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Mall goers to play Wheel of Fortune, JEOPARDY!, other game shows in kiosks

Tampa Bay mall goers will soon be able to play the popular game shows Wheel of Fortune, JEOPARDY!, Family Feud and The Price is Right at mall kiosks. As part of its in2win advertising promotions, the St. Petersburg-based Priatek is expected to launch the games June 27.

“What we’ve been able to do is connect consumers with advertising in a fun and rewarding way,” says Milind Bharvirkar, Priatek’s President.

Priatek began offering games at mall kiosks in November, but its new revised app will include the popular reality show games, plus loyalty points and gift card programs. Currently there are 80 kiosks operating in the Tampa and Orlando areas.

The goal of the Priatek program is to engage consumers when they are pre-disposed to buy. So they allow consumers to play games for free and win prizes and coupons offered by advertisers, who pay when a customer chooses their product. When consumers register during the process, they’re more likely to follow through with a purchase, Bharvirkar says.

“It doesn’t matter if you play the game or you skip the game,” he says.

Lots of people love to play though, as was evidenced in the past by McDonald’s popular Monopoly promotion. Bharvirkar saw it first hand with coin-operated games for a San Jose, CA, business he founded, Global VR.

“The game element is simply about putting you in a positive state of mind. The games in general are an escape for people,” he explains. “... Just the anticipation of winning sets off dopamine in our brains that leads to a positive connection to that brand.”

Prizes or coupons are issued instantly; there’s a limit of 20 per day. Some people win big prizes like diamond earrings, cruises, VIP passes to the Daytona 500, and fishing trips.

Users can download the app starting June 27 from the Apple and Google app stores, enabling them to play some of the games at the mall on their cellphones and tablets, but not computers.

In July, Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY! will be on a mobile app as well. Priatek doesn’t have mobile rights yet for Family Feud and The Price is Right.

Kiosks are installed at Tampa Bay area malls, including Tyrone Square, University, Westfield Brandon, Westfield Citrus Park, Westfield Countryside, and Westshore Plaza. Discussions are underway regarding International Plaza.

Bharvirkar is looking to expand into sports arenas, big box retailers, hotels and large retail chains.

Advertisers small and large can link their brand with a popular game show for as little as $100 a month. “Nobody’s ever been able to do that,” he says.

Priatek is interviewing to possibly hire two advertising sales reps for the Tampa Bay area soon. They’ll be hiring elsewhere too: Priatek is expanding nationally this year, starting with New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.


June job fairs seek employees for construction, healthcare, hospitality and government

June job fairs in the Tampa Bay area offer job seekers potential opportunities to work in construction, healthcare, hospitality, government and other fields.

The Southwest Florida Construction Careers Fair in Sarasota June 20 seeks to place minorities, women, veterans and others in transportation construction jobs. As a part of a three-year-old initiative with the Florida Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration, local prime contractors and subcontractors will be meeting with potential job candidates from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Knights of Columbus, 4880 Fruitville Road.

Immediate jobs are available in Sarasota and Manatee counties, and in the Bartow area of Polk County, plus other locations statewide.

“We want to help the contractors. We want to help the community,” says Megan Olivera, Senior Communications Manager for Quest Corp. of America, an FDOT consultant. “Our focus is to recruit a viable construction work force.”

A goal of the OnBoard4Jobs program is to increase minority and women hired for federal- and state-funded road construction projects. “If you’re looking for a job right now, this is the place to look for it,” she says.

The industry employs heavy equipment operators, carpenters, welders, concrete finishers, foremen, truck drivers, asphalt workers, flaggers, pipe fitters and general laborers.

The free career fair is intended for job candidates 18 and older, with or without experience.

OnBoard4Jobs maintains a database of employers. Candidates can visit the website or call 866onboard for more information. 

In Tampa, Humana Inc. is holding a two-day Job Fair June 8 and 9 at its Direct Marketing Services call center at NetPark, 5701 E. Hillsborough Ave. Humana announced May 24th that it will be adding more than 200 telesales specialists to its Tampa Bay workforce. About 20 of the positions are permanent and include comprehensive benefits; the others are seasonal.

Interviews will be conducted at the job fairs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 8 and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 9. Starting dates are in June through August.

Telesales workers are being hired for national phone sales and enrollment assistance for Humana’s Medicare benefit plans, senior products, and specialty products. They will handle inquiries and assist Humana Medicare Advantage members nationwide, providing guidance and locating benefit solutions.

More than 200 are seasonal workers for the annual Medicare open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. These seasonal jobs may be full-time for up to six months.

Applicants must have or be able to obtain a health insurance license, be familiar with Windows personal computer applications, possess strong communications skills and hold a high school or GED diploma, says Humana spokesman Mitch Lubitz. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree, sales and/or customer service experience, bilingual or multilingual skills, and a background in healthcare is preferred.

For more information, visit Humana careers online. Use requisition number 175136 for full-time, or requisition number 175134 for seasonal.

Here are some other job fairs scheduled in the Tampa Bay area.

The Tampa Bay Times is holding its Tampa Bay Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 13 at Holiday Inn Westshore in Tampa. Admission and parking are free. More than 50 local employers are anticipated, along with representatives of higher education and technical training schools.

• The Hyatt Regency Sarasota has scheduled a job fair from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 15 at the hotel at 1000 Boulevard of the Arts in Sarasota. It offers career opportunities in culinary, engineering/maintenance, event services/setup, food and beverage, front office and guest services.

• Tampa Job Fair, a one-day hiring event by Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs, is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 19 at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport. Job candidates are advised to arrive at the career fair at 11 a.m. wearing professional business clothing, with at least 10 copies of their updated resumes. Hiring managers from a variety of companies will be there. Professionals with all skills levels are encouraged to attend.

• Jobseekers in sales, business development, marketing, customer service, and retail and sales management can connect with potential employers at the Tampa Career Fair by United Career Fairs June 28. The free event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport. Applicants are advised to arrive at 6 p.m. in business attire with at least 10 up-to-date resumes.

• The third annual Pasco Community Job Fair, hosted by Pasco County schools, is slated from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 29 at River Ridge High School in New Port Richey. Job applicants can meet with hiring managers from local governmental agencies. There will be job opportunities for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, mechanics, bus drivers, information services/help desk workers, food service assistants, child care assistants, custodians, skilled trades workers, financial services personnel and customer service employees. The event is free.

JobNewsUSA is holding its Job News Tampa Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 11 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Admission and parking are free.


USF adds accelerated nursing studies in Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee counties

The University of South Florida is launching a new five-year track for students from Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties pursuing their second degree in nursing. The partnership between USF’s College of Nursing, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee is intended to boost the number of baccalaureate-trained nurses in the Tampa Bay Area.

“I want USF College of Nursing to be the first solution to prepare nurses at the baccalaureate level for the Suncoast region,” says Dr. Victoria Rich, whose appointment as Dean of the USF College of Nursing and Senior Associate VP of USF Health was announced May 18.

The Suncoast Nursing Accelerated Pathway program allows students to earn bachelor’s degrees in Biology at the USFSP or USFSM campuses, then transition into the College of Nursing’s accelerated Bachelor’s of Science degree in Nursing program. While enrolled in the Tampa nursing program, students would be able to do clinical work in their home counties.

The program starts next fall.

Rich, who holds master’s and PhD degrees in nursing administration from the University of Pittsburgh, says the program makes it easier for students who enter college with a different major to switch into nursing. She knows firsthand what that is like. “I wanted to be a PhD botanist. I loved plants. I loved growing things. Then I realized after I had my children ... I want to be a nurse,” recalls Rich, whose first degree was in biology.

Students who pursue the five-year track will not only be better trained for bedside treatment, but will be on the career path to becoming nursing scientists and researchers. In this role, they typically research symptom management.

This background in biology will actively be very powerful moving forward as we prepare nurses for the future,” Rich says.

USF students on the Tampa campus have a number of paths to earn a second degree in nursing, including an added five-semester program they can pursue after earning another degree like biology, psychology, journalism or marketing.

The new Accelerated Pathway Program is intended to make it easier for students who find it difficult to travel to Tampa for classes. “We’re hoping the candidates going into this program are more likely to stay in the Suncoast region hospitals,” she adds.

USF is hoping to enroll 10 students in the program at each of the USFSP and USFSM campuses, but there’s not really an upper limit they will accept. “If this becomes a tremendous program, we will find the faculty,” she asserts.

A large portion of Florida is considered “medically underserved” according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

Rich joined USF’s College of Nursing in 2015, and had been serving as interim associate dean of academic programs. She begins her new job June 15.

She has more than 35 years of leadership experience, having served as Chief Nurse Executive and Associate Hospital Administrator for the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and Associate Professor of Nursing Administration at the University of Pennsylvania Health System’s School of Nursing.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, with highest honors.


Greek, Caribbean music highlight heritage festivals in Tampa Bay Area in June

Tarpon Springs merchants are planning their inaugural Opa! Palooza, a celebration of their Greek heritage, June 9-11. The event features authentic Greek music and up to 90 vendors of arts and crafts.

And in Tampa, Caribbean music is featured at Tampa Bay Caribbean Heritage Festival on June 3 at the University Area CDC.

The Tarpon Springs Merchant Association is hosting Opa! Palooza, being organized by SIK Promotions of St. Petersburg. It hopes to attract visitors to the community known for its sponge docks in the off season, says Suzanne King, SIK’s Owner.

“We want to do cooking demonstrations, other kinds of authentic talks, workshops. We’re talking with the guy that designs and makes the diving helmet,” King says.

The free event runs from noon to 9 p.m. on June 9, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 10, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 11 on Dodecanese Boulevard.

The itinerary includes a Battle of the Bands Saturday night, with the winner being chosen to perform at Tarpon’s Seafood Festival, also organized by SIK, in November. Odyssey and Ellada will perform and author Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos will be on hand for storytelling. A petting zoo also is planned.

Also in Tarpon Springs, the One Act Plays Festival runs from June 8 to 11 at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St. General admission is $18 for a performance of 10 plays by 10 playwrights, with shows at 7:30 p.m. June 8, 9 and 10. The curtain rises at 2 p.m. June 11.

In Tampa, the Caribbean festival is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. at 14013 N. 22nd St. Performances by Jah Movement, Teddyson John, Fete Fit/Get Moving, DJ Spice, Voz y Accion de Puerto Rico and Tropical Groove Jazz are planned. Tickets are $10, with children 10 and under free.

The event, hosted by CANDO-Caribbean American National Development Organization, Inc., features food trucks and children’s activities.

Here are some other events planned in June.

Rock the Park is slated at 6:30 p.m. June 1 at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park downtown. This free monthly music series concert, which is for all age groups, features Zigtebra, Luxury Mane and Ari Chi.

St. Petersburg Opera Company is featuring The Tales of Hoffmann at 7:30 p.m. June 2, 2 p.m. June 4, and 7:30 p.m. June 6 at the Palladium Theatre, 235 Fifth Ave N.

• The 24th Annual St. Pete Beach Corey Area Craft Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 3 and 4 at 595 Corey Ave. The free event includes handmade pottery, jewelry, paintings and more.

• Clearwater Spring Concert Series: Third Eye Blind -- Take a trip back in time with this alternative rock band along the water at Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater. Show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets start at $31.

• The 16th Annual St. Armands Circle Craft Festival kicks off June 10 at 411 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota. The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 10 and 11. Learn more here.

• Carrollwood Cultural Center has a number of events planned for June, including an outdoor market with crafts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 10 and Cypress Creek Dixieland Jazz Band at 8 p.m. June 10. Get the details on these and other events here.

• Independent film buffs, music lovers and foodies gather from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every third Thursday (June 15th, July 20, etc.) for Flicks And Food Trucks at The Grand Central at Kennedy at 1208 E. Kennedy Blvd., in Tampa’s Channel District. The event is free.

• Travel vicariously at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa. Its International Photography 2017 Exhibition showcases winners from June 23 to August 18.

• The 15th Annual Downtown Dunedin Craft Festival is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24 and 25 at 271 Main St., Dunedin. The event is free.

Learn more about the June art scene in Tampa Bay at Arts Tampa Bay and at Creative Pinellas.


Florida tech startups compete for cash, exposure at USF Connect event in Tampa

Twenty Florida tech startups will have a chance to give 60-second elevator pitches May 30 to a three-judge panel including Dr. Kanwal Rekhi, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist meeting at USF Connect in Tampa.

Start-ups have until noon on Friday, May 26th, to submit their entries for the Start-up Shuffle, a Start-up Elevator-Pitch Competition by TiE Tampa Bay Chapter and USF Connect, says Ramesh Sambasivan, President of TiE Tampa Bay.

The Shuffle will provide a “scenic drive of Tampa Bay and the Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he explains. A pre-screening committee will review all submissions.

“This is a place to pitch real start-up companies, not for vetting,” Sambasivan says. “If they want to vet their idea, there are already enough mentors in town to do that.”

Start-up companies should have a product or offering that has launched, although it could still be in beta, he says.

On the panel of judges with Rekhi of Inventus Capital Partners, is Matt Rice, a Partner in Ballast Point Ventures, and Sid White, Co-Founder of Chemical Angel Network.

TiE and USF Connect decided to hold the contest earlier this month. Rekhi already had been scheduled to talk about the challenges for technology start-ups that are disrupting highly regulated industries.

“We were trying to come up with a way that would be a little different than just having five companies pitch,” says Valerie McDevitt, Associate VP for Tech Transfer and Business Partnerships at USF. “You do literally find your self in a cab or elevator with just a few minutes with someone.”

The Start-up Shuffle kicks off at 6 p.m., followed by networking, a Start-up Expo and Dinner from 7:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. A fireside chat with Rekhi is slated from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

His talk is to include an in-person case study of Alok Jha, Founder/CEO of Assured Risk Cover, an innovator in the insurance industry.

The event also includes a “living history” of Storm Peace, a hurricane insurance provider and the dinner’s sponsor, Sambasivan says.

The Start-up Shuffle winner will be announced later in the evening, probably before the fireside chat. The winner will receive a $1,001 cash prize, a breakfast meeting with Dr. Rekhi the following morning, and a chance to pitch to TiE Tampa Bay angel investors. The runner-up wins a 30-minute one-on-one mentoring session with a TiE Tampa Bay Charter Member and a chance to pitch to TiE Tampa Bay angel investors.

The 20 finalists win one complimentary ticket to the entire program or a discounted annual membership to TiE Tampa Bay.

The event at USF Connect’s Galleria on the Tampa Campus is open to the public. Enter the free contest or register for the event here.

TiE events typically attract “undercover investors” who really are actively looking for investments, Sambasivan says. As a result, conversations may become serious.

“You never know where that diamond in the rough is,” he adds. “That’s what we are trying to uncover with these types of events.


Clearwater Business SPARK celebrates one year of assisting entrepreneurs

When Clearwater SPARK launched last year, the business network targeted the needs of area entrepreneurs and start-up companies. The initiative planned to be a support system for these businesses, offering them a variety of services at all levels, from conception to operations.

At the time, the program brought together five partners: the city of Clearwater’s Economic Development and Housing Department, the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development, Florida Business Incubator (formerly known as TAFFIE) and the Clearwater Public Library System. Each partner had something different to offer small business owners and SPARK would serve as the conduit between the organizations involved and local entrepreneurs.

SPARK introduced its partners to the community at its March 2016 kick-off event at the Clearwater Main Library. Now, as SPARK partners reflect on its first year, the network will host another event at the library, Wednesday, May 24, 6 to 8 p.m.

“It really feels like we’ve come full circle,” says Audra Aja, Clearwater’s Economic Development Coordinator. “Here we are a year later bringing the community back to the library.”

The business initiative has a lot to celebrate, adds Aja, who fields calls for SPARK from her office at City Hall. In its first year, she made around 150 referrals to the initiative’s partners.

“The community has really responded to us and shown its support,” she says. “We bring a much-needed service to the community.”

SPARK has also welcomed two new partners since its launch. In January, Prospera, formerly known as the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund, joined the network as a way to reach out to Hispanic-owned businesses in Clearwater.

The latest partner to join forces with SPARK, Pinellas County SCORE, will be formally introduced at the May 24 event. SCORE, a nonprofit association with thousands of business experts worldwide, offers mentorship for small businesses and other educational resources.

The organization has been involved with SPARK from the beginning. They held business workshops at the Main Library. “They just weren’t an official partner,” Aja says.

SCORE brings new resources to the table, she adds. “They’ll be able to help those in the beginning phases of exploring their ideas and getting started. That’s something we didn’t have in our network. SCORE comes in at the entry level.”
 
In addition to accepting more referrals from SPARK, SCORE will also offer one-on-one consultations at Clearwater venues as well as more workshops.

The May 24 event will also serve as an open house for the library’s Maker Studios, Aja says. The Main Library has five studios spread throughout the building: the Creation Studio, the Discovery Studio, the Innovation Studio, the Multimedia Studio and the Heritage Studio, which will open in July. The Maker Studios launched last May.

During the open house, guests will tour the Multimedia and Innovation Studios, where they will learn about the free programs for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and view hands-on demonstrations of the equipment available in these spaces. Software, programs and equipment available for use include business databases, 3-D printers and scanners, design and production software, and audio and video equipment.

Rino Landa, Maker Studios coordinator, says not many libraries offer a makerspace. So the Clearwater Main Library stands out as a space for entrepreneurs and small businesses, he says. The wide range of offerings – from painting and sewing classes to tools for start-ups to genealogy resources – is also remarkable. “We are unique in that we have multiple spaces throughout the library and so much to offer on each floor,” he says.

Aja says the Maker Studios is the most “underutilized” aspect of SPARK, so the May 24 open house is designed to remind residents that it’s available to them. It’s also continuing to evolve, she adds, especially as new technology is developed. She says the library will add more multimedia tools and expand its workshop schedule in the coming year. “We’re really very fortunate that the library has invested in this for the community,” she says.

Register for the May 24 event at the Clearwater SPARK website or call (727) 443-0217.

Looking for a new job? Goodwill, Tampa Airport, Bank of America, others plan local job fairs in May

Goodwill Industries-Suncoast Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to helping people find dignity through employment, is celebrating International Goodwill Industries Week with a Community Job Fair May 10. The St. Petersburg-based organization has scheduled the event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pinellas Technical College’s St. Pete campus.

“The job fair is for anyone in the community that needs help finding a job,” says Chris Ward, Director of Marketing. “Already we’ve got 29 employers signed up.”

A mix of employers is anticipated, among them Home Shopping Network and Walmart. Staffing, bank and health care firms also are expected.

“We’ve done this for three years. We feel like it’s a great way to reach out and support the Goodwill mission of helping people,” Ward says.

Job seekers can learn more here

Goodwill’s Job Connection Center can help job seekers with preparing resumes, beefing up interviewing skills and more. A Skill Builder Workshop on resumes is planned from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. May 5 at the center at 3365 Central Ave., St. Pete. A workshop on overcoming the barriers of a criminal history is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 4 at the center. To register, call 727-321-7337 or e-mail Job Connection.

The Suncoast division founded in 1954 operates 22 stores in the 10-county West Central Florida region.

An Airport Concessions Job Fair is slated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 8 at Tampa International’s Airport Boardroom. Airport Concessions are looking to hire 350 to fill openings at new restaurants and shops expected to open this summer. Learn more.

Here are some other hiring events scheduled in the area.

• The Bank of America is holding a Recruitment Event from 10 a.m. to noon on May 11 at Tampa Center, 9215 N. Florida Ave., Conference Room #1. They are looking for inbound specialists and small business deposit servicing specialists who have one year of experience working with customers. Learn more.

Kaiser University Tampa Career Fair is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 16 at 5002 W. Waters Ave., Tampa. The free event, open to students, graduates and people in the community, is expected to include employers from a variety of careers such as business, legal, technology, allied health, sports medicine and fitness, and criminal justice.

• CareerIntro is holding a Tampa Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 23 at Doubletree, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Job seekers can meet local, regional, and Fortune 500 companies with openings. The event is free; professional attire is mandatory. Applicants are advised to register and submit their resume for review before the event.

•  Best Hire Career Fairs is planning its Tampa Job Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 25 at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 North Westshore Blvd. Candidates are advised to update their resumes and upload them for employers in advance.


Peer-to-peer tutoring app gains traction on college campuses, national recognition

College students struggling with classes can face an uphill battle finding a reasonably priced tutor with up-to-date skills. But now a South Tampa-based tutoring service helps them connect to peers who have recently aced the very class they need help with.

“We’re completely peer to peer and we’re extremely course specific. It’s more relevant,” says Knack CEO Samyr Qureshi.

Knack, which originally launched its product in Gainesville in 2016, is gaining traction. It was chosen by the San Francisco-based Kairos Society, a group that finds promising entrepreneurs and connects them with potential funders and industry leaders, as one of 50 to attend a Global Summit in April in New York City.

The event was “probably one of the highlights of my year,” Qureshi remarked later. It signaled “Knack is a company that can truly make an impact on a global scale,” says Qureshi, who grew up in Palm Harbor after migrating from Dubai with his family.

Knack -- co-founded by Qureshi, Dennis Hansen, David Stoker and Shawn Doyle -- has joined the Kairos Society as a K50 Company and is discussing funding prospects. It was featured in Inc. Magazine’s article about the summit entitled “Meet 50 Young Entrepreneurs Rethinking the World's Biggest Problems.”

Knack got its start in a University of Florida incubator, then claimed the $25,000 grand prize in the 2016 Big Idea Gator Business Plan Competition upon graduation.

“We’ve been really focused on helping college students afford this service,” Qureshi says. “Ultimately we want to partner with organizations that can help us make that happen.

It already is working with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, a nonprofit that sets aside a portion of scholarships to subsidize Knack tutoring. It also is partnering with UF Housing and Residence Education and UCF Student Government Association.

Through Knack apps for Apple and Android phones, students connect with some 900 tutors, for some 2,000 courses, most of them at the undergraduate level. A web app is in development. Students schedule a meeting, usually on campus, and pay with their debit card after a timed session.

Knack currently operates on six campuses including UF, the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida State University in Tallahassee, the University of South Florida in Tampa, North Carolina State University in Raleigh and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

It has completed more than 25,000 tutoring hours and grown 143 percent, semester after semester, in revenue and completed sessions, Qureshi says.

Knack’s ultimate goals are to improve learning, help students finish college and provide flexible employment. Tutors set their own rates -- the current average is $22 -- and are paid at the end of the session. Knack keeps 20 percent of the fee.

Prospective tutors can sign up on the Knack website. The company also invites others to “Join the Knack Pack.” It is seeking a Full Stack Developer and Campus Ambassadors to help the company “knacktivate campuses across the nation,” the website says.

With some 80 percent of the tutoring market focused on kindergarten through 12th graders, “in college there’s a bit of a gap,” says Qureshi, who earned a BA in Law and Criminology.

It’s a gap Knack is working to fill, with help from Tampa Bay WaVE and the growing Tampa Bay tech community. “Knack is a Launch company in the WaVE program,” says Daniel McDonald, Accelerator Manager, Tampa Bay WaVE. “We have been helping Knack accelerate a lot with pitch coaching, community building and setting them up with local investors.”


Media marketing firm to fill 24 new jobs, host TechHire meetup

The Tampa digital marketing company MediaLab 3D Solutions, which specializes in interactive technology for the homebuilders’ market, is adding 24 new positions by the end of June.

Tara Harris, the company’s Human Resources Director, says the positions are needed because of large projects MediaLab has taken on. The company has been experiencing “conservative, measured growth” during the last three years, she says.

“For us to hire 24 people in one quarter is significant,” Harris says.

The company added 7,000 square feet to its offices in Telecom Park last year. It is looking for an architectural visualizer to work with animated graphics so they look real. Other positions include 3D modelers (junior and senior level), producers, project managers and floor plan artists.

The company employs about 100 in staff and has nearly a 50/50 mix of male and female in leadership roles. They are seeking to diversify the staff to include more minorities.

“We hire people that have a degree as well as those that are non-degreed,” Harris says. “We’re looking for a skillset.”

MediaLab has a “progressive, open-door culture” and is looking for people who want a career path and who enjoy camaraderie, she says.

“We don’t hire jerks,” Harris adds. “The majority of our people are artists.”

Most have some background in interior design, fine arts or computer animation.

MediaLab is hosting the third TechHire meeting to discuss local tech employment needs. The meeting, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 19, will be at 13101 Telecom Drive, Suite 250. It features Stacy Jenkins, the company’s Director of Development.

The event is organized by Tampa Innovation Alliance, a multi-jurisdictional district working to revitalize the community surrounding the University of South Florida. Seating is limited and interested persons are advised to reserve a place. 

“Stacy Jenkins is going to speak about some of the challenges of finding qualified employees for [computer] developing roles, bringing diversity to the group we have,” Harris says.

MediaLab’s goal is to find and retain a skilled, diverse workforce. “It’s challenging for us to find the skilled people that are kind of younger in their career,” Harris says. “The generation that we appeal to tend to be a little more transient.”

The TechHire program, launched by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015, is building a pipeline of talent in communities throughout the country. Tampa Bay was officially designated a TechHire community in December. It received a $3.8 million federal grant last summer to fund technical training and connect people with jobs.


Local TV network seeks submissions from filmmakers doing video in 11 categories

A cable television channel in downtown Tampa is giving voice to the region’s filmmakers. Through its annual Film Showcase and Filmmaker Spotlight, the Tampa Bay Arts and Education Network provides opportunities for filmmakers to share their work on a broader scale.

“TBAE showcase runs yearly,” says Jessica Sturges, TBAE Director of Business Development. “June we’re closed for judges to complete review to make sure they meet our broadcasting standards and can play it on our cable channel.”

Filmmakers have 11 categories to choose from: animations, lectures, shorts, features, documentary, children’s programs, public service announcement, explainer/tutorial video, music video, culture video and television. Entries should not have nudity or strong adult language.

“It has to go through prescreening,” she says, “to make sure it meets those broadcasting standards.”

Winners will receive Laurel of Excellence Awards and have their work broadcast on Charter Spectrum Channel 635 and 636 and Frontier Communications Channels 32 and 34.

TBAE is working on a Netflix-like app that will expand its reach globally this fall.

Founded in 1987, TBAE broadcasts commercial-free arts, culture and educational content to some 1.3 million viewers in Hillsborough County. Its original content includes Characters of Ybor City, Circus Coming to Town, The Tampa Natives Show, Florida in the Space Age, and Filmmaker Spotlight featuring selected films from the Gasparilla International Film Festival.

It works with area colleges -- and even Blake High School -- to provide feedback and internships. “We work very closely with professors and teachers in the community to make sure they are producing what TV stations like us are looking for,” she explains.

Originally founded in the University of Tampa’s library, the nonprofit organization now encourages filmmakers from throughout the Tampa Bay/Central Florida region, including Sarasota, Bradenton and Orlando.

The network launched the area’s first film festival, The Independents’ Film Festival, in 1993, but had to discontinue it because of the cost, she says. Instead, they partner with the Gasparilla festival.

Filmmaker Spotlight ... is the result of this unique collaboration,” she says. “The program offers the viewer a behind-the-scenes interview with the filmmaker, before the film and after.”

The showcase was started in 2014 at the request of filmmakers who wanted to have the opportunity to air their work. TBAE normally broadcasts the showcase in August and September, she says.

Submissions can be made online here.  For more information, call 813-254-2253.


Real-time Tampa communications company automates business operations

Software companies usually offer free trials that attract potential users of their software to their websites. But if that software is not really easy to use, the potential customers move on to other websites. Large numbers of them leave a site -- if they have questions, if they’re asked to download communications software, or if they have to wait for customer service.

Tampa’s ThinkRTC, short for Think Real-Time Communications, is working to change that. “We automate the process of talking to your customers. Our product builds right into your website,” says Masud Hossain, Co-Founder and CEO.

ThinkRTC was developed last November during Startup Weekend by Hossain, Yusuf Shajahan, Stephen Hong and Jonathan Li, who met through their families or the University of South Florida. The company is growing 85 percent each month.

“It [the software] keeps your users from leaving [your website] and lets your business communicate instantly,” he says.

Hossain, who earned a bachelor’s degree from USF with a double major in biochemistry and physics, had been working for a software company that was having a hard time retaining its signups. When a customer wasn’t willing to connect with the software company on Skype or Google Hangouts, he or she “was falling off the face of the Earth,” he says.

Email was worse. “If businesses don’t migrate from email to real-time communications, they’re going to lose business,” he asserts.

Real-time communications is simpler – and it also avoids a 24-hour lag time often associated with emails. “They don’t want to have to wait for 24 hours,” he says, “because in that 24 hours they’ve probably found someone that’s better than you.”

It’s “very rare” for a company to have its screen-share capabilities like those available from ThinkRTC’s $25-a-month-per-agent subscription service, he says.

“A lot [of users] have to download software to do that,” he explains. “It makes it harder for the customer.”

ThinkRTC’s service can be up and running after copying and pasting a line of code into a company’s website. It doesn’t matter what type of computer, browser or software is in use, he says.

The service lets the business and customer share the screen and computer, as well as engage in video chat. A ThinkRTC app allows communication on the go.

Initially ThinkRTC was seeking customers in the software niche, but they’ve found it can help people in other industries too. “We noticed that lawyers and doctors were using our product, as well as car dealerships,” he says. “It’s more useful if clients stay at home where all their documents are.”

ThinkRTC can automate workflow by allowing customers to submit documentation online through the system. “One lawyer just stays at home now. He’s just doing everything online. It’s automated his work process completely,” Hossain says.

The company working out of USF’s Student Innovation Incubator is seeking $1.2 million in capital primarily to market and sell the service. Though they visited Silicon Valley and were offered funding, the founders were all born and raised in Tampa and want to keep the technology here. “We want to make a name for ourselves here in Tampa,” he says.


St. Petersburg’s Innovation District launches search for director

South of downtown St. Petersburg in the city’s Bayboro Harbor District, lies a powerhouse collection of marine science and oceanographic organizations.

The University of South Florida College of Marine Science, SRI St. Petersburg, the Florida Institute of Oceanography and U.S. Geological Survey and are among the half dozen or more marine-related organizations collectively known as the Ocean Team.

According to the City of St. Petersburg, the Ocean Team collectively employs more than 1,600 people, most in highly specialized jobs.

Just a block away, is another growing consortium of world-class educational, research and healthcare organizations.  There’s the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, known internationally for its journalism education, and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, which just opened the new Kate Tiedemann College of Business.

In addition, there is a thriving healthcare corridor that includes Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.  

The internationally renowned Dali Museum is also located here.

To capitalize on the area’s potential, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin have branded it as the city’s new Innovation District. A search is now underway to hire a director to help plan, manage and coordinate activities to take the district to the next level.

“The aspiration of the St. Petersburg Innovation District is to catalyze the major institutional anchors in one geographic space,” says Randall H. Russell, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, one of several anchor organizations working with the city to recruit a new director for the district.

“The unusual co-location of federal and local marine research, health care organizations, including the opening of the new Johns Hopkins All Children’s Research Center, combine to result in a unique combination of talent and opportunity,” says Russell.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital is currently constructing a seven-story, 225,000-square-foot research and education center that will house laboratories and offices in four key areas: pediatric heart disease, children’s cancer and blood disorders, brain protection sciences and maternal, fetal and neonatal institute. There are also expanded facilities for the hospital’s nationally accredited pediatric bio-repository to support clinical research.

In a 2015 report outlining the vision for the district, GAI Community Solutions Group writes: “Many Sunbelt cities are interested in developing this type of integrated place, but very few have the necessary cornerstone elements in place as St. Petersburg does.  Even fewer cities have those elements situation in a location with compelling natural environmental resources and economic characteristics to attract talent and jobs.”

The city envisions the Innovation District as a driver of economic development, job creation and collaboration that will attract new investment and revitalization to the area. Click here for an overview of the area from the city’s perspective

The salary range for the new Innovation District Director is $70,000 to $90,000. Job candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major course work in urban planning, business administration or a related field, as well as five years of increasing responsible experience in a project management environment. Economic development, business development, marketing or public relations experience is preferred.

According to a news release, the new director “will work with the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County leadership, as well as Innovation District organizations to develop the infrastructure for the district and bring the concept to the next level.”

Prospera joins Clearwater SPARK, nurtures Hispanic businesses

Twenty-five years ago, Prospera -- then called the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund -- was established in a small West Tampa office. 

There was a need to support Hispanic entrepreneurs in the area, says Claudia Johnson, senior business development consultant on the West Coast. Prospera stepped in to fill this void by offering bilingual technical assistance and workshops to Spanish-speaking businesses.

Decades later, the organization has spread to markets in south Florida and as far north as Jacksonville. Additional offices have opened in Miami and Orlando. Over the past 25 years, Prospera has “supported several thousands of people,” Johnson says. “Our objective became to strengthen the state of Florida’s economical sector with Hispanics.” 

Now, Clearwater is the latest city in Prospera’s far-reaching network. As of January, the group became the sixth organization to join Clearwater Business SPARK, a city-led business incubator that brings together a variety of resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Prospera was looking for a home base in Pinellas County, Johnson says, and Clearwater made the most sense for a partnership. “The city has the majority of Hispanics [in the county,]” she says. “So that is where we are working closely. Now we have a more clear collaboration, a strong collaboration.” 

Denise Sanderson, the city’s director of Economic Development and Housing, says Hispanic entrepreneurs and small businesses represent approximately 20 percent of the city’s population. “Hispanic-owned businesses are an important and growing sector of our local economy,” she adds.

While Pinellas County residents were always welcome to participate in Prospera’s workshops and grant programs in other cities, the organization is now specifically targeting Clearwater. The organization will host six bilingual public workshops covering a variety of topics of interest to small businesses at Clearwater libraries throughout the year. The first was held Jan. 31 with around 30 attendees, Johnson says. 

In addition to training, and mentorship assistance with marketing and business planning, Prospera offers grants to small businesses looking to pay for professional services such as accountants and attorneys. The group also helps facilitate small business loans to entrepreneurs through partnerships with several banking institutions. “We’ve facilitated about $20 million worth of money for loans for clients throughout the whole state,” Johnson says.

She adds, “We’re here to help strengthen their business -- from start-ups to ongoing businesses. We’re a very active organization to help Hispanics.”

Hungry? EatMobile can help you find nearest food truck, and help vendors find new customers

EatMobile Inc.’s story began with an ice cream sandwich. A refrozen, unappetizing ice cream sandwich. Matt Land had heard the tantalizing music of a passing ice cream truck. He was lured by the thought of a sweet and refreshing treat. Instead, he was in for a letdown.
 
“I didn’t finish the whole thing,” he recalls.
 
Fortunately for Land, that wasn’t the end of the story. He shared the incident with long-time friend Jacob Lishen, a sales and marketing expert, and his mother Lori Townsend, who has experience in project management in the global restaurant chain industry. Together with Robb Vandaveer, a Marine Corps veteran and software architect, they started EatMobile.
 
They now have a network of some 50 food trucks in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota and Lakeland, and plan to beta test the new service. The trucks represent a wide variety of culinary tastes from barbecue to seafood, tacos to vegetarian, and pizza. “Literally, everything you can think of, it’s here in this area, and it’s amazing,” says Land, the company’s CEO.
 
The first food truck he consulted with during the research phase was Blazin 28 Pizza. Dillon Walts operates his pizza food truck out of an old fire truck, where he’s built a wood-brick oven. He sells from a stand set up outside.
 
“Every truck is its own unique incredible business,” Land says.
 
EatMobile arranged some meals during Tampa Bay Startup Week February 13-17. He also shared his company’s journey with attendees.
 
“Our core purpose… is increasing local spending to these local businesses,” explains Land.
 
Located in Tampa, EatMobile has become part of the tech accelerator Tamba Bay WaVE. “It’s been incredible since we’ve been able to flip the switch,” Land says. “It really feels like it’s meant to be and there’s a path laid before us.”
 
Since that fateful day two years ago, when Land bought the ice cream sandwich, the team has done a lot of work researching and talking to consumers and clients. It officially launched with Startup Week after about seven months in operation.
 
EatMobile’s goal is to help people find food trucks for a quick bite in their area, or sign up food trucks for special events like weddings or company events. People can access services through their phones, tablets or computers. They are working on an app that can be downloaded.
 
Food trucks will have three levels of service through their online platform, including profiles, videos and imagery taken from drones or unmanned aircraft.
 
Land considers it an honor to provide a venue and business tools for families pursuing the American dream. In the past, they’ve been on their own. “They don’t have time for networking, hunting for catering opportunities,” he says.
 
Profits will come from multiple sources including food sales, vendor services, data services and advertising.
 
In the short term, EatMobile is connecting with technology experts to roll out its offerings into the market more quickly. It’s also looking for investors who share their goals.
 
 “This is something that truly has the potential to do a lot of good,” he explains. “It’s not about us, it’s about them.”
 
EatMobile is giving back through a monetary donation to Feeding Tampa Bay. It plans to expand into giving free meals to the homeless.
 
“We’re very passionate about giving back,” he says.

TiE Tampa Bay invites local startups to Pitch Festival

Two Florida businesses may gain global attention through TiE Tampa Bay’s upcoming investor pitch festival Feb. 23.  The non-profit is seeking startups to compete in the free contest with a Feb. 15 deadline to apply.
 
Winners of Judge’s and Audience’s awards will be part of the TiE Tampa Bay booth at the TiEcon’s May entrepreneurship conference in Silicon Valley, described as the world’s largest. The Judge’s Award winner will compete in the TiE International Startup Competition for the North America region, Investor Track.
 
“This is the first time we are doing something that is tied to an international competition,” says TiE Tampa Bay President Ramesh Sambasivan.
 
Ten Florida startups will be competing for the awards locally before an audience. The Judge’s Award winner will be chosen by a panel of TiE Tampa Bay angel investors, who have made pledges to a $2 million angel fund.
 
TiE International Startup Competition’s investor track will have finalists from Asia, Europe and North America, with winners being invited to TiEcon Silicon Valley for Global Finals. The winning teams receive two passes to TiEcon 2017, attend a one-day Power Boot camp hosted by TiE Silicon Valley, and enjoy additional business exposure.
 
