The parent company, geoWaggle LLC, had already designed location-based technology through GeoMofo, a customer loyalty app. The social media piece was added, ad MamaBear was born.

“Parents don’t realize the level of importance they should put on social monitoring,” says Robyn Spoto, president of MamaBear and a graduate of the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa. “There are some pretty explicit, open, public things our children have access to.”

The app’s four founders are all parents from the Tampa Bay region. “Our passion for wanting to protect our children became a big commonality, and MamaBear just took off,” says Spoto. “We knew it was going to help other parents.”

Those parents include a single mom of a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old. She uses the app to keep an eye on her children while she’s traveling for work, and a mom with an autistic son who was hesitant to give her son a phone, but now has a level of comfort she didn’t have before.

The app was recently recognized in the “GEW 50” – a list of the 50 most innovative new companies showing high-growth potential competing in the Startup Open during Global Entrepreneurship Week – and was also selected as one of 25 highlighted by CNBC.

The founders credit the connections they made in Tampa Bay with contributing to their success. “There’s talent here,” says Spoto. “To recognize that is really important. Many times we think we need to look outside of our own backyard for talent in the tech development area, but if you look hard enough you’ll be able to find it here.”

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Robyn Spoto, MamaBear

Tampa Law Firm Uses Innovative Technology

Foley & Lardner LLP was recently recognized in the InformationWeek 500, a list of the most innovative users of technology in the nation, for the seventh year in a row.

The recognition came primarily because of the law firm's adoption of the cloud-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), a software program that allows employees to access corporate systems in real time, regardless of their geographic location or device. Because files are kept on a central vs. local server, employees can access the same programs, applications and data, and perform all of the same functions from any location. They can also access files and execute applications from any type of device, such as a smartphone, iPad or laptop.

"It has drastically reduced the amount of person power we need from an information technology help desk standpoint because everything is centralized,'' says Chris Griffin, Tampa native and commercial litigator for the firm. This means problems can be solved from the central server, allowing for a quicker response in a litigation situation when time is critical.
 
Employees also have the flexibility to choose their preferred work device. The company no longer purchases computers for its employees, but instead gives them an equivalent amount of money to spend on the device they are most comfortable with. It also provides more responsiveness and timeliness to meet client needs.

"As we look to keep Tampa's business community thriving, recognition of local businesses by organizations like the InformationWeek 500 list will help enhance Tampa's reputation as a city that will welcome and support companies like Foley, that work every day to improve business performance,'' says Linda Sanders, chief information officer for Foley & Lardner.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Chris Griffin and Linda Sanders, Foley Lardner

Tampa Healthcare Management Company Hiring Nurses, Software Engineers

INETICARE, a healthcare management company in Tampa, is currently hiring nurses, software engineers and administrative professionals. The company, which offers both care and claims administration services to employee groups, has grown steadily since its inception in 2004.

"When the company started in 2004, there were only three employees, today we have 50,'' says Ronnie Brown, VP of business development for INETICARE. "We’ve been able to grow quickly and successfully, and are very well respected in the healthcare industry, which is an industry that will continue to grow. There is a need for the technology solutions we provide.''

INETICARE was founded by CEO and President Joseph Hodges, who saw a need for innovative electronic solutions within the healthcare management industry. Today the company offers a variety of technology solutions related to claims services and care management.

There are currently two software engineering positions open at INETICARE. According to Brown, the company also plans to add to their sales staff and is currently looking for sales professionals. She goes on to say that due to the services the company provides, nursing professionals are often in demand.

"We are always looking to hire nurses because that is so much of what we do,'' Brown says. "Right now we are looking to hire two to three nurses whose function is to provide care to employees in our employee groups.''

INETICARE administrative offices are located at 400 North Ashley Drive, Suite 1550, in Tampa.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Ronnie Brown, INETICARE

Manufacturer Moves To Pasco, Plans High-Paying Jobs

J.T.D. Enterprises, a company that makes tubular assemblies for various products, is planning to relocate from Michigan to Pasco County next year. The business will create 10 new jobs that are expected to exceed average annual salaries in Pasco County by 115 percent. The owners of J.T.D. Enterprises were drawn to Pasco County by tax incentives, weather and a significant regional customer base.
 
"My wife and I own the business, which was started by my father over 30 years ago,'' says Tom Nihra, VP of J.T.D. Enterprises. "We have a lot of customers in Florida and throughout the Southeast. Also, it's certainly a lifestyle change for us to move to a warm climate year round.''
 