Sambasivan says the event is being called a festival rather than a competition because its focus is less on competition than the international contest.
 
“I want it to be a little bit of competition. I want it to be where people can come together and know there is one place people can find support,” he says.
 
TiEcon Silicon Valley is a 2-day event that draws more than 4,500 of the top entrepreneurs and investors from around the world.
 
Startups can apply to the Pitch Festival here.
 
The festival, scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oak View Room at USFCONNECT in Tampa, includes dinner. Reserve here.
 
TiE Tampa Bay is one of 61 TiE chapters in 18 countries. It can help startups in a number of ways, including connections and coaching. “Most think seed capital might be key to all their problems,” he explains. Valuable tips may open up markets. ... I’ve actually seen that happen.”

Wanted: High school computer science, math scholars

Saint Leo University is looking for high school juniors and seniors for a multi-disciplinary scholarship program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Sixteen students, eight in each grade, will receive up to $10,000 a year in scholarships to study either computer science or math at the private university on State Road 52 in Pasco County.
 
“Initially we are targeting students in the counties around Tampa Bay,” says Vyas Krishnan, Principal Investigator of the scholarship and an Associate Professor of computer science at Saint Leo’s.
 
Among the university’s goals is helping meet the area’s workforce needs. “What we want to provide for these recipients goes beyond the typical,” he says. “We wanted to open their eyes to the interdisciplinary nature of both of their careers.”
 
The result will be “better trained graduates,” he says. “We thought, why not provide them a much richer interactive experience in school so they are better prepared to hit the ground running?”
 
The eight students in each class, five in computer science and three in math, will be paired when they are admitted the first year. They will take common courses together and work on course-related projects, without having to enroll in any additional classes. They also would be assigned mentors.
 
Computer science degrees are broad and offer students a variety of career options. “A lot of math-related jobs have computing as a significant part of the work that they do,” he adds.
 
The Emerging Mathematics and Computer Science Scholars awards, valued at up to $10,000 annually, are renewable for four years. Students can be groomed for a variety of positions, including jobs as computer programmers, database specialists, computer network administrators, cyber security specialists, web developers, or tech support workers.
 
Saint Leo received a grant totaling about $650,000 from NSF. Some 95 percent will be used for scholarships, with the balance funding conferences, contests and other education-related expenses, he says.
 
High school seniors need to apply by March 1. Awards will be announced at the end of March.
 
College seniors from Florida who have applied to Saint Leo’s can contact Mike Halligan, the Associate Director of Admissions, if they want to be considered. Those who want more information can contact Krishnan. More information is available on the university’s website.
 
Juniors will need to apply for the scholarships next year.

Tampa Innovation Summit to boost local startup ecosystem

Twentieth century entrepreneurs are working hard to make the Tampa Bay region a place that attracts -- and keeps -- 21st Century businesses. Among their goals is helping young business minds recognize what they did: the Tampa Bay area is business friendly, has great weather (especially in the winter) and is an all-around beautiful place to live.

“We want the Tampa Bay region to be one of the best places in the country to build a company,” says Marc Blumenthal, CEO of Florida Funders, which looks to invest in between 12 and 25 companies annually. “We want people to seek us out, to stay here to build their companies.”
 
A Jan. 24 Innovation Summit, organized by The Tampa Bay Business Journal and sponsored by Florida Funders, is bringing together people who can participate in building the region into a major entrepreneurial ecosystem similar in reputation to that experienced by Austin TX, Boulder CO, Raleigh-Durham NC or Atlanta GA.
 
“Jan. 24, 2017, really marks the point in time in which Tampa Bay celebrates the successes that it already has,” Blumenthal says.
 
The summit will be inspiring people about ways to become involved. “You need all the ingredients in the recipe to work. We want to activate people,” Blumenthal explains.
 
The Innovation Summit, scheduled from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Tampa Marriott Waterside, is a showcase event featuring Jeff Vinik, Chairman and Governor of Tampa Bay Lightning; and Chris Sullivan, Chairman of Omnivore and MenuPad.
 
“Chris Sullivan is one of the gems of the Tampa Bay area,” Blumenthal says. “He and his partners built Outback [Steakhouse] many many years ago. They chose Tampa as the base. They got the time and the energy and the capital and the support that they needed.”
 
The slate of speakers and panelists also includes Mindy Grossman, CEO and Director of HSN Inc.; innovator Ron Klein; Bill Edwards, CEO of The Edwards Group and Chairman, CEO and Governor of Tampa Bay Rowdies; and governmental representatives.
 
The summit is preceded by an 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Workshop Action Meeting at the same facility to discuss findings of a Tampa Bay Ecosystem Study conducted through the University of Tampa. The study, which Blumenthal describes as “a bit of a prescription,” recommends the community build an entrepreneurial mindset and address its vision and collaborative efforts.
 
An Investor Lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. will bring together accredited investors and early stage companies. Those who wish to attend can e-mail Florida Funders.
 
The Summit will help attract attention to what the Tampa Bay area has to offer to business. “I think that the visibility of our region, nationally and internationally, has really gone up significantly,” Blumenthal says. “Now’s the time. Now’s always the time. You can’t do it tomorrow, you can’t do it yesterday.”
 
The Summit aims to draw 400-500 people. Tickets are $90 each, with reservations available by following this link

At least 64 entrepreneurial support organizations have been training, mentoring and investing in new businesses in the area. "There is no shortage [of support] ... no shortage of passion and willingness to help build companies" Blumenthal says.

On The Ground: RCMA welcomes new leadership from Miami-Dade

To read this story in Spanish, please follow this link.

For the first time in 28 years, Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) of Florida will welcome new leadership.
 
Gayane A. Stepanian, 45, an executive with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade, has been picked as RCMA’s next Executive Director. 

Stepanian will succeed executive director Barbara Mainster, 75, on Jan. 2. 

RCMA is a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality child development services for farmworker families and other rural, low-income families in child-care centers, family day-care homes, after-school dropout prevention programs and charter schools. Mainster served as executive director from 1988 to the present. 

“I am inspired and humbled to join RCMA,” Stepanian says. “I am thrilled to join others who are absolutely dedicated to delivering world-class child care and education for our most vulnerable kids.” 

The organization, which began with 75 children in two child-care centers, now serves nearly 7,000 children in 68 centers in rural areas of 21 Florida counties. It also operates three charter schools, in Hillsborough and Collier counties.
 
“I think you will all agree that Gayane is a wonderful addition to the RCMA family,” Mainster told the RCMA staff, via e-mail. “I like her, and know you will, as well.” 

More than 80 percent of the children RCMA serves are Hispanic, and 11 percent are African-American. In addition, 85 percent of RCMA employees come from backgrounds similar to the communities they serve. 

Mainster believes that Stepanian’s background qualifies her as an excellent successor. Stepanian is the daughter of a Mexican mother and an Armenian father, and is fluent in English and Spanish. 

“My parents came to this country with nothing but their sheer will,” Stepanian says. “It is that same will and passion that I see in our volunteers, staff and families at RCMA. RCMA, to me, is like coming home.”
 
Since 2014, Stepanian has been Director of Grants Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs in Miami. She is a child safety expert with degrees in psychology and education, and is a mother of three teenagers. 

On The Ground: RCMA da la bienvenida a su nueva directora

To read this story in English, please follow this link.

Por primera vez en 28 años, Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) de Florida da la bienvenida a su nueva leader.
 
Gayane A. Stepanian, de 45 años, una ejecutiva del club Boys & Girls Clubs de Miami-Dade, ha sido elegida como la nueva Directora Ejecutiva de RCMA.

Stepanian sucederá a la Directora Ejecutiva Barbara Mainster, de 75 años, el 2 de enero. 

RCMA es una organización sin fines de lucro que provee servicios de desarrollo infantil de alta calidad para familias de trabajadores del campo y para otras de familias rurales de bajos ingresos en centros de cuidado infantil, guarderías familiares, programas de prevención de deserción escolar y escuelas chárter. Mainster  sirvió como Directora Ejecutiva de 1988 hasta el presente.

"Me siento inspirada y honrada de unirme a RCMA", dice Stepanian. "Estoy encantada de unirme a otros que están absolutamente dedicados a ofrecer cuidado de niños de clase mundial y a la educación para nuestros niños más vulnerables".
 
La organización, que comenzó con 75 niños en dos centros de cuidado infantil, ahora sirve a casi 7 mil pequeños en 68 centros en las zonas rurales de los 21 condados de la Florida. También opera tres escuelas en los condados de Hillsborough y Collier.
 
"Creo que estarán todos de acuerdo en que Gayane es una maravillosa adición a la familia de RCMA", dijo Mainster al personal RCMA, vía correo electrónico.
 
Más del 80 por ciento de los niños que atiende RCMA son hispanos, y 11 por ciento son afroamericanos. Además, el 85 por ciento de los empleados de RCMA provienen de orígenes similares a las comunidades que sirven.
 
Mainster cree que la experiencia y credenciales profesionales de Stepanian la califican como un excelente sucesora. Stepanian es hija de madre mexicana y padre armenio; habla inglés y español con fluidez.
 
"Mis padres vinieron a este país sin otra cosa que su pura voluntad", dice Stepanian. "Es esa misma voluntad y pasión la que veo en nuestros voluntarios, personal y las familias de RCMA. RCMA, para mí, es como volver a casa".
 
Desde 2014, Stepanian ha sido Directora de Desarrollo de Subvenciones para los clubes de Boys & Girls en Miami. Ella es una experta en seguridad infantil con una carrera en psicología y educación; es madre de tres adolescentes.

Checkers rolls out new look, expands in Tampa Bay Area in new year

Shaji Joseph is a man of firsts. He owns the oldest Checkers in Tampa and the first Checkers in a Walmart in the Tampa area, which is in Oldsmar. Now he is now making plans to open the first updated modular Checkers in Tampa.
 
For all appearances, this Indian immigrant is living the American dream. “I am so proud and happy to cherish what this great nation has offered me and my family,” the 46-year-old entrepreneur says. “[I] will forever be in debt to this great organization [Checkers] that believed in me and gave me such an awesome avenue.” 
 
Joseph attended business school in India, then became an assistant manager for Checkers in Pennsylvania. Fast forward 19 years, and Joseph owns eight franchises, with a commitment to build five more. His eighth location, in Spring Hill, is scheduled to open this month. The modular restaurant on Busch Boulevard is slated to open in the second quarter of 2017.
 
“I hit the ground running. I never stop. I never look back. I just keep going,” he says.
 
Formerly the corporation’s Director of Operations, Joseph is excited about the new design options, which enables him to save money and time. Each restaurant with a new modular design costs approximately $250,000 to build, which is $100,000 less than the traditional option.
 
The new modular restaurant features structural steel, which enhances sturdiness. It will have one instead of two drive-thru lanes plus a covered, outdoor seating area and a walk-up window.
 
His new Busch Boulevard location, which is currently awaiting city approval, is right by his franchise office, Wow Burgers LLC.
 
The new restaurants will incorporate the company’s traditional red, black and white colors. “There’s a lot of excitement and how it’s convenient,” he says. “We’re not losing our charm.”
 
Joseph’s Busch Boulevard location will be one of more than 50 in the nation with the Tampa-based Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants' updated designs. The new design is rolling out in key markets in Tampa, South Florida, Los Angeles, Nashville, Columbus and Houston.
 
Its Model 4.0 design gives franchise holders three options: traditional, modular and hybrid.
 
Jennifer Durham, Checkers & Rally’s Senior VP, says both the modular and hybrid designs are built offsite and feature structural steel. The hybrid design includes structural steel recycled from shipping boxes from overseas.
 
“It’s actually cheaper for manufacturers overseas to leave them behind than to ship them back empty,” Durham says. “We’re working through a third party to acquire the used shipping containers and remanufacture them into our buildings.”
 
Reusing the boxes isn’t quite as cost effective as she initially thought. “The more people that go after them, the price goes up,” she explains. “We weren’t the first or the last one to think of this design concept.”
 
She became interested in the concept after reading about them in architectural and design magazines. “To me, it was worth exploring. Given the size of our restaurant, its seemed like there was a natural fit,” she says.
 
With transport costs at $10 to $15 a mile for the pre-fabricated buildings, Checkers & Rally’s is considering multiple manufacturers across the country. It has more than 840 locations in the United States, and more than 250 more in the works.

For Good: Classes on human trafficking offered in South Hillsborough County

To read this story in Spanish, please follow this link.

Seeking to educate the community in Hillsborough County about how to effectively combat human trafficking in the area, the Campaign Against Human Trafficking-Sun City Center/South Shore is offering two free four-hour courses on Jan. 11, 2017
 
Florida is one of the leading states in the nation for human trafficking activity and Tampa Bay is a hub for child sex trafficking and Internet pornography, according to a documentary aired by PBS in 2013 titled “Too Close to Home: Human Trafficking in Tampa Bay.”

Children may have been picked up in malls, off the streets or from connections on the Internet. They may believe they are headed for a fun afternoon, a cute date, or maybe they run away and are found by a pimp (usually within 48 hours of being on the street). Some have been labeled as “throw-away” children, those whose parents have kicked them out or sold them off. The average age of a trafficked child is 12, and many will never live past their 19th birthday, according to data posted on the CAHT Website.
 
The stories are heartbreaking. Hoping to combat this phenomena, the Campaign Against Human Trafficking-Sun City Center/ South Shore founded by June M. Wallace works to bring awareness about this criminal activity and educate the community on how they can actively work to put an end to human trafficking.
 
“The Many Faces of Human Trafficking” from 8 a.m. to noon is open to all community members, and will focus on providing an understanding of the origins, methods of operation, and indicators of trafficking along with an understanding of the unique victimization process. An emphasis will be placed on the importance of building alliances and coalitions as part of a coordinated community response to human trafficking using case studies as examples.
 
“Introduction to Human Trafficking,” from 1-5 p.m. is exclusively for law enforcement and victim services. This course will focus on an overview of best practices for investigating cases, legal remedies for trafficking victims, and interviewing victims. Special attention will be placed on human trafficking being a victim-centered crime.
 
Both courses are sponsored by the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute, which is part of St. Petersburg College’s Center for Public Safety Innovation, and will take place at SCC United Methodist Church, 1210 Del Webb Boulevard West, Sun City Center. 

“Human trafficking educational opportunities of this caliber are becoming difficult to find,” Wallace says. 

To register for the “The Many Faces of Human Trafficking” training, click on this link.  

To register for the “Introduction to Human Trafficking” training, click on this link.

For questions about these courses, please contact Laura Heisler at 727-341-4437. 

The Campaign Against Human Trafficking fosters community and faith-integrated actions to end Human Trafficking in Hillsborough County by providing support to the Tampa Bay Task Force on Human Trafficking. The organization also focuses on raising awareness, education, victim services, and fundraising.

Ofrecen clases sobre tráfico humano en el sur del condado de Hillsborough

To read this story in English, please follow this link
 
Con la intención de educar a la comunidad en el Condado de Hillsborough sobre cómo combatir eficazmente la trata de blancas en la zona, la Campaña Contra la Tráfico Humano en Sun City Center/South Shore (CAHT, por sus siglas en inglés) está ofreciendo dos cursos gratis de cuatro horas el 11 de enero, 2017.
 
Florida es uno de los principales estados del país en el que se da la actividad de tráfico humano y la bahía de Tampa es un eje para la trata infantil con fines sexuales y pornografía en Internet, de acuerdo a un documental transmitido por PBS en el 2013 bajo el título "demasiado cerca a casa: tráfico humano en la bahía de Tampa”.

Los niños pueden haber sido enganchados en centros comerciales, en las calles o a través de Internet. Pueden creer que van a divertirse por la tarde, un encuentro agradable o tal vez se escaparon y fueron encontrados por un “padrote” (generalmente dentro de 48 horas de estar en la calle). Algunos han sido etiquetados como niños "desechables", aquellos niños que fueron echados a la calle o vendidos por sus padres. La edad promedio de niños víctimas de tráfico humano y sexual es 12 años, y muchos nunca viven más allá de su cumpleaños número 19, de acuerdo a datos publicados en el sitio web de CAHT.
 
Las historias son conmovedoras. Con la esperanza de combatir este fenómeno, la Campaña Contra Tráfico Humano-Sun City Center/ South Shore fundada por June M. Wallace trabaja para crear conciencia sobre esta actividad delictiva y para educar a la comunidad sobre cómo se puede trabajar activamente para poner fin a la trata de seres humanos.
 
El curso "Las muchas caras del Tráfico Humano" de 8 de la mañana al mediodía está abierto a todos los miembros de la comunidad y se concentrará en proporcionar información para la comprensión de los orígenes, métodos de operación e indicadores de tráfico en conjunto con la comprensión del proceso de victimización que es único. Utilizando estudios de casos como ejemplos, las clases harán hincapié en la importancia de construir alianzas y coaliciones como parte de una respuesta comunitaria coordinada contra la trata de personas.
 
“Introducción al Tráfico Humano”, de 1-5 de la tarde es exclusivamente para los ejecutores de la ley y para quienes brindan servicios a las víctimas. Este curso se centrará en un resumen de las mejores prácticas para investigar los casos, remedios legales para las víctimas de tráfico humano, y entrevistas con víctimas.
 
Ambos cursos son patrocinados por el instituto comunitario de policía Florida Regional Community Policing Institute, que forma parte del Centro para Innovación en Seguridad Pública de  St Petersburg College, y llevará a cabo en el SCC United Methodist Church, ubicado en 1210 Del Webb Boulevard West, Sun City Center. 

“Oportunidades educativas sobre tráfico humano de este calibre son difíciles de encontrar”, dijo Wallace.

Para registrarse para el entrenamiento “Las muchas caras del Tráfico Humano", haga clic aquí.

Para registrarse para el entrenamiento “Introducción al Tráfico Humano”, haga clic aquí.

Para más información sobre los cursos, por favor llame a Laura Heisler al 727-341-4437. 

La Campaña Contra el Tráfico Humano fomenta acciones integradas de fe y de la comunidad para poner un alto a la trata de personas en el Condado de Hillsborough proveyendo apoyo a la Fuerza de Tarea en Tráfico Humano de la  Bahía de Tampa. La organización también se centra en aumentar la concientización, educación, servicios a las víctimas y recaudación de fondos.

Jobs Roundup: Finding work through Adecco Staffing

Wading through a job search can be a time-consuming experience. You may want a partner that can help you hone in on jobs that match your skillset. One such local company is Adecco Staffing. Adecco can link you with a variety of general staffing positions throughout the Tampa Bay region, either online or through branch offices in Tampa, Pinellas Park, Sarasota and Lakeland.
 
“What we really focus on is making sure we are making the right match,” says Regional Operations Manager Mona Whitley. “The success rate is going to depend on that particular candidate, on what they are bringing to the table.”
 
Whitley says “hot jobs” in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Tampa, are: customer service at entry-level call centers, entry-level human relations positions helping recruiters and generalists, fork lift operators, assembly and data entry or analyst positions.
 
Candidates, who do not pay a fee, can be hired directly by one of Adecco’s clients, or work for Adecco at a contract job. Although the contract jobs are for a set period of time, they may eventually lead to full-time employment. If not, Adecco tries to place the worker with another client.
 
“We offer the traditional benefits and services,” Whitley continues. “This gives them the opportunity to test the waters and make sure that is something that they want to do.”
 
Here are some current openings:
 
Call Center Agents – Temple Terrace
This contract/temporary job paying $12 to $14 an hour requires six months of customer service experience; call center experience is a plus but is not required. The successful candidate will interact with customers by telephone, answering questions about services, and use a computer to track, gather information and troubleshoot. 
 
HR Coordinator – Odessa
This job is a contract/temporary position requiring a high school/GED education, but a bachelor’s degree and 2 - 4+ years of related experience is preferred. Pay is $22.14 an hour. The contract is for at least one year, with the possibility of an extension. 

Assembler – St. Petersburg
This long-term contract/temp-to-hire job requires one year of related industrial/mechanical experience and/or training. Pay is $10.10 an hour. 

Data Entry Clerk – Tampa
This contract/temporary position requires one year of office/clerical experience in data entry, filing and indexing. Testing is required.
 
If you are already employed, and are unsure if it is time to make a move, you may want to know it’s a “job seekers market,” according to Whitley. “The candidate has the ability to pick and chose their jobs right now,” she says.
 
Adecco Staffing also is able to refer candidates to sister companies that provide help with other careers.

HART begins innovative rideshare program in Tampa

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority wants to meet you where you are. Its new HyperLINK system, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, allows customers to book a ride -- with a smartphone app -- to and from bus stops in designated areas.
 
“Transit is really effective at taking people down dense corridors. There’s no more efficient way to move people,” explains Sean Quigley, Project Manager for HyperLINK. “Transit isn’t very good at getting you from your door to your door, from one specific address to another.”
 
HyperLINK aims to change that with a new app, which allows customers to arrange service on demand through their Apple and Android phones. Apps can be downloaded at the iTunes store or Google Play online.
 
HART has contracted the services from Transdev, a Chicago area private-sector transit provider that created the HyperLINK platform.
 
“We're developed this as a first mile, last mile [service],” says Quigley, Transdev’s Business Development Manager. “ We’re looking at doing the same platform in Denver, New Orleans, Nassau County, NY, San Diego.”
 
 They would like to grow the service all over the country.
 
“The unique component with this is there is an app to it,” explains Sandra Morrison, HART’s Public Information Officer. “The fact that there’s this app connected with this service hasn’t been done anywhere else. Hopefully this will catch on.”
 
Apps are free. Alternatively, riders can book by calling 813-298-0455. 
 
Service is currently available within a three-mile radius north of University Area Transit Center at 13110 N. 27th St. (near Veterans Hospital) and north and south of Carrollwood at 10108 W. Fletcher Avenue (where Fletcher intersects with Dale Mabry Highway). There is no HyperLINK service to the University of South Florida south of Fletcher. Vehicles with wheelchair access are available.
 
Service at Brandon Mall and Brandon Hospital is anticipated in mid- to late December.
 
HART is funding the project through a $200,000 Florida of Department of Transportation grant, provided over two years, Morrison says.
 
“We’re hoping and seeking to extend the footprint ... that HART has in the community,” she says. “It exposes them to the transit system. They’ll be able to try it and hopefully like it.”
 
HyperLINK passengers receive five free rides with a promotional code available on social media or through HART literature. Then the cost is $3 per ride; riders can pay by cash or credit. For more details as the service expands, call customer service at 813-254-4278 or visit ww.gohart.org.
 
“Anytime the HART buses are running, we are running too,” Quigley says.
 
 They are hoping to serve 60,000 riders in the first year. The service may create 200 driving jobs during the next two years, he adds.
 
“The idea here is to create a service that is personalized,” Quigley explains. “You can still take the bus. You can get that really cheap fare. ... You don’t have to walk half a mile in the baking heat or in the rain.”

Skyway: Open call to local artists for collaborative exhibit at Tampa Bay Area museums

A new collaborative project between the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), St. Petersburg and the Tampa Museum of Art will bridge the selected works of local artists in a joint, simultaneous exhibit called Skyway in June 2017.  

An open call to artists is currently underway to artists from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties. There is no entry fee for submissions and the online call closes Dec. 15, 2016.

“One of the great powers of art is in bringing people together and stimulating dialogue -- do you like it, do you hate it, what would you have done differently, and so on,” says Seth Pevnick, Chief Curator at the Tampa Museum of Art. “Too often with exhibitions, the dialogue can go no further than that. But with this exhibition, many of the artists in our community will have the opportunity to display their art on a bigger stage and join in the conversation in that way.”

The exhibit will be juried by six curators, two from each participating museum and a visiting juror. Any original artwork, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photography, video, performance and site-specific installations completed after January 2016 are eligible for submission.

“Our main goal will be to highlight what we feel is the most important and interesting visual art being created in the region,” says Pevnick. “It will be exciting to see how everything balances out in terms of media, themes, approaches and home counties.”
  
“We also aim to provide context for the work of area artists -- our goal is to give a sense of the selected artists’ overall oeuvre as opposed to a single perspective through one or two works,” notes Katherine Pill, Curator of Contemporary Art at the MFA. 

This isn’t the first time the Tampa and St. Pete museums have collaborated. The much celebrated My Generation: Young Chinese Artists, the contemporary Chinese art exhibition was co-organized and co-hosted for the first time in the United States simultaneously at both museums in 2014. The two museums also hold a shared patron event called Bridging the Bay each fall.  

Pevnick says the exhibition builds on this partnership, but that he believes the idea for this show came about at the director level after Michael Tomor took the helm as Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art in 2015. He says Tomor had done a similar collaborative exhibition at the El Paso Museum of Art, collaborating with the Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juárez and talked with his colleagues at the MFA and the Ringling shortly after his arrival in Tampa. 

“And then he brought the idea to me, suggesting that we do something similar in Tampa,” says Pevnick.  “Our curatorial colleagues at the MFA and the Ringling were also excited about the idea, and it has been fun to work with them in the planning stages thus far.”

Pevnick says they hope they will receive many submissions and that the exhibit “will allow us to get to know many more of the artists in the region, and also to raise the profile of selected artists, both locally and beyond.”

For more information on the call to artists, click on this link.

Looking to make a fresh start in the new year? Upcoming job fairs may provide your chance

Looking for a new job for the new year? With 2017 just around the corner, if a new job is part of your new year's resolution better start looking now. Job fairs are a great way for job seekers to get their foot in the door with a potential future employer.

If you are in the market for a new job pull up your calendars, and get ready to mark down these upcoming job fairs for Winter 2016:

Wednesday, November 16: Sarasota Memorial Health Care RN Career Fair
Sarasota Memorial Health Care
1700 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

This growing health care system is in need of registered nurses (RN) for a variety of departments. On-site interviews will be given for experienced registered nurses, so make sure to have several updated resumes on hand. The company is hiring in the following areas:
  • Cardiac Progressive
  • Case Management
  • Cath and EP Lab
  • Critical Care
  • Float Team
  • Internships - GN, OR, ICU
  • MedSurg
  • Neuro
  • Operating Room
  • Ortho Surgical
  • Outpatient Oncology
  • Psych
  • Rehab
  • Risk Management
  • Trauma
To RSVP for this event, click here.

Saturday, December 1: Florida Joblink Career Expo
10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore
700 North Westshore Boulevard, Tampa

DiversiFair™ the producer of the Florida Joblink Career Expo has been hosting career fairs for over 20 years. With its strong focus on diversity, the event encourages career candidates of all races, creeds, spiritual beliefs and lifestyles.

For more information on this hiring event, click here.

Tuesday, December 6: Job News Job Fairs
10 a..m. to 2 p.m.
Holiday Inn-Clearwater
2580 Gulf to Bay Bloulevard, Clearwater

Since 2006, Job News Job Fairs have been connecting job seekers 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 December 2nd.

To register, click here.

Tuesday, January 17: Tampa Bay Job & Career Fair
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Coliseum
535 4th Avenue South, St. Petersburg

One of the biggest annual hiring events in the area with over 50 employers in attendance, the Tampa Bay Job & Career Fair is held shortly after the new year. The free event features some of the largest area companies, as well as representatives from colleges and universities for those looking to further their education. Presented by the Tampa Bay Times, a special feature of the newspaper will come out the Sunday before the event listing all of the employers who will be in attendance. No advance registration required.

To see more details, click here.

Wednesday, February 1: USF Career Fair
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Marshall Student Center Ballroom, USF campus
4103 USF Cedar Cir, Tampa

While this annual job fair is on the college campus, it is open not only to students, but alumni as well. Students and alumni must have a valid USF ID in order to attend. This event brings in local and national recruiters looking for fresh talent for their respective companies. If you plan on attending, make sure to bring plenty of resumes, and be prepared to interview on the spot.

For more information, click here

Weekend fun: New, shady venue for Temple Terrace Arts Festival

While last year’s Temple Terrace Arts & Crafts Festival was literally taken by storm -- a tornado ripped through the stands, forcing it to close a day early -- this year’s event is taking place in a new venue with new partners, bringing the arts, nature and history together at this community event, now in its 43rd year.  

The festival takes place November 12-13, 2016, 10 a.m to 4 p.m in historic Woodmont Park. Admission and parking are free of charge.

“Given this new location, it’s a real opportunity to see and experience the beauty of Temple Terrace, while enjoying the event,” says Kim Straub, of the Temple Terrace Arts Council. “The community is very, very proud of this area -- it’s going to be our best festival yet.”

The juried festival is attracting some 80 artists and crafters from across Florida and the country -- a 40 percent increase from last year. However, the event this year weaves in some other interesting community and cultural draws. 

Though the event officially starts at 10 a.m., Saturday morning kicks off with a 5K, 10K and fun run sponsored by the Junior Women's Club called aTrot Through the Terrace.

A “stunning historical tribute” to the community will be unveiled in the Woodmont Gazebo at noon on Saturday where artwork created by local artist Tim Boatright, will be gifted to the new city mayor in a ceremony beginning with a bagpipe procession and ending with a presentation by the Temple Terrace Preservation Society. 

The Temple Terrace Garden Club will be hosting a standard garden show called Around and About Temple Terrace at the Festival on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. in the Clubhouse at Woodmont Park.  A juried photography exhibit is part of the show. 

Of course, art remains the heart of the Festival.  

One of the most popular features of the festival is the public art project. This year Straub says all visitors of all ages are invited to participate in “message totems.”  Utilizing large cardboard tubes, leftovers from industrial printers, the tubes will be cut into sections for individuals to create a message. 

“If you have a message you want to give to people -- happiness, an emotion -- do a design,” says Straub who will have paints and “a couple hundred shapes for people to do.” 

The completed totem sections will be stacked 10 feet tall to form a traveling exhibit. It is free to participate and all are welcome.  

Other highlights for families and kids include the Fresh Views art exhibit, a display of elementary school children’s work from 11 local schools, and raffles for kids to win baskets of art supplies. There are also raffles for adults -- $1 per ticket to win a $50 art shopping spree at the festival. A silent auction will be held for “sitting chairs” painted in the style of  specific Impressionist artists by Temple Terrace resident and artist Terry Klaaren, best known locally for his outdoor MOSI creation of the Recylosaurus Rex.

Live performances will take place throughout the event, including a Saturday evening presentation with pianist Mac Frampton at 7 p.m. around the corner from the Woodmont Park at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church, benefits support Trinity Café (ttpresbyterian.com) a non-profit organization feeding the homeless.

For more information on the 2016 Temple Terrace Arts & Crafts Festival, send an email by following this link or call (813) 988-ARTS.

Looking for a new job? Check out who is hiring in latest job news roundup

As we get closer to the end of the year, many financial institutions are gearing up to hire for the start of 2017. See who is hiring in this month's job news roundup by 83 Degrees.

Edward Jones, the financial services company with more than 90 years in the business, is seeking a Financial Advisor for its Tampa office. In this role, the chosen candidate will build long-term relationships with clients helping them fulfill their financial goals. To qualify for this position, you must have a college degree, strong communication experience and feel confident advising others on financial matters.

The publicly traded company, Key Bank, is currently recruiting a Mortgage Banker to work in its affordable housing division in Tampa. A Mortgage Banker is responsible for building relationships with existing and prospective clients, obtain preliminary loan information and ultimately process loan documents. An ideal candidate possesses at least a Bachelor's degree, and has five years of experience in affordable multifamily real estate lending with a proven track record of loan production.

Bank of America is currently searching for a Business Consultant-Small Business to work out of their St. Petersburg office. This sales role requires the consultant to sell the bank's merchant services to small and medium-size businesses. In this sales role, the consultant will be required to meet monthly quota, as well as develop a strong pipeline for new growth. A Bachelor's degree and experience selling Merchant, Bankcard or Financial Services is required.

In Lakeland, Fifth Third Bank is in need of a Financial Center Management Associate. This individual will be responsible for selling various banking and financial products to customers, as well as coach and supervise retail banking staff. College degree or equivalent experience required. Two or more years' experience in a sales environment preferred; experience in financial industry a plus.

Northern Trust Corporation, a solid financial company founded in 1889, has an opening for a Investment/Trust Administration Associate in its Sarasota office. In this role the individual will be responsible for overseeing daily client activity, transaction processing and communication with clients, among other duties. A college degree and three to five years of relevant experience is required.

In Sarasota, Flagstar Bank is looking for a Home Lending Senior Loan Officer. As a loan officer, you will originate mortgage loans that meet bank credit and underwriting requirements, achieve sales and referral goals, and proactively seek ways to develop new customer relationships. A Bachelor's degree and two years of referral sales experience required, mortgage experience preferred.

La Esperanza organizes free health fair for Wimauma residents

La Esperanza health clinic will offer free health exams for Wimauma residents at its health fair this Saturday, Nov. 5th.

The event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will take place at the Mision de Guadalupe, 16650 U.S. Highway 301 S., and will include flu shots, blood pressure and cholesterol tests, glucose screening, as well as tests for Hepatitis C and HIV.
 
Nurse Magda Setzer, who’s worked at La Esperanza health clinic since March 2013, says she expects the Wimauma community will receive the free health fair very positively by going to get their free health exams done and check their vitals. 

Other services that will be available during the health fair are massage therapy and body alignment.

Information on the use of prescriptions, health insurance, healthy and accessible meals, counseling in cases of domestic violence, and counsel and help to fight drug abuse will also be provided. 

In addition, attendees will also get to enjoy some snacks and drinks at the event, Setzer said. And children will benefit from entertainment and gifts.
 
La Esperanza hopes to promote disease prevention through a healthy lifestyle.

“All of these services are free of charge and available to the general public,” Setzer says.

Volunteers from 12 organizations are joining with La Esperanza this Saturday to offer their health expertise to Wimauma residents, Setzer adds.

La Esperanza, who has provided free health services in Wimauma for years, is now adding pap smears, diabetes and high blood pressure services once a month.

La Esperanza organiza feria de salud gratis para residentes de Wimauma

El próximo sábado 5 de noviembre, la Clínica La Esperanza llevará a cabo una feria de salud para ofrecer exámenes gratuitos de salud a los habitantes de Wimauma.

Durante el evento que se llevará a cabo de 10 de la mañana a 2 de la tarde en la Misión de Guadalupe, 16650 U.S. Highway 301 S., se llevarán a cabo examines como chequeo de presión y aplicación de vacunas contra la gripe.

Además ofrecerán exámenes para medir la glucosa, colesterol, hepatitis C y de VHI.

La enfermera Magda Setzer, quien trabaja en la Clínica La Esperanza desde sus inicios en marzo del 2013, dijo que esperan una respuesta muy positiva de la gente de Wimauma que seguramente acudirá a checar sus signos vitales y a evaluaciones de salud.

Entre otros de los servicios que también se ofrecerán se cuentan alineamiento de cuerpo y terapia de masaje.
También se dará información sobre el uso de medicamentos, sobre seguros médicos, comida saludable y accesible, consejería en casos de violencia doméstica y asesoría y ayuda contra el abuso de drogas.

Setzer comentó que además durante el evento se ofrecerán aperitivos, bebidas. Habrá regalos y entretenimiento para niños.
El objetivo de la feria de salud es también promover la prevención de enfermedades a través de estilos de vida saludables.
“Todos estos servicios están dirigidos al público en general y son totalmente gratuitos”, comentó Setzer.

Voluntarios de 12 organizaciones acudirán a ofrecer sus conocimientos y habilidades para que los habitantes de Wimauma reciban sus exámenes médicos e información valiosa sobre salud, dijo Zetser.

La clínica La Esperanza ha sumado servicios de salud a través de los años. Ahora también ofrecen servicios que se llevan a cabo una vez al mes como la práctica de papanicolaos, clínicas sobre diabetes e hipertensión arterial.

Seasonal jobs in abundance for those looking for extra cash

As we get closer to the holiday season, several companies in the Tampa Bay Area are looking to add jobs temporarily to their headcount. If you need some extra income or are looking for some extra cash for the new year, check out these seasonal opportunities.

Amazon

The popular online store is creating 120,000 seasonal jobs nationwide this holiday season, including local jobs at its local fulfillment centers in Ruskin and Lakeland. Amazon is hiring Seasonal Fulfillment Associates to scan and process shipments containing merchandise. To qualify you must be 18 years of age, and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

For more information, click here.

UPS

With many sending packages for the holidays, it is no surprise that UPS is accepting applications for temporary, seasonal full-time Package Delivery Drivers throughout the Tampa Bay area. This is an ideal position for someone looking for a physical, fast-paced, outdoor position, which requires continual lifting and carrying of packages up to 70 lbs. Candidates must be able to past a DOT physical exam, have excellent customer service and driving skills and a valid driver's license.

To apply for this position, click here.

Kohl's

To keep up with the holiday traffic in the department store, Kohl's is currently hiring extra associates in Sarasota, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa. Associates will carry out various tasks from customer service to processing returns and exchanges, greeting customers to taking inventory. Prior experience in customer service or in cash balancing and processing preferred.

For more details, click here.

Toys R Us

The big box toy store is in need of seasonal cashiers at stores throughout the region. Toys R Us is looking for enthusiastic individuals with great customer service skills. Must be able to operate a cash register, make change and process payments. Must be at least 16 years of age to apply.

For more information, click here.

Target

With plans to hire more than 70,000 seasonal workers at its stores nationwide, the numerous Tampa Bay Target stores are recruiting temporary workers for the holidays. Seasonal team members are needed for merchandising, customer service and cashier roles. Employees get a discount and flexible schedules.

To apply, click here

Wimauma: Enterprising Latinas launches project to equip women with financial prowess

To read this story in Spanish, please follow this link.

“When we women do well, communities do well,” says Elizabeth Gutierrez, founder and CEO of Enterprising Latinas Inc., as she announces the launch of You Grow Girl, a series of workshops to teach Wimauma’s women how to better administer their budgets and see their businesses grow.
 
The first workshop will take place at the Women’s Opportunity Center in Wimauma, 18240 U.S. Highway 301 South -- right next to the Beth-El Mission -- on Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 4-5:30 p.m.

Enterprising Latinas is an organization dedicated to women’s comprehensive development, with hopes to widen their long-term impact in the Tampa Bay Area. During the workshops, women will develop action plans to stay financially fit, which will in turn help women maximize their money “one dollar at a time.”
 
You Grow Girl will encompass a total of four consecutive workshops, each 90 minutes long, every Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m.
The workshop to be held on Oct. 19 is called “Let’s Get Personal” and will not only teach women how to develop a personal budget, but also help each participant develop one that works for their unique circumstance. Clear goals will be set, among other actions. 

On Oct. 26, at “Give Credit Where Credit is Due” women will learn how to interpret credit reports and understand the point system. They will also be taught how to manage debt.

On Nov. 2, “Minding my Business” will teach women how personal finances are interrelated to business finances.

To conclude the workshops on Nov. 9, “Supersizing My Success” participants will establish a plan of action after learning about problems in financial administration, in both the personal and business sectors. 

After completing the series of workshops, participants will have a business plan aimed at ensuring their own success. 

Gutierrez also is planning various initiatives and projects designed to “separate women from poverty and help them attain skills that will lead them to success,” she says.

For more information call 813-251-8437.

Wimauma: Enterprising Latinas lanza proyecto en busca del porvenir de las mujeres

To read this story in English, please follow this link.

“Cuando a las mujeres nos va bien, a las comunidades les va bien”, dice Elizabeth Gutiérrez, fundadora y presidenta de Enterprising Latinas Inc., mientras anuncia el arranque de You Grow Girl (A Crecer Mujer), una serie de talleres para enseñar a las mujeres de Wimauma prácticas para mejorar la administración del dinero y hacer crecer su negocio.

El curso iniciará el miércoles, 19 de octubre de 4 a 5:30 de la tarde en el recién inaugurado Centro de Oportunidades para Mujeres en Wimauma ubicado en el 18240 US Hwy 301 South, justo enseguida de la misión Beth-El.

Enterprising Latinas es una organización dedicada al desarrollo integral de las mujeres con miras a desarrollar iniciativas para crear oportunidades con impacto de largo plazo en las comunidades de la bahía de Tampa.

Durante las clases se desarrollarán planes de acción para que las mujeres se mantengan “en forma” financiera y puedan maximizar su dinero “dólar por dólar”.

Será una serie de 4 sesiones de una hora y media cada una todos los miércoles de 4 a 5:30 de la tarde durante cuatro semanas consecutivas.

El 19 de octubre se dictará el taller Let’s Get Personal (Es Personal), en donde se desarrollará un presupuesto del hogar que trabaje para cada una de las participantes; se establecerán metas claras, entre otras acciones.

El 26 de octubre se dictará el taller Give Credit Where Credit is Due (Dar crédito a donde se debe dar crédito) y se instruirá a las asistentes como interpretar los reportes de crédito y entender los puntajes. Además enseñarán técnicas para manejar la deuda.

El 2 de noviembre, la charla será sobre la importancia del negocio Minding my Business con conocimientos de cómo las finanzas personales se interrelacionan con las del negocio.

Para terminar la serie de talleres, el 9 de noviembre en Supersizing my Success (Maximizando mi éxito) se establecerá un plan de acción en donde se tocarán temas como problemas de administración del dinero tanto personal como en los negocios. Al final de los cuatro talleres, las mujeres crearán un plan de negocios dirigido al éxito.

La agenda de Gutiérrez está cargada de iniciativas y proyectos. Su intención es “alejar a las mujeres de la pobreza y construir capacidades que las dirijan al éxito”. Para más información llamar al 813-251-8437

Fall season rolls out plethora of tech events in the Tampa Bay region #networking

Fall if upon us, and with a new season brings a wave of innovative tech events to attend in the Tampa Bay region. In the coming months, there are plenty of meetups, gatherings and events focused on technology and innovation.

Here are a few to add to your calendar:

Saturday, October 15th: TiECon Florida
8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa-USF
3705 Spectrum Boulevard, Tampa

The TiECon conference, is an annual event that brings entrepreneurs together. Similar to the TED conferences for its inspirational tone, past speakers have included Frank Morsani of Automotive investments and Bharat Desai of Syntel. This celebration of entrepreneurship highlights all of the pillars of TIE including education, mentoring and networking.

The cost of the event is $99 for the public, free for members. 

Thursday, October 20th: CollabTB Geek Social
Cheap Restaurant and Bar
5:30 p.m.
309 S. Howard Avenue, Tampa

CollabTB, otherwise known as Collaborators Technologies of Tampa Bay, is a network that connects techies throughout the region. Join their group for a casual geek social night. The venue host is offering a free drink and free appetizers. This informal event will have no booths or speakers, just a chance for self-proclaimed geeks to connect with each other.


Tuesday, October 25th: Florida Center for Cybersecurity Third Annual Conference
8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tampa Convention Center
333 S Franklin Street, Tampa
 
This annual conference will draw a diverse audience from experts to students. Highlights of the event include keynote speakers, break-out sessions, live demonstrations and networking opportunities. The conference gives attendees the chance to exchange ideas, network and explore innovative approaches to counter cyber threats.


Thursday, October 27th: StartUp Xchange
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Big Storm Brewing Company
12707 49th Street North, Clearwater

Presented by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, this monthly networking event helps entrepreneurs, innovators and mentors connect. This month's get-together features several speakers from around the region including Chris Paradies, Intellectual Property Attorney, JJ Robert, Director at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, Antony Francis of Head of Lettuce Media and Ron Stein of FastPath Marketing.

Friday, November 11-Sunday, November 13th: StartUp Weekend Tampa
6:30 p.m. (Friday) to 9 p.m. (Sunday)
The Cuban Club
2010 N Avenida Republica De Cuba, Tampa

Known for launching some of the most successful startups in Tampa Bay, Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where innovators, inventors, developers, marketing gurus and enthusiasts pitch ideas for new startup businesses. After pitching ideas, attendees form groups and work all weekend to develop prototypes and demonstrations to present Sunday evening. The event in Tampa will be one of over 200 events happening around the world, as it is Global Startup Weekend (GSW).

New Pinellas housing partnership launches Get Ready program

The Pinellas County Housing Authority and Habitat For Humanity of Pinellas County have partnered in an effort to streamline the many steps of buying and keeping a home.

Their collaborative new program, called “Get Ready,” aims to help aspiring first time homeowners by offering what they call “wrap around services” for people who know they’d like to own their home, but may be unaware of all the things that need to be in place to make those dreams come true. 

“People looking from afar don’t always know the ins and outs of home ownership,” says Debbie Johnson, Executive Director at the Housing Authority

The counseling provided by Habitat for Humanity will include training on the various aspects of what people need to think about when becoming first time homeowners, from personal finance management to cleaning up credit scores.

People will also be coached on practical things, like taking into account how many bedrooms and bathrooms they’ll need to accommodate their family, and then looking at how much money it will cost yearly to afford that home. 

The goal is to make sure home buyers are financially stable so they’re set up for success from the beginning. 

Once the training is completed, the PCHA will award participants first-time homebuyer certificates that can help them with their downpayment.

“Partnering with Habitat for Humanity was natural. They coordinate it all so well and they require sweat equity. They require commitment,” Johnson says. 

The first orientation for the “Get Ready” program was Sept. 22, and about 30 people came to the event. The following week Habitat For Humanity of Pinellas County had already received five applications.

“It was a great turn out. Just a huge amount of enthusiasm in the room. I think a lot of people are ready,” says Johnson. “I’m excited for the families to have an opportunity for someone to sit down and show them what to do. They can do it. I have full faith they can do it.” 

For more information about the “Get Ready” program, contact Candi Hagler, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas’s VP of Homeowner Services, at 727 678-3692.

Tampa SuperStars release new album, #thankyoumusic

Tampa artist Ronnie Dee and his group of SuperStars are launching their first album, entitled “#ThankYouMusic,” this month at the Cuban Club in Ybor City.  

With more than 200,000 combined views of their pre-released music videos – “Depending on Love” and “Warming Up” - Dee is hopeful that the release concert will be just the beginning of solid sales as they move toward the next phase on their marketing strategy making the music available through digital streaming on iTunes and other media. 

Dee, a Seminole Heights resident, describes himself as a “bright side guy” and the upbeat music on #ThankYouMusic reflects this, despite that much of it was inspired by personal losses he has experienced over the past several years. 

“This record is the culmination of my life’s journey and very autobiographical,” says Dee. He describes the music as “multi-stylistic: It’s soul and funk and rock and pop.” 

In many respects, it is also a family affair.  

Dee grew up in the music business. His dad Joey Dee was a rock star in the 1960s, perhaps best known for the number one hit song “Peppermint Twist,” with his band, the Starliters. Ronnie Dee and his sister, Jamie Lee, played in their dad’s band and toured with him. Dad, sis and Ronnie Dee’s four sons ages 9 to 21 all have some role on the new #ThankYouMusic album, though son AJ (guitar) and sister Jamie Lee (vocals) are regular members of the band, the Superstars, an eclectic group of 14 musicians, with saxophone often prominently featured. 

Dee makes his living as a fulltime musician, touring nationally and internationally doing mostly covers on the “corporate circuit,” writing jingles for large companies and teaching voice, piano and saxophone at Mary Jo’s Performing Arts Academy in Tampa. Though he says he has been recording albums in the area since the 1990s, this is the first one as the Superstars and the first one that has attracted managers to handle the marketing and distribution strategy.

The SuperStars featuring Ronnie Dee #ThankYouMusic release concert takes place Oct. 20, 2016 at the Cuban Club. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are available through their website.

National stroke awareness group honors local marketing campaign for innovation, creativity

A campus event at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with national hip hop recording artist Dee-1 is not where you would expect the American Heart Association to promote its message about learning the warning signs of stroke.

But that’s exactly what the American Heart Association Tampa Bay chapter did this spring during National Stroke Month. And for that enterprising event, along with its creative use of social media and strategic partnerships with local businesses, hospitals and media, the chapter recently won a national award.

In September, the chapter received the American Stroke Association’s national award for Best Integrated Campaign for American Stroke Month 2016 among markets with a corporate sponsor. Frontier Communications is the Tampa Bay American Heart Association corporate partner.

According to Lily Conrad, communications director for the local AHA chapter, one of the goals for this year’s campaign was to engage millennials.  

“We wanted to reach them with the message that stroke can affect anyone at any time and how important it is to know stroke’s warning signs,” says Conrad.

To accomplish that, the chapter organized the USFSP event with Rapper Dee-1, who is a spokesperson for the national American Heart Association. His rap song communicates the association’s healthy lifestyle message.

“The USFSP event was our kick-off event for the stroke campaign and having Dee-1 there, along with games and other activities for the students, made it very successful,” says Conrad.

Dee-1’s song, “Salle Mae Back” about paying back his student loans after graduating from Louisiana State University was a record hit with millennials concerned about student debt.

The chapter also reached the community through widespread use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The results exceeded the chapter’s expectation.  

“We’ve been using social media for a while, but for this year’s campaign, we really took it to the max and had our largest engagement numbers ever,” says Conrad. “This was also our first time using Instagram for the campaign.”

To create a personal connection with the dangers of strokes, the chapter worked with Jen Petit-Homme, marketing manager for Frontier Communications, Tampa Bay, and her mother, Yolande Petit, a stroke survivor.  

Their images and story were used extensively to help promote the national stroke month theme:  “Stroke Hero – Stroke Heroes spot a stroke F.A.S.T.” Fast stands for face dropping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call 911.

“It is so meaningful to be nationally recognized for our efforts to raise stroke awareness,” says Kate Sawa, executive director of the American Heart Association Tampa Bay. 

“Frontier Communications and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association had a vision to equip our community with lifesaving education. We’ve been fortunate to accomplish this through unique community events, engaging corporate employees, and working closely with healthcare systems and incredible stroke survivors,” says Sawa.

The Tampa Bay Metro AHA chapter’s campaign was evaluated on the basis of creativity and innovation, planning, execution and evaluation. Judges noted the chapter’s “impressive” strategic alliance and volunteer engagement, as well as “expansive” market reach through social media posts, media coverage, sponsors and events. 

What's your story? Annual storytelling festival gets personal in October

“There is nothing more compelling than a real life story and few things that connect people faster or better,” says Lillian Dunlap, Ph.D., artistic director and founder of Your Real Stories, a St. Petersburg-based nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling.

In a celebration of the power of storytelling, Your Real Stories will host the third annual Tampa Bay Area Festival of Storytelling. The event takes place October 3-8, with five days of stories told through spoken word, dance, music theatrical performance and food. Over 20 events are planned.  

The role of food in storytelling will take center stage with a pre-festival kick-off dinner and discussion on Sunday, Oct. 2, at Urban Comfort Restaurant and Brewery www.urbancomfortstpete.com/ with Urban Restaurant Group Founder Andy Salyards.

Former Tampa Bay Times Food Editor Janet Krietemeyer Keeler continues the discussion of food with “Hungry for Stories: Connecting Food To Our Narrative” on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 10 am. in Davis Hall at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Aspiring writers interested in developing their memoir will find plenty of storytelling opportunities to improve their skills.  

Author Lisa Kirchner, a member of the Florida Literary Arts Commission and the New York Writers Workshop, presents “The Heart of Your Story” on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Morean Arts Center.

On Saturday, Oct. 8, Paula Stahel, past president of the Association of Personal Historians, and an expert in memoir writing, presents “Famous Last Words -- an Obituary Writing Workshop” at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in Tampa.

The same day, Barbara Riddle presents Memoir Mayhem -- Should You or Shouldn’t You Write Your Memoir at 1 p.m. at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg. 

Connection between art, music, poetry and storytelling will also be showcased at the festival.

The Museum of Fine Arts and Venture House, a St. Petersburg nonprofit building affordable housing for local entrepreneurs, will present a Tapestry of Music and Poetry in the museum’s Marly Room on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

An event dedicated to the survivors of domestic violence will take place on  Oct. 8, with Catherine Weaver of Uniquely Original Arts, presenting Poetic Expressions: Art and Poetry Collage Workshop.

Additional events planned for the festival include a one-day seminar on digital storytelling with Andrew W. Thornhill from Thornhill Digital Storytelling, a Reggae and Poetry Night at The Chattaway Restaurant in St. Petersburg and a photo exhibit of cancer survivors presented by the Affirmations Project of Tampa

Click here to read a previous 83 Degrees Media story about Your Real Stories

TEDxSarasota champions innovation, collaboration at full-day event in Venice

TEDxSarasota, an independently organized, licensed TED event, will bring a full day of "ideas worth spreading" to the Venice Theatre on Oct. 6, 2016. 

The theme for the fifth annual TEDxSarasota, Technicolor Journey, brings 10 innovators and creatives from different industries and backgrounds to explore the "many facets that make a whole life, and the whole world a better place to live."

Leaders at the forefront of their field in neurobiology, visual and performing arts, social work, technology and environmental conservation will offer unique insights into their work and spark creative conversations at this year's TEDxSarasota. Among the  featured speakers are School for Men Founder Michael Hrostoski; Neurobiologist and Braincheck CEO Dr. Yael Katz; art activist and Chalk Festival Founder Denise Kowal and West Coast Black Theatre Group Director Nate Jacobs. 

"TED days are built to have people collide and collaborate. The audience plays a big part in keeping the energy of the exchange going as they actively participate, so these days really are the germ -- or the seed -- of something great on the other side of the event," says TEDxSarasota Founder and Team Lead Judy Winslow. 

TEDxSarasota collaborated this year with the Ringling College of Art + Design to create special pieces for the event, and Winslow says that break times between speakers will be filled with food, drink and social activities to stimulate new ideas and connections in the "TED Head" environment. 

This year marks the first time TEDxSarasota, formerly held at Sarasota's historic Asolo Theatre, will be held at the Venice Theatre in the south-central Sarasota County region.

"We've always been known as a beach community, but have moved into a more cultural phase in recent years. Now, we're really parenting and fostering the idea of Sarasota as an innovation hub. Let's have Sarasota grow in a way that fosters innovation, inspiration, positivity," says Winslow.

"This is a way for us to shine a light on a different part of Sarasota as things begin to develop [in the south county region]," she adds. 

TED is a global, independently planned event that takes place in over a thousand communities across the world. More than a dozen events are scheduled during 2016-2017 in Florida cities including Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami. 

Three upcoming events in the Tampa Bay area are TEDxOldsmar Women on Oct. 27, 2016; TEDxUSF on March 29, 2017; and TEDxPasco County Schools on May 6, 2017. 

"What's cool is that it's a global community. There's this movement of positivity, and of people who still believe that we can change the world one idea at a time. That's the essence of TED: people who believe, who know it in their bones--people who come out to support that mission and live that possibility," says Winslow.

Get tickets for TEDxSarasota online.

Students at low-income schools get unique experiences through MOSI's outreach program

When low-income schools can't make the trip to MOSI Tampa, the museum goes to them.

In an effort to bring enriching experiences to students at low-income schools, MOSI Tampa has created a program that will offer hands-on activities related to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). MOSI will schools throughout the region, starting with 15 elementary schools in Polk County this year.

The idea behind the outreach program is to introduce students to technology in a fun way, but also help them realize their potential. The program will enable children to explore STEAM related disciplines through activities like creating their own robotic creations.

“At MOSI, we’ve found that one of the best ways to get kids to look toward career paths in important fields like science and engineering is to get them doing real science and engineering themselves,” says Grayson Kamm of MOSI. “Once they're exposed to these fields in new ways such as building and programming their own robots, they get far more interested and engaged. Some students start to picture doing this kind of cutting-edge work as part of their own future careers.”

Kamm says this program was made possible through the George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation. This fund specifically applies to Title I schools, which are defined as schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families.

MOSI's outreach program is titled Robot Roundup. In the program, 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-grade students will have the chance to understand the technology and engineering behind robots, as well as assemble their own.

“This is a way for MOSI to help bring a fresh spark to students, which reinforces what they’ve learned in class and makes it real for them creating an inspiration their classroom teachers can build on during the years ahead.”

Some school visits have already begun. The list below includes all of the schools that will be participating in the program.
 
  • Edgar L. Padgett Elementary, Lakeland
  • Elbert Elementary, Winter Haven
  • Walter Caldwell Elementary, Auburndale
  • Sleepy Hill Elementary, Lakeland
  • Wahneta Elementary, Winter Haven
  • Palmetto Elementary, Poinciana
  • Garden Grove Elementary, Winter Haven
  • Phillip O’Brien Elementary, Lakeland
  • Medulla Elementary, Lakeland
  • Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary, Fort Meade
  • Loughman Elementary, Davenport
  • North Lakeland Elementary, Lakeland
  • Pinewood Elementary, Eagle Lake
  • Purcell Elementary, Mulberry
  • Southwest Elementary, Lakeland
In addition to the Robot Roundup, MOSI offers other hands-on science experiences to schools throughout the state. Other outreach programs include a mobile science lab, and a portable planetarium. For information on MOSI's school outreach programs, visit the museum's website.

St. Pete ups prize to $50K for mural to entwine art, history

The City of St. Petersburg has put out a global call to artists for artwork that will serve as a replacement of a Works Progress Administration-era mural that once hung in City Hall and also as a reminder of the significant and fascinating piece of local history that brought it down. The budget for the approximately 7-by-10 foot piece, initially set at $10,000 has been increased to $50,000; submissions are due Oct. 3, 2016.

The call to artists states that “the art must respect the event(s) that caused the still vacant space where the mural once hung while honoring and celebrating the advances in civil rights and inclusivity in the city today.”

Wayne Altherholt, Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of St. Petersburg, says the selection will be determined by the Project Committee, a diverse group made up of three members of the Public Arts Commission and six community members. Altherholt describes the group as “a driven committee” taking the project on “with the deepest respect and recognition of the past. They will spend hours and hours to figure out the best solution.”

The original mural by George Snow Hill, the artist perhaps best known locally today for his flight murals at Tampa International Airport, was commissioned in 1940, along with another that is still prominently in place along the grand staircase of City Hall.
 
The piece in question ostensibly illustrated a scene where white beachgoers enjoyed black musicians at the local beach Pass-a-Grille. Viewed through a modern lens, though arguably obvious even in the era in which it was painted, it is not at all hard to understand why people found it offensive, particularly during the incendiary times at the start of the civil rights movement in the 1960s when African-Americans were still largely prohibited from even going to some beaches.
 
Joseph Waller, an African-American and then vice-chairman at the time of the state’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), had petitioned to have the mural removed for its derogatory and racist depictions of black people. The request was denied. In what was apparently a spontaneous moment of outrage during a subsequent march on City Hall, Waller tore the canvas down in 1966 and was jailed for more than two years on felony larceny charges. The wall has remained vacant ever since.
 
The call for public art is open to professional and student artists internationally; support on finding a mentor is available for those whose experience is more limited. Once selected, finalists will be asked to prepare a site-specific proposal, and will be paid $1,500 for their submissions at that time.
 
For specific details, please visit the City of St. Petersburg’s Cultural Affairs Department website.

Inc. magazine names Clearwater top spot for fast-growing companies

Business is booming in Clearwater, according to Inc. magazine.

The monthly publication, which focuses on national business and industry growth, ranks Clearwater No. 1 in the country for the number of private businesses to make the magazine’s annual Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies. 

Relative to its population size of more than 110,000 residents, Clearwater was able to beat Irvine, CA, Atlanta, GA, Hollywood, FL, and Alexandra, VA for the top spot.

Four Clearwater-based private companies -- Stratus (66), e-Telequote Insurance (113), KnowBe4 (139) and Digital Media Solutions (434) -- ranked in the Inc. 500 list, which is published in the magazine’s September edition. 

Additionally, the city had five businesses make the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies:
  • Progressive Dental (739), 
  • GovDirect (1,150), 
  • Pure Air Control Systems (1,638), 
  • CWU Inc. (1,939), and 
  • Murphy Business & Financial Corporation LLC (3,061).
While some might be surprised that Clearwater tops such a prestigious list, Denise Sanderson, the city’s Economic Development and Housing director, isn’t shocked by the news. She says it “illustrates the significant concentration of successful, high-growth businesses” in the area.

Millions of visitors flock to Clearwater Beach each year, making tourism the city’s top industry and the backbone of its economy. But Clearwater is also home to a number of diverse business sectors as well, including information technology, software, finance, insurance, marine science, medical technology and manufacturing.

Sanderson says the city will continue to do what it can to entice new companies. In fact, the city’s Economic Development & Housing Department recently teamed up with several public and private partners to launch Clearwater Business SPARK, a network of resources for businesses in the greater Clearwater area, this past spring.
  
“Clearwater welcomes businesses with its favorable business climate, great infrastructure, talented workforce and exceptional quality of life,” she says. “[It] has and will continue to attract entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses poised for growth and expansion.”

Tampa marketing firm invites local artists to create murals

As part of its 30-year anniversary celebration, HCP Associates, a Tampa-based marketing firm, is launching an Art Mural Program that aims to engage local artists using its recently renovated Port Tampa Bay offices as a mural gallery while promoting the individual artists with an aggressive PR strategy. 

“We wanted something inside our newly designed space that was bigger than life and sparked thought and emotion for our clients, staff and friends,” says Eric Polins, HCP Senior Brand Strategist/Partner.

Polins says that art and artists are important to the firm. In addition to the “numerous” creative designers on staff, HCP has a collection of original art throughout the offices and works with a few dozen artists around the globe to create everything from original illustration to 3D animation for client projects. Polins has been a professional artist for over 25 years. 

“We hope this program helps each artist get a shot they deserve to have their work promoted heavily,” says Polins, noting that he feels the local arts community has “low support” especially for painters. “With all the wonderful things changing and growing, we feel this is our way of promoting artists that might not get a chance to get into a gallery or have their own show. We would love to see an ‘unknown’ artist emerge from the program through our grass roots connections and traditional public relations.”

The first Call to Artists is currently open and accepting samples for consideration through the HCP website. The winner will have their 10’ x 20’ wall mural on display from October 1, 2016 until year’s end. HCP covers supply costs, food and drink and provides a $250 stipend to each artist. The firm also promises to lend their expertise in the form of an aggressive PR strategy (valued at $2,500) for each artist to help them promote the work, including a launch party prior to each mural being unveiled. The finished mural and artist will be photographed and published in an online gallery. The firm hopes to eventually produce enough content to create a coffee table book.

HCP Associates plans to have three murals per year on different subject matter. First up? “Election,” of course.

Theatre festival brings workshops, actors to Tampa

This Labor Day weekend, the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival is hosting a packed schedule of intensive workshops for thespians, and 35 live performances of original plays and monologues for theatre-lovers and newcomers alike.  

Costs are kept intentionally low -- $10 per workshop, $5-$20 for plays -- to encourage broad participation and accessibility.  In fact, the master class by NBC’s hit TV series The Blacklist star Harry Lennix is free of charge. Ticketing for all workshops and shows is required and seating is limited.  

Festival founder Rory Lawrence says the Festival aims to “to create a platform and embrace what we do, for people who love to see theater, who love acting and who love seeing original plays and for networking.”  

He is also committed to supporting diversity in this realm. 

“I just feel people have to come together no matter what walk of life they come from: black, white, gay, straight, atheist, Christian. … Theater can bring you together. Everybody likes to laugh, everybody wants to come together,” he says. “We want to be all-inclusive, celebrate all cultures and see we can all have a great time.”

Lawrence brought in Lennix for the first time last year -- quite a coup for such a new festival: This will be its third year. Lennix’s master class was so spirited that no one was ready to leave the HCC Mainstage at the scheduled conclusion. A play was to take place in the theater, so the whole class picked up and relocated to another venue and continued for another two hours! 

Lennix, also a Broadway actor, was impressed with the event and told Lawrence that it ignited his passion for theatre, and that he was thrilled with the receptiveness of the Tampa participants and what Lawrence was trying to achieve. So much so that he offered to come back on his own dime.  

“Harry is all about the craft,” says Lawrence, who stays in touch with Lennix. 

From improv to musical theatre, there are sessions headed by other top-notch professionals throughout the weekend, including Jayne Trinette, Elaine Pechacek, Patrick McInnis and Erica Sutherlin. Simultaneously there are several original short- and long-form plays competing for best-in-show, with writer/directors coming in from as far away as Alaska. 

Lawrence’s own troupe, RQL Productions, performs opening night, Friday Sept. 2, 2016 at the Jaeb Theare at the Straz with his original comedy, Between Calls, followed by a lively networking party, also at the Straz.   

He notes that beyond the fun and joy of the event, networking works. Last year two attendees were noticed at the festival and subsequently cast in major productions. Alexa McGrory was cast in Soccer Moms and Danielle Harris in a Hollywood movie, not yet released called Revival, written by Lennix. Harris has since moved to Los Angeles. 

Note dates for upcoming Tampa Bay Area tech events

As we get ready to exit out of summer, a season of networking and innovative tech events are in the works.

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

Friday, August 19: TechStart Tampa Bay's TechJam
District 3
6:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
802 E. Whiting St.
Tampa

Tech Jam is held every August to raise funds for TechStart Tampa Bay, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education, inspiration and opportunities in technology to at-risk youth. This year the event will feature a battle of the bands competition, food, cocktails, raffle, activities and an exclusive VIP after-party.  More than 400 people are expected to attend.

Friday, August 26: HomeBrew Hillborough
Hivelocity
8:30 a.m.
8010 Woodland Center Blvd. #700
Tampa

Homebrew Hillsborough is a monthly collaborative coffee networking group for techies and entrepreneurs. The group meets at different locations throughout Hillsborough County. In August, the group will have its monthly meeting at Hivelocity Hosting. Hivelocity is a data center headquartered in Tampa, which is growing and expanding with an additional center in the area.

Wednesday, August 31: F*Up Nights Tampa Bay
Cigar City Brewing
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
3924 W. Spruce St.
Tampa

This event celebrates the mistakes all great innovators and entrepreneurs make. The event includes keynote speakers Ryan Rutan, founding partner of Startup 3.0; Lisa Brock, Founder and Principal of Brock Communications; and Alfred Goldberg, President of Operations for Absolute Mobile Solutions. There will be time for networking, an open mic to share your own stories of failure and a complimentary brew from Cigar City Brewing.

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.

Monday, September 12: Code For Tampa Bay Monthly Meetup
Hive @ John F. Germany Library-3rd Floor
6 p.m.-9 p.m.
900 N. Ashley Drive
Tampa

This coding group normally meets the first Monday of every month, however due to Labor Day, they will be meeting the second Monday of September. The next meetup will feature some of the St. Pete National Day of Civic Hacking teams who will report on their projects.

Local government and community groups are encouraged to bring projects and any requests for assistance to meetings.
Snacks and refreshments are provided, however, outside food is welcome as you code, share your ideas and network.

Are you, or an organization you know, hosting a tech-oriented event in the Tampa Bay area in 2016-17? Email us to have your activity included in a future 83 Degrees newsletter. 

For Good: Sarasota Hackathon seeks computer science mentors for teens

Keeping up with computer technology in the 21st century is no small task, even for the most tech-savvy teens. With the computer science industry growing at dizzying rates and creating an increased demand for coding and computing training, the race is on for today's high school computer whiz-kids to download the most competitive skills in tech, logic, critical thinking and design.

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County estimates that over the next 10 years, there will be 1-million more computing jobs than there are graduates to fill them -- an up to $500 billion loss in potential salaries -- and that 30 percent of jobs will require technology and coding skills. In an effort to address the critical need to introduce high school students to education and career opportunities in computer sciences, the Education Foundation will host the region's first #SRQHacks Student Hackathon, Oct. 14-16. 

Limited access to advanced computer science and technology training for students from low-income families is among the greatest challenges Sarasota County schools face in fostering future generations of computing professionals. Today 52 percent of the 43,000 students enrolled in Sarasota County schools qualify for the income restricted National School Lunch Program, and while public school classrooms offer basic computer science training, kids from lower-income families struggle to access learning opportunities beyond the classroom basics. 

The #SRQHacks Student Hackathon aims to reach students whose families may not have the resources for after-school clubs or technology-enrichment programs. Student participants will include Sarasota County students ages 13-18 recruited through Sarasota County Schools, the Education Foundation’s Digital Learning Lab partners and community organizations. 

The hackathon's three-day immersion experience pairs students with tech mentors to build a web or mobile app that positively impacts the community. Prior to the event, Sarasota and Manatee County communities will select area-specific issues, which the student-mentor teams will be tasked to provide app-based solutions for by applying computer science skills and outside-the-box thinking. 

"Our partners and sponsors recognize that an intense immersion coding experience like this has the potential to grab the interest of a student and set him or her on a career path they might not have considered attainable,” says Jennifer Vigne, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Supporting partners include the City of Sarasota Police Department, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, New College of Florida and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

“It is part of our mission to create a culture where all students aspire to some type of post-secondary education, whether that means community college, technical school, or a university. This hackathon is a unique way to expose students to coding and match them with mentors who can inspire their interest in pursuing a technology-based career," Vigne says.

The hackathon is currently seeking three types of volunteer mentors to work with students in October: Developers (programmers, engineers and computer science college students or graduates), designers (front-end developers and graphic designers), and innovators (educators and entrepreneurs), as well as event sponsors.

MOSI collaboration aims to enrich experience for those on autism spectrum

MOSI is making changes to its museum for visitors on the Autism spectrum.

The Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) has developed a partnership with Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay (BCOTB). Working under the motto “partnering toward a more autism accessible experience,” the duo hopes to offer families and children in the autistic community more opportunities to participate, without overstimulating.

“Accessibility and inclusiveness is at the heart of what we are all about,” says Grayson Kamm of MOSI. “So as we look at ways to eliminate any barriers to accessibility that we have unintentionally created, it's a perfect fit to have a partnership that helps us understand the best ways to serve families who have members with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

Some of these barriers include revising maps and signs so families will know what kind of sensory exposure they will experience (lights, sounds, etc) and rearranging some exhibits allowing families to bypass sections that may be cause over stimulation. MOSI is also incorporating these changes on its new website, set to launch in September.

“Our families are always searching for places where they can spend time together that will be supportive of their needs and won’t overwhelm them,” BCOTB President and Founder Kelley Prince  stated in a press release. We’re excited to help MOSI take that to the next level.”

BCOTB works one-on-one with families on the spectrum, with programs customized for each child's needs. The company has been honored with an Autism Impact Award from the International Center for Autism Research and Education, as well as named Most Valuable Resource by Autism Speaks Tampa Bay.

Grayson says the some of the changes BCOTB has recommended will come quickly, while others will take some time, however the community can aid in this process.

“Things like maps and signage can be upgraded without any major delay,” he says. “Larger projects, like rearranging exhibits to group them in a more sensory-friendly way, depends on available funding and planned maintenance schedules; donations or a dedicated funding source would allow us to speed up this process.”

To find out how you can help, click here.

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. 

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.

University of Florida prepares to launch Innovation Station in Sarasota County

The “Gulf Coast,’’ the “Suncoast’’ and the “Creative Coast’’ are just a few of the monikers for Sarasota and the surrounding cities along the west-central Florida coastline. Now, the region is gearing up to earn a new reputation as Florida’s “High-Tech Coast’’ with the launch of the first University of Florida “Innovation Station’’ in Sarasota County.

The University of Florida Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering will open the first physical extension of the college’s Florida Engineering EXperiment Station (FLEXStation) in Sarasota County later this year, bringing cutting-edge applied research, students and faculty, workforce talent and intellectual property to the Gulf Coast region.

“The purpose of the extension arm is to nurture high-tech industry -- and the one thing high-tech industry needs most is talent. We want to nurture the students who want to create businesses and hook them up with regions of the state where they can thrive. We also want to open up our researchers to companies: if they have issues that need to be addressed, or if they need access to experts in a certain field, we have a tremendous wealth of talent available to them,” says Cammy Abernathy, Dean of UF’s Wertheim College of Engineering.  

Abernathy cites the long-term success of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ (IFAS) partnerships with Florida’s agricultural industry as a model for the Innovation Station. As Florida’s Land-Grant School, Abernathy says UF has a special responsibility to help the state develop and strengthen its tech industry.

“We wanted to find a place with a nascent hi-tech economy and community; a place with expertise we can tap into, and a high quality of life. The arts community is one of the things that makes Sarasota a great place to live and attractive to young professionals. We also wanted to go to a place that we felt was underserved, and we felt that what Sarasota was missing was what we could bring in. We can fill a niche that Sarasota identified a long time ago as being crucial to future development. It looked like a perfect match,” Abernathy says.

A public-private partnership between the University of Florida, the Sarasota County government, the EDC of Sarasota County, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation makes the development of the UF Innovation Station in Sarasota possible. A University of Florida investment of $1 million was met with a five-year, $980,000 grant from the Barancik Foundation and a $63,000 one-year grant from GCCF. A performance-based grant was also unanimously approved by the Sarasota County Commission to help launch the Innovation Station.

“One of the things [the University of Florida] was highly interested in learning about our community was about the existing infrastructural stakeholders -- Sarasota’s businesses and educational institutions -- in regards to whether they were willing and welcoming to having something like this in our community. ... The purpose on their part combined with the talent in our community made for a perfect match,” says Jeff Maultsby, Director of the Sarasota County Office of Business and Economic Development.

The Innovation Station will launch later this year in Sarasota County-leased office space, with a staff of 3-5 employees from UF, including a director and program coordinators focused on workforce development, industry and educational collaborations. 

The Innovation Station will partner with State College of Florida (SCF) so that students may begin course studies in computer engineering before physically matriculating as fulltime students at UF, a program Abernathy says is currently being piloted at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, with about 60 students enrolling annually. 

“I think one element of this project is to help to bring high tech type engineering personnel back to our community through a number of avenues -- one avenue being a matriculation through SCF, and then back into our community through internships and project-type work,” Maultsby says.

Abernathy adds that UF’s long-term goals include forming interdisciplinary partnerships with Sarasota schools such as New College and Ringling College of Art + Design, as well as reaching local K-12 schools in the Sarasota County School District to encourage STEM-stimulating programs.

“We’re interested in strengthening high-tech education across the board in this region, and hoping that we can help educate more people in the Sarasota area to keep skills up-to-date so they can continue to be competitive in today’s high tech world. … Once you get a critical mass of tech talent -- that’s how you sustain the tech engine,” says Abernathy. 

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.”

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.

Gasparilla Film Festival features big names, diverse films

The 2016 Suncoast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) opens with a gala at Tampa Theatre on Wednesday, March 30th, and then will showcase over several days more than 100 new films.  

The festival culminates in an awards ceremony and closing night film  "Everybody Wants Some'' directed by Richard Linklater -- the highly anticipated sequel to "Dazed and Confused'' -- at the Ritz Ybor on Sunday, April 3rd, 2016. 

The Suncoast Credit Union Family Fun Day, free to the public, will also take place on the last day of the festival at Ybor City’s Centennial Park complete with movies for kids and other activities.

It’s the festival’s 10th anniversary and this year’s organizers have informally dubbed it "The Year of the Director.''  Nearly 100 percent of the screenings this year will host the film’s corresponding director and much of the talent as well, says Festival Executive Director Monica Varner.

For example, she notes, director Gavin Hood of  "Eye in the Sky'' -- the modern warfare thriller staring Helen Mirren -- will be in attendance at the Opening Night event, where the film debuts in Tampa. "It's a big deal and sets the tone for whole festival,'' says Varner. Some other big names coming to town next week: Actress and Singer Rita Moreno, who will be awarded GIFF's Lifetime Achievement Award, and Actress and Choreographer Rosie Perez. 

The Cuban connection

The Cuban-Tampa connection has been in the news a lot lately and will continue right through next week when three Cuban-themed films will be debuted at the festival as well.

Film Director Ron Chapman says that the Tampa Film Festival, though "young'' on the circuit of festivals, is "creating a reputation for itself among filmmakers and the film community'' due to the skill demonstrated, the skill in curating the festival, and the Tampa Bay region's curious and engaged audiences. 

"The festival itself [also] has great leadership in the way they treat the films and the filmmakers -- it makes you feel happy,'' comments Chapman who says this is not always the case. 

Chapman should feel happy -- last year he chose Tampa's festival for the world premier of his film "The Poet of Havana'' about Cuban singer and songwriter Carlos Varela, which was bought by HBO Latino as a result of the screening. The film also won the Audience Choice award for Best Documentary. This year, audiences will see his new documentary "The Forbidden Shore,'' which highlights dozens of Cuban musicians and some of the 30+ unique genres of music the island has to offer. "Craving Cuba'' and "Havana Motor Club'' are the other Cuban documentaries to be shown at the festival.  