J.T.D. Enterprises is unique from other manufacturers in that they have proprietary technology, which enables them to manufacture tubular assemblies used in golf ball accessories, flagpoles and defense technologies. With a growing customer base, the company will be able to expand as it relocates.

"The relocation is scheduled for the middle of next year,'' says Nihra. "We are looking at starting the first phase of hiring in April of 2013, which will be five or six positions. The balance of the jobs will be filled by September 1, 2013.''

Nihra says he plans to hire a couple customer service representatives, who will be expected to perform administrative support duties as well as sales. He will also be looking for qualified candidates who are skilled in machinery.

"For the skilled manufacturing positions, candidates will need to bring an applicable skills set, however, there will still be some training on the proprietary technology we use to make our products.''

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Tom Nihra, J.T.D. Enterprises

Tampa Bay Startups Vet Ideas At Startup Weekend

Tampa Bay culminates Global Entrepreneurship Week with Startup Weekend Tampa, beginning November 16 at 6 pm at Keiser University.

The 54-hour event allows Tampa Bay entrepreneurs to pitch their startup ideas and receive feedback from peers, mentors, coaches and other experts. Participants select the top ideas, and teams are formed to create business models and take the concepts to the next level. 

The third of its kind in Tampa, the Startup Weekend Tampa event is part of a global grassroots movement, which has inspired more than 400 events in 100 countries around the world.  This fall's event is part of a larger competition, providing the winning team with an invitation to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Brazil in March 2013. There, they will give a 90-second pitch in a live competition featuring investors, government officials and policymakers from around the world.

Startup Weekend brings together developers, designers, marketers, business people and entrepreneurs to form a community network that is focused on action.

"It's very powerful to have these interconnections and opportunities so we're not just meeting up for a casual conversation,'' says Ryan Sullivan, brand manager for TVGoods and co-organizer of Startup Weekend.  "We say, 'think of a concept, build a product'.'' Eighty percent of participants globally have continued to work on their startups after the weekend concluded.

Past winners of the Tampa event include Trivia Wars (now Trivia Bash), a gaming platform that allows people to play trivia games with different partners on mobile devices, and Checkout My URL, which rates websites on usability and feasibility.

Ultimately, events like this produce more centered businesses that help the Tampa Bay region grow.

Cost for Startup Weekend Tampa at Keiser University is $99 for general admission; $49 for students.

For more information or to register, visit: Startup Weekend Tampa.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ryan Sullivan, Startup Weekend Tampa

Plasma-Therm Continues Hiring Through 2013

Rev-Tech Manufacturing Solutions, a division of Plasma-Therm in St. Petersburg, plans to add 10-15 manufacturing jobs in 2013.

Rev-Tech manufactures semiconductor chips that are used in many retail products, including LED televisions, cell phones and hard drives. With the growing popularity of smart phones, Plasma-Therm is seeing their product sales soar.

"With the rapid penetration of smart phones such as the Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5, we see an increase in demand for our products,'' says Abdul Lateef, CEO of Plasma-Therm. "With a combination of increased focus on the customer, and the expansion of our distribution worldwide, we have been able to capture a larger market share.''

Since 2011, the company has added 16 new employees to its Rev-Tech subsidiary, and close to 50 people to the Plasma-Therm parent company.

"We anticipate the business to continue on a growth trajectory, and as such we expect to add another 10-15 people to the Rev-Tech team, and an even higher number to the overall company,'' Lateef says.

The company is looking for CNC programmers and operators, mechanical workers, welders and sheet metal fabricators.

Qualified candidates can apply for open positions here through the company’s website.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Abdul Lateef, Plasma-Therm

IDEA Camp Helps Launch Entrepreneurs, St. Pete

Are you an entrepreneur or small business with an idea, but aren’t sure about next steps to get it off the ground?

Tampa Bay Innovation Center hosts its Fall 2012 IDEA Camp Wednesday, November 14, 8 am - 2:30 pm at Collaborative Labs, St. Petersburg College. The goal of the collaborative event is to help Tampa Bay businesses and individuals in technology fields create a winning pitch and add value to their concept, positioning them to move their idea forward.

The full day workshop provides advice, direction and one-on-one assistance from volunteer business consultants, investors, lawyers and entrepreneurs to help participants refine an idea into a 60-second pitch.

“Often someone who is deep into their idea can’t look at it from the 60,000-foot level,” says Danielle Weitlauf, New Venture Manager for the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. “The event helps open the door to whatever type of partnership they are trying to get.”

IDEA Camp participants will leave with a refined business model, credibility for their product or idea, confidence to deliver an effective value proposition, new contacts and a plan for next steps.