"Cuban films are a big deal,'' says Varner. 

Varner encourages everyone to attend, though she realizes "it can be a bit intimidating because there is so much to pick and choose from.''  

If curious about the lineup, download the full program guide from the GIFF website. Tickets are reasonable -- most are $12 -- and there is a question and answer session after every screening.  

"Having an opportunity to talk with the directors and actors, having that interactive experience,'' is special, says Varner.  

Sarasota Whiskey Obsession Festival at Michael’s on East features local distilleries

Whiskey enthusiasts in southwest Florida have a reason to raise their glasses -- snifters, for those in the know -- as the date approaches for the fourth annual Whiskey Obsession Festival, taking place March 30 - April 1 in Sarasota, FL. 

Held at the Michael’s on East Restaurant and Wine Cellar, the Whiskey Obsession Festival is one of the largest whiskey festivals in the United States. Dozens of master distillers and professional ambassadors descend on Sarasota to share their knowledge and to sample and sell their finest whiskeys at the annual festival. The main tasting event on April 1 will feature master classes, cigar pairing, exclusive on-site package sales and VIP pours.

The Whiskey Obsession Festival features more than 250 whiskies from around the world, including fine spirits from Scotland, Ireland, France, Japan, Canada and the United States. This year, the festival will also feature several independent distillers representing the growing craft spirits scene in the greater Tampa Bay area. 

The makers of Wild Buck American Rye Whiskey, husband and wife distilling duo Kevin and Natalie Goff, are based out of Weeki Wachee. Wild Buck Rye is made using only local, non-GMO 401 black rye -- a grain varietal specially adapted for the Florida climate. The Goffs grow 401 black rye on their own farm in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Reserve and receive harvests from the Melton Family farms in Dade City.

“There’s such a big movement for crafts spirits right now -- but it has to be quality… Most people get rye out of places like Minnesota or Colorado, but the problem is that when you grind it, it can smell stale or moldy. That wasn’t acceptable to us. We wanted it as fresh as possible,” says Natalie Goff. 

Natalie adds that she and her husband distill their whiskey, and sanitize, polish, fill and cork each bottle by hand.

“We don’t have any automation. … It’s really a quality measure. It’s a labor of love,” she says.

The Goffs will return to the Whiskey Obsession Festival for the second year following a successful, sold-out launch of their Wild Buck Rye at last year’s festival.

Also in attendance at this year’s festival will be the St. Petersburg Distillery, founded in 2014 in the midtown area of St. Pete, just south of Central Avenue and west of downtown. St. Petersburg Distillery’s “Old St. Pete” line features locally inspired spirits including Sweet Corn Whiskey, locally sourced from Okeechobee and distilled in vintage copper pots from the 1930s, and Tippler’s Orange Liqueur, made from natural Florida Temple oranges -- peels and all.

St. Petersburg Distillery PR Manager Hanna Marcus says that the distillery is excited to serve its WSWA award-winning “St. Pete Sour” cocktail at the Whiskey Obsession Festival, featuring the distillery’s Sweet Corn Whiskey, Tippler’s Orange Liqueur and American Royal Mead. 

Although the Whiskey Obsession Festival focuses primarily on whiskeys -- including scotch, bourbon, rye, single malt, blend, Irish and Japanese whiskeys -- the festival will also feature a selection of cocktails, rums, cognacs, and even barrel-aged beer. Tampa’s own Coppertail Brewing will feature a barrel-aged brew at this year’s festival. 

The Whiskey Obsession Festival kicks off on March 30 with the “Dram Dance” party at downtown Sarasota’s historic Gator Club, featuring Brooklyn-based electronic music artist, Brothertiger. The festival’s Panel of Whiskey Experts Interactive Tasting and Discussion takes place on Thursday, March 31. The main event’s Grand Tasting and Master Classes start at 6:30 p.m. for VIP ticketholders and at 7:30 p.m. for general admission on April 1 at Michael’s on East. 

For a full event schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the Whiskey Obsession website.

Real-time art of every flavor: St. Pete Synesthesia event

In a rolling metamorphosis of creativity not before seen in the area, a day of local artists inspiring art real time – like a collaborative domino effect -- will take place at The Studio@620 Saturday, March 26, 2016. 

The day long event, entitled “Synesthesia,” plays on the medical term to describe a condition in which one sense, for instance: hearing, is perceived also as another sense, such as sight or taste.  

The day will start with a story written by 5th grader Lilly McDole to be performed by actor Becca McCoy to a group of dancers and sound artist Matt Cowley, who will then create dance and sound inspired by the story.  The day cascades from there – Sculptor James Oleson will watch the dance to gain inspiration and create a sculpture, which then will serve as the next piece of the puzzle, handing the torch to songwriter Jonathan Cho, etc.

“People only see just what’s in front of them,” says Playwright and Radio Producer Sheila Cowley, who organized the event based on something similar she’d seen in New York’s Electric Pear Productions and Athena Theatre. “Actors put together something based on the song, then a piece of art, then a poem, then a song to be taught to the audience. …” 

The day-long Synesthesia event, involving more than a dozen artists, will incorporate storytelling, dance and sound art, visual art, music, devised theatre, poetry, group harmony and movement, and photography. 

“There are so many great artists in St. Petersburg, who all support each other’s work and are interested in each other’s work,” continues Cowley.  The concept is to leverage that, allowing artists to “see what kind of spark that creates for their own art, drawing inspiration from places they don’t usually use, and then passing that on.” 

At 8 p.m. that evening, the art will be performed and experienced in order at Studio@620 in front of an audience. For ticket information, click here.

The Music Box: Tampa Bay launches in Sulphur Springs neighborhood

A free, experiential and pioneering “musical architecture” project constructed on the grounds of  the Community Stepping Stones (CSS) in Sulphur Springs will be open to the public for a month starting March 25, 2016.  

“The Music Box: Tampa Bay” is an interactive public artwork and performance space that allows visitors to participate in creating sound and music through a temporary village of musical structures. 

“The project is about inspiring and building community,” says Sarah Howard, Curator of Public Art and Social Practice at the The University of South Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), who is leading the project. “Anyone can access it: It’s music, it’s architecture, and a there’s a little magical realism that goes along with it.”

The Music Box village is situated on the Mann-Wagon Park along the Hillsborough River and will celebrate not only local artists and musicians, but also the history of Sulphur Springs. 

Concerts by local musicians are planned for Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. Cultural programs will occur on Thursday evenings, including a presentation of storied Sulphur Springs history by Historians Rodney Kite-Powell and Hermann Trappman. The history discussions will cover geographical details to Sulphur Springs’ role through time from serving as a Native American destination for healing waters to becoming a tourist destination to its modern day purpose.

The music village will be open for exploration and play on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon-6 p.m. 

Howard says many layers of collaboration and community engagement are already taking place on the grounds. She notes that neighbors have stopped by out of curiosity and then become volunteers on the project. Other collaborators include more than 20 USF students of architecture, history, music and studio art students and students from the host organization, Community Stepping Stones, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting underserved youth through after-school programs in the arts. 

“They are getting the value of working with professional artists and seeing a project through from planning to execution to public presentation,” says Howard referring to the students’ participation. 

Howard notes that many jobs have been created as well and that the professional artists and musicians involved are paid. She hopes and expects that the events will attract visitors to local businesses and restaurants. 

The Tampa installation is modeled after the New Orleans Airlift (NOA) initiative, which sought to restore artist communities after Hurricane Katrina. The NOA has provided guidance and collaboration with local Artists Jan Awai, Devon Brady and Michael Lemieux from Livework Studios and community-based land Artist Tory Tepp in designing and constructing the village. The project was funded by grants and donations from the National Endowment of the Arts, the University of South Florida, the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation and several local organizations. 

The Music Box is fun and family-friendly, Howard says, and “gives you the sense of awe and wonder that unites people. That’s the goal.”

All programming is free but tickets are recommended for evening events because space is limited. For more information on scheduling and ticketing, click here.

Local event to help boomers create a roadmap to meaningful work

A nationally recognized expert in career transitions and retirement will be the keynote speaker at a special event to help Tampa Bay Area baby boomers navigate a successful path to a new job, entrepreneurship or volunteering.

The “Encore Connect: Your Roadmap to What’s Next” presentation and expo will take place from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16th, at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) Student Center in downtown St. Pete. 

The event is hosted by Encore Tampa Bay, a nonprofit organization focused on creating a network of community and business resources to help those over 50 explore, retool and connect to opportunities for an encore career. Commonly defined as a second or third act in life that typically takes place after age 50, encore careers often combine personal meaning, social impact and continued income. 

“Today, many boomers are trying to figure out how to leverage their skills and strengths in new ways that meet their needs,” says Bevan Rogel, Founder and President of Encore Tampa Bay. “Our event can help you go from thinking about how you want to redefine your next chapter to actually doing something about it.”

Kerry Hannon, Author of 10 books on careers, money and retirement, will address “What’s Next? Your Guide to a Working Retirement: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job.” Her presentation will cover finding encore careers, starting a business, nonprofit work and how to “fall in love with your job again.” All event participants will also receive a free copy of Hannon’s 2015 book, “Getting the Job You Want After 50.” 

“Living longer, healthier lives is revolutionizing the way we navigate what was once considered our retirement years – and our retirement savings strategies,” says Hannon, AARP’s Jobs Expert and a regular contributor to The New York Times, Money and Forbes.  “We must re-think the value of longevity and focus on the money-wise reasons to stay in the workforce as long as possible.”

An interactive expo after the presentation will feature local resources where participants can connect to career experts, coaches, businesses and nonprofits to develop individualized action plans.

According to AARP research, there are more than 500,000 adults over 50 in the Tampa Bay area, and 70 percent of adults in this age group have decided to work beyond 65 in some capacity.  

To learn more about Encore Connect and to register, visit Encore Tampa Bay. Event registration is $50.

Spring job fairs in Tampa Bay

Spring 2016 job fairs offer job seekers the chance to start a career with a Tampa Bay area company. Learn more about which companies are seeking candidates for part- and full-time positions in spring 2016 at upcoming local career fairs.

Career fairs in Tampa Bay can connect job seekers in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas with the industry leaders and resources that help open the door for new hires. Job seekers, mark your calendars for these upcoming job fairs in spring 2016:

Saturday, March 5: Community Job Fair
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Library
1505 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa

The Tampa Bay Community Advocacy Committee (TBCAC), in partnership with Austin Commercial, LP and Ariel Business Group, Inc., is hosting this Community Job Fair to facilitate employment opportunities in skilled or unskilled jobs in construction at the Tampa International Airport (TIA). The event will feature construction and construction-related companies currently working on TIA improvement projects, including Skanska, Kimmins, Mitsubishi, West Tampa Glass, and more.


Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront
333 1st St. S., St. Petersburg

The Live Hiring job fair in St. Petersburg is hosted by National Career Fairs.

Tuesday, April 5: Tampa Career Fair 
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress St., Tampa

Monday, April 11: Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair presented by the Tampa Bay Times
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Coliseum
535 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg

More than 50 local employers from institutes of higher education and vocational/technical schools will be in attendance. Professional business attire required. Bring at least 20 copies of your resume.

Wednesday, April 13: CareerSource Tampa Bay Career Fair
TPepin's Hospitality Centre
4121 N. 50th St, Tampa

Open to the general public. Veterans will receive priority of service. A CareerSource Tampa Bay recruiter will be present to offer resume assistance and job search techniques. 

Thursday, May 12: Florida Statewide Job Fair
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
CFE Arena (formerly UCF Arena)
University of Central Florida campus
12777 Gemini Blvd. N., Orlando

The Florida Career Centers will host the annual Statewide Job Fair in May 2016 as an effort to recruit graduates and alumni from Florida’s state universities. Typically, more than 150 employers and 1,500 students and alumni seeking full-time career opportunities attend the annual event. 

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. Follow Florida Jobs - 83 Degrees Media on Facebook.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts promises fun, activities for all ages

Art is in the air -- the open air -- in downtown Tampa, and everyone is welcome.

The 46th annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (GFA) kicks off March -- the month of culture under Tampa’s iconic Gasparilla umbrella. Pulling top local and national talent, the festival is one of most prestigious and selective of open air arts festivals in the country, according to organizers, and runs March 5-6 at Curtis Hixon Park and Kiley Gardens. Admission is free of charge.

“Tampa Bay has a lot going on by way of the arts,”  says Jodie Orozco, the GFA’s Marketing Chair. “There is an arts renaissance going on in Tampa, St. Pete, Sarasota. We are exposing the entire area to that.”

With over 100,000 visitors anticipated and hundreds of exhibitors, the festival could seem overwhelming to newcomers. Here are some key highlights to guide your experience.

Families and kids

Outdoor festivals, especially ones with a top-notch park on-premise and plenty of room to run around, are generally a good bet for families. But the GFA has a unique program parents rave about: The Art Collectors in Training Program. There are also opportunities for kids to make art. 

The Art Collectors in Training Program is located at a dedicated tent in Kiley Garden. Children ages 6 to 14 are invited to browse a “kids-only” shopping zone, a collection donated by festival artists. Kids get to select their own artworks, some priced between $5 and $10, and are encouraged to find the artists of their purchased pieces in the festival. Last year, more than 130 artists donated 750 pieces, and raised $4,800.  Proceeds go to the Children’s Cancer Center. 

“Our program gives children the opportunity to choose a piece of art without the help of their parents,” says Brenda Gregory who leads this initiative. “We provide children with the freedom to see art as something that can have personal meaning to them.”

The Festival partners with the Tampa Museum of Art, which runs The Children Activity Area, allowing kids to create art during their visit, too.  

Kids have the opportunity to learn techniques from featured artists, color, paint and draw. Currently showing at the Museum is the Spanish sculptor “Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape” exhibit.  Orozco says the children's activities will leverage that theme. 

The Art Collector in Training program and the Children’s Area are open both days 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. respectively.

Chalk Walk and Art Car Extravaganza 

Also fun for families, is the Chalk Walk that will take place “under the eaves of the Tampa Museum of Art” where 10 commissioned Chalk Artists will bring their large form chalk drawings to life in an interactive experience in front of your eyes.

On display in Kiley Gardens, visitors can see the Carmada fleet of a dozen art cars and vote on their favorites. Three cars will be painted live by a team of local muralists -- including a vintage VW bus -- while DJs spin throughout the afternoon. Adults and kids can get their hands dirty here, too, exploring the Nomad art bus and contributing to its collaborative mural.

The Art – emergent and established

The art on display is diverse – from woodwork to jewelry to printmaking to oil, etc.  Because it is a juried festival, the organizers are able to cull the best from the hundreds of applications they receive. The exposure and  $75,000 in prizes, is a big draw. In addition, “we help our artists to sell a lot of work,” says Orozco. Though she notes there is no pressure to buy. You can preview some of of the works on the GFA web gallery. 

The Festival promotes and invests in up-and-coming artists who have never before displayed art in a juried festival. The Emerging Artists Program, which provides the artists with the booth and cash for its display infrastructure, was created to “recognize and showcase the artwork of these artists who wish to pursue a career in the visual arts career.” Fifteen emerging artists were chosen from 120 applicants to participate. Their tents are displayed in Kiley Garden and the artists are eligible for a $1,500 Emerging Artist Award. 

For those who want to rub shoulders with the best of the show and its creators, there is a galaRE VIP reception on Saturday night, which brings together patrons and the juried festival award winners, with a backdrop of live bossa nova music and Capital Grill catering. Tickets for this event can be purchased through the website. 

There appears to be something for everyone.  

“Enjoy the festival as you would a museum. Interact with artists,” suggests Orozco. “There is a great variety of art to choose form whether your preference is glass art or painting or ceramics there is always something to choose from.”

Free Community Pass offers Tampa Bay residents museum, music fest discounts

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay (CFTB) has found a creative way to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Beginning in February 2016, residents who sign up for the group's free 'Community Pass' will receive unique discounts to distinguished local arts and cultural-focused programs and institutions such as the Tampa Museum of Art and St. Petersburg Museum of History.

Perks for Tampa Bay area residents include buy one, get one free admission offers to select events or venues, and discounts to museums including the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, the Florida Holocaust Museum, the Tampa Bay History Center, and other centers of arts and learning. 

CFTB launched the Community Pass to help local residents discover and enjoy the local arts and culture organizations that CFTB donors support through discounts and other special offers.

Community Pass discounts include BOGO free admission to Great Explorations Children's Museum; "Palladium Presents" shows at The PalladiumSt. Petersburg Museum of HistoryTampa Museum of Art; and the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum. Other discounts include 25 percent off admission to the Florida Holocaust Museum; $5 off admission to the Gasparilla Music Festival on Sunday, March 13; and $10 off admission to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg.

“The Community Pass will give back to the residents of our tri-county area, and encourage them to enjoy the wonderful cultural institutions we have here in our very own backyard," Wilma Norton, VP of Marketing and Communications for CFTB, writes in a news release. “We are very excited to celebrate our 25th year serving the community of Tampa Bay by providing a gift to everyone who lives here."

The Community Foundation was founded in 1990 to serve as a connector between local donors, nonprofit organizations, community members, business leaders, and volunteers in Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties. In those 25 years, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay has awarded more than $175 million in donor funds as grants to nonprofit organizations across the country. 

To sign up for a free Community Pass, click here.

February job news: Who's hiring in Tampa Bay?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an established children's hospital and an emergency veterinarian are all businesses based in the Tampa Bay area who are hiring in February 2016. 

All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine is hiring for a Special Events Manager. A BA and a minimum of five years experience in event planning is required. The Special Events Manager will plan, manage and execute events and fundraising initiatives, overseeing special events coordinators.A successful candidate must have reliable transportation. 

The Aspire Group seeks a Sales Consultant at the University of South Florida. A BS in Sports Management or a related field is required; communications, customer service and computer skills are necessary.

Emergency veterinarian services provider Blue Pearl is hiring for a Digital Marketing Associate. A Bachelor's degree in a related field (website development, digital marketing) is preferred; at least one year of marketing experience is required.
An understanding of search engine optimization and various social media platforms, as well as basic HTML, is expected.

Bristol Myers Squibb is hiring for several positions in Tampa, including roles in technical support, analytics, IT management and more. 

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce seeks a Creative Services Manager. The successful applicant will have a BA in graphic design, communications or a related field, as well as 3-5 years of experience in a graphic design role. Primary responsibilities will include creating graphics, communications content, creation of event material, and other tasks.

Social Venture Partners seeks an Executive Director to manage day-to-day operations of the organization and to serve as spokesperson for the group. Responsibilities will include providing support to growing partners, recruiting partners, planning and organizational development; the successful applicant will have knowledge of the Tampa Bay nonprofit community. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek to fill two communications roles with the football organization: a Communications Coordinator in the Marketing Department and a Communications Coordinator in the Community Relations Department. Successful applicants will have at least one year of marketing copywriting and brand experience; a BA in Journalism; strong knowledge of AP style, and the ability to work independently. The role will include authoring external communications; editing marketing materials and revising as necessary, and contributing to Bucs social media accounts and website.

The Buccaneers are also hiring for a Graphic Designer; a BA in Fine Arts is required.

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.

Clearwater targets entrepreneurs with new business SPARK

The City of Clearwater has launched a new initiative to serve as a catalyst for economic development and business innovation in North Pinellas County.

The Clearwater Business SPARK brings together a network of resources targeting the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“It’s all about supporting our small business and entrepreneurial community,” says Audra Aja, who is with the City of Clearwater Economic Development and Housing Department and program coordinator for Clearwater Business SPARK.  

Rather than being an acronym, SPARK is simply meant to “embody the thought of sparking innovation through business success, growth and entrepreneurship,” says Aja.

Partners in SPARK include the city of Clearwater’s Economic Development and Housing Department, Clearwater Public Library, Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, Florida Small Business Development Center of Pinellas County and Technical Arts Facility for Innovation and Entrepreneurship or TAFFIE.

“The real driver for launching SPARK was a study that identified the need to work together from a number of different angles to promote Clearwater as a viable area for business,” says Elaine Mann, executive director of TAFFIE.

An Urban Land Institute study undertaken by the city identified 23 software and information technology companies located in the downtown area. And those companies had over 800 employees.   

That was a surprise to a lot of people.

“People, even those who live here, tend to think of the beaches and tourism when they think of Clearwater, but we have a quite a number of large and small businesses and technology companies,” says Mann.

The study spurred the city to pursue a number of initiatives, including identifying the downtown Clearwater Redevelopment Area as a technology district and putting together a technology council focused on helping brand and market the downtown area as a tech hub. 

Putting together SPARK was the next step in the process. 

“We realized that we have a lot of great resources already here in Clearwater, but we did not have a cohesive, formal way of working together,” says Aja. 

To determine the best direction to take, she says the group visited the St. Petersburg Greenhouse, the Tampa Bay WaVE in Tampa, and the HuB in Sarasota – in total about nine different venues that support innovation and entrepreneurs.  

“We have spent about a year-and-a-half solidifying our programs and figuring out how to best deliver them to the community,” said Aja.

In a news release announcing SPARK, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos says, “The creation of Clearwater Business SPARK begins a relationship between the city and its local partners that will ignite entrepreneurship and business development in greater Clearwater and enhance the city’s future and its business community.”

SPARK partner Steve Allen is president and CEO of DocuPhase/iDatix, a Clearwater-based software technology company.

Allen is also the founder of TAFFIE, which is located in the iDatix corporate headquarters and serves as an incubator, accelerator and co-working space for local business startups.

TAFFIE opened in 2013 as a result of Allen’s interest in helping the city brainstorm how to create an ecosystem for attracting the right business talent, says Allen.  

“One of the things the group of us talked about was how we did not have an area for these small tech companies to congregate,” says Allen. “I had available space in my own company.  And after the Urban Land Institute study pointed out the need for an business incubator and accelerator, I decided to pull the trigger.’’

TAFFIE has evolved as a co-working and incubating space for emerging and small businesses, as well as the “go-to” site for several entrepreneurial programs open to the public, such as the monthly entrepreneurs’ roundtable and a twice monthly Rise and Shine morning education and networking meeting.

In addition to the resources offered by TAFFIE, other SPARK partners, such as the Clearwater Public Library provide free business-related tools like Lynda.com, a professional video learning library on topics ranging from business management to graphic design, and database access to mailing lists and numerous other topics.  

One of the library’s coolest new offerings is the “Makerspace,” which gives individuals, inventors and startups access to 3D printers, and other high-tech equipment.  All it takes to participate is a Clearwater library card.

In addition, through SPARK, the city is also offering business coaching, site selecting and permitting assistance, access to financing and grant opportunity exploration.

For more information, contact Audra Aja, program coordinator, at 727-443-0217 or info@ClearwaterBusinessSpark.com

St. Pete event celebrates wealth of local muses

Beyond the goddesses of Greek mythology who preside over song, poetry, arts and sciences, Merriam-Webster defines muse as “a source of inspiration; especially, a guiding genius.” 

St. Petersburg will recognize its own local creative guiding geniuses this Friday, Jan. 29th, at its third annual MUSE Awards. The awards are designed to recognize the breadth and beauty of the city’s arts and culture and “pay tribute to those that continue to inspire and guide St. Petersburg to its standing as an international arts destination.” 

The event, to be held at the Museum of Fine Art, promises to be a night of surprises, pop-up entertainment and of course, artists and fine art down to the food that is served. Proceeds will benefit artists, arts education, and arts & cultural organizations through the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance programs and services. Tickets are available, but going fast. 

“Collectively, the MUSE award winners this year have each made a very distinctive contribution to our community,” says John Collins, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “They are all very involved with community engagement, and these awards were created to shine a spotlight on St. Petersburg.”

Collins uses the term “transformational” when describing any of the winners. It’s hard to argue with that.  

The winners include nationally and internationally acclaimed Artist Steven Kenny whose captivating blend of surrealism with the classic human figure earned him the MUSE Visual Arts Award. Originally from New York, Kenny has been a resident of St. Petersburg for over three years, crediting in an interview with wowxwow.com the Salvador Dali Museum for initially drawing him to the City and his subsequent excitement about the creative energy of the local grassroots art scene as factors in his decision to move. 

The MUSE Arts Ambassador Award recognizes a beloved St. Petersburg artist (of any discipline) who is a stellar representative of the “City of the Arts” to the world. Among her many accolades, Collins praises this year’s winner, muralist and installation artist Ya La’ford, for her “singular commitment to not only doing a mural in a tunnel, the ‘Sunnel,’ but her experiential workshops that have made art very, very relevant in our community.” The artist and professor whose work has been displayed recently at Miami Art Basel, Harlem Art Flux and Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum is also known for her work with children. On Martin Luther King Day of this year, La’ford’s “King’s Dream Unite,” a 30x30 mural created in collaboration with 25 students from MYcroSchool Pinellas, was unveiled on the side of the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg

The MUSE Patron of the Arts award goes to the J. Crayton Pruitt Foundation which made a “leadership gift” of $200,000 to the Warehouse Arts District enabling the creation of the ArtsXchange, which in just its initial phase will provide 11,000 square feet of affordable studio and performing arts space for the district’s artists of all disciplines.

The St. Petersburg City Theatre recently celebrated its 90th anniversary is the oldest continually operating community theatre and will be recognized with the MUSE Performance Arts Award.

Last but not least: the literary arts. Maureen McDole, Author and co-Founder of Keep St. Pete Lit, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting greater St. Petersburg’s literary community through arts, education and events will receive the MUSE Literary Arts Award. McDole says she sees her organization -- which has provided free classes to over 400 students in the past six months through its LitSpace -- as a “vehicle to spread literary love around our community.”  

“If Keep St. Pete Lit can be a catalyst to creativity and healing in people's lives through literature,’ says McDole. “What's better than that?”

Winners will receive an original hand-blown glass bowl by acclaimed St. Pete Artist Duncan McClellan. 

HCC to offer free entrepreneurship program for veterans

A new entrepreneurship program that is geared toward military veterans will be locally implemented with the help of Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.

The nonprofit Veterans Florida, which developed the entrepreneurship program, was developed itself by the Florida Legislature in an effort to create more job opportunities for vets in the state.

As a network partner of Veterans Florida, Hillsborough Community College will offer training and entrepreneurial education to veterans living in Florida who aim to open their own businesses through the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program.

HCC has the distinction of being the only community college selected as a network partner of the program, which will also be implemented at the University of West Florida, University of North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Atlantic University. The colleges and universities will allocate existing small business development resources to the development and implementation of the program.

“Entrepreneurs fuel our growing economy,” HCC president Dr. Ken Atwater noted in a news release. “This program will help our service men and women get equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to be successful in the global marketplace."

The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program is provided free of charge to Florida resident veterans who are active duty or who have been honorably discharged; $1 million in program funding was granted from the Florida Legislature. Vets who plan to relocate to Florida to pursue entrepreneurship are also eligible for the program.

Program participants begin training with an online entrepreneurial development-training course before moving on to on-site training at one of the five partner institutions, including HCC. The program covers travel expenses for the in-class portion of training.

During in-class training, veterans will have the opportunity to work with local business leaders and entrepreneurs to further develop and examine business plans.

Following the intensive, face-to-face phase of the program, veterans will receive continued mentorship as they grow and lauch their businesses, as well as follow-up support from Florida Small Business Development Council business consultants.

The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program host partner, the University of West Florida, will oversee the program from its Florida SBDC Network and Military and Veterans Resource Center. At HCC, the program will be administered through the college’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Training.

“We are pleased to build upon the programs that we currently offer to the thousands of veterans we serve each through the Veterans Florida Program at HCC,” Atwater said.

The education received through the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program “will empower the next generation of great veteran entrepreneurs to make lasting contributions to the state’s economy,” says the group’s executive director, Bobby Carbonell, by offering veterans in the state “access to high value, entrepreneurship education through our world-class state universities and colleges.”

The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program website is set to launch in February 2016; interested veterans can visit the website to apply for the program or contact (850) 898-3489 or info@FloridaVetBiz.org for more information.

USF Tampa, Patel College host global ecotourism conference in January

The inaugural Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), which is organized by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), will be hosted by the University of South Florida Patel College of Global Sustainability in Tampa January 25-27, 2016. TIES is an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that seeks solutions for more environmentally sustainable tourism options, including ecotourism. 

The ESTC conference will draw many notable tourism industry experts, including representatives from TIES, National Geographic Explorer, United Nations World Tourism Organization, the Walt Disney Company, and many others from the United States and around the world.

Hosting the conference in Tampa is seen as a natural fit because much of the Tampa Bay area’s economy is based around tourism, and the state of Florida as a whole saw 97.3 million visitors in 2014. For those reasons and others, David Randle, Director of Sustainable Tourism at the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, says the ESTC conference should matter to locals. 

“The world is facing increasing challenges from issues such as climate change, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorous overload, changing land use patterns, threats to our water supply, chemical pollution, and more,” says Randle. “These changes, while not always on the radar of the average Tampa resident, are changes that will impact us all.” 

He says tourism accounts for 9 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 11.5 percent of the globe’s workforce, making it one of the world’s largest industries. “It is also the fastest-growing industry in the world, and the sustainable tourism sector is the fastest-growing sector within tourism. It is perhaps the best opportunity for humans to leverage needed change in our world.” 

The theme of the 2016 Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference is “Transforming Our World Through Sustainable Solutions” and will discuss solutions to global challenges that can be found in the local setting. On the docket are presentations about international sustainable tourism opportunities, a look at ecotourism options in Florida, dinner at Busch Gardens and a sustainable meal by the Chiles Group

Those interested in learning more information about the 2016 ESTC Conference, which will be held at the Patel Center for Global Solutions at USF Tampa, can check out the conference’s website

Paramedic positions come with big bonus in Pinellas County

Sunstar Paramedics, the emergency medical care provider for Pinellas County, is hiring for 50 paramedics to work in the county in early 2016.

“Our goal is to attract qualified paramedics from around the state to Pinellas County,” Sunstar Paramedics chief administrative officer John Peterson says. “Recruiting has become more difficult over the past few years as private colleges and universities offering first responder programs have closed.”

Sunstar Paramedics, which provides Pinellas County's 911 ambulance transport service, hopes to see the incentive plan attract new hires- but the company’s ultimate goal is to create long-term employees, Peterson says.

How does the company plan to bolster numbers as well as keep employee turnover low? By offering a $35,000 cash bonus to a newly hired paramedic after he or she has worked for Sunstar Paramedics for five years.

The new 5-35 program “is designed to attract the most qualified paramedics to serve the community and keep them in Pinellas County,” Peterson says.

All “qualified paramedics” currently working at Sunstar Paramedics have the opportunity to join the 5-35 program, Peterson says. Many ambulance providers offer large sign-on bonuses, says, but by offering the bonus as a future incentive, “we are hoping to keep good employees in place.”

“Sunstar Paramedics wanted to create a program that rewarded our paramedics for their commitment to the organization and our community,” says Peterson. “It’s an opportunity to place Sunstar Paramedics as an employer of choice among emergency service providers.”

The requirements for working as a paramedic with Sunstar Paramedics include securing CPR, Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS), and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification. All paramedics applying to Sunstar Paramedics are also required to hold a current Florida paramedic certification and a valid Florida driver’s license.

Additionally, successful candidates must be at least 20 years of age and hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sunstar is also hiring temporary paramedics to work around five shifts per month through June.

“With a population of more than a million residents and a record number of tourists, there is a high demand for emergency services, and in turn, skilled EMS professionals,” Peterson says.  

To learn more about available positions or to apply, visit the Sunstar Paramedics employment website.

UT student team wins local round of Hult Prize competition

A student-led team from the University of Tampa hopes to pitch their ideas to President Bill Clinton and a panel of judges for the chance to earn $1 million in startup funding.

Each year, hundreds of teams from universities around the world compete in the Hult Prize competition to solve a pressing issue related to education and poverty.

The 2016 challenge: “Can we build sustainable, scalable and fast-growing social enterprises that double the income of 10 million people residing in crowded urban spaces by better connecting people, goods, services and capital?”

The annual competition awards one million dollars in start-up funding to the team of students that develops the most compelling solution to this question.

Each student team competes in a regional round before moving on to the finals in New York City next fall; but before teams can head to Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, or Shanghai for regionals, they must win the competition at the local level. In December 2015, a student team from UT, led by business management student Bay Downing, took top honors in the local round of competition.

Team OptiMrkt was chosen of the 10 competing teams because they “had the most compelling idea,” explains Hult Prize at UT Campus Director Caio Amaral. “The main argument was that the initiative and team work in OptiMrkt was very optimistic.”

OptiMrkt aims to reinvent the way that trade works for those “on the bottom of the pyramid” with a fresh approach to urban markets.

The team also “had partnerships lined up, and a business model that impressed most of the majority of the judges,” says Amaral, who competed for the prize in 2014 on team BamBoost (read about their story here).

OptiMrkt team members include Downing along with MBA-seeking Chenoy Ceil and entrepreneurship students Luciano Perdomo and Monty Berrow.

“UT is very proud of OptiMrkt and how far they have come,” Amaral says.

OptiMrkt will compete with around 50 teams, including those from Ivy League schools like Harvard and MIT, during a regional competition March 11-12, 2016. If they win the regional phase, team members will have the opportunity to attend the Hult Prize Accelerator program in summer 2016, along with the top five teams from other regions.

There, Amaral says, “They will launch from a simple idea to being feasible in the market.” 

Finally, they will travel to New York City to pitch their solution before world leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative’s next annual meeting in late September 2016.

The University of Tampa is no stranger to the Hult Prize competition; multiple teams have made it to regional and final competitions in previous years. Team Tembo, which operates from the UT Innovation and Collaboration building, has transitioned from student project into a full-scale, growing business.

To learn more about Tembo’s efforts to provide education to children and parents in urban slums through mobile phones and an evidence-based curriculum, or to contribute, visit their GoFundMe page

Upcoming Tampa Bay career fairs include local schools, construction company

A number of Tampa Bay area companies are seeking candidates for part- and fulltime positions in a variety of fields across Tampa and St. Petersburg during late 2015 and early 2016. Career fairs in Tampa Bay can connect job seekers in the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas with the industry leaders and resources that help open the door for new hires.

College students and new graduates, young professionals who seek entry into a new field, or individuals planning a career change, take note of these upcoming winter 2015/2016 Tampa Bay area career fairs:
 
Tuesday, December 15: North American Roofing Career Fair 
10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Executive Suites at Lakewood Ranch
6151 Lake Osprey Drive, Suite 300, Sarasota

The large commercial roofing company is hiring for positions in project coordination, project management, inside sales and more.
 
Tuesday, December 15: Tampa Ultimate Staffing Job Fair 
9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
4300 W Cypress St, Suite 150, Tampa

Tampa Ultimate Staffing is hiring for bilingual call center customer service representatives.
 
Tuesday, December 15: Pinellas County Schools First Annual Winter Job Fair 
Pinellas County Schools Administration Building
301 4th St SW, Largo

The Pinellas County School District job fair is aimed specifically at recent and current college interns. Jobs available include instructional positions for elementary education, early childhood education, ESE, English language arts, reading, math, science, guidance, and speech/language pathologists.
 
Wednesday, December 16: Yale Enforcement Services, Inc. Job Fair
 9 a.m. – 1p.m.
5602 Thompson Center Ct, Suite 400, Tampa

Those with a current and valid state of Florida security license (D or G) are invited to attend; veterans and retired law enforcement are encouraged to apply.
 
Thursday, December 17: Career Showcase Job Fair
5 p.m.
Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore
700 N. Westshore Blvd, Tampa
 
Monday, January 11, 2016: Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair presented by the Tampa Bay Times
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Coliseum
535 4th Ave N, St. Pete
 
Tuesday, January 12, 2016: National Career Fairs Tampa Career Fair
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport
4500 West Cypress St, Tampa
 
This career fair will feature an iPad giveaway.
 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016: CareerIntro Career Fair
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Crowne Plaza
5303 West Kennedy Blvd, Tampa
 
February 2, 2016: University of South Florida Career Fair Week
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Marshall Student Center Ballroom, USF campus
4103 USF Cedar Cir, Tampa

Wednesday, February 24, 2016: USF St. Petersburg Career Center Job and Internship Fair 2016
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
University Student Center
6th Ave S, St. Pete

This job fair aims to connect USFSP students with local companies to facilitate matches for jobs and internships. 
 
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.

Who's hiring in Tampa Bay? Search engine, IT company, CPA, staffing agency, and more

The most recognizable name on the internet is bringing a new technology to Tampa Bay: Google is seeking applications for multiple roles in Tampa Bay. Hilton Hotels, a local marketing agency and other businesses are also hiring for part- and full-time positions in the Tampa Bay area in December 2015.  

Here's the 83 Degrees Media monthly Tampa Bay jobs roundup:

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

Bollenback & Forret, PACPAs Clearwater-based full service accounting and consulting firm, is hiring for a Tax Accountant. Requirements include five or more years of tax experience working in public accounting, an active CPA Certification and excellent people skills, as the role requires working with and alongside staff and clients. 

The firm is also hiring for an administrative assistant. To learn more or apply for either position, visit the Bollenback & Forret website

Fintech (Financial Information Technologies), is hiring for two roles at the company's Tampa headquarters. Fintech provides the alcohol industry with an electronic payment platform. The company is hiring for a Marketing Assistant and Customer Support Specialist.

Visit the company website for more details about job requirements, or to apply.

Google is seeking candidates for several roles related to Google Fiber, including City Manager, Community Impact Manager, and Associate City Manager. The search engine company notes in the job listings: "At this time, there is no guarantee that Tampa will be named a Google Fiber city. We’re exploring interest and talent for the opportunity in advance." 

As a member of Google's business operations team, the roles would involve representing Google Fiber to members of the community, from startup spaces to homeowner's meetings, and managing the team. 

Primary responsibilities for the Community Impact Manager position include developing and managing relationships within the community, with nonprofit organizations, and with community leaders. Minimum qualifications include at least 10 years of professional experience in nonprofits, coalitions, field campaigns, advocacy or managing volunteer networks; and a BA/BS degree, or equivalent practical experience. The City Manager role requires a BA/BS degree or equivalent practical experience as well as 15 years of experience in general management, operations or strategy roles. 

Hilton Hotels is hiring for part-time work-from-home positions in a number of cities, including Tampa. The Virtual Reservation Sales Specialist is virtual and requires at least six months of experience working in a performance driven role, computer proficiency, excellent communication skills, and at least one year of steady job experience in a sales role. High school diploma required, Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree preferred.

To apply, visit the Hilton careers website.
 
Hire Ed Solutions is seeking to fill a variety of full-time positions in Tampa, including Business Analyst, Email Marketing Coordinator, Instructional Designer, and Social Media Marketing Coordinator, among other positions. The company, which is based in Tampa, is a boutique staffing agency that identifies, recruits and places candidates in professional and executive positions in the field of post-secondary education. 
 
Marketing agency Sparxoo is hiring for a full-time Multimedia Designer, Web & Mobile Developer and Strategic Account Director in Tampa. The full-service agency, which has offices in downtown Tampa as well as Miami, is also seeking several interns in the fields of graphic design, marketing and social media.

To apply or learn more about these positions with Sparxoo, visit the company website.

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.

The Telling Project: Veterans tell their stories of war experiences

Given that only 1 percent of the U.S. population has served in the military over the last dozen years of war, it may be hard for many to understand or relate to the experiences and struggles many veterans encounter. The Florida Humanities Council, based in St. Petersburg, and Tampa’s WEDU PBS TV are working to change this.

“Veterans: The Telling Project” is the result. It’s a TV documentary that follows six Tampa Bay area veterans and one military spouse who participated in an innovative theater project, providing intimate insight into individual challenges.

The documentary, which debuted last week in Tampa, will air again on Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, November 11, at 8 p.m. on WEDU+ which corresponds to Channel 605 on Brighthouse/476 Verizon/203 Comcast -- and throughout the week on other Florida PBS channels. Check your local TV listings. The program will air nationwide beginning in January.

“Veterans are coming back with injuries and issues and are feeling isolated because the general population is unaware,” says Barbara O’Reilley, Communications Director of the Florida Humanities Council. The Tampa Bay Telling Project, she says “is a way to bridge the communication gap between veterans and the population at large – tell their experiences directly to the communities.”

The Telling Project is a national performing arts nonprofit that “employs theater to deepen our understanding of the military and veterans’ experience.” Founded in 2008 by Jonathan Wei, the project was brought to Florida by the Florida Humanities Council (FHC), which hopes to expand the project to several cities in the state. Pensacola, which is home to a large veteran population, was picked for a second performance, which is currently underway.

Through an intensive interview process, Wei extracts the veterans’ stories and crafts a scripted play using their own words; the veterans also serve as the actors. The result is a deeply personal account of their military experiences and ongoing struggles, laid all the more bare because none of the Tampa Bay area veterans had ever performed on stage before. The Tampa Bay Telling Project plays took place this past spring around the region and included talk-back sessions afterward. 

Unique to the Tampa project is that FHC was able to partner with WEDU and chronicle the process of the project -- from creating the story to building performers -- in documentary form, accessible to all via public television.

Though FHC is a statewide organization, O’Reilley says they piloted the program locally  “so we could really be hands on.” She notes that the Tampa Bay region was ideal for the project with Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, a huge multi-generational veterans community and access to “great stage theater venues” in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

“Every single one [of the performances] received standing ovations,” says O’Reilley. She notes that the talk-back sessions were often as powerful, oftentimes with members of the audience saying, " 'I am a veteran and that happened to me, too, and it makes me feel better that I am not alone'.'' 

Temple Terrace Arts & Crafts Festival, Nov. 7-8

Run into any random pieces of photography lately, with a “take me, I’m free” note attached?   

Could be one of the 25 pieces of “abandoned” art strategically placed throughout the Tampa Bay area in a clever marketing effort by the Temple Terrace Arts Council to promote their 42nd annual Arts & Crafts Festival taking place this weekend -- 10 a.m- 4 p.m. -- November 7-8, 2015 at the seven-acre Greco Event Field in Temple Terrace.  Admission and parking are free.

“It’s a fun day that is free, family friendly, and it’s all about art,” says Kim Straub who spearheads the marketing efforts and organization of the festival. “The festival is kind of one of those well-kept secrets, and this year we are really trying to expand beyond Temple Terrace.” She says this is keeping with the all-volunteer Council’s mission statement, “to bring art to the community and beyond.” She notes that last year in a sampling they found attendance included 78 zip codes, including 13 from out of state, and over 7,000 attendees.

In addition to the 55 artist’s and crafter’s booths, food trucks and live entertainment, there are interactive arts activities to engage children and adults alike.  

Tampa-based artist Terry Klaaren (creator of the Recyclosaurus at the MOSI) will host demonstrations of painting “en plein air” techniques.  A display of 30 works of art by area elementary schoolchildren will be on exhibit and a dedicated kids arts area, “Fresh Impressionists,” will be available which will also include culinary activities scheduled throughout the day, provided by Farm 2 School.

For the first time, a “Public Pollock” collaborative art project will take place inviting people “of all ages and skill levels” to apply paint. 

“When you are involved with putting paint on the canvass – and that is what Jackson Pollock was all about – you become one with the paint and the painting,” says Straub. “It’s a different way of looking at art.”  The abstract expressionist masterpiece is slated to become a traveling exhibit after the festival.

Another “big draw”: a free raffle to win $250 Saturday, $500 Sunday toward a “festival shopping spree” for adults. Children can enter two drawings to win free art kits filled will paints and supplies.  Winners will be announced at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. 

For more information on the 42nd Temple Terrace Arts & Crafts Festival, click here

Hiring in Tampa Bay: November 2015 job news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To sign up as a Shadow-A-Bull Alumni Host, visit the USF Career Services website and follow instructions to register. To learn more about the program, click on this email link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

To visit the Shadow-A-Bull website, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider Water highlights sustainability message through the arts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military Hackathon challenges developers to innovate solutions to DoD challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? October job news roundup

Manage professional beverage services at Nestle's downtown Tampa offices; develop web designs at Bayshore Solutions in the Westshore business district; practice microbiology at Cambryn Biologics in Sarasota. 

All of these opportunities and more are part of the 83 Degrees Media monthly Tampa Bay jobs roundup. 

Here's who's hiring in the Tampa Bay area in October 2015:

Bayshore Solutions

Bayshore Solutions is hiring for multiple roles at the company's Tampa offices, including Senior Digital Account Manager, Senior Web Developer and Senior Project Manager. A Bachelor's degree in science and 3-5 years of experience are required in most cases. 

Cambryn Biologics

Cambryn Biologics in Sarasota is hiring a QA Document Control Specialist. Responsibilities for the specialist position include managing and maintaining a document change control system and training program, and providing QA support. 

The successful applicant will have a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, Biology or related scientific discipline, and a minimum of three years of progressive Quality Systems, Quality Control, Quality Assurance/Engineering experience.

CTV Capital LLC

CTV Capital LLC, a company owned by Tampa Bay Buccaneer Vincent Jackson, is seeking employees for a new business headquarters in Tampa. A ribbon cutting was held in late September at the new two-story building located at 4029 Henderson Blvd.

The real estate developer expects to add up to 100 jobs in the Tampa region. 

Nestle

National brand Nestle is hiring for a Marketing Manager Brand/Category in the Nestle Professional Beverage department in the company's downtown Tampa offices. Primary responsibilities will include providing marketing leadership for the development, launch, management and growth of products; development of sales programs; development and execution of training initiatives; pricing management; industry analysis; and more. 

The successful applicant will have a minimum of 5 years of marketing experience and business development; a record of leadership and management success, an undergraduate degree (MBA preferred); sales and foodservice industry experience preferred. 

ReliaQuest

Reliaquest is hiring for 10 different permanent roles in Sales, Recruiting, Service Delivery and Security (Analysts & Engineers). 

Shutts & Bowen LLP

The offices of Shutts & Bowen LLP seek a Commercial Real Estate Transactions Attorney to join the Miami-based firm's Tampa team. Membership in the Florida Bar and a minimum of five years relevant experience required. AmLaw 200 experience preferred. 

Shutts & Bowen is also hiring for several attorney positions in the Tampa area.

Volunteers of America of Florida

National service organization Volunteers of America seeks to fill several part- and full-time positions in their offices in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida. To view available jobs (including a Clinician, Support Aide, Mental Health Aide, Independent Living Counselor, Full- and Part-Time Maintenance Worker and Program Manager), click here and search by location.

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.

Tampa JCC engages community, writers in Books & Conversations Festival

Tampa’s Jewish Book Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary, is bringing in authors from the national stage as well as showcasing local authors in its two week “Books & Conversations” Festival that kicks off October 18, 2015. The festival is open to the public and most of the events take place at the Tampa Jewish Community Center located at 13009 Community Campus Drive near Citrus Park Mall. 

“We are offering experiences, not just a chance to hear an author talk about their book,” says Jewish Books & Conversation Committee Chair Debbie Doliner who says that in addition to promoting Jewish literature, the festival aims to engage attendees and the authors in conversation. 

“We don’t want just ‘readers’ — this is open to the entire Tampa Bay community,’’ Dominer says. “There is always great food and drink and some other interesting aspect.” 

Many of the authors write on Jewish themes, such as Washington-based Sarah Wildman’s award-winning Paper Love, Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind who discovered in her grandfather’s love letters and her subsequent research, the story of his escape from pre-World War II Europe and the lover he left behind. Dan Ephron, former Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, explores the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and its continuing impact in Killing A King, The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel. Local author Lynda Lippman-Lockhart’s book, The Laundry Room, brings to life the true story of the clandestine ammunitions factory run by young Israelis to arm its troops at the end of the British occupation in the late 1940s. 

Other themes are more universal – tickets are selling fast for author Judith Viorst’s luncheon at Maggiano’s. Viorst’s diverse writing ranges from newspaper to children’s books –- you may recognize Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day which sold over 2 million copies and was made into a Disney comedy last year -- to adult fiction and nonfiction. She is also slated as a highly entertaining personality and poet and to that end will discuss her latest book Wait For Me and Other Poems About the Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage. 

Joshua Braff, author of the The Daddy Diaries and until recently a Tampa Bay resident, and local author Barbara Post-Askin  who wrote Reflections of Liberty, A Memoir will also be presenting during the festival. 

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation; reservations are recommended. 

James Rosenquist donates art for raffle at FIVE by FIVE in Tampa

The Arts Council of Hillsborough County is hosting its one-of-a-kind FIVE by FIVE art sale and fundraising event, now in its fourth year, at the Tampa Museum of Art on Friday, October 16, 2015 at 8 p.m. There is a $10 admission fee which includes access to TMA’s fall exhibition, XTO+J-C: Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

New this year is a donation by popular American Artist James Rosenquist, a “protagonist in the pop-art movement,” whose very large scale work and exhibitions have graced some of the most important museums in the world including the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the MoMA in New York, and many others. 

Rosenquist’s signed artist proof entitled “The Meteor Hits Picasso’s Bed” is a 11’’ x 14’’ black photogravure monoprint and is the twelfth of only 28 artist’s proofs. Clayton Galleries in Tampa donated the framing of the piece.

“Instead of auctioning it, we are going to raise money with this print through a raffle -- keeping the same philosophy, making it democratic,” says Terri Simons, Director of Program Services at the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and organizer of the event. Raffle tickets for the Rosenquist piece will go for $25.

The FIVE by FIVE event is in many ways “artists helping artists” notes Simons, as artists donate original artwork, the proceeds of which fund the Council’s individual artist grants and workshop programs. This concept, she says, is what inspired Rosenquist’s donation. She says that in addition to the exposure and prestige artists receive by participating in the event, the FIVE by FIVE also aims to “enable those who might not usually buy original art to start collecting and thereby benefit artists beyond this one-night event.” 

The FIVE by FIVE theme entwines itself throughout the event as nearly 600 pieces of 5”x 5” art created from a wide range of media -- and submitted from around the world -- will be on display for sale, at $25 per piece. The artwork is displayed anonymously, without the artist’s name being visible, to encourage buyers to choose the work on its appeal only, and not whether the artist is well-established. 

Local professionals in theater, dance, music and spoken word will perform in five- to 15-minute increments throughout the event in the FIVE by FIVE “Lounge” located in the Stephen Dickey Lecture Hall at the Tampa Museum of Art, set up with a club-like atmosphere with lighting, seating and bar for the evening. 

The complete list of performers is still shaping up, but attendees can look forward to The Kuumba Dancers, Lucha Libro Tampa Bay, Monday, Monday, Shoes at the Door, Soho Indigo and Yellowish Blue & Pink among others.

For more information, click here.

TiEcon Florida 2015 brings innovators, investors to Tampa

Silicon Valley investors and serial entrepreneurs from the Tampa Bay Area and around Florida were among the speakers and attendees during TiEcon Florida 2015 on October 3rd at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel.

The conference's program was "very meticulously assembled to take the audience through an incredibly inspirational day, filled with story-telling,” says TiE Tampa Bay President-elect and TiEcon Chair Ramesh Sambasivan.

Entrepreneurs and investors traveled from around the nation to attend TiEcon Florida 2015, which highlighted such topics as raising capital, bootstrapping efforts and business accelerators.

TiEcon Florida 2015 attendees learned ''about innovative disruption from millennial entrepreneurs who are presently redefining the banking, sports-media and web-browsing experiences, the future of healthcare and life sciences,” Sambasivan says.

Other topics included: “What it takes to found and fund startups in Florida; how to get media-savvy; what it takes to raise entrepreneurs; and what investors look for in Florida, as told by a venture capitalist and angel investors.”

In short, Sambasivan adds, the day's event speakers addressed “the issues that keep startup founders up at night.”

A group of “very approachable” speakers differentiates TiEcon from most other conferences, Sambasivan says. “The day is peppered with phenomenal keynote speakers who will literally regale the audiences with inspirational stories of their entrepreneurial journeys."

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn opened the event's dinner banquet, and comedian Kabir Singh performed. 

During a pitch segment, startups had a chance to be picked to present to angel investors from the TiE Tampa Angel Forum. The top 3 finalists -- Residential Acoustics led by CEO Walter Peek, Knack led by Co-Founder & CEO Samyr Qureshi, and Grand Opinion led by CEO Ashish Dhar -- won an invitation to pitch to real investors (an exclusive event for TiE Tampa Bay Charter Members who are accredited investors). The Pitch-Your-Startup award did not involve getting a capital infusion as part of the event.  

Sambasivan says the conference is “among the best kept secrets of Florida's entrepreneurial ecosystem, where speakers are highly accomplished entrepreneurs.”

TiE Tampa Bay aims to foster entrepreneurship in Florida startup ventures through access to TiE's global network, mentoring and early stage funding, Sambasivan explains. 

“TiEcon Florida is for every person who enjoys a good, inspiring entrepreneurial story. TiEcon Florida is for those who want to meet mentors, investors and like-minded people. TiEcon Florida is for those who believe in entrepreneurship as an engine of prosperity and economic development," Sambasivan says.

Women entrepreneurs compete for $70,000 from the SBA

Entrepreneurial women in the Tampa Bay area have the opportunity to win up to $5,000 in cash or prizes -- and the chance to compete for a $70,000 award, furnished by Microsoft.

The 2016 InnovatHER Business Challenge invites local female industry leaders and business owners to share their ideas for products and services that would enrich everyday lives on a national stage.

Those finalists will have an opportunity to compete for $70,000 in the second year of the Small Business Administration’s national prize competition, InnovateHER 2016: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit.

Local nonprofit organization The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women, a partner agency of the SBA is offering the local challenge as part of the partnership.

“We are funded for five years by SBA to provide business counseling and training for women,” explains Women's Business Centre director Stacey Banks-Houston.

Women make up 57 percent of the workforce, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. The SBA’s 2016 InnovatHER Business Challenge “is a great way for women to gain exposure for their business nationally, as well as technical assistance,” Banks-Houston says.  

The challenge officially began on September 14th, but “women can get started until at least November 1st,” Banks-Houston says. “The competition ends November 30th, so participants must be able to complete the requirements by then.” 

Requirements for the competition include:
  • Attending three Women’s Business Centre workshops or webinars
  • Participating in three hours of business counseling with a WBC counselor
  • Submitting a 2-minute video explaining how you would incorporate Microsoft products in your business.
  • Submitting a business plan
Videos must be submitted by November 20; the three finalists chosen on December 2 will win up to $5,000 in cash or prizes.

Funds for local level prizes are contributed by sponsors and supporters of the Women's Business Centre, Banks-Houston says.
Winners of the local round will then move on to the National SBA InnovateHER Challenge, when they will compete for $70,000.

During the finals, up to 10 finalists will compete for the three levels of cash prizes, provided by Microsoft. 2016 national InnovateHER finals will take place on March 16 and 17, during a Women’s Summit in the Washington, D.C. area.

Concerned about qualification? Banks-Houston says that a product or service’s potential impact is more important than experience.

“Any woman with a product or service that has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, has the potential for commercialization, and fills a need in the marketplace” should consider competing in the challenge, she says.

Interested in starting a conversation with other challengers? Try using the hashtag #innovatHERTampa on social media.

Top comedian returns home to Tampa to perform

Ranked as one of the 50 greatest stand-up comedians by shareranks.com, Tampa native Steven Lolli is bringing his High Class Poverty comedy tour to the Carrollwood Cultural Center September 18 at 8 p.m. Hand-picked by Lolli, up-and-coming comedians Tyler Horvath and Tarik Lewis, also locals, will open and emcee the two-hour show in the heart of Carrollwood.

Lolli, a graduate of Gaither High School, moved to Los Angeles in search of comedic success and began earning his underground status as the only Jewish comedian in black comedy clubs in south L.A. in early 2002.  His brand of comedy is described on his website as “controversial,” “dirty,” “foul-mouthed” and “sexual” and has garnered acclaim by some of the most important faces in comedy today, collaborating with the likes of Katt Williams and headlining for an awards benefit honoring Lily Tomlin, Jane Lynch and the President of HBO. Lolli’s video “Yoga Ho” may give you some insight into his sense of humor.

Steven Lolli is “a bit of a grittier comic, a little bit edgier than what we typically have programmed,” says Adrienne Hutelmyer, Marketing & Community Relations Director at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, which hosted him successfully last year as well. She notes that the Center offers “something for everyone -- audiences like to go to a comedy show. They are very loyal and laughing is good for everybody.” 

Hutelmyer says the Cultural Center has been offering different kinds of comedy shows for over four years, which has proven popular. Girls Night Out is next on their comedic agenda featuring comedians Catherine Maloney, Traci “The Princess of Parodies” Kanaan and Aniria. 

For more information or tickets for the shows, follow this link.

Tampa Museum of Art hosts high fashion to raise awareness of domestic violence

Tampa Bay area fashionistas will unite at the Tampa Museum of Art (TMA) to see the acclaimed New York City-based designer Zang Toi’s spring 2016 collection, Saturday, September 19 in a runway event that kicks off at 7pm.  The fashion show, the sixth annual CITY: Fashion+Art+Culture, is a collaboration between the Tampa Museum of Art and its new partner this year Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota.   

Zang Toi, a celebrated designer championed from early in his career by U.S. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, has won national awards for his designs and has been repeatedly featured in fashion and mainstream media -- from Vogue and Vanity Fair to The New York Times, among many others.

“Zang Toi is very excited about the Tampa Museum of Art as the venue to showcase his Spring 2016 collection for the very first time following his recent show at the New York Fashion Week this last weekend,” commented Sally Schule, Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota’s Director of Marketing.

“Making the arts accessible to everyone is a priority for the Tampa Museum of Art,” says Robin C. Sharp, Museum Trustee and Chair of CITY 2015. TMA spokeswoman Nancy Kipnis says that in addition to bringing  “a fresh approach to fashion and one-of-a-kind entertainment” to downtown Tampa, the event is a fundraiser benefiting the Museum’s exhibition and education programming. Last year the event raised $116,000.

Kipnis notes that this year and through the support of presenting sponsor Verizon Wireless, the event aims to create awareness in the fight against domestic violence. “Throughout the evening, messages of inspiration to domestic violence survivors striving for the freedom and confidence to stand out and express themselves can be shared by tagging event photos throughout the evening with #StandOutWithVZW,” says Kipnis.
 
Organizers warn the event sells out every year. For ticket information, follow this link to CITY: Fashion + Art + Culture

USF Health gets $2M federal grant to improve geriatric care curriculum

Healthcare services for older adults in the Tampa Bay area received a big boost in funding during August 2015: $2.24 million in federal grant dollars.

The University of South Florida is one of only two awardees in Florida and 44 groups across the nation to receive a portion of the $35 million disbursed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.

The three-year grant, awarded to USF Health in partnership with Tampa Family Health Centers (TFHC), will fund inter-professional training and curriculum for students entering health professions with the overall aim of improving care for older adults.

The bulk of the grant’s support goes toward encouraging inter-professional geriatrics education and training among USF Health faculty and TFHC health care professionals. TFHC and USF Health faculty will work together to create a custom, tailored geriatrics curriculum for incoming USF medical, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy students, as well as current residents and fellows specializing in geriatric care. Students will also spend a rotation at TFHC for clinical training under faculty supervision.

More than 2,000 students will take the new, geriatric-driven curriculum.

“Florida does not have an adequate workforce to support the state's growing geriatric population,” says Dr. Rita D’Aoust, associate professor and associate Dean of academic affairs and inter-professional initiatives in the USF College of Nursing. “USF Health has tremendous potential to address geriatric workforce needs in our community and, ultimately, to transform geriatric care in our region.”

USF Health is a partnership of the USF Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the USF Physician’s Group.

TFHC, a federally qualified health center (FQHC), services underrepresented communities at 15 clinics across Hillsborough County. The center offers medical, dental, pharmacy and behavioral health outpatient services to children and adults.

Federally qualified health centers “play an important role in providing primary care to underserved populations,” D’Acoust says, noting that around 80 percent of TFHC’s 6,000 patients ages 60 and over had an income below the federal poverty line in 2014. Common health complaints included obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

By taking on “the issue of building a resilient, trained geriatric workforce,” USF Health and TFHC aim to make geriatrics a primary focus in Florida’s FQHC primary care clinics, D’Aoust says. Together with the USF Byrd Alzheimer's Institute (BAI) and TFHC, USF Health aims to “embed geriatric primary care and related services into the FQHC and the training curricula of USF.”

In addition, the USF Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project will support three community-based organizations that provide long term care services or support for elders: Senior Connections, Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services and the Health Services Advisory Group. 

“The GWEP award will be a powerful catalyst to transform USF Health and revitalize student and resident interest in geriatric care,” D’Aoust says.                                                                                                                           

Celebrating the art of storytelling in Tampa Bay

Stories told through dance, photography, song, documentary and theater performances will be celebrated at the second annual Story Days in Tampa Bay from Sept. 8-12.

Presented by Your Real Stories, a nonprofit organization headed by co-artistic directors Lillian Dunlap and Jaye Sheldon, Story Days offers an “opportunity for people to tell and hear stories in all kinds of ways,” says Dunlap.

An affiliate member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg and CEO of Communication Research Enterprises, Dunlap says, “Stories have an ability to cut across previously impenetrable barriers and divisions to reach people. They have a magical power.” 

Another one of Dunlap and Sheldon’s ongoing projects is St. Pete Stories featured earlier in 83 Degrees.  

The featured event at this year’s Story Days in Tampa Bay is the screening of a powerful documentary Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China

The film will be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg on Sept. 9 and at the University of South Florida School of Music Concert Hall on Sept. 10. In the documentary, Paula Madison, former GM and President of KNBC in Los Angeles and former news Director and VP for diversity at NBC in New York, recounts her search for her ancestry, which she traces back to Jamaica and before that, China, where her family’s tree goes back 3,000 years – 153 generations.

Several of her Chinese family members live in Tampa.  

“I’ve known Paula since the 1990s and she has wanted to tell her family’s story for many years,” says Dunlap.

Madison’s narrative begins with the story of her grandfather, Samuel Lowe, a Chinese laborer who immigrated to Jamaica in 1905. He fathered several children and then returned to China decades later. Madison’s mother, who was his oldest child, was three years old when he left. She never saw him again and always felt the loss.  

After retiring from NBC in 2011, Madison decided to begin the search for her grandfather, eventually finding her ancestral village in Shenzen, China. She reunited with hundreds of relatives who had not known about the existence of their extended family in the U.S.

Additional storytelling events during Story Days include an opening night reception on September 8 at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum www.woodsonmuseum.org in St. Petersburg. The museum will host a photography exhibition titled: My Soul Looks Back: The Decades of Day Work. 

Both archival photos and original portraits by Tampa Bay Times Director of Photography Boyzell Hosey will document the life of local domestic day workers – the African-American maids – and the white families that employed them during the time period from the 1930s through the 1970s.  

Photography and storytelling will also be highlighted at The Florida Holocaust Museum through another archival photography exhibition, This Light of Ours:  Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. That exhibit will be on display Sept. 8 through Dec. 1.

The power of storytelling through dance will be showcased in I Remember the Days. USF graduate Vanessa Vargas has choreographed two dance movements, one based on her grandmother’s Alzheimer’s disease, and the other on the grief she experienced after the death of her fiancée.

For a little lighter fare, a evening of Reggae and Stories will take place at the landmark Chattaways Restaurant in South St. Petersburg, and Bicycle Stories, sponsored by Shift StPete, a nonprofit advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, invites the public to share personal stories about the joys of bike riding, including learning to ride a bike and favorite bike trips. 

For those interested in telling their own stories, Dunlap and Sheldon have invited digital media expert Andrew Thornhill to discuss the art of digital storytelling and the steps required for success.  He offers two presentations at the Poynter Institute and the USF Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications in Tampa.

Local storytelling expert, Paula Stahel, past president of the Association of Personal Historians, will present a workshop offering tips on who to write your own memoir.

For more information about Story Days, including where to purchase tickets, send an email here, call 727-432-1602 or go to the Your Real Stories website.

Tampa exhibit features photos of sealife, oceans

Something fishy is going on in downtown Tampa.  

Marvels of the Reef opens Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA). The exhibit was produced in collaboration with the Florida Aquarium and runs through the end of the year. 

The collection, which showcases “mysteries of the sea” by seven international photographers whose work has appeared in National Geographic, is also intended to highlight the importance of environmental protection and environmental studies, a theme of relevance to the Tampa Bay community. 

“We are surrounded by water, which is important for every aspect of day-to-day life, [yet] it can be overlooked how important our bay is in Tampa,” says FMoPA executive director Zora Carrier. The exhibit, she says, “places the viewer at the scene of interaction; the images emphasize the spectacles of deep sea life and appreciation for aquatic nature.”   

“It’s an honor to partner with the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts on this exhibit,” Thom Stork, president and CEO of The Florida Aquarium said in a press release. “Through this exhibit, our community has yet another way to revel in the beauty of the ocean and hopefully become inspired to protect this very important asset.” 

A portion of the show’s proceeds will go toward the Florida Aquarium’s conservation efforts including the rescue and rehabilitation of animals.

About a five-minute drive from the Aquarium in the Channel District, The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, is located inside the Cube next to the Sykes building in the waterfront arts district in downtown Tampa. It is one of fewer than 10 museums in the United States dedicated exclusively to photography and one of two such museums in Florida.

Carrier says the two museums are working on putting together a weekend to give free admission to members of the opposite organization. 

Johnson & Johnson brings 500 Jobs, $23.5M investment to Tampa

Johnson & Johnson, the company best known for its baby products and Band-aids, is coming to Tampa in a big way.

By 2016, the company plans to open its North American shared services headquarters, a multi-functional center designed to consolidate and coordinate finance, human resources, IT and procurement for its operating divisions.

So what does this mean for the Tampa Bay area? Higher-paying jobs, and lots of them, 500 over the next three years, according to a statement by Florida Governor Rick Scott. 

Johnson & Johnson already has offices around the state, so it's familiar with the business climate and ready to recruit, says Ernie Knewitz, VP for Global Media Relations.

“We currently have a strong presence in Florida with businesses in Jacksonville, South Florida and other locations, and this will build upon the success we have achieved in the state,” he says. “Tampa has many attractive attributes, including the strong talent pool in the area, which will help us staff and grow our operation here.”

The company will also make a capital investment of $23.5 million into the Tampa region.

With plans to have the shared services center fully operational by mid-2016, Knewitz says hiring for positions related to finance, HR, IT and procurement are imminent. 

“We anticipate being able to begin the hiring process soon,” he says. “People can search for jobs at Johnson & Johnson's career site.”

Johnson & Johnson joins an increasing number of global companies that have decided to locate or expand operations in Tampa and Hillsborough County, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Covidien, Amazon and Ashley Furniture Industries.

Johnson & Johnson's North American shared services headquarters will be located at the Hidden River Corporate Center One Building at 8800 Grand Oak Circle in Tampa.

Lakeland Regional Health gets enhanced pediatric care

Pediatric patients at Lakeland Regional Health will now have enhanced care as the group teams up with Nemours Children’s Hospital of Orlando. The collaboration will allow Lakeland Regional Health to expand its pediatric specialty care services to the children and teens in its community.
 
Nemours Children’s Hospital opened in 2012. In addition to offering advanced pediatric care, the hospital has two pediatric interventional radiologists and a neurologist who specializes in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders.
 
Not only will more services be offered to patients through the agreement with Nemours, but research and educational resources will be available to pediatric care providers throughout Polk County and the surrounding region as well.
 
The partnership between Lakeland Regional Health and Nemours is vital because it will allow families residing in Polk County the opportunity to get treatment in their community for conditions that would have otherwise meant referrals elsewhere.
 
“Children needing pediatric specialty care often had to be referred outside our county to receive essential healthcare services,” says Danielle Drummond, senior VP and chief strategy and growth officer for Lakeland Regional Health. “Our strategic relationship with Nemours was formed to provide families with exceptional care options much closer to home.”
 
Lakeland Regional Health will build an eight-story pavilion for women and children on their medical center campus. The pavilion, which is expected to open early 2018, will offer healthcare services such as labor and delivery, obstetrics, newborn care, neonatal intensive care, pediatric surgery and pediatric emergency medicine.
 
“We feel very comfortable partnering with Nemours,” Drummond says. “Bringing specialty pediatric services to this community is keeping with the direction Lakeland Regional Health has been charting.”

Local actors put on 2nd festival in downtown Tampa

Drawing on its debut success last year and added star power, the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival is calling on area actors and theatre enthusiasts to attend the three-day event Sept. 4-6, 2015.

Festival events will take place at the Straz downtown, Stageworks Theatre in Grand Central at Kennedy in the Channel District and at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Ybor Main Stage. The Festival is packed with original plays and workshops, including quite a coup for such a new festival: master acting class with Broadway, TV actor/director and NBC’s Blacklist co-star Harry Lennix.  

“My goal is to empower the local actor,” says Festival Founder Rory Lawrence, a Tampa resident who founded his own theatre companies, RQL Productions and RL Stage, about six years ago and will present his latest comedy, “Hour Confessions,’’ at the opening events of the festival. Lawrence says he started the festival here because he had attended theatre festivals in other parts of the country, and realized, “Man, we don’t have a festival here!” 

He believed local theatre actors needed more support and networking opportunities. “There are so many actors here that don’t know how or where to go,” says Lawrence.

With much nail-biting leading up to last year’s first Tampa Bay Theatre Festival given the event’s meager pre-sales, he was thrilled when, by his most conservative estimate, more than 1,200 people attended, with several events sold out. “Plays were packed, workshops filled.” Lawrence says this year, they have expanded and are hoping to double attendance.

Thanks to the venue sponsors and the event’s premier sponsor, local law firm Maney Gordon, the festival is reasonably priced and accessible – with professionally taught workshops priced at $10, or $45 gets you into all of them throughout the weekend with discounts for other activities (the Lennix master class is charged separately). Several events are free of charge. 

In addition to the workshops and networking, there will be short- and long-form playwriting contests taking place as well as a monologue contest. Five full-length original plays written by local playwrights will be presented over the course of the weekend. Winners will be announced at the concluding awards ceremony, which is already sold out, though Lawrence may open more seats closer to the event. 

Advance tickets to the festival may be purchased through its website

NY Times columnist Charles Blow kicks off Presidential Event Series at Eckerd College

New York Times Columnist Charles Blow, known for his thought-provoking Op-Eds and recent memoir, “Fire Shut Up My Bones,’’ will be the opening speaker for the 2015-16 Eckerd College Presidential Event Series.  

His talk, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Eckerd College Fox Hall.

The annual Presidential Event Series brings well-known scholars, artists, writers, scientists and other distinguished individuals to the campus for conversations about critical issues affecting the world today. This year’s focus is on race, class, gender and sexuality.

Blow’s frank discussion of race, social injustice, culture and politics has earned him a considerable following both in the New York Times and as a TV commentator for CNN and MSNBC. His memoir details his experience growing up in poverty, his history of childhood sexual abuse, graduating magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, and eventually landing a job with one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country.

The Presidential Event Series continues on Thursday, Sept. 17, with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee. The author of “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War,’’ Gbowee led the women’s peace movement that played a role in ending the second Liberian civil war. 

She is currently president of an organization providing educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and teens in West Africa. Her TED Talk discusses the untapped potential of girls to transform the world.

For more information about the Eckerd Presidential Series, including additional talks throughout the year, follow this link.

USF, Moffitt team up on study to help breast cancer survivors

USF and Moffitt Cancer Center have joined forces in an effort to better the lives of breast cancer survivors. The team equipped with a $2.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will begin a five-year study on how stress reduction can help repair the cognitive impairment of breast cancer survivors.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 25-percent of cancer survivors suffer from a “mental fog” otherwise known as “chemo brain” after receiving cancer treatment. These cognitive impairments include trouble with memory and concentration, and can last from a few months to 10 years after treatment has ceased.

Dr. Cecile Lengacher, professor and pre-doctoral fellowship program director at the USF College of Nursing, applied for the NCI grant, and says previous studies she has been a part of show a correlation between stress reduction and clearing up this “mental fog.”

“During the study, we teach patients about yoga, breathing exercises and meditation techniques that they can use to help their concentration,” Lengacher says. “We also teach the patients to be mindful of the present, so if the mind wanders, we can train it to come back to the present -- because when the mind wanders to unpleasant thoughts, or thoughts about their breast cancer experience, they can ruminate in those thoughts.”

Lengacher goes on to say that while they do not know how the stress reduction and mindfulness works to improve concentration and memory, research shows there is definitely something going on in the brain to repair the damage.

The study will look at 300 patients from Moffitt Cancer Center and the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Care.
Patients will be placed in three different groups: a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), control group and usual care.

“What is great about this is it’s not a pharmacological intervention,” she says. “The drugs don’t [always] work and they have side effects, so we are very excited about this approach, and proving it through this study.”

Who's hiring in Tampa Bay? County offices, local chamber, downtown caterer and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for Growing Companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay region. Sign up for a sales manager role with the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce; patrol the parks on behalf of Hillsborough County; stage school productions for Berkeley Prep; all of these and more are part of the 83 Degrees Media monthly Tampa Bay jobs roundup.

Here's who's hiring in the Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater area in August 2015:

Berkeley Preparatory School is seeking a Performance Facilities Manager & Productions Technical Director and an Upper Division Administrative Assistant for the 2015-2016 school year. Berkeley Prep, an Episcopal-affiliated day school that was founded in 1960 in Tampa, is co-educational and enrolls students in pre-K through high school.

The manager/director role will include overseeing activities at the school’s Lykes Center for the Performing Arts and Gabos Family Recital Hall, and providing additional technical support for school events as necessary. The administrative assistant applicant should include a cover letter and CV with application.

Do you have a passion for the culinary arts? Local caterer Catering By Kathy is hiring a Catering Administrative Coordinator for the growing CBK team. CBK specializes in corporate catering and recently opened Café 124 inside the University of South Florida Health's CAMLS building in downtown Tampa. The company aims to grow the catering business in the local region and to extend the Café 124 hours. 

Job responsibilities include administrative tasks, including event coordination and related communications; executing day-of duties with the Event Manager; invoicing; and more. The successful candidate will have a bachelor's degree in hospitality or related field; have knowledge of Caterease or similar software; be detail-oriented and highly motivated, and demonstrate proven time-management and organizational skills.
 
CopyPress, a content and software creation company, is hiring for two full-time positions, an editorial campaign manager and a PHP programmer. CopyPress is also hiring for several freelance rolls, including:
  • General Bloggers & Writers
  • Infographic Designers
  • Interactive Developers
Editorial campaign manager responsibilities include brainstorming, overseeing a team of writers and editors, working with the copy manager, and other copy production tasks. A bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications and two years of professional experience are required.

The PHP programmer role requires four or more years of PHP and LAMP development experience; knowledge of JavaScript libraries like jQuery; and other qualifications.

Hillsborough County is hiring for several fulltime positions in the greater Tampa area, including:
  • Accounting Clerk III
  • Election Technology Specialist
  • Engineering Specialist II (Traffic Engineering)
  • Environmental Technician II
  • Head Start Teacher Assistant
  • Librarian, Youth Services
  • Senior Librarian, Youth Service
Do you love your local community? This might be the perfect fit: the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is hiring a Sales Manager.

The St. Pete Chamber seeks a sales professional to manage sales and membership. The role will include evaluating and upholding a community investment strategy for membership growth; securing sponsorships; securing advertising and new member sales; and other duties. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a sales-related field; four or more years sales experience and at least two years with a membership organization; a flexible schedule; and strong verbal and written communications skills.
 
Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

Hillsborough County budgets $1M for manufacturing jobs training

Hillsborough County is betting big on the manufacturing industry. Through a partnership with the Board of County Commissioners, Hillsborough Community College (HCC) will provide two years of workforce training and resources for manufacturing careers in Tampa. 

The BOCC and community partners like HCC are working together “to develop a shared strategy to strengthen the manufacturing talent pipeline,” says Lindsey Kimball, Hillsborough County Economic Development Director. 

The goal: increase the quantity -- and quality -- of manufacturing talent in the region. In total, the BOCC has reserved $1 million in funds for the Hillsborough County Manufacturing Academy.