The event has taken place since 2009 and has assisted many companies with getting their ideas off the ground. One such idea is Head of Lettuce Media, this year’s social media sponsor. The company was launched at IDEA Camp in 2009 and is now growing and thriving in the Tampa Bay area. 

“The event is part of supporting the full entrepreneurship ecosystem in Tampa Bay,” says Weitlauf. “It could be a launch pad to getting a great idea off the ground.”

The event is open to 15 concepts, with one to two attendees per concept. If selected, the cost to attend is $99. The deadline to apply is Friday, October 26. Click here for more information, and to apply.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Danielle Weitlauf, Tampa Bay Innovation Center

IT Workforce Initiative Aims For Qualified Workers, Tampa Bay

Leaders of the local technology community have come together to create a task force that will target qualified IT professionals. The task force recently held in-depth interviews with business and academic leaders, sent out surveys to IT professionals in the local workforce, in addition to conducting focus groups with students, executives, HR professionals and educational institutions. The purpose of their research was to discover what challenges the IT community faces both now and in the future in regards to ensuring a steady flow of qualified workers for future economic growth.

The task force discovered several areas for improvement, including making the Tampa Bay area more marketable to IT professionals, ensuring students receive the necessary education and training needed to succeed in the field, and bridging the gap between educational institutions and local businesses.

Heather Kenyon, CEO of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF), is on the task force and will be taking the lead on the action plan set forth by the task force to resolve the issues that were raised in the report.

"The TBTF has taken the lead on the recommendations because this issue affects all of our members, particularly the small- and medium-sized companies that comprise the majority of the area’s businesses,'' Kenyon says.

TBTF has already embarked on various initiatives such as student chapters at local colleges and intern fairs, in addition to working with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on a strategy to help veterans get the training needed for a career in IT. She has also been given a secured commitment from industry partners to take on interns and newly graduated college students.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Heather Kenyon, TBTF

Novation: Two New Startups, 200 New Jobs In Tampa

Novation Companies, Inc., which acquires and operates technology-based startups, plans to create 200 local jobs in the Tampa Bay region through two new small businesses.
 
Novation’s startups are Mango Moving, a residential and corporate mover, and Advent Financial, which provides prepaid credit cards for those without bank accounts. New jobs will be created in both.

"We expect to add approximately 100 employees to Advent Financial, and another 100 or so employees to Mango Moving over the next year,'' says Steve  Haslam, COO of Novation.

Haslam says a majority of the approximate 200 positions will be in the areas of sales, quality control and customer service.

Novation currently operates a home appraisal management company known as StreetLinks, which arrived in Tampa last year and has 200 employees. Haslam expects StreetLinks to expand as well as the housing market rebounds

While Novation is headquartered in Kansas City, MO, the company has two Tampa locations: 9314 E. Broadway Ave. and its most recent addition at NetPark office complex on East Hillsborough Avenue. Haslam credits the area’s pro-business climate for Novation’s expansion in Tampa.

"We chose a present and future expansion strategy in Tampa because of the positive hiring environment, positive facilities pricing and availability,'' Haslam says. "The Florida Economic Development folks worked with us closely as well, and we felt very welcome here by Governor Scott and his economic team.''

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Steve Haslam, Novation

$1M Grant Bolsters Tampa Bay Startups, 245 New Jobs

A $1 million dollar federal grant has been awarded to USF and its regional partners as part of the U.S. Commerce Department’s i6 challenge. The purpose of the grant is to support new web and mobile app startups, with the goal of creating high-wage jobs.

USF along with Tampa Bay WaVE, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County, the University of Tampa and other private companies have come together in a partnership to support local tech entrepreneurs in their efforts to get their ideas and products to market.

"We are partnering with Tampa Bay WaVE and working with them to provide participants of our program with educational workshops, mentoring and access to existing programs here at USF,'' says Tracey Swartz, assistant director of the innovation and incubation program of USF Connect. "We will also be working with Tampa Bay WaVE to develop educational content for the program.''

With the money from the i6 Challenge grant, the partnership expects to help at least 50 Florida-based startups secure funding and grow into viable tech companies, creating an estimated 245 high-wage jobs. The grant money will also be used to open and operate the FirstWaVE Venture Center, which will be an innovation and incubation facility headquartered in downtown Tampa.

The next step for the partnership is to attend a one-day conference for all i6 Challenge winners in Washington D.C. on Oct. 2. USF President Judy Genshaft has also been invited to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the Department of Commerce at the White House the day before. President Genshaft will be a panelist discussing student and faculty innovation and entrepreneurship.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Tracey Swartz, USF Connect
306 Technology Articles | Page: | Show All
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