The funds “represent a very strong commitment to ensuring that our community has the workforce talent to continue to make our manufacturing base successful," Kimball explains.

With $322,000 in funds from the County, HCC will offer two years of manufacturing training courses and other resources that will allow participants to prepare for careers in the manufacturing industry. Students will be able to learn about aspects of the manufacturing industry from engineering technology to welding techniques. Programs include summer camps, on-site manufacturing training and tours of local operations, paid internship opportunities for students, industry certifications, and more.

$80,000 is allocated to purchasing new or upgraded training equipment.

Overall goals for the program include raising community awareness of production-type jobs (with an emphasis on the engagement of women, minorities and veterans); developing on-the-job training opportunities with local manufacturers; and addressing the manufacturing skills gap through training and certification.

Community partners of Hillsborough County’s Manufacturing Academy initiative also include the University of South FloridaCareerSource Tampa BayUpper Tampa Bay Manufacturers AssociationBay Area Manufacturers AssociationFlorida Medical Manufacturers Consortium and the National Tool and Machining Association.

Also under the umbrella of the $1 million in manufacturing skills funding, in early 2015 the BOCC approved a $325,000 agreement with Hillsborough County Schools to increase manufacturing skills training in area schools. Funds have also been allocated to help develop and improve specialized manufacturing skills training programs at Armwood, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Middleton and Tampa Bay Tech high schools, and Brewster Technical College.

“The programs are coordinated and designed to offer students a continuum of learning,” Kimball says.

For example, Kimball explains, students in Manufacturing Academy programs at the high school level can move on to take similar courses at HCC.

"We are hopeful that this commitment to ensuring the success of manufacturing will help us grow our existing industry base and attract new businesses," Kimball says. "Hillsborough County is a very competitive location for manufacturers who can leverage our skilled workforce, excellent infrastructure, low tax-burden environment and business-friendly government."

Women's tech group to host August meetup at Cooper's Hawk Winery

Women with a professional or personal interest in technology are invited to join the Tampa chapter of Girls in Tech (GIT), a global networking group for professional women, at their 2015 kickoff event: Vino Night at Cooper's Hawk Winery.

"This is a great opportunity to be a part of an awesome movement," says Sylvia Martinez, Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay founder and CEO, and one of GIT's chapter organizers.

Girls in Tech is a global nonprofit with chapters in tech hubs like Tampa Bay spread across five continents. 

The group works to advance the “engagement, education and empowerment of influential women in technology and entrepreneurship,” Martinez explains. “We focus on the promotion, growth and success of entrepreneurial and innovative women in the technology space."

During the Girls in Tech Vino Night on Thursday, Aug. 13, the group will discuss "what types of events the chapter wants to see moving forward," Martinez says. After a hiatus following the 2014 death of Tampa GIT chapter leader Susie Steiner, the group is reorganizing for the 2015 kickoff event. 

"Unfortunately, our chapter hibernated after the loss of our former Girls in Tech leader," Martinez says. "We are excited to revive the group, and we know that's what Susie would want."

Martinez and Victoria Edwards, a digital content strategist for Florida Blue, served on the GIT board over the past two years and will stay on as group leaders moving forward; New Market Partners CEO and Startup Grind Tampa Bay chapter Director Joy Randels has also taken on a leadership role. All three women are key players in the Tampa Bay tech scene.  

The Tampa Bay Girls in Tech 2015 kickoff event will begin at 5:30 p.m. on August 13 at Cooper's Hawk Winery and restaurant, located at 4110 W Boy Scout Blvd in Tampa. 

The casual networking get together will offer attendees the chance to mingle over wine and cocktails and to meet the women in the growing tech community of Tampa Bay.

Martinez encourages "anyone interested in our mission of supporting and empowering women in the tech and entrepreneur space in Tampa Bay" to attend the GIT kickoff.

Tampa International Airport issues worldwide call for artists

Artists from around the world have the opportunity to showcase their talents as part of Tampa International Airport’s $953-million, multi-year upgrade. TIA and Hillsborough County’s Aviation Authority Board will award contracts to 12 artists for art pieces to display throughout the refurbished airport.

“The new public artwork is an essential part of the upgrades,” says TIA Communications Manager Danny Valentine. “We strongly believe that public art will enhance and enrich the experience for the more than 17 million guests who visit our airport every year.”

The call for artists comes in a year when the airport jumped from No. 3 to No. 2 in the Airport Service Quality Awards, and began construction on extensive upgrades that are expected to be completed by 2017.

TIA will issue a call to artists on Monday, August 17, but interested parties can begin building an online CaFÉ portfolio. The deadline for submissions is Monday, September 14.

Many types of art will be considered, from sculpture to hanging art.

“We have intentionally left the call open to all visual artists so as to get a robust and wide range of forms of artwork,” Valentine says. “The choice of artwork will be up to the Public Art Committee.”

The committee, which will judge submitted work and make a final artist recommendation to the Aviation Authority Board, includes the following members of the Tampa Bay community:
  • Former Aviation Authority Board member Ken Anthony
  • Seth D. Pevnick, Chief Curator and Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Tampa Museum of Art
  • Kent Lydecker, Museum Director at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
  • Margaret Miller, Professor and Director at the University of South Florida
  • Robin Nigh, Public Art Manager with the City of Tampa
  • Dan Myers, Public Art Coordinator with Hillsborough County
  • Joe Lopano, Airport Chief Executive Officer
  • Chris Minner, Airport Vice President of Marketing
  • Jeff Siddle, Airport Assistant Vice President of Planning & Development
  • Paul Ridgeway, Airport Director of Maintenance.
TIA’s committee will select up to 12 finalists and present the artists to the board for “final approval and contract award,” Valentine explains.

The Tampa airport’s public art inventory is valued at $11 million, with art from over 30 different collections distributed throughout the airport’s many public spaces. Common themes include the Tampa Bay area and aviation, but decades of artworks from international and local artists combine to give the airport’s collection a wide range. In one baggage claim area, 22 tapestries woven by 20 women from Swaziland, Africa, hang as both an art display and an improvement on acoustics; a flower sculpture that weighs over 1,000 pounds hangs in one airside. A set of murals by a local St. Petersburg artist, George Snow Hill, dates back to 1939.  

Interested in adding your artwork to the collection? Criteria for artist submissions include:
  • A statement of interest that articulates the Artist’s, or Artist Team’s, desire to participate.
  • A resume (one resume per artist team), emphasizing experience in public art and working with public agencies.
  • Confirmation that Artist has completed a commission or sold, at a minimum, one piece of artwork at a value of at least $15,000
  • No more than 10 images that fairly represent the Artist’s, or Artist Team’s, body of work.
  • Three references for recently completed projects.
Local, state, national and international artists will be considered. Interested artists who have not met the minimum qualifications may enter the competition as an Artist Team by collaborating with another artist to submit an application.

To learn more, visit the TIA Call for Artists page or the Public Art program website.

Tampa Bay 'best choice' for Accusoft expansion; IT company to create 125 high-wage jobs

Accusoft, a leading global software and imaging solutions provider, is expanding its Tampa Bay headquarters with 125 new high-wage jobs in fields like software development and engineering. The positions will pay an average annual wage of $75,000.

Partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, CareerSource Florida, the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation helped to make the Accusoft expansion possible.

A combined incentives package totaling $750,000 was offered to the company through the state of Florida’s Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Tampa City Council. As long as the promised jobs are created, the funds will be allocated over the course of eight years.

"This partnership and support will help us attain our company's goals while also benefiting the local economy,” Accusoft President Jack Berlin says. “It means a lot to Accusoft to be given an opportunity to create meaningful, high-paying jobs in the Tampa Bay area.”

Berlin, who received an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, set his sights on Tampa as a business base after successfully selling a startup company in Atlanta.

He and wife Leslie were seeking a “better place to raise a family; a place to live before a place to work,” Berlin explains. “Having grown up in Savannah, I love the beach and salt water. Florida was very appealing. Tampa, we felt, was the best choice of all the Florida cities.”

Today, the feeling remains.

“The company stays where I want to live, and I love the area,” Berlin says, praising the Tampa Bay area for “plenty of big city amenities, a great airport, the bonus of great weather and beautiful beaches, and no personal income tax.”

A little history: Accusoft began as Pegasus Imaging Corporation in Tampa in 1991. Over the next two decades, Pegasus acquired several companies in the imaging and software development sectors; developed a medical imaging division; and in 2012 rebranded as Accusoft.

While the company never aimed to relocate, expansion outside of Tampa was briefly considered, Berlin says. The company opened a development office in Atlanta, but found that remote work caused problems, so they closed up shop. Accusoft’s Boston office was already established and running efficiently when Pegasus acquired it in 2008.

“Talent is more expensive up there, but we don’t shy away from hiring in Boston if we find the right person,” Berlin says, citing as an example a long-term development manager who speaks fluent Russian and runs much of the company’s outsourced activities.

Berlin hopes to attract a similar caliber of employee in Tampa with the creation of 125 new jobs that will pay a minimum average wage of $75,000. Hiring has already begun; most of the new positions require advanced degrees (B.S. or higher).  

“We continue to attract great talent from Tampa or to Tampa, and hope that continues,” Berlin says. “We will grow, but with continued hiring standards."

Accusoft joins several high-profile companies headquartered in Tampa and Hillsborough County that have expanded locally rather than relocating, including Bristol-Myers SquibbInspirataReliaQuestTribridge and Laser Spine Institute.

During a news conference announcing the company’s expansion, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that 879,700 private-sector jobs have been created in Florida since December 2010. Hillsborough is the fourth largest county in Florida, which is ranked third in the nation for high-tech companies.

“Companies like Accusoft know Florida’s pro-business climate is the best place to grow and create jobs,” Scott says.

Accusoft is headquartered at 4001 N. Riverside Drive and currently has 131 employees. Expansion will allow the company to grow its existing space by up to 25,000 square feet.

Interested in working for Accusoft? Proficient in C++, Node JS, JAVA, HTML5, CSS, .NET skills? Berlin encourages interested parties to connect on Linkedin or visit the Accusoft website

Celebrate Tampa Bay area arts, culture at Hyde Park encounter

The Tampa Bay Business for Culture and the Arts (TBBCA) and its “pArtner,” Hyde Park Village, are hosting an “Art is Good” cultural encounter to celebrate art and artists at Piquant Epicure & Cuisine on Thursday, June 25th, at 5:30 p.m. The event is open and free to the public. 

“Those who attend the event will get a wonderful flavor and introduction to our artists – not just Tampa Bay-area based, but artists who have followings beyond our area,” says Susana Weymouth, TBBCA’s executive director since January of this year. “We have a very deep talent pool here of all types. We [TBBCA] are really trying to publicize and support art in general.”
 
The interactive event will highlight Hyde Park’s Public Art Initiative, which consists of iconic cheery banners of the “C’mon, Get Happy” and “Forget Your Troubles” variety created by New York-based Artist Deborah Kass and Tampa Bay area artists who submitted pieces inspired by Kass’s work.
  
Of the eight local finalists, the winner, Artist Jon Lee from Clearwater, will be formally announced at the event along with TBBCA’s Impact Award winner for “Patron of Culture & the Arts.” Hint on the latter: what restaurateur and arts champion, whose deep roots in Tampa go back generations, proudly shares his collection with diners at Ulele any day of the week?
 
TBBCA was founded over 25 years ago by local businesses to support and encourage business-arts alliances. The organization hosts cultural encounters and supports local arts events throughout the year, provides scholarships to high school students pursuing higher education in the arts and recognizes local business leaders who have been exemplary in their leadership and support of arts and culture.

“Arts and culture are economic drivers that are essential to the prosperity and wellbeing of our community and contribute to the quality of life,” says Weymouth, noting that arts are good for business. “You need to be able to attract a strong creative class as an employee base, and retain them. We firmly believe that businesses will thrive if their employees can partake in [cultural activities]. And that is what we enjoy in this area, an enormous amount of culture.”

Top Florida artists on display at juried exhibit in Sarasota

A call to artists underway until the end of this June will culminate in the third annual “Florida Flavor” at Art Center Sarasota, a juried exhibition to showcase the extraordinary talents of Florida-based artists.  The show, which is expected to draw more than 300 two- and three-dimensional works, will fill all four of the center’s galleries July 9-August 14, 2015.

This year’s exhibition will be juried by internationally acclaimed Artist Robert Tarbell, known for his arrestive technique in manipulating smoke to create his works. Tarbell’s “Failure to Appear” series was a hit at the 2014 Art Basel in Miami and was awarded the 2014/2015 John Ringling Towers Fund Individual Artist Award. Tarbell, who lives in Sarasota and teaches at Ringling College of Art and Design, says he was "drawn to work that is conceptually strong, technically sound, and incorporates interesting materials or unique processes."

Though the Florida Flavor exhibit is not themed, Art Sarasota Executive Director Lisa Berger says some artists “take it as a theme.” But the real goal of the exhibit is to provide “a broad picture of the diverse talent in Florida.” 

“We get everything from digital art, photography, mixed media, all kinds of paintings, sculpture, even videos sometimes. A really nice mix,” says Berger. 

In addition, she says summer is a good time to attract cultural tourists form around the state. “A lot of people who visit Sarasota, the tourists, people that live in Florida, like to do local day trips and things like that.  It gives our audience a flavor of the state they live in, to celebrate the artists that are working and living here.”

Florida artists who wish to be considered for inclusion in "Florida Flavor" can bring their work to Art Center Sarasota on June 30, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Artists may also submit their work online until June 26, 2015.

June women's networking events include baseball game, bathroom businesswoman

Those familiar with the Tampa Bay tech scene already know that June is a busy month for startup and networking events. For one, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay: Design Edition and Hillsborough County’s hackathon both take place during the first weekend of the month.

Also in June, three networking events will bring members of the entrepreneurial business and tech crowds together, but with a specific spin: they’re all geared toward women.

Mingle with local tech titans

What: Professional Women’s Network Luncheon
When: 11 a.m., June 9
Where: Hilton Carillon, 950 Lake Carillon Dr, St. Petersburg

Join the Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF) at its annual Professional Women’s Network (PWN) luncheon on Tuesday, June 9. The luncheon was created for a dual purpose: to encourage more women to pursue a career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field, and to provide mentorship for women and girls wishing to enter those fields.
 
During the luncheon, a panel of top female tech professionals will discuss their career paths as well as the mentors who helped shape their own experiences.

“Both community and careers are built with mentorship -- both are solidified by showcasing successes,” TBTF executive director Daniel James Scott says in a news release.
 
PWN luncheon panelists include: Staci Cross, Enterprise Project Management Office VP at WellCare; Lauren Deren, Raymond James manager of Information Security Operations; Rini Fredette, SVP and Enterprise Risk Officer at PSCU; and Lieutenant Colonel Clorinda Trujillo, Chief of Enterprise Operations at USCENTCOM. The discussion will be moderated by Angela Beltz, VP of Cisco Solutions Group at event presenter Tech Data.
 
The luncheon allows TBTF "to actively connect hand-selected female college students with Tampa Bay’s top leadership, while also sharing the outstanding success of our distinguished panel,” Scott says.
 
Meet the mastermind behind Poo-pouri

What:
 InnovatHer Sip, Tip, and Talk
When: 6 p.m., June 16
Where: Westin Tampa Bay’s BluVu Rooftop Event Venue, 7627 Courtney Campbell Causeway

The Business Centre at the Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women is bringing the businesswoman who made millions by becoming “the Queen of the Can” to Tampa Bay.

On Tuesday, June 16, join special guest Suzy Batiz at the InnovatHer Sip, Tip, and Talk event to learn “how your stinkin’ idea could make millions.” That’s the idea behind Poo-pouri, a fresh scent product for the bathroom.

Curious about how Batiz earned the nickname “Queen of the Can”? Take a peek at one of the commercials promoting her product

Join local professional women and members of the Centre at the Westin Tampa Bay’s BluVu Rooftop Event Venue for light drinks and a cash bar during the event.

Can’t make it to this event, but are interested in learning more about The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women? Visit the nonprofit’s website to learn more about membership.
 
Mix business and baseball at the ball game

What: 
Rays Professional Women’s Night
When: 4:30 p.m., June 15
Where: Ricky P's Orleans Bistro, 1113 Central Ave in St. Pete

Combine business and baseball during the Working Women of Tampa Bay Rays Professional Women’s Night!
Bring colleagues or friends along for the women’s night at Ricky P’s Bistro and the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field, as the home team takes on the Nationals. WWoTB seats are located in the lower reserved section.

Tailgate on the Ricky P's patio from 4:30-5:30 p.m., where light food and drink specials will be offered. Then head over to the game seating, where a pre-game Q&A session with Rays VP of Business Development Melanie Lenz and other female leaders will take place. 

Can’t make it to this event, but interested in learning more about the networking group? Visit the Working Women of Tampa Bay website for complete listings of local events and to learn more about membership.

Black Lives Matter symposium spotlights social activism through art

Art can be an agent of social change.

That’s the theme of the 2015 Dunham Technique Certification Workshop, which will be held at the University of South Florida in June. The symposium will explore the Black Lives Matter movement through the lens of social activist Katherine Dunham’s legacy in the sphere of performance art.

Dunham (1909-2006), a dancer, anthropologist and author, showcased “relentless dedication to social activism” during her career, explains event organizer Saroya Corbett. 

After studying at the University of Chicago, Dunham spent decades as a social activist: she choreographed "Southland,'' a dance about lynching; refused to perform in segregated theaters in Kentucky; influenced the creation of anti-discrimination laws in Brazil; was one of Hollywood’s first African-American choreographers; went on a hunger strike at 82 years old to shed light on the mistreatment of Haitian refugees; and was at the forefront of social activism in east Saint Louis.

"Placing Dunham at the center of the conversation surrounding social change allows the symposium to explore and identify how the arts and artists create and aid in social change," Corbett says. “Through her example, we plan to identify ways in which we can participate as individuals."

The workshop kicks off a series of activities in the Tampa area. Event organizers hope to attract “scholars, community organizers, participants in the Black Lives Matter movement, artists and the general community of Tampa,” Corbett says. “The arts and artists have a unique capacity to affect change in belief systems and mores."

Brittany Williams, Dancing for Justice creator and coordinator of Million Hoodies Arts Network, as well as scholars Dr. Halifu Osumare and Dr. Joanna Dee Das, will present at the June 28 symposium. 

"Dancing for Justice, the arts and particularly dance can be an integral part of fighting for the full rights and humane treatment for black and brown lives," Corbett says. 

Corbett, who sits on the academic committee for IDTC and the advisory board for the Coalition of Diasporan Scholars Moving, plans to organize a #BlackLivesMatter march near the end of the workshop.

The Institute For Dunham Technique Certification (IDTC) began in 1994, when Dunham and Dr. Albirda Rose first certified dancers in the Dunham Technique. Today, professional performers, choreographers or dance educators can apply for Dunham Technique Certification; once accepted, they must attend 200 hours working with instructors and/or attending workshops for development, training, and testing prior to certification.

Members of the general public are also welcome to attend the courses and learn more about the technique.

Black Lives Matter: The Relevance of Katherine Dunham's Legacy for Today's Social Artists-Activist symposium will take place from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. on June 28 at USF in room TAR 249. The event is free and open to the public.

Who’s hiring in Tampa Bay? Marketing firms, furniture store, tech companies and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for growing companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay region. Here's who's hiring in the Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater area in June 2015:

Ashley Furniture HomeStores is hiring for several full-time positions at the company’s Brandon, Florida headquarters, including an Interior Designer, a Graphic Designer, a Process Improvement/Change Manager and a Director, eCommerce User Experience (UX).

The successful candidate for graphic designer will have 3-5 years of experience; extensive knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite 6; design experience in HTML and CS5; and a strong design sensibility. Duties will include working with the marketing team on projects from concept through to execution, designing print materials and signage, and assisting in production tasks. 

The UX/eComm director will lead the Ashley Furniture team in data-driven change and help improve site experience for customers. Duties include overseeing user experience activities; modeling Ashley Furniture core values; and establishing and driving strategies for the eCommerce platform.

The process improvement/change manager role will assist in overall business strategy through release, training, and feedback; work with stakeholders; and coordinate teams across departments. Project management experience; excellent communication skills; experience with Lean, Six Sigma, and/or CQI methodologies; and a Bachelor’s Degree are required.

The interior designer will create furniture, paint and signage plans for Ashley Furniture; contribute to development of prototype designs and elements; and support new store set-ups. Experience in the design industry and extensive knowledge of AutoCAD required.   

To learn more or apply, email the Talent Acquisitions Manager.  
 
Inspirata, a cancer diagnostics company, is newly headquartered in Tampa as of May 2015. The business is set to create up to 70 new jobs in the Tampa Bay area, and is currently hiring for several positions, including: Business Unit Manager, Software Technical Lead, Histology Imaging Technician, LIS Integration Specialist, Software Architect, Big Data Senior Manager and Team Level Scientists

Visit the Inspirata website for further inquiries or to submit your resume.
 
Growing St. Petersburg-based construction company PJ Callaghan is hiring for a Construction Superintendent.

The successful candidate will have a minimum of three years construction experience, including experience with interior build-outs, construction, and permitting. Responsibilities will include supervising commercial construction projects in an outdoor work environment, ensuring quality control, project management, and providing customer service. Travel within Florida is required.

To learn more or apply, visit the company website.
  
Tampa advertising agency Schifino Lee Advertising & Branding is hiring a Junior Art Director. The company has been a mainstay of commercial advertising in Tampa Bay for more than 20 years under the direction of cofounders Paola Schifino and Ben Lee.

To apply for the junior art director position with Schifino Lee, email resumes here.
 
Rank K.O., a Tampa internet marketing company housed at Tampa Bay WaVe, is seeking qualified applicants for the positions of Sales Associate, Account Manager and Reputation Management Specialist.

The sales associate will work as outside sales representative, selling corporate services through visits to customer sites, cold-calling and networking. Requirements include three years of work in external sales; a proven ability to close deals; experience in account development and territory management; and experience with customer relationship management software.

The account manager role will include occasional travel, but primarily will work directly with clients to assist with internet marketing services. Responsibilities include assisting with bringing new clients onboard, giving presentations, and educating clients on industry best practices and changes. Experience with customer relationship management software and three years of experience as an account manager or in a related position required.

The reputation management specialist assists with planning and executing online reputation management campaigns for clients. The ideal candidate is an analytical marketer who is comfortable working with databases, Excel, and high volumes of data; conducting research; collecting, tracking, analyzing, and monitoring data; and who has strong analytical thinking and problem identification skills. Two-three years of experience in an analytical internet marketing position, or experience working with a wide variety of internet marketing tools and software, required.

To learn more or apply, visit the company website.
 
YourMembership

The website YourMembership is seeking to fill the following roles in St. Petersburg: Director of Design, Product Manager/Project Manager and Inside Sales Representative. To learn more about job requirements or to apply, visit the company website.
 
Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email the 83 Degrees Innovation & Job News editor with "Hiring" in the subject line. Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success.

Buy a pair (or a mat), plant a tree: Tampa company seeks crowdfunding

Two new must-have meditation accessories for yogis are being developed in Tampa, Florida.

Gurus sandals, inspired by “an ancient wooden sandal” that Prem Thomas bought in India around 2011, have resonated among yogis online, Thomas says.

“Mainly on Instagram."

Thomas and his Gurus cofounder, Joe Choorapuzha, loved the sleek, simple design of the wooden sandals, their place in Indian history and the story that Mahatma Gandhi wore them.

The duo set out to build upon the minimal sandal and “make a product that is superior to flip-flops, but still retains the design of the original Indian version,” Thomas explains.

The result is a natural rubber sandal, sustainably sourced and hand-processed from rubber trees -- a practice that can continue for up to 25 years without harming the tree. 

The $30 sandal comes in a variety of colors, accompanied by a natural-fiber jute bag that features a Gandhi quote. Currently, Gurus sandals can be found online or at retailers such as surf shops, theme parks, salons, yoga studios and boutiques.

The cofounders place emphasis on producing and packaging products sustainably. The Guru sandal is biodegradable, making it a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic or foam flip-flops and sandals. To help promote the pair’s commitment to sustainability, a tree is planted in the developing world each time a product is sold.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies can make new products and sell thousands or millions of sandals,” Thomas says. “We think if we can plant thousands or millions of trees, that’s a little more special.”

A successfully funded Kickstarter campaign ($16,236 pledged) helped bring Gurus to life. After the success of the sandal, brand ambassadors for the company wondered whether the cofounders could develop a yoga mat using the same type of natural rubber.

Thomas and Choorapuzha developed a solution: natural rubber topped with a layer of cork. A Kickstarter campaign for the cork yoga mat ends on Friday, May 22, at 1 p.m.

Click here to back this project.

At prices that range from $80 to $115 (up to half off for pledge backers), the campaign slogan reads, “Experience a no-slip, natural yoga mat that costs less than your yoga pants!”

“The mat is pretty amazing,” Thomas says, “and will even work when it is drenched with water or sweat, allowing yoga practitioners to do hot bikram yoga without a towel.”

If the Kickstarter goal is met, backers can expect to receive their mats in August 2015.

Thomas and Choorapuzha are “pretty confident” that the Kickstarter goal of $20,000 for the Gurus cork yoga mat will be met. But even if the crowdfunding target is not met, “we will most likely end up producing it in some form,” Thomas says.

“We think it’s an amazing product, and there is a market need from consumers and studios.”

Thomas, who grew up in Tampa, has worked in finance in the Philippines and with a civic venture capital fund in New York City. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before working as an investment banker for Bank of America, where he met Choorapuzha.

Choorapuzha, an MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA before attending Columbia University. Prior to cofounding Gurus, Choorapuzha worked with an investment fund in NYC.

Along with CEO Thomas and president Choorapuzha, Gurus employs six independent sales representatives and a distributor in Australia and Canada. The company plans to hire another employee in the field of marketing or design, and is seeking interns in Tampa beginning in summer 2015.

“As our company grows, it will be great to build a larger team locally to support that growth,” Thomas says.

Hillsborough teacher wins national award for student achievements

Last year Hillsborough County Public Schools piloted a new way to engage middle school students struggling with math through a dynamic intervention system designed by Scholastic called MATH 180™ -- complete with videos and computer lessons.

This school year, the program was available to eligible sixth graders throughout the county and is being used in all 50 states by 400 districts.  A Tampa educator using the program, Joel Leventhal of Webb Middle School, stood out nationally and was the sole winner of Scholastic’s Math 180 Educator Award for 2015.  

Margery Mayer, President of Scholastic Educational Technology and Services, says Leventhal won for “harnessing the power of the MATH 180 to rebuild his students confidence in math and accelerate them toward algebra-readiness,” and that he “empowers his students to take risks, embrace a growth mindset about their intelligence and guides them toward understanding, fluency and mastery.”

“I feel really fortunate,” says Leventhal who received $1,200 in prize money and will also be flown to Atlanta for Model Schools Conference in late June. “I tried to build a classroom where kids aren’t afraid to take risks and they really bought into it. I think the kids are really making me look good!”  He also credits his math coaches and Webb principal, Frank Diaz, who he says has been “extremely supportive.”

Leventhal says the curriculum provides intensive support and is geared toward kids who have struggled with math throughout elementary school. He is impressed with the Math 180 program and says it clearly illustrates through videos and other exercises “how math is important in their daily lives and real world scenarios.” He cites a video in the program that shows the example of a global soap delivery project for Africa -- “it showed division in real life,” said Leventhal. “How many boxes could fit in a package?” 

Half of the work is done on the computer, which Leventhal says provides “a lot of encouragement and positivity,” is something the kids enjoy, and allows them to work at their own pace. The rest is work in the classroom, together, supported by a workbook.

The students take benchmark and progress tests throughout the year. By midyear, Leventhal’s students had already achieved 70 percent of what they needed for the entire year -- well ahead of schedule. 

Leventhal has a degree in exceptional student education from the University of South Florida. This is Leventhal’s first year teaching math and first year at Webb, having taught science for the three years prior at Buchanan Middle School. In addition to regular math and PE classes, he teaches a total 90 Math 180 students, divided by four classes. You do the math.

$1.1M grant boosts employment services at Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women in Tampa

The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women has championed employment service efforts in the Tampa community for nearly four decades. In May 2015, the Centre announced that a new $1.137 million grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will help to substantially expand its Employment Services Program.

Grant funding will enable the Centre to broaden employment programs in Hillsborough County, and executive director Ann W. Madsen says that the Centre might provide future services in Pinellas County, as well.

The new grant will be dispersed to the nonprofit organization over a five-year period, and will help to fund training and placement programs for men and women the Centre identifies as displaced homemakers.

The programs at the Centre are distinct from more general training and job search programs, Madsen explains in a news release, because their primary goal is to “assist women and men in their efforts to achieve lasting economic self-sufficiency. The program helps them to focus on careers that can provide a realistic, livable income for families.”

The JobSync program provides displaced homemakers with one-on-one counseling to help individuals address emotional issues before seeking employment and to develop career plans. It also provides resources to help individuals learn to navigate job applications, computer training, interview techniques and other skills essential to transitioning into a new role -– and economic stability -- successfully.

JobSync aims to “help people, both men and women, to get connected to the right job,” says Madsen.

The original profile of a displaced homemaker when the Centre first began offering services in the late 1970s was “a woman in her mid-thirties or older who had lost her source of income due to divorce, separation, death, disability or unemployment,” explains Alice Thompson, director of the Centre’s Employment Services Program.

Today, Thompson says, “there are many types of individuals and situations that would qualify.”

Now, the displaced homemaker program provides services for both men and women, as long as they meet certain criteria: ages 35 or older; have relied on federal aid or unemployment; are not employed (to learn more about The Centre’s Displaced Homemakers Program and how to qualify, email Alice Thompson or call 813-251-8437.

“Helping displaced homemakers has been one of our core programs,” Madsen says. “Through the years, the Displaced Homemakers Program has provided the opportunity for hundreds of people in our community to lead financially independent lives and find careers that truly support their families.”

The Centre for Women provides many programs and services that help local women and men, including workforce development, entrepreneurial and employment strategies, individual and family counseling, substance abuse treatment and services for girls and senior citizens.

NEA grant enables USF CAM to bring musical village to Sulphur Springs

The University of South Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) has just been awarded a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to make music come alive in a series of unusual structures to be built in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa next spring. 

Sarah Howard, curator of public art and social practice at USF CAM, likens the public art project to a musical village and that depicts the rich cultural heritage of Sulphur Springs. The setting on the Community Stepping Stones property at the Mann-Wagmon Memorial Park “is perfect for this,” she says.

According to Howard, the project, The Music Box: Tampa Bay, based on the original version by the arts cooperative New Orleans Airlift, will create “a wonderful, magical, inventive space that facilitates experimentation not only through the process of building it, but programming it.”  The installation will serve both as an open facility for performance art while the structures themselves will be hands-on and playable. 

In Tampa, the cast of Music Box collaborators will include installation and sculptors from New Orleans, USF art, architecture and music students, and the middle- and high-school children in the Community Stepping Stones program, among others from the community.  

Stepping Stones is an after-school program for underserved youth that seeks to improve lives through the arts. CAM has done other collaborative projects with the group and Howard notes it is important that the students “feel they have ownership and authorship. They become the ambassadors for this project, and it is important for them to see not just design and envisioning, but the process of coming out with a final project.”

Howard says there are currently a couple of structures on the Community Stepping Stones site that need to be torn down.  She plans to repurpose the remnants as building materials, in line with the New Orleans Airlift aesthetic, which she describes as “a little DIY – they use a lot of reclaimed materials. It’s intimate, but otherworldly. … It takes you back in time, not so slick and overdesigned. Real quality of the real deal.” 

Initial envisioning and design plans should begin next January, with the installation complete by the end of March 2016. 

Though still in its beginning stages and in need of additional funding, the project contemplates a month of musical programming with national and local musicians, visits for local schools, educational and history lectures (The Heritage Center is also located at Mann-Wagnon park), instrumentation workshops as well as plenty of time for unstructured play. The Music Box: Tampa Bay will then be moved to the USF campus for further exhibition, with at least one structure remaining permanently at the Community Stepping Stones site. 

Picture this: High fashion, high art intertwined at FMOPA

The works of three international fashion photographers will combine in one show for the first time at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA).

"High Fashion: Kristian Schuller, Billy & Hells, Taka Kobayashi,'' curated and hosted by FMoPA in downtown Tampa, opens May 1 and runs through June 22nd. It will kick off at FMoPA’s “First Friday” social hour, 6-8 p.m. on Friday. 

The exhibit, in large-form, brings to life the confluence of fashion and statement, the meeting of commercial and fine art. 

“Fashion photography is a natural bridging between fine art and documenting photography, “ says Zora Carrier, FMoPA’s Executive Director. “It is very much about aesthetic and conception, but also practical information.  This is a show commenting on the universal cosmopolitan of softness and femininity.”

While fashion is the common thread, each of the artists brings a distinct nuance to the table.  

Carrier describes Romanian-born Kristian Schuller, whose work is reminiscent of Daliesque surrealism, as “creating images out of this world,” with a “dreaminess and weirdness” that highlights the beauty of natural elements in stark contrast to the usual venues for high fashion. 

In FMoPA’s exhibit, Taka Kobayashi, of Japan, is working with the classical theme of geisha and fashion, but in a modern context.  Billy & Hells, a German photography duo, portrays pretty, feminine fashions of high aesthetic, “but the faces of the models are sad, with pain and suffering,” says Carrier, creating “a kind of unusual tension.” 

The FMoPA has a back-to-back line up of exhibits through the rest of the year. This summer, visitors can experience Florida-themed large format projects by two Tampa photographers Jason Henthorne and Joseph Gamble. In September, the FMoPA is collaborating with the Florida Aquarium in an underwater photography exhibit, which Carrier says is a joint effort to pay “homage to this deep earth interest.” New York based photographer Richard Renaldi, famous for his “Touching Strangers” project, will exhibit his work on hotel rooms and the “comfort and quirkiness of that.” The exhibit is timed to coincide with Tampa’s LGBT festival. 

Carrier says she is working on positioning the FMoPA as a social venue, “a nice place to come after work, maybe take a photography class.” To this end, she instituted monthly “First Fridays” at the museum, which include an opening or artist’s talk, food and wine. 

In addition to opening the High Fashion exhibit, this week’s First Friday will feature an artist talk by American photographer Jim Reynolds whose CityScapes exhibit is concurrently on display.

Hillsborough Community College sacks recycling apathy

If you happened to step foot on the Ybor City campus of Hillsborough Community College (HCC) during the week leading up to Earth Day on April 22, perhaps you noticed some students were carrying around more than just their backpacks. Biology Professor Paul Rabaut gave some of his students a most unusual assignment. As an extra credit task, he asked them to carry a trash bag for a week, throwing their garbage into the bag. 

The goal? “I wanted them to be inconvenienced by their waste and realize the burden it creates in the community and on our planet,” says Rabaut. 

To ensure his students were staying on track with the project, under the heading of a sustainability initiative called HCCthinksgreen, he required them to check in via Twitter three times a day and post using the hashtag #TrashBag. Rabaut says 80 to 90 students participated in the event, with many even drawing faces or cartoons on their trash bags. 

“The bags really proved to be conversation starters with other students on campus,” he comments. “The idea was to make everyone feel comfortable about carrying around a trash bag on campus and encourage others to partake in the project.” 

Not only did the weeklong project, which started on April 16, catch on with several faculty and staff members, but some local businesses also took interest. “Fit2Run – The Runner’s Superstore, which operates a location at International Plaza, engaged with the initiative on Twitter and started following us.” He hopes the event, which was in its first year, will expand to the other HCC campuses throughout Hillsborough County. Rabaut, who masterminded the project and even runs his own composting maggot farm at his home, refers to the #TrashBag initiative as his “baby” and says he will certainly promote the event more heavily next year. 

HCC Marketing and Public Relations Manager Angela Walters says the event helped her realize how much trash she produces on a weekly basis. 

“It really made me stop and think about how much waste I created,” she remarks. “It’s quite interesting carrying around a bag of trash for a week.”

The #TrashBag event culminated on Earth Day at the HCC Ybor City campus, when the participants were to turn in their bags. Rabaut and Walters both said that around 20 students did so, but some had only a few items in their bags. 

“Throughout the duration of the project, students were encouraged to throw food waste into a compost pile and recyclable items such as plastic bottles and aluminum cans into appropriate receptacles, which we have around the campus,” says Rabaut. While there wasn’t a final tally on precisely how much trash was collected by all participants during the week, Rabaut believes the active engagement from the students was the greatest result of the project. “Many students spread the message to parents, friends, and others and helped get them involved, too.”

Walters adds, “This project shows that small steps can make a huge impact.”

Undergrad research recognized during UT celebration

The University of Tampa is broadening the notion that research is exclusive to faculty or graduate students by celebrating undergraduate student researchers with a week of recognition.

UT, a small private university located at 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. on the Hillsborough riverfront in the growing heart of downtown Tampa, serves over 7,500 students from all 50 states and 137 countries. During the Undergraduate Research Celebration (URC) April 23-27, UT will recognize undergraduate students who have developed a better understanding of their subjects of interest and deepened ties with professors through participation in research projects.

URC events “are opportunities for networking and discussion, and celebrate the accomplishments of UT's undergraduate scholars,“ says Dr. Eric Freundt, an assistant professor of biology in UT’s College of Natural and Health Sciences. “These events lead to cross-disciplinary collaboration and improve the intellectual exchange across campus.”

On Thursday, April 23, UT will kick off URC festivities by celebrating Honors Day, during which Honors Program undergraduate research fellows will receive recognition and give oral presentations on recently completed or current research projects.

The following day, Friday, April 24, the CNHS Undergraduate Research Symposium will take place. CNHS students will present research projects in Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge from 3:00-5:00 pm. Sara McGrath, a research chemist at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, will give a keynote presentation on the topic of seafood safety challenges at the FDA in Sykes College of Business, Room 131, at 2 pm.

Friday is also the Sykes CoB Student Research Day, during which students from the UT CoB will present research projects in the Cass Gym, from 3-5 pm.

Finally, the UT College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education Undergraduate Research Conference will take place on Wednesday, April 29. During the event in Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge, CSSME students will present their original research from 4-6 pm.

Freundt explains that research helps undergraduate students develop critical-thinking skills and the ability to solve real-world problems. The focus of student presentations during the URC is the opportunity for students to share research results in a formal setting.

“Undergraduate research and creative inquiry allows students to work closely with a faculty member to conduct a high-quality, original research project,” he says. “As we often learn best through teaching, students who present must communicate the motivation behind their project, methodology, results and conclusions to a diverse audience. “Each student presentation therefore leads to a deeper understanding of their own research, sharpens their communication skills, and completes an important aspect of scholarship.”

Undergraduate Research Celebration week events are open to the local community.

“We hope that community members who attend these events can discover opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration with our faculty and students,” Freundt says.

Results from a CNHS’s 2014 symposium, as provided by Freundt:
  • Eighty percent of participants surveyed indicated that it was their first time giving a scientific presentation. 
  • All respondents (100%) reported feeling more confident in giving a scientific presentation after participating in the symposium. 
  • Seventy-seven percent of participants surveyed indicated that they spoke with students outside of their discipline. 
  • One hundred percent of participants surveyed learned by visiting other posters. 
  • Ninety-six percent of participants surveyed received helpful, personal instruction from a faculty member while preparing their poster. 
  • Ninety-six percent of participants surveyed learned more about their research topic. 
  • All respondents indicated that participation in the Symposium enhanced their overall educational experience at The University of Tampa. 
Participating in undergraduate research gives future job seekers an advantage, Freundt says, because “employers are looking for college graduates with the ability to solve complex, real-world problems and who possess excellent critical thinking and communication skills. 

“UT’s commitment to learning through student inquiry projects, and celebrating these students through the Undergraduate Research Celebration week, leads to UT grads who are prepared to make an impact in the local community and benefits the economy,” he says. 

Spring/Summer startup events guide: Tampa Bay

Technology and innovation enthusiasts in the Tampa Bay area can look forward to an array of upcoming events for meeting like-minded peers and mingling with successful serial entrepreneurs in the coming spring and summer months. From recurring meetups such as Startup Grind and Homebrew Hillsborough to annual adventures like the Startup Bus Florida (launching from Tampa on June 4), 83 Degrees has the details on upcoming spring and summer 2015 technology, networking and startup-centric events.
 
StartUp Xchange
April 23, 5 pm
Green Bench Brewing Co.
1133 Baum Ave. N. St. Petersburg

Hosted by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, StartUp Xchange is a monthly gathering that brings TBIC mentors together with local entrepreneurs and innovators. Small business owners have the opportunity to network with other local leaders or aspiring entrepreneurs, and to discuss business-related questions or concerns with mentors.

April 2015 Startup XChange mentors include Chris Paradies, an Intellectual Property Attorney at Paradies Law PA; Kellye Dash, a social media and virtual assistant expert who founded her own company The Busy Buddy; and JJ Roberts, Client Service Manager for TBIC.

The event will take place at Green Bench Brewing, a local business named for the iconic colored benches that once resided on DTSP's Central Ave. To register for April's Startup XChange, visit the event’s Meetup page or the TBIC website for more information.
 
Homebrew Hillsborough
April 24, 8:30 am
Krazy Kup
101 East J. Arden Mays Blvd. Plant City

Join your local area network of small business owners at monthly Homebrew Hillsborough coffee shop meetups. As part of Hillsborough County’s economic development initiatives, Homebrew Hillsborough brings local leaders in the county’s Economic Development Department together with small business owners from Seminole Heights to Plant City. Each month, the meetup is hosted in a different neighborhood of Hillsborough County.

Along with the April 24 meetup at Krazy Kup in Plant City, upcoming Homebrew Hillsborough events will take place on May 29 at Kahwa Café in Westchase; June 26 at Tu Sabor Café in Town n Country; and July 31 at the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa.
 

DRINKandCONNECT
April 30, 5:30 pm
The Patio
421 South MacDill Ave. Tampa

During the free networking event on April 30, entrepreneurs and techies are invited to come out to the The Patio’s large indoor/outdoor courtyard and mingle with Cigar City Brewing VP Justin Clark and Angry Chair Brewing co-founder Ryan Dowdle. Enjoy a cold local brew as Cigar City & Angry Chair “takeover” the taps for the night.

Along with the tap takeovers and networking, the event will host raffles to benefit the Tampa Police Department's Honor Guard. Raffle items include spa gift certificates, a custom skateboard, and Cigar City or Angry Chair baskets.

Plum Alley's Jan Mercer Dahms at Startup Grind
May 6, 6:30 pm
CoWork Ybor/The Blind Tiger Café
1901 E. 7th Ave. Ybor City

Each month, Joy Randels and the Tampa Bay chapter of Startup Grind host fireside chats and intimate gatherings, where entrepreneurs share the secrets of their successes – and failures – with attendees, who range from small business owners to students to serial entrepreneurs. Startup Grind Tampa Bay will host Jan Mercer Dahms, managing director of Plum Alley, at Ybor City's mixed use cafe and coworking space, The Blind Tiger Cafe/CoWork Ybor, on May 6. Entry fee is $10.

Plum Alley is “the premier crowdfunding platform for women in the world,” Randels say. During May’s Startup Grind, guests from across the state will discuss their products and how Plum Alley can help them. To learn more about Plum Alley and the campaigns it supports, visit the company website. 

Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay
May 15-17, 5:00 pm
Trinity School For Children
2402 W Osbourne Ave, Tampa

Students, do you dream of starting the next Facebook or Snapchat? Startup Weekend is back with a special youth edition, open to aspiring designers, developers, business leaders or entrepreneurs! The 54-hour event has been a staple in Tampa Bay for several years, and in 2015, the event will include coaches and mentors from across the Tampa Bay area, including Todd Broyles, David Harris, Gregg Hilferding and founder and host Angela Ardolino.

Step into the shoes of an entrepreneur during Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay at Trinity School for Children. The three-day startup crash course includes pitching your ideas, forming teams, building a tangible product (including coding and creating a business model), and launching (I.e., presenting your case to the event judges, local entrepreneurial leaders).
 
#Collabtb (Q2 Tech & Entrepreneur Peer Networking Event)
June 4, 5 pm
1930 Grande Room
1930 East 7th Ave. Ybor City

Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay hosts quarterly networking events for tech-savvy designers, developers, programmers and other entrepreneurs who want to interact with peers without hearing sales pitches from recruiters. Students, job seekers, entrepreneurs and tech professionals are encouraged to attend the June event at Ybor City's event space and unique venue, the 1930 Grande Room.

#Collabtb events are free, but registration is required. Entrance into the event includes a free T-shirt for the first 100 attendees, a free drink ticket for the first 200 and light appetizers. 
 
StartupBus Florida
June 4-8, Tampa-Nashville

For the sixth straight year, StartupBus participants across North America will join together on buses and work to pitch and develop a startup idea. The 72-hour competition ends in Nashville in June 2015, with buses originating from six different regions competing. The Southeast region bus will leave from Tampa on June 4. One catch: you’re on your own for the return trip.

“Hackers, hustlers, and hipsters” are encouraged to apply for a seat on the bus. 
 
Startup Surge
June 5, 10 am
Tampa Bay WaVE
400 N. Ashley Dr., St. 200. Tampa

Hosted by Tampa Bay WaVE at the Sykes building in the heart of downtown Tampa, Startup Surge is a one-day opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and students to meet and hear from more than 50 mentors from around the region. Attendees will be matched up with mentors, all of whom are successful entrepreneurs, before participating in coaching sessions and workshops. Learn about building a successful startup (from identifying a target market to crowdfunding and early stage marketing); the launch process (development, updates, and analytics); and growing your company (fundraising, bring on a Board of Directors, and more).
 
Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay
June 5-7, 6:30 pm

For the first time in Tampa, creative entrepreneurs and artists will have the chance to come together for a Startup Weekend event! Startup Weekend Design Edition will follow the traditional 54-hour format and aims to bring together Tampa Bay designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from all domains. Fashion entrepreneurs, interior designers, architects, graphic artists and other creatives are invited to take part in the collaborative event.

Meet peers, network with creative industry leaders, and design or develop ideas to help solve real-world problems faced by those in creative industries. Pitch your ideas and form a team (or join another -- popular vote wins out), develop a product and business model, and then present the final version to local entrepreneurial leaders in creative or design industries.

TEDx Tampa Riverwalk
August 29, 1 pm
John F. Germany Library Auditorium
900 N. Ashley Dr. Tampa

TEDx events are independently organized meetups of thinkers and innovators based on the popular TED talks that focus on the slogan of “ideas worth spreading.” The theme for the 2015 TEDx Tampa Riverwalk session is “Going Places!” TEDx presenters should consider the theme and how it applies scientifically, socially, economically, geographically, artistically and philosophically.

Nominations for speakers and presenters will be accepted through June 2015. 

Temple Terrace hosts new craft beer festival, food trucks

Tampa Bay, grab your growlers: there's a new craft beer fest in town.

The inaugural Temple Terrace Craft BrewFest will take place May 9 in Woodmont Park, a 20-minute drive from downtown Tampa. The beer festival, hosted by the City of Temple Terrace in partnership with the Rotary Club of Temple Terrace, will feature more than 30 craft brews, including varieties from:

3 Daughters BrewingBayshore Beer Co., Big Storm Brewing Co., Big Top Brewing Co.Bold City BreweryBrew Hub, Brooklyn BreweryCigar City BrewingCoppertail Brewing Co., Florida Avenue Brewing Co.GolfBeer Brewing Co.Harpoon Brewery, Oskar Blues BreweryTampa Bay Brewing Company, Tenth and Blake Beer Co.Two Henrys Brewing, and more.

If all that beer sipping stirs up an appetite, guests can enjoy food from a variety of local Tampa Bay area food trucks and on-site vendors, including Doogie Dogs a GogoMichelle Faedo’s On the GoNapolitanos Wood Fired Pizza & Calzones, PaniniRifficPop-N-Good Kettle Corn, and Smokin’ Aces BBQ.

Live music will be provided by local band jazz fusion band Jurika.

Cheri Donohue, one of the event’s organizers, anticipates more than 1,000 attendees at the one-day event. Donohue, a member of both the Temple Terrace City Council and the Rotary Club, calls the BrewFest “a thrilling new event for the city.”

Rotary Club members worked with City Council members to develop the BrewFest. Community leaders “immediately saw it as a good way to show off our lovely city,” Donohue says. 

Sponsors include local businesses such as Ward Seaford Attorneys at LawGaspar’s Patio Bar & Grille and Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club.

As an event sponsor, local company Brewmasters Club “takes pride in contributing to any effort to re-vitalize” the Temple Terrace area," founder Donnie Gallagher says. “The goal is to really get the community of Temple Terrace involved. I expect a great turnout.”

By hosting the craft beer festival, the Rotary Club hopes to attract “young movers and shakers to see what a ‘service’ club can do,” Donohue explains. “Our motto, ‘service above self,’ is one we take seriously, but our meetings are fun and invigorating. Even though we were established in 1925, we think creatively and are working to invite people to live, work and play in Temple Terrace." 

Event proceeds will benefit charities supported by the Rotary Club of Temple Terrace including CAIRFlight, the Bridge Healthcare Clinic at USF and Rotary's Camp Florida

Tickets bought before May 8 cost $30 ($35 after) and include unlimited tastings of more than 30 craft brews, two of which are custom Temple Terrace beers brewed exclusively for BrewFest. 

For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit the Temple Terrace Craft BrewFest website.

SoHo businesses to host April block party in South Tampa

Local businesses and nonprofits in the growing Courier City neighborhood of South Tampa are coming together in April to host SoHo's first “block party” of 2015.

Austin’s Board Shop, Fruitwood Standup Market, Surf Outfitter and onbikes will co-host the block party on April 18 at 2205 W. Swann Ave. (near the corner of Swann and Howard Avenues). The block party will be 5-8pm that Saturday, with live music by Morgan Davis.

“We’re going to try to do one every couple of months, rotate it around and get more people involved,” Austin’s Board Shop Owner Michelle Marcum explains. “We just want to get the whole neighborhood interested.”

Austin’s Board Shop, located at 301 S. Melville, usually carries around 60 boards in stock, which can range from $100-200 to more than $500 for custom boards and upgrades. The shop has created custom boards for Gorrie Elementary and Berkeley Prep to auction in fundraisers. Marcum and her son, co-owner Austin Anderson, will be raffling off a longboard during the block party to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida. 

“It’s very important to both of us that we are very connected to the community,” Marcum says.

Other items will be raffled at the April 18 block party, including a GoPro; along with RMHC, proceeds will benefit Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots environmentally focused nonprofit, and a fundraising group for ALS awareness, Pray for Jay.

In 2013, Justin Clark opened Fruitwood Standup Market at 2203 W. Swann Ave. next door to the Smoothie King he owns in SoHo. Marcum recommends the apple lemonade and flatbreads at the casual, fresh concept space where salvaged brick and wood decorate the space and light bulbs hang in mason jars.

Marcum has known Clark since her father coached the Tampa Bay Storm years ago. They reconnected and, in turn, she was connected with Charlie Schiller of Schiller's Architectural and Design Salvage in Seminole Heights, who supplied wood for the Fruitwood space and later worked with Marcum and Anderson on the design concept for Austin’s Board Shop.

Surf Outfitter, located at 1413 S. Howard Ave., Suite 104, sells a range of “lifestyle” apparel, accessories and equipment that is handpicked by staff members. The Tampa-based small business counts contributing to nonprofits and charity, along with supporting the environment, as a primary part of their mission.

Florida Bike Association chose onbikes as the 2014 Program of the Year because of the group’s efforts to help make bicycling safe and accessible. Onbikes Executive Director Julias Tobin called the recognition an “unbelievable honor” on social media sharing service Instagram.

As the Courier City area grows into a South Howard foodie paradise and welcomes bicyclists or foot traffic to a more pedestrian-friendly Platt Street, the Neighborhood Association has been actively developing a community presence by hosting social meetups at The Hyde Out and MacDinton’s Irish Pub in recent weeks. Meanwhile, a new boutique, The Paper Seahorse, hosted a Maker’s Market in Feb 2015, bringing together local vendors.

Now, the upcoming block party’s hosts aim to continue the momentum of a neighborhood on the move.

“We knew this neighborhood was the most ‘walkable’ in Tampa, and we just love it – it’s perfect,” Marcum explains. "This whole group (the Neighborhood Association) is so excited that we’re here, that Mr. Penguin’s here – that it’s not another just bar.” 

Who's hiring? Brew Bus, Tampa Musuem of Art, and more

Did you know? 83 Degrees Media searches for growing companies to bring you exciting job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. Reach out over on Twitter @83degreesmedia if our job listings put you on the path to success!

On the search for a job in advertising? Two high-profile Tampa ad agencies are currently hiring.

Schifino Lee 

Hyde Park-based advertising agency Schifino Lee seeks an experienced Media Buyer. The successful candidate will plan and buy for a variety of B2C and B2B accounts. Job requirements include superior negotiation skills, attention to detail, the ability to work directly with clients, and a familiarity with new media opportunities and digital strategies. 

Required Education: Bachelors Degree or related experience. Send a resume and work samples via e-mail to jobs@schifinolee.com.

Walker Brands

Full-service Tampa branding agency Walker Brands seeks a Brand Manager and a Part-Time, In-House Graphic Designer in Tampa. To apply for either position, submit a resume and work samples via email to careers@walkerbrands.com.

The brand manager role requires 8+ years in branding, marketing or advertising, with a preference for agency experience as well as real estate branding and marketing experience. The position will require leading several client accounts, and the ideal candidate will combine creativity and innovation with logic and business aptitude. Required Education: Bachelors Degree in a related field.

The part-time graphic designer position requires 2 years of related professional experience in file packaging for both online and print vendors. Advanced proficiency in Creative Suite (including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat) is preferred. Mac proficiency is required.

Tampa Museum of Art

Card-carrying museum-goers, read on: the Tampa Museum of Art seeks a Development Officer for Sponsorship and Corporate Programs.

The Development Officer's primary responsibilities include securing corporate support and meeting event sponsorship goals for the Museum; stewarding funders and collaborating with board trustees, volunteers, long-time supporters, and other staff; and engaging with the region’s business community. The successful candidate will have fundraising or sales experience, with marketing and donor database experience preferred. An education that includes art history or a related field is a bonus. A Bachelor’s Degree and minimum of 2-4 years of related experience is also necessary.

Brew Bus

Hop aboard the Brew Bus, which takes patrons on tours of Tampa Bay craft beer breweries, bars, and restaurants, is hiring for two part-time positions: “Beertender” and Brew Bus Vehicle Operator

The Beertender position requires familiarity with the craft beer industry (particularly local breweries); basic service industry knowledge; strong social skills; and the ability to lift up to 50 lbs. A high school diploma or equivalent GED is required. Safe Serve certification and Cicerone beer certification are a bonus. 

The Vehicle Operator role requires a clean driving record and CDL with P endorsement, with previous experience. Brew Bus Vehicle Operators transport clients or “riders” throughout the area and possibly throughout the state. Qualified Brew Bus Vehicle Operators will possess a high school diploma or equivalent GED, the ability to lift up to 50 lbs, and a CDL Medical Card. 

Employers, if you have a career opportunity you would like to promote, please email tips@83degreesmedia.com with "Hiring" in the subject line. 

Hannah's Shoebox provides stylish shoes to preteen girls

Tampa mother Colette Glover-Hannah has had a difficult time finding age-appropriate shoes for her preteen daughter since she was only six years old and in the first grade. By the time her daughter reached fifth grade and age 11, she was also wearing a size 11 women’s shoe.
 
Many parents of preteen and “tween”-aged girls know first-hand the challenge of finding affordable, suitable yet stylish footwear that is outgrown long before it’s used out. For young girls with larger shoe sizes, it can be even more challenging to find age-appropriate shoes, especially for special occasions or formal events.
 
Most women’s shoes for special occasions either have high heels or an overall aesthetic that is too mature for a young girl, Glover-Hannah says. And after talking with other parents in the Tampa area, she realized that she wasn’t the only person with that predicament.
 
“Many girls enter women's shoe sizes while in elementary school,” she says, “so I decided to open an online shoe store to address this challenge.” 
 
Glover-Hannah founded Hannah’s Shoebox, a new online retailer for age-appropriate shoes for preteen or “tween” girls who wear women’s shoe sizes 5-13, in 2014.
 
The online store carries a range of fashion footwear, from boots to flats to dressy and casual sandals, as well as special occasion shoes. The criteria for shoes that make the Hannah’s Shoebox cut? All heels are below two inches.
 
The company has no immediate plans to move into areas beyond specialty shoes, but will continue to expand services in the Tampa area.
 
“Tampa is where the core of my customers are and it's where I am developing and growing my business,” Glover-Hannah says.

Hannah’s Shoebox ships to all 50 states in the U.S. and to the District of Columbia. For additional information or to place large or custom shoe orders, email Hannah’s Shoebox.
 
The online startup store was recently selected to be part of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce 2015 Startup Scholars class, along with:
 
No Mo Nausea, a wristband that combines mint and pressure to relieve feelings of nausea;
Arcturus Creative, a creative marketing team that builds custom visual brand strategies;
LilyPad, an activity management platform for professional workforces; and
PikMyKid, a simple but streamlined mobile app that allows public schools in the U.S. to organize and manage the after-school dismissal process.
 
“I am looking to the Startup Scholars program to help me develop a solid foundation for building a sustainable business,” Glover-Hannah says. “I simply want Hannah’s Shoebox to become synonymous with age-appropriate, larger size shoes for preteen and tween girls.”

HCC awarded $100,000 to create Tampa jobs for low-income residents

Hillsborough Community College was recently awarded $100,000 to help promote job creation for lower-income residents of the city of Tampa.

As part of regional and local efforts to create a wide spectrum of jobs in tech and innovation, HCC’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education (ICCE) was granted the $100,000 through the Community Development Block Grant by the City of Tampa’s Housing and Development Division.

These funds will aid the creation and development of a Workforce Development and Training Initiative (WDTI) at HCC, which aims to promote job creation for low-income residents who reside within a specific target region in the city of Tampa’s borders.

That area, defined as a “Green Tech Corridor area" or the Tampa Industrial Park/ USF Research Park, falls along East Fowler Avenue, between 30th Street and 50th Street. The neighborhood is along the edges of the innovation district of the University of South Florida, which represents a critical mass of education, science, medicine and research including the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida Hospital, and USF.

The up-and-coming neighborhood is part of an innovative district whose revitalization is under the leadership of Mark Sharpe, a former county commissioner working to revitalize the USF neighborhood from a “Suitcase City” into a vibrant and sustainable area.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance plans to create to “live, work, play” atmosphere in the USF and Busch Gardens area of north Tampa.

Meanwhile, ICCE expects the implementation of the WDTI to serve as a catalyst for improving employment opportunities for residents and businesses within the target area.

“With this funding, HCC will be able to provide free, career-driven training programs that will effectively increase the competencies of individuals seeking professional development in preparation for the workforce,” said Yolanda Levell-Williams, HCC’s executive director, in a press release.

HCC’s Institute for Corporate and Continuing Education promotes short-term educational programs and services which lead to economic growth and advancement in the community, including continuing education, professional development, and personal enrichment programs and services. 

Other efforts the county has taken to promote economic development include the support of many local startup events, pitch contests, and the economic development innovation initiative. The next round of EDI2 funding for Tampa area startups closes on Monday, March 2, 2015.

Nationally acclaimed works bring dialogue on race and identity to USF

International tour ensemble, Progress Theatre, is performing “The Burning’’ in Tampa at 3 pm Saturday afternoon, Feb. 21, 2015 at USF. The program will be followed by an interactive dialogue and reception with the artists and audience.  

An original work inspired by two horrific real-life African-American nightclub tragedies, decades and miles apart, is written in the innovative “neo-spiritual” aesthetic of Progress Theatre Founder, Director and Playwright Cristal Chanelle Truscott. 

Truscott’s development of neo-spiritualism – the term she uses for “work that engages African-American performance and tradition – from negro spirituals through blues, jazz, spoken word to the present” -- earned her the prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award last year. “The Burning’’ is an a’capella musical of original song, movement and dialogue rooted in African-American tradition.

“The Burning’’ imagines the social and political dynamics surrounding each of the tragic scenarios -- the Rhythm Night Club Fire of Natchez, MI (1940) and the E2 Club Stampede of Chicago, IL (2003) -- and how race, class, gender and generation play out in different ways. Truscott says she wanted to examine “the way we understand identity and community when it’s a matter of life and death.” 

Truscott, an African-American woman and Muslim, was invited to bring the performance to USF as part of USF and Art2Action’s THIS Bridge project. The project hosts national and international performance artists and events with the aim of enhancing understanding of Arab, Middle Eastern and Muslim cultures and identities, over the course of two years. 

“Truscott is an artist who can talk about those identities and the history of African-American Muslims in the country,” notes Arts2Action Founder Andrea Assaf.

This performance also bridges Black History Month with February’s lesser known celebration, Islam Awareness month. Assaf and Truscott both note that the date of the performance is also the 50th Anniversary of assassination of Malcolm X.

Truscott and the Progress Theatre will also participate in the USF Institute on Black Life "Race & Place" conference Friday, February 20th, which is free and open to the public. 

New Hyde Park paper boutique in South Tampa hosts Valentine's Day makers market

Paper Seahorse, a new artisanal paper goods and crafts store in Hyde Park, is the fulfillment of founder Tona Bell’s longtime desire to create a space centered on writing, paper and presentation.

The Paper Seahorse will host a free pop-up inspired retail event, the Makers Market, from 10 am-6 pm on Saturday, Feb. 14. The market’s carefully curated selection of crafts and wares from local artisans will be open to the public.

A unique mix of makers, materials and mediums include: letterpress, leather, girl’s dresses, jewelry, sweets, men’s accessories, and fresh floral and body products. Tampa Makers Market vendors include:
  • Ella Bing: bow ties, accessories, and all things Southern
  • Fortenberry: leather wallets, bags, and other accessories made locally in Ybor City
  • Lellow: girls' clothing remade from recycled materials
  • Strands of Sunshine: ladies' jewelry
  • Tampa Type: vintage typewriters
  • A South Tampa teen who creates confections using homemade recipes and fondant frosting.
Makers markets are the latest iteration of a national and international trend concerning makers, says style consultant Alex English: “Specifically, people who want to use their hands to create products or consumables in small quantities, using the best materials for superior products.”

English, who runs local blog Remarqed, is Bell’s partner in staging the upcoming event. 

English recently worked with Christopher Devitt of Fortenberry on the launch of the Blind Tiger Café and CoWork Ybor. Bell and English are longtime friends who share a “keen appreciation for quality, handmade goods,” English explains. “We love local, and love shopping.”

With the Maker’s Market, Bell and English hope to build awareness of local makers and to help increase their business.

“We all make choices about which brands and people to support with our dollars. Goods with a story, made from the highest quality materials, should at least be an everyday option, rather than the exception,” Bell says. “These makers are, after all, our neighbors and friends.”

St. Pete “does a tremendous job in their community,” says Bell, who hopes to see Tampa shine a similar spotlight on makers. “I think Tampa can do better.  We have found some folks who are indeed motivated by this and hope the momentum continues.“

The Paper Seahorse boutique, located at 211 S. Howard Ave., brings a unique touch of charm to the Hyde Park neighborhood.
Upcoming Paper Seahorse classes set for spring include collage, 'zine making, paper crafts, card making, and lettering. More classes will be added in coming months. Later in 2015, Paper Seahorse will be available to host parties for wedding showers, baby showers and children’s birthdays.

“We aim to have a community creative space where like-minded folks can have a place in Tampa to meet,” Bell says.

Pasco County opens its first STEAM magnet school

The nation’s best schools are places where children can grow, discover and learn in a collaborative environment, asking questions to help them gain a deeper understanding of subject matter in a way that facilitates lifelong learning.

That’s what Pasco County’s Sanders Memorial Elementary School plans to be when it opens in August, 2015. 

The county’s first magnet school for elementary students, Sanders has a unique emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) subjects. 

The STEAM focus is workforce-driven, with the prediction that jobs in STEM fields are increasing at double the rate of non-STEM fields. The addition of the arts exemplifies the role arts play in creative problem solving and innovative thinking critical to all careers. 

“That’s important to Pasco, when we look at college, career and life readiness,” says Jason Petry, recently appointed Principal at Sanders. “We want to start installing an excitement and curiosity about these subjects in students at a young age.”

A New Port Richey native and University of South Florida graduate, Petry has worked in Pasco County schools for all of his career. His passion and excitement about the learning environment at Sanders is evident by hearing him speak. 

“This school will look different, and it will feel different,” says Petry.

The LEED-certified buildings will feature group learning stations, where students will at times move in between classrooms during the day. The hands-on instruction will allow them to make real-world connections. To borrow from entrepreneurship education, Sanders will employ a “failing forward” philosophy, which believes that perseverance through failure is key to providing a positive learning experience. 

As a public school, Sanders will mirror other schools in the district. The curriculum will include the same core standards that other public schools adhere to, but with the addition of STEAM-focused subjects such as computer coding. Arts subjects such as design thinking, music and humanities will be integrated into the curriculum.

“Engagement is a big factor,” says Lauren Burdick, STEAM coordinator, K-12 for the Pasco County School District. “We want to create a felt need in students and relate that to concepts around STEAM.” 

With 1,699 applicants for the 762 openings at the school, the need is evident. According to Burdick, the county has implemented project-based learning and cross-curricular connections in other schools throughout the district as well. 

Pasco aims to expand the model to middle and high schools in the future.

Local library Venture Club introduces Tampa Bay area kids to entrepreneurship

Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries has taken another step toward embracing modern technology and innovation with a new five-month program aimed at elementary-school children: the Venture Club. 

Venture Club begins with students brainstorming to identify a need that they see either in their home or their school communities. Then, with the help of volunteer speakers and mentors, students will attempt to develop ideas for something that can help solve that issue. 

“It’s more about the process than the product,” Senior Librarian Laura Doyle emphasizes. “We want to help students figure out the skills that entrepreneurs use to recognize an audience, evaluate the resources around them and information in front of them, and how to make decisions based on that.”
 
Venture Club is based on curriculum provided to the library by Venture Lab, a group that has developed several successful programs geared toward teaching children how to innovate. Venture Club has been implemented as an after-school program in other areas of the country, but Tampa’s is the only club based in a library. 

The club, open to students in grades 3-5, will meet two Saturdays per month from January through May in The Hive at John F. Germany Library. Classes will run through May to coincide with the academic school year. The Friends of the John F. Germany Public Library subsidize program materials and costs.

Bimonthly sessions include topics like, “What is Entrepreneurship?” and “Prototyping” and “Practicing/Preparing Pitches,” which will be presented by volunteers who are well-versed in the subject matter.
 
Current volunteer speakers and mentors come from a wide range of skills, backgrounds and experience levels, from a high school student who runs his own successful photography business to community leaders like Daniel James Scott, the new Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.
 
Good mentors are “people who can share their experiences, encourage kids, challenge them, empower them, ask questions and help guide them to resources to develop their ideas,” Doyle says.

Venture Club first met on Jan. 10, but several seats are still available for interested students. Doyle plans to offer a recap of previous sessions to new students. 

HCPL introduced programs like volunteer-run CoderDojo (where mentors teach children to code) in 2013, along with Alligator Zone (a family-friendly ‘Shark Tank’-like pitching event) and the revamping a large area in the John F. Germany Library into The Hive, a mixed-use maker space, in 2014.

The library is aligned with Hillsborough County’s efforts toward building up the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the area, says Doyle. 

“We’re trying to get to know the entrepreneurial community better, to serve them better,” Doyle explains. “Starting with the kids and getting them to see that they can solve problems right here in their community is very important.”

1 Million Cups comes to Tampa, Hillsborough County

Entrepreneurs and startup founders in Tampa will soon have a new platform for sharing their visions with the local community. 

1 Million Cups, a Kauffman Foundation program that operates in cities across the country, is set to launch at the Hillsborough County Mark Sharpe Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City. Tampa’s inaugural 1MC Cups will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 8-10 a.m. at the ECC.

Those 1 million cups? That’s the amount of coffee 1 Million Cups hopes to serve during weekly meetups. Each week, two startup founders present their companies to local leaders, entrepreneurs and students. Presentations are followed by Q&A sessions with audience members.

While a coffee sponsor for Tampa’s location has not yet been announced, Kahwa Coffee has served 1 Million Cups at its St. Petersburg location The Greenhouse since that program launched in Oct 2013.

Some of the many startup companies that have presented at the 1MC St. Petersburg location include SavvyCard, a web-based business card; Florida Funders, a crowd-funding portal for entrepreneurs; WazInIt, a mobile application that won Startup Weekend Tampa Bay in Nov 2013; and Venture House, an effort to turn vacant houses into housing and job sites for local entrepreneurs and artists.

The ECC, located at 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Ybor City, celebrated their grand opening in Dec 2014.

The ECC serves as a small business services center, as well as a meeting place for community partners and local businesses. Entrepreneurs and “wannapreneurs” alike can use the center’s resources, all of which are at little or no cost, says the county’s Economic Development Manager Lindsey Kimball. Those resources include conference space, free classes, business training, and workshops aimed at helping startup founders build their businesses.
 
Headquartering 1 Million Cups in Tampa at Hillsborough County’s new entrepreneurial space is the latest in a series of efforts to bring a focus on local business to the community, from the upcoming Startup Week Tampa Bay to Venture Club, a meetup for entrepreneurial children that lauched in Jan 2015 at the county’s flagship library. 

Meanwhile, north of Ybor City, near the University of South Florida, Busch Gardens and Moffitt Cancer Center, steps are being taken to revitalize the area into an “innovation district,” led by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Sharpe, for whom the ECC is named. Sharpe stepped into the role of executive director for the Tampa Innovation Alliance in late 2014.

Innovation Alliance invites businesses to help transform University area of north Tampa

The Tampa Innovation Alliance aims to transform almost 15,000 acres of commerce, housing and retail surrounding the University of South Florida and affiliate hospitals into a revitalized “Innovation District” that will attract local visitors and tourists.

After a 10-year stint as a Hillsborough County commissioner, Mark Sharpe has stepped into the role of executive director for the Tampa Innovation Alliance. The group formed in 2011 with intentions to redevelop the university area as a premiere destination, but focused too much on a “master plan,” Sharpe says. “I want to make sure that we focus on our key mission: to create this ‘Innovation District’ core.”

The area, which stretches from I-75 on the east to I-275 on the west; north to the Bearss/Bruce B Downs intersection; and south to Busch Blvd, is comprised of thousands of acres in which run-down retail and residential blocks co-mingle with specialized hospitals like Moffitt and the VA center, the University of South Florida’s campus, and popular entertainment destinations like Busch Gardens and MOSI Tampa, the Museum of Science and Industry.

“I think there is a way to capture some of the market that is driving past or through, not stopping, at the local businesses that abut these major anchors,” Sharpe explains. “We’re going to focus on outreach and bring in members, large and small, who will all partner together.”
 
A kick-off luncheon on Friday, Jan. 9, serves as the group’s first outreach to the broader community, Sharpe says. Local businesses both inside and outside the future Innovation District are invited to join Sharpe and other Tampa Innovation Alliance members, such as USF President Judy Genshaft, at the USF Connect Building to discuss the group’s next steps and ideas for area branding.

Businesses are invited to provide feedback at Friday’s meeting, along with a series of monthly meetings Sharpe plans to host, similar to those he conducted at Buddy Brew during his run as a county commissioner. The first of these meetings, open to the public, is scheduled for Jan 23.

The first focus is getting organized, Sharpe says. “I’m doing it all right now – I’m approving colors of the logo, and spellchecking things, and calling people to encourage them to come.”

The group’s current members and partners include Fifth Third Bank, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Brighthouse, Tampa International Airport, EWI Construction, and more. Tampa Innovation Alliance’s Kickoff Luncheon will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, at USF Connect, 3802 Spectrum Boulevard in Tampa.

Valpak ventures to St. Pete, adds jobs and an app

If you’ve saved money recently by using a coupon from one of the seemingly ubiquitous blue envelopes that appear in your mailbox monthly, it’s thanks to Valpak. But did you know that you could get the same coupons for local and national businesses online -- and even through your smartphone?

For modern shoppers, the company has developed an array of up-to-the-minute digital advertising products and online services to complement its traditional direct mail campaigns. 

Most innovative is Valpak’s Local Savings smartphone app, where customers can search for coupons for local businesses like restaurants, spa services and auto care. Those coupons can then be automatically integrated into the Samsung Wallet, iOS Passbook, Google Wallet and Windows Phone Wallet. 

“We are in an exciting time here!” says Valpak’s PR Manager Marsha Strickhouser.

The company is currently hiring for a number of new jobs in the Tampa Bay area, including positions like Senior Computer Operator and Digital Process Planner. 

At Valpak’s new North St. Pete offices, collaboration and a fun atmosphere -- with perks like ping-pong tables, cushy beanbag chairs and even scooters -- are all part of the design.

Strickhouser credits Valpak president Michael Vivio for the changing company culture, which includes a focus on community. An emphasis on volunteering through the employee-led “Blue Crew” has helped Valpak sponsor volunteer activities like the United Way Day of Caring, Habitat for Humanity, PACE, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Boys and Girls Club. 

Valpak was listed #37 on United Way Suncoast’s 2014 list of Tampa Bay’s most generous workplaces.

In Dec. 2014, the coupon aggregator moved to new corporate offices located at 805 Executive Center Drive West in St. Petersburg, Fl. The move places the company’s headquarters closer to their manufacturing center, an automated facility that prints Valpak coupons and envelopes for the almost 170 Valpak franchises around North America. Between the two facilities, Valpak has around 700 local employees, along with another 1,000 franchise employees throughout the US and Canada.  

Valpak is owned by Cox Target Media, whose parent company, Cox Enterprises, is based in Atlanta.

TekBank appoints Tampa tech leader, expands to Tampa Bay

Washington, D.C.-based technology consulting firm TekBank has chosen Tampa Bay as the hub for its Southeast expansion efforts. The firm has a global reach and more than 20 years of industry experience, with enterprise giants like Amtrak on their list of customers.

TekBank’s expansion into the Tampa Bay market will mean job creation locally, along with a focus on growing consulting efforts in Florida and nearby states.

The company “strategically picked Tampa Bay as an expansion hub for the Southeast,” says newly appointed Senior Partner S. Khurrum "Sid'' Hasan.

Hasan will head up TekBank’s business development efforts in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Orlando and Miami, Florida. 

Hasan brings over 15 years of consulting and business development experience to TekBank. While he moved to Tampa from D.C. only recently (in 2014), Hasan has already begun to establish himself as a community leader in the Tampa Bay scene. The technology executive was selected as a judge for the 2014 HULT Prize regional competition at the University of Tampa, where student entrepreneurs pitched startup ideas as solutions to a global social issue. Hasan also co-founded CUPS, a neighborhood program for Channelside District residents.

Now Hasan will bring his leadership and expertise to TekBank’s consulting services.

The company specializes in the compute stack and offers businesses functional and technical consulting, from conceptualization to post-launch follow-up. TekBank’s services include: application development, mobility, quality assurance, infrastructure support, and PMO.

“Our DNA historically has been centered around customers that offer a B2B and B2C land, sea and air function,” says Hasan. “We hope to employ a consulting practice centered around our suite of services.”

TekBank’s Southeast Launch will take place at The Tampa Club, 101 E Kennedy Blvd, from 5:30-7:30 pm on Thursday, Feb 12.

Kobie Marketing in St. Petersburg grows, adds 55 jobs

Kobie Marketing is experiencing tremendous growth and as a result adding jobs in all departments.

The loyalty marketing firm will be 25 years old this coming April. Founded in St. Petersburg, Kobie Marketing helps companies bring customers closer to their brand and increase revenue through marketing programs. The company uses touch points and communication tools such as point of sale, email and social media to keep customers informed and engaged with the products and services they love. They also provide research, data analytics, brand management and creative services to support the loyalty marketing programs.  

The company’s growth has been trending for several years, going from 30 employees in 2007 to 138 today. 35 new hires were made in 2014, and 55 are expected in 2015. The company attributes its growth to new clients both nationally and globally, particularly those with large branding needs such as a recent partnership formed with Synchrony Financial. Other industries the company works with include consumer package goods, retail, entertainment and lifestyle.

Current open positions include: IT Developers, Project Managers, Account Managers, Senior Data Analyst, Director of Business Intelligence, Director of Loyalty Strategy, Loyalty Consultant, Email Specialist and Email Marketing Manager.

"It’s an amazing organization with huge potential for growth," says Selena McLaughlin, director of human resources and administration. "It’s small enough that it feels like a small company, and the impact that anybody has coming into the organization can be huge. You really do have a voice here."

Custom and disaster recovery software provider adds 3 jobs

A growing company that provides software for custom design and to assist with disaster recovery is adding project and developer positions.

Tampa-based Zenzio has two major areas of focus: custom software development meeting a variety of client needs, and disaster recovery for events such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

The disaster recovery product is designed to assist private contractors who ultimately receive FEMA funds with operations and efficiency after a natural disaster. The software provides operational efficiencies and ensures safety and other protocol are met during tasks such as cleaning up debris, inspecting houses and keeping track of assets such as generators.

"We’re positioning ourselves as a technology provider to all of the players, all of the contractors who deal with a disaster clean-up," says Andrew Grubbs, founder and CEO, a serial tech entrepreneur who moved to Tampa from Washington in 1995.

The company was founded in 2011 as a different product all together that didn’t pan out, which led to the increase in custom software clients and eventually the disaster recovery product.

Zenzio is expanding its current team of six full-time workers and seven subcontractors with the addition of a Project Manager and two Microsoft Developers. The growth is the result of client’s expansion as well as the enhancement of the disaster recovery focus.  

Grubbs plans to keep the company in Tampa for the long run, noting that the business environment is a nice mix of fast and moderate pace. "It’s both relaxed, and it has energy," says Grubbs. "I like dealing with the people down here."

Mobile software development company adds 7 tech jobs In Tampa

At Nitro Mobile Solutions, company culture is critical.

The software development company, based in Hillsborough County just east of Tampa near the intersection of I-75 and I-4, is currently hiring for seven tech positions. Nitro Mobile Solutions is seeking: two iOS developers; two C# developers; one Android developer; one support specialist and one quality assurance specialist.

“The characteristics we seek in our employees, in order of importance, are: passion, drive, ownership, critical thinking, problem solving, and then skill,” explains Nitro’s Social Marketing Specialist Lauren Webber. “Many companies put ‘skill’ first, but we can teach skill -- we can’t change who you are. It is vital to our company to find employees who align with why Nitro exists, not only what we do during our existence.”

Nitro CEO Pete Slade founded the company in 2009 in Tampa after years of experience as a programmer ad solution architect both here and in the UK. The company’s products include full-service mobile applications and platforms that can be fully customized and managed by customers, with no coding experience required. 

“Our mission is to empower our clients through mobility,” says Webber. “Our services have morphed overtime from building business applications, to including middleware, to offering a complete ecosystem atop a platform. Flexibility in our vision, especially in this industry, keeps us current and competitive.”

Could you be the right fit for Nitro? The company, which has nearly doubled in size in 2014 alone, focuses on organic growth and cultural fit when seeking new talent. 

“Being open to different personalities who can collaborate together is vital to our office culture, “explains Webber. “We play just as hard as we work—and we work extremely hard, so it’s important to find new employees who fit into the culture we’ve created.”

A few unique job perks include quirky office lighting like lava lamps, complimentary coffee, and healthy snacks. Creativity, innovation, and freedom to “think outside the box” are encouraged, Webber says.

“Nitro provides an environment in which our employees can exercise their creativity. We encourage our employees to make each project their own,” Webber says. “The freedom, trust and value given to each team member adds to our collective job satisfaction.”

8-Count Studios adds new twist to urban dance battles

Downtown Tampa’s newest renovated theater space turned dance studio hopes to revolutionize the way dance battles are run.

Traditionally, a ballroom or swing dance studio will host a recital to allow its students to show off their work, sometimes with a competition element. In the urban and hip hop scene, their version of a recital is referred to as a battle or jam. Jamming originated as an informal show-off of dance moves in a social circle, where dancers would clear a circle and then take turns displaying their best moves. In a battle, the circle becomes more formal and individuals or pairs of dancers pair off against each other in a competition-style event.

Most battles lack an element of formality, with different dance styles competing against each other. In a desire to formalize these events, 8-Count Studios on North Franklin Street in Tampa is hosting a Layer Cake Battle on January 3.

"We want to revolutionize how battles are run," says Hope Donnelly, co-owner of 8-Count Studios.

The event is named Layer Cake Battle because of the layered judging that will be done in rounds. Using Donnelly’s sports dance background, the studio will introduce a bracket system that will list names of dancers on a board. Dance brackets include: popping and locking, wacking and voguing, breaking, and krumping. Each winner will progress to the next level with prizes awarded in each bracket until an ultimate Best of Show winner is announced.

"Dancing is a sport, so we’re treating it like a sport," says Donnelly. "Dancers are athletes; they are competitors."

Well-known choreographers and judges will be flown in from across the country. The event will also include workshops, vendors and a concert. Cash and other prizes will be given to the winners, as well as a private brunch session with the judges.

The event is open to the public. The price of admission is $20 per person.

BAMA offers scholarships to support manufacturing education

High school seniors looking into manufacturing careers have an opportunity to apply for a scholarship to continue their education.

The Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) is offering three $1,000 scholarships to students in Hillsborough, Pasco or Pinellas County. Any student planning to continue his or her education at a technical, state or community college in a program that supports manufacturing industries is encouraged to apply.

BAMA has been providing the scholarships for over 20 years to students entering into a manufacturing field, which can include machining, welding and trade jobs as well as technical and engineering fields. The organization is partnering with Hillsborough Education Foundation and Pinellas Education Foundation to administer two of the scholarships in those counties.

The goal of the scholarship program is to support the local manufacturing workforce in an effort to support the industry. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, there were 2,728 manufacturing companies in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas County in 2013. Employment in manufacturing industries increased by 1.8% in Florida that same year.

"We want to promote education, and in turn to help manufacturing grow," says Becky Burton, association executive for BAMA. "Without continuing education for people going into manufacturing, you aren’t going to bring new industry here or help them fill the jobs they need in order to keep them here."

BAMA is a 100-member organization whose mission is to support manufacturing in the Tampa Bay region through growth and economic development efforts. Services include networks for idea exchange and support of local educational programs. BAMA hosts an annual awards ceremony that highlights local science fair winners and also supports the robotics team at Middleton High School in Tampa.

Blind Tiger Cafe, CoWork Ybor open in Ybor City

The Blind Tiger Cafe has a cool factor that is part atmosphere, part architecture and part anomaly in the way that only a fusion boutique/coffee and tea bar/coworking space can be. 

Perched on the corner of 19th Street and 7th Avenue in Ybor City, the well-lit cafe invites passersby in with double doors propped open to the street. Twin, vividly orange tigers, blindfolded to represent the speakeasy tradition that inspired the cafe’s name, are painted on large glass picture windows overlooking the sidewalk.

Inside, a bigger tiger, this one in black, decorates the whitewashed brick walls across from the cafe counter.

Thick slabs of wood serve as high-top tables in the front of the room, where customers can linger after ordering lattes and cappuccinos, or a crumbly guava and cheese croissant; the back of the room is a boutique shop for Owner and Operator Roberto Torres’ apparel company, Black & Denim

Messenger bags mix with soft cotton tees, leather jackets and signature denim jeans. Soft leather wallets and iPad cases are stacked together on top of distressed Singer sewing tables or old trunks.

“We’re so excited to see the way it’s come together,” says Torres, “but there is still more to come.”
 
Murals and modern art from local artists will adorn the walls of both the cafe and the coworking space next door.

In the cafe, several pieces will showcase the different stages of coffee; in the coworking space, an assortment of tools, to inspire DIY creativity, will be painted across one wall.

One thing that’s conspicuously absent from the cafe, and the store as a whole: WiFi access. “Talk to each other. Call your mother!” a marquee sign reads.

Visitors who are interested in Internet access (donated by Verizon) can visit the coworking space next door, where an all-day pass is only $5. CoWork Ybor will open later in November. 

On Thursday, Nov. 13, the Blind Tiger Cafe will celebrate a grand opening, with beer from Coppertail Brewing and food from the Jerk Hut. The regular cafe menu includes Buddy Brew Coffee, TeBella Tea and Piquant pastries.

To learn more, visit the Blind Tiger Cafe Facebook page or CoWork Ybor

City of Tampa fast tracks Minority Business Certification Program

Minority business owners in Tampa now have an easier and quicker way to become certified, opening the door for increased exposure and business opportunities.

The Women/Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE)/Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) certification program allows women and minority businesses in Tampa to become certified and then placed on a list to enable them to bid for contract opportunities with the City. The program is free and open to businesses that have been in operation for a minimum of one year and who fill out an application and provide the required documentation.

Noting that the certification process can be difficult for some and can take up to 60 to 90 days to complete, The City of Tampa Mayor’s African American Advisory Council (MAAAC) partnered with the City of Tampa to create a fast-track option. Businesses that complete the program can become certified within one week.

The first in a series of events was held October 30 to help qualified businesses expedite the certification or recertification process. Experts assisted with the application process and also provided tips for navigating the City’s online system.

"It allowed us to learn what people actually needed," says Chandra Lee, MAAAC Chairperson. "We’re really excited about being able to help people to become certified with the city so they can get more procurement opportunities."

A total of 24 businesses attended the event, which MAAAC plans to repeat in the near future. Attendees included a fencing company, land development firm, a DJ and several consultants.

In addition to being able to bid on city projects, certified businesses are placed on a list for referrals that are received by the city. For example, a local hair dresser might be needed for a fashion show or concert that comes to town.

"They know if you’re certified, you’re a real business that they can trust and hire," says Lee.

Ringling Museum unveils rare circus banners by Belgian artist

A newly restored blast from circus pasts will be on display at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota starting Friday, Nov. 7, through March 2015 as a series of four, rare, early 20th-century, large-scale circus banners by Belgian artist Frans de Vos will be literally unrolled before the public. 

The 9 x 9.5-foot century-old banners were stumbled upon by Circus Historian Howard Tibbals, while paging through a London auction house catalog in 1989.  Listed almost as footnote, with a tiny photograph, were “de Vos banners, good condition.” Tibbals, a collector and model-maker, was intrigued and purchased them, but when they finally arrived, “good condition” was inaccurate: the banners were torn, re-stitched together, crumbling, fragile. The damage was severe, the life of the circus and the century had taken its toll.

Though information about the artist Frans de Vos (1919-1938) is scant, Ringling Museum researchers know he came from a circus family and was a scene designer. There are hints that these banners served as advertisements and backdrops for his family’s own circus. 

“They must have been treasured objects – they kept all four, they kept them together,” says Ringling Circus Curator Debbie Walk. “Truly remarkable, you don’t often find one, and here we have four!” Walk says the banners are also noteworthy in that they show performers performing, not sideshow banners which typically portrayed the unusual or weird.  

Tibbals, primary donor and creator of the Ringling Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center, selected Barbara Ramsay of ARTEX Conservation Laboratory in Washington D.C. to restore the banners, a seven-year process now complete and ready for viewing.  Ramsay is now part of the Ringling team as Chief Conservator. 

“The whole story of conservation and restoration is a wonderful and remarkable story of survival,” says Walk. She admires Tibbals tenacity in all things circus and says he ”spends a great deal of time searching out the circus world, and goes the next step. He wants people to see it not just today, but a generation from now, two generations from now.”

The de Vos banners will be exhibited in the Ringling Museum of Art through the end of March, 2015. The exhibit includes a looped visual presentation highlighting the comprehensive seven-year collaborative restoration experience.

Tampa Housing Authority uses personal touch to make an impact on homelessness

According to a count conducted in February 2014, there are just over 2,200 homeless men, women and children in the Tampa area. Tampa Housing Authority is doing its part to eradicate this through individual outreach and assessment.

The Housing Authority manages affordable housing and support services to help Tampa residents achieve economic self-sufficiency. Recently, the agency asked staff member Patricia Wingo to conduct outreach to get to know Tampa’s homeless population on a more personal level. Wingo spends three to four hours per day talking to individuals and learning their stories, including how they came to be homeless and the best way to help them.

"She has fallen in love with going out and talking to the homeless," says Lillian Stringer, director of public relations for Tampa Housing Authority. "She knows them by name. She tells their story."

Wingo has heard some remarkable stories, like Monsita a 53-year old woman who earned a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology. A medical condition has left her homeless for the past six years. There’s also Samuel, who after working for 20 years was not able to receive social security benefits because his company didn’t take out taxes. Or Crystal, a wife and mother of 10. She and her husband worked for the same company and became homeless when they unexpectedly lost their jobs.

Wingo uses an assessment called the Vulnerability Index & Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI SPDAT) a screening tool which determines each person’s mental state and helps place them into the necessary programs. At first, she found she wasn’t trusted by the homeless and received comments like "you’re just gonna do like everybody else does…nothing." They’re learning that she’s proving them wrong. In all, she has assessed 20 people thus far and placed them on a wait list for housing.

The personal outreach and assessment, as well as other re-housing programs, were made possible by a $60,000 Federal Emergency Solutions Grant.

The Housing Authority recently participated in a nationwide program called 25 Cities Initiative, a national program aimed at assisting 25 cities with ending veteran and chronic homelessness. The program helps train staff to conduct assessments and coordinates other services.

On November 1, a 5K run will be held in Gadsden Park in Tampa, with proceeds benefitting families receiving assistance through the homeless programs. Funding will provide the families with housing, food, blankets and housewares.

Tampa Housing Authority works with a number of local partners, including the City of Tampa’s Affordable Housing Office, Tampa Crossroads, Metropolitan Ministries, Catholic Charities, the Veterans Administration, Francis House and Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative.

USF, Stetson collaborate to assist military veterans

A new partnership will help Tampa Bay area military veterans navigate the often difficult and complex Veterans Administration system – from healthcare benefits to education.

USF Health and the Stetson College of Law have worked together for many years, sharing students, research and a joint Master of Public Health and JD degrees.  The new partnership will take this a step further to meet a community need.

The relationship will allow law students to teach medical students how to navigate workers’ compensation and other disability benefits. Medical and physical therapy students will in turn work with law students to help them understand the clinical aspect. Learning teams will be formed with students from both institutions, resulting in a better understanding of both sides of the system.

"The heart of the relationship is to break down the financial, medical and perceived barriers between law and medicine," says Jay Wolfson, PhD., professor of public health and medicine at USF Health. "We’re bringing physicians and other healthcare providers and attorneys together to work toward a common good."

USF health professionals will also provide a second review of difficult cases, which might result in approval of previously denied benefits.

The ultimate goal is to provide a better experience, better assessments and ultimately better quality of care for those who serve or have served.

"Attorneys, law students, medical students, and physicians are being trained toward the goal of being advocates of meeting society’s needs," says Wolfson. "We’re training a new breed of physician and new breed of attorney who think differently. That’s one of the best things we can do as educational institutions."

FIVE by FIVE celebrates every dimension of the arts

'Tis the season for arts-lovers and collectors to find reasonably priced original artwork! The Arts Council of Hillsborough County is hosting its third annual FIVE by FIVE event, Friday, Oct. 17th, at 8 p.m., where the flash exhibit of nearly 700 original pieces of pieces of 5-inch by 5-inch art will be available for sale for $25 each.

“If you love art or are an arts supporter, this is an environment where you are immersed in it,” says Terri Simons, the Arts Council’s Director of Program Services and organizer of the event.  “Artists of all disciplines - visual, performing, literary artists; friends and supporters can come together and be part of one community.” 

The exhibit encourages guests to experience art intuitively, not based on the fame or reputation of a given artist or the criteria of a curator. While there are many award-winning professional artists who have contributed pieces to the exhibit, they are mixed democratically with emerging and new artists and all are exhibited without attribution. The artists’ signatures are on the back.  

“Because the art is displayed anonymously, people learn to appreciate the beauty of a particular piece,” notes Simons. 

The artwork, submitted by artists from the Tampa Bay area and around the nation and world, is highly varied with a spectrum of media from painting, etching and sculpture to glass, metal, fabric and even jewelry. 

The FIVE by FIVE theme is thread throughout the event, which will take over the first floor of the Tampa Museum of Art, and includes about 40 five- to 10-minute live performances of music, dance, theatre and spoken word in a pop-up club in the lecture hall. The constant flow also mixes in some more recognized performance artists such as Kuumba Dancers and Drummers, Soho Indigo,The Lint Rollers and Stageworks Theatre.

The event, which grew to 900 guests last year, benefits the Arts Council’s individual artist grants program.  The $13,000 raised by last year’s FIVE by FIVE contributed to eleven individual artists grants, which are also in part funded by the Hillsborough County Commission and Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. 

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance through the Tampa Museum of Art’s website for $10.  Admission to the event includes the museum’s current exhibition, Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color exhibition. Museum members are admitted free.

USF's Graphicstudio invites you to purchase artwork

Don’t be timid, art-lovers! USF’s Graphicstudio is opening its inventory and inviting the Tampa Bay community to start or add to their personal art collections for its annual one-day sale Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 from 10 a.m. till 9 p.m. 
  
“This is the one time of year where you can see everything out of the vault,” says Kristin Soderqvist, the studio’s director of sales and marketing. She is expecting up to 500 guests throughout the day and notes this is not an auction, “the earlier you come, the more opportunities you will have.”

Hundreds of pieces of original fine art prints and sculpture multiples from “bluechip” names, such as Mapplethorpe, Rauschenberg and Katz, to emerging artists, are deeply discounted for this event, which aims to engage the community and raise funds for Graphicstudio’s mission.
 
“People think they can’t afford [such quality] work, but there are plenty of pieces people can afford,” comments Soderqvist. “There is no pressure, it’s very relaxed.”

Soderqvist says not only is it an excellent opportunity to buy original artwork, but also to understand how Graphicstudio works and its relevance in the world of art on a national and international scale. The studio provides the technical expertise and hardware for a spectrum of printing - lithography, etching, photogravure, aquatints, silkscreens, cyanotype, to name a few.  

“You can ask questions, up close. You can see the printers. Ask, how does this process work?,” says Soderqvist.
  
Graphicstudio, founded in 1968, is the largest university-based press in the United States and invites artists to work in the studio throughout the year. 
 
Sales will benefit Graphicstudio’s continuing artists-in-residence programs, educational programming and commitment to research and the application of traditional and new techniques for the production of limited edition prints and sculpture multiples.

Cowork Ybor provides space for local creatives, plans open house Oct. 9

CoWork Ybor plans an open house on Oct. 9th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to share the vision for the coworking space with Tampa residents. That vision? A creative community.

CoWork Ybor Founder Roberto Torres hopes to see the space at 1903 E. 7th Ave become ''an informal incubator/accelerator for the other industries in Tampa -- besides tech -- that don't always get the mention or the attention that they should.''

Torres envisions CoWork Ybor as a ''community storefront for creatives only. We want to be a space that fosters and grows industries like food and beverage, retail and hospitality.''

The emphasis at CoWork Ybor is placed on creative jobs, he says, because startup entrepreneurs in these industries might not know much about the tech world – or about being an entrepreneur.

"We really want this space to be about the people who are going to be in it,'' Torres says. "Their work is going to be better, because they are going to be in a community that fosters and brings creativity and knowledge to them.''

To that end, the space may play host to exhibits from local artists in the future. Torres also plans to develop "curated experiences'' each month, by bringing in lunchtime speakers through a partnership with the Visit Tampa Bay program Unlock Tampa Bay.

Torres cites Brooklyn-based Hyper Akt as an inspiration for the concept he would like to bring to Tampa. "There's really nothing like that in Tampa. We're like a band of outsiders trying to bring creatives together,'' he says.

Along with freelancers and entrepreneurial creatives, Torres also hopes to attract young members from Entreprenuership programs at nearby schools like the University of Tampa and St. Petersburg College.

Torres is in talks with Verizon to donate the Internet for CoWork Ybor, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. The space will have seating for about 40: two conference rooms, a handful of communal tables, and a more relaxed lounge space with couches in the area facing 7th Ave.

CoWork Ybor will host a membership drive from Oct. 27-31st before formally opening Nov 1st, 2014. Membership, which will be capped at 75, is $100/month. Click this link to email for more information.

Next door, the Blind Tiger Cafe is the result of a partnership between Torres' men's apparel company Black & Denim and local businesses Buddy Brew Coffee, TeBella Tea Company and Piquant, along with Tricycle Studios.

The Blind Tiger Cafe will feature fresh tea and coffee drinks along with pastries like German chocolate cake and guava and cheese croissants, but it will not have wifi; instead, customers can pay $5 for a pass to gain access to the coworking space for the whole day. The mixed-use storefront at 1901 W. 7th Ave in Tampa's historic Ybor City is set to open on Nov. 5th, 2014.

Tampa startup offers combination personal and professional social network

With the myriad of social networks available for personal and professional use, it can sometimes become confusing and cumbersome to manage everything. A new startup in Tampa hopes to ease this burden by creating a combination personal and professional network, with an added job search component.

Founded in November of 2013, Flipsetter provides an online tool that meets several goals. At the basic level, it operates as a social network similar to LinkedIn or Facebook, allowing users to share news, photos, links and videos. Addressing a common concern with other networks, Flipsetter provides users with ultimate control of privacy settings, allowing them to choose which of their networks can see which information.   

A user can create one or more of three profile types: business, organization or individual. Each type has their own tools, and all can be used within the same login or profile.

An added benefit is a feature similar to a virtual resume or portfolio where users can list their academic history, work history and other accomplishments. Businesses and other organizations can also use the service to set up a page for promotional and organizational purposes, and to post jobs.

"We call it one stop shopping," says founder Sabaresh Krishnan, USF graduate and current MBA student.

Krishnan thought of the name when hearing about the frustrations involved with having multiple networks and resources to manage profiles, time and organizations. Wanting to find a way to resolve this, he thought "let me flip that around and come up with a way to make it happen."

The service currently has approximately 300 users in beta phase, including several student groups at USF, and plans to go live by October.

SPC launches international film series for students, community

Partnering with embassies and cultural organizations, St. Petersburg College is launching its own free international film series open to its students and faculty, and welcomes the surrounding local communities to take part. 

The first of the series, a Mexican classic, "Frida Kahlo: naturaleza viva,'' will take place at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, at the SPC Clearwater Campus Arts Auditorium

"Part of my job is strategic internationalization, to increase global engagement for students here and engage the community in global awareness,'' says Ramona Kirsch, Director for the Center for International Programs. "International films have always played a part in bringing awareness and understanding of other cultures.''

St. Pete College has a surprisingly robust international program including 16 faculty-led programs for study abroad, and nearly 200 international students from 56 countries. Kirsch says the college is committed to providing its students a rich educational experience and making it relevant to the world. 

The first film, timed to coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month and in partnership with the Mexican Consulate, is a biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kirsch says they chose this film to kick of the series for its relevance to the Clearwater campus and its ties to the sizable local Hispanic community. Prior to the film, SPC will host a Hispanic food and Information Fair in front of the Auditorium. 

The timing and content of the remaining films -- four in total -- is still being finalized, but the subsequent screenings will be spread out to other SPC campuses: St. Petersburg/Gibbs, Tarpon Springs and Seminole.

"Our hope is that this becomes an annual event,'' says Kirsh. "We have 10 learning centers, so we hope that they will all host at least one and that it will be ongoing for the community, not just for faculty, staff and students.''

Carrollwood Day School Hosts Startup Weekend For Youth Entrepreneurs

Pitch an idea, form a team and become part of the world’s largest entrepreneurial community in 54 hours. That’s the strategy behind every Startup Weekend around the globe – and it’s the mission for the first ever Startup Weekend Tampa Youth on September 12-14, 2014.
 
The intensive, team-based concept at the backbone of the global Startup Weekend movement has gained steam in Tampa Bay over several years of biannual events.

Growing, innovative local startups such as Wazinit, and breakout success stories like Eventjoy (formerly EXMO), are the result of previous Tampa Bay Startup Weekends.
 
Ryan Sullivan, a “Global Facilitator” and local organizer for Startup Weekend Tampa Bay and Startup Weekend Tampa Youth, says that the goal for the events in over 200 cities worldwide “is to educate and inspire people in the community to take action in entrepreneurship.”

Startup Weekend Youth is specifically geared toward 5th–8th graders - “the next generation’s entrepreneurs.” Sullivan notes that the event will look and feel a little different this time around. Participants will still pitch ideas and work in teams, but with a focus on teaching and inspiring young thinkers. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with coaches who are experts in their field and successful entrepreneurs.

“This is something special,” Sullivan says. “We will create an atmosphere of exercises and experiences that will inspire creative ideas in young minds and help kids to learn how to move those ideas forward towards action, and in the process, collaborate with their peers.”
 
Students are encouraged to register under one of three categories (Creative/Design, Coding/Programming, Business/Finance) based on their interests. Hands-on activities will be geared toward helping students identify a challenge to solve, learn to understand potential customers or users, work effectively with others, “and in the end, build something they are proud of as a team,” says Sullivan.

“Today’s youth are full of creative ideas for how to make lives and the world a better place. This will be a place for them to take those ideas and move them towards reality,” he explains. “This event will also help build confidence in creating and sharing ideas for those that tend to keep them inward.” 

Along with Sullivan, Nicholas Catania, Deborah Neff and Todd Broyles are co-organizers of the event. They expect more than 50 students to attend and participate in Startup Weekend Tampa Youth.
 
“We like to say that it is the least expensive babysitter at $25 for the weekend,” Sullivan says.

Startup Weekend Tampa Youth starts Friday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. and concludes on Sunday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m. The event will take place at Carrollwood Day School, 1515 W. Bearss Ave. in Tampa. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here for $25.00. 

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Ryan Sullivan, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay's First Senior Care ER Opens In St. Petersburg

Seniors looking for emergency care in Pinellas County will now have an option for a more personalized experience.

St. Petersburg General Hospital opened the first Senior Care Emergency Room in the Tampa Bay region in mid-August.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 23 percent of the population in Pinellas County is over 65 years of age, and this population continues to grow each year. The hospital noticed that approximately 20 percent of patients are over 60. That, combined with the growing number of seniors in the Tampa Bay region prompted the emphasis.

The hospital talked with patients to find out what they could do to better meet their needs. The result was a remodeling of a 4-bed wing and waiting area in the emergency room into a senior care area. The remodeled space includes non-skid floor, dimmer lighting and more comfortable chairs at the bedside for family members. The stretcher pads themselves are also thicker and more comfortable.

"We tried to make it a little bit more of a healing, comfortable environment," says Diane Conti, director of ER services for the hospital.

A section of the waiting area is now set aside for seniors as well, with softer lighting, more comfortable chairs and a larger television. Hearing and visual aids are available for patients who may have forgotten their hearing aids or glasses. Three parking spaces close to the building are designated as senior parking.

The hospital’s staff also underwent training on the needs of senior patients, such as dementia screening, fall risks and social screening. Emphasis is placed on working with caregivers to maximize the at-home healing experience.

"We don’t want them to be thought of as a different group, but rather a group with different needs," says Conti.

The move is part of a national trend, with over 50 hospitals in the U.S. opening senior specific emergency centers since 2011, according to the ECRI Institute.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Diane Conti, St. Petersburg Hospital

Florida Bookstore Day Celebrates Local Bookstores, Authors

Tiffany Razzano was driving down Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg when she spotted a poster in the storefront window at Daddy Cool Records promoting Record Store Day. She then drove past Wilson’s Book World and thought, "Why is there no bookstore day?"

She did some research only to learn that California is the only state that has fully developed the concept of a bookstore day.

So why not Florida? Why not now? she thought. The result?

The inaugural Florida Bookstore Day will take place at independent and used bookstores in cities throughout the state on November 15, concentrating on the Tampa Bay area, where Razzano runs Wordier Than Thou, a group that supports creative writers through open mic events, a literary magazine and a radio show.

"I wanted to do something big," says Razzano. "It’s a celebration of independent bookstores and the writing community. People won’t even know they’re at a literary event."

Her goal is to showcase local bookstores and the writing community. Soon after she started talking up the concept in social media and elsewhere, Razzano connected with book lovers in Orlando who wanted to be part of the celebration. Bookstores from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys have now signed on to participate. Expect a day of book releases and author signings, open mics and workshops on literary topics

Local participants include: Inkwood Books, Mojo Books and Music, Old Tampa Book Company and Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Standup Librarians, Wilson’s Book World and Wings Bookstore in St. Petersburg, Book Bank in Largo and Back in the Day Books in Dunedin.

An after party will take place at the Venture Compound in St. Petersburg, featuring local authors and literary organizations, the Bluebird Books Bus, raffles and food trucks.

The event is sponsored by Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and also received a grant from Awesome Tampa Bay.
 
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Tiffany Razzano, Florida Bookstore Day

Working Women Of Tampa Bay Expands Statewide

A Tampa-based networking group for female professionals and entrepreneurs is expanding throughout Florida.

Working Women of Florida is an expansion of the Working Women of Tampa Bay professional networking group, which Jessica Rivelli founded in Tampa in 2009. WWoTB currently has 750 local members in Tampa, with an additional 100 statewide. The group expanded to include an Orlando chapter in 2012.

"Our immediate goal is to grow Working Women throughout the state of Florida to includes chapters in Fort Myers, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville,'' says Rivelli.

Events include lunch-and-learns, coffee chats and educational seminars with local and national successful female entrepreneurs and businesswomen.

The group's second annual state conference will be Sept. 11 and 12, 2014, at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL. Rivelli expects 300 female entrepreneurs and executives from around the state to attend.

Keynote speakers include Alex Sink, former Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida; Bevan Gray-Rogel, Encore Tampa Bay president and founder; Lisa G Jacobsen, Executive Coach at Workplace Solutions Tampa; and Dr. Jennifer Hall, Director of Coaching at the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College.

Tampa Bay-based speakers also include Angela Ardolino, founder of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine; Dotty Bollinger, COO and president of Laser Spine Institute; and Lee Lowry, past president of The Junior League of Tampa.

Registration for the Working Women of Florida State Conference is available on the event website.

To help grow WWoF, Rivelli hired Lauren Tice as Director of Development for Working Women of Florida. Tice is a Florida native who grew up in Temple Terrace, northeast of Tampa, and graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Communications.

"Lauren's role is to expand Working Women through out the state,'' says Rivelli. “She'll be traveling regularly to grow chapters and get talented professionals involved. I'm very excited to have her on board.''

Tice has a background in networking and communications, having previously served as Coordinator of Member Services for the Greater Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce for close to five years. More recently, Tice worked as events manager and eventually director of The Regent, a special events and performance venue in Riverview, southeast of Tampa.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Jessica Rivelli, Working Women of Tampa Bay

Programming Academy The Iron Yard Expands To Tampa Bay

A new school for programmers is coming to Tampa Bay this fall. The Iron Yard Academy, an intensive 12-week-long training program, is set to open its doors in downtown St. Petersburg in September 2014.

The programming school will be located "within walking distance of some of the best local spots in town,'' says George Junginger, campus director for the Iron Yard's Tampa Bay location.

Aspiring developers can apply to either Rails or Front End Engineering courses. The cost for each 12-week course is $10,000. Part of this price tag includes mentoring, job placement after course completion and career support.

The Iron Yard Tampa Bay staff has already begun to build partnerships with local software and tech companies, including Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay.

"[CToTB] founder and CEO Sylvia Martinez is on our Employer Advisory Board, and will work closely with our staff to help us develop our program in a way that's best for Tampa Bay area companies,'' says Junginger.
  
A full staff, including two Tampa natives, has been hired to run the Tampa Bay branch of the Greenville, S.C.-based startup school. The Iron Yard has 10 other locations scattered through the country, mostly in the southeast. Tampa Bay is the second Florida location for the startup school; the other is in Orlando.

Brian Burridge, a Safety Harbor resident who attended St. Petersburg College, is set to be Rails instructor. Burridge is the CEO and founder of Commendable Kids. Justin Herrick, a Tampa resident who is a self-taught programmer, is Front End instructor.

Students in the Rails program will be taught Ruby on Rails (a popular framework for building servers) and develop skills to manage databases. Front End Engineering students will learn skills to create attractive, functional websites and applications.

The Iron Yard is currently accepting applications for classes, which are slated to begin September 22nd, 2014. Each course will be capped at 15 students per 3-month session.

"We chose to start small, so that we'd maintain the level of quality we know employers are looking for in developers,'' says Junginger, who expects both courses to fill. A few applicants have already been accepted.

The Iron Yard Academy welcomes students from a variety of backgrounds and skill levels.

"We're looking for a pre-existing mindset, not necessarily a pre-existing skill set,'' says Junginger. "The five attributes of the optimal Iron Yard student are: passion for solving problems with technology; genuine enjoyment of the craft of programming; genuine desire to have a career in or related to programming; extremely strong work ethic; and an ability to learn quickly,'' he explains.
 
Before searching for a space, the Iron Yard began conversations with leaders in the local tech community. The feedback is clear, says Junginger: "Everyone has been extremely excited about what we are bringing to the tech economy in the area and sees it as a need.''
 
Free programming classes for kids aged 7-17 will be offered later in 2014.

"There are great resources for startups in Tampa, and we want to support the people doing that work by training great developers,'' says Junginger. "We're privileged to play a part in the growing Tampa Bay tech scene.''
 
Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: George Junginger, The Iron Yard

Sarasota Welcomes Heated Exchange Art Exhibit, French Connection

Art Center Sarasota hopes to engage locals and tourists alike with its 2014-15 exhibition series.

The series kicks off October 23 with a traveling exhibit titled Heated Exchange, which features encaustic art, or arts made of molten wax using heated tools. This little known art process can be used for painting, sculptures and other mediums.

The biggest exhibition of the season will be unveiled in May. Titled "Confluence France," the display is part of an 8-year series showcasing artwork and artists from regions and countries where Sarasota has a sister city. Sister Cities International pairs cities with those in other countries with whom they share interests, whether it be due to historical connections, a trade relationship, strong expatriate communities or personal experiences. Sarasota has nine sister cities in all, with this exhibit focusing on Perpignon France. The confluence series began in 2013 with a focus on Tel Mond, Israel.

"We’re finding ways to mutually benefit and grow each other’s municipalities," says Emma Thurgood, exhibitions curator for Arts Center Sarasota.

The series is the first international exhibition for the Center.

The Center is also running a community project allowing people to create pieces of paper installation that will be featured in galleries as part of a Collective Paper Aesthetics exhibit in May and June 2015.

The over 20 exhibitions taking place in the next year were funded in part by a Tourist Development Center (TDC) grant awarded by the Sarasota County Commission, designated for tourist development.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Emma Thurgood, Art Center Sarasota

Omega Communities, Sarasota Churches To Develop Senior Living Communities, Create 300 Jobs

Omega Communities, a Birmingham, Ala.-based organization that develops senior living communities on land leased in partnership with faith-based organizations, is bringing its unique business model to Florida's Gulf coast.

Omega is partnering with the Church of Hope in Sarasota and the South Biscayne Church in North Port to develop two assisted living and memory care campuses in Sarasota County.

Omega works with qualified investors in the financing, development and operation of senior care facilities, which are built on land leased by local faith-based organizations. In return, the churches receive a percentage -- between 10 and 25 percent -- of the profit generated by the senior living communities.

"These senior living communities are designed from the inside out. What that means is they are built with a core mission -- a partnership with a large, community impacting church -- and that foundation becomes the center of not only the design of the facility, but more importantly, the core programmatic level of care that will be provided in that community,'' says Omega Communities COO James Taylor, Jr.

Taylor says that the project cost on each Sarasota County facility is just over $30 million, and that once both facilities are completed, the economic impact on Sarasota County is estimated to be in excess of $30 million per year.

The Springs at South Biscayne Church broke ground in January 2014, and the project is expected to reach completion in early spring 2015. The 11,000-square-foot facility will feature 38 memory care units and 95 assisted living units.

The Fountains of Hope broke ground in Sarasota earlier this month (July), with an estimated completion date in fall 2015. Between 150 to 200 jobs will be created during the construction phase, and upon completion, the 9,000-square-foot facility will require 100 fulltime employees.

"We have built a model that utilizes the very best of both the nonprofit and for-profit models for senior care communities. At the core, we've developed a partnership with the church that will provide ministry, volunteers and marketing … to provide a vital resource for the local community,'' says Taylor.

Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: James Taylor, Jr., Omega Communities

Tampa General Hospital Designs Prediabetes Education Program

A new community outreach program at Tampa General Hospital is designed to prevent diabetes and other health conditions by identifying those at risk before the diseases take effect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated over 79 million Americans age 20 and older have a condition known as prediabetes. Most do not realize they have the condition because their symptoms are not as severe as those with diabetes. It is a serious health condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Risk factors can include: being a woman who has had a baby over nine pounds in weight at birth, having a parent, sister
or brother with diabetes, being under 65 years of age and getting little to no exercise and being 45 years of age or older.

Recognizing the need in the community, Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is offering free educational sessions to help those at risk to achieve optimal health through lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. The program involves 16 weekly sessions followed by eight monthly support group meetings.

"We’d like to teach people the skills to prevent developing diabetes," says Tamika Powe, Community Health Educator for TGH, adding that the benefits can trickle down to family members as well. "Hopefully they’re taking the information they learn in this program back home to their families to help everyone make better choices."

The program is funded by TGH and is limited to 12 registrants per class in order to maximize effectiveness. The next session begins in September at locations in Tampa Palms and South Tampa. Participants must meet qualifying criteria.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Tamika Powe, Tampa General Hospital

St. Petersburg Greenhouse Launches Craft Entrepreneurship Program

Etsy, the most popular online marketplace for handmade items, is collaborating with cities across the U.S. to make it easier for crafters to supplement their income through workshops and expert advice. Because of its thriving arts culture, St. Petersburg was recently selected as one of 10 cities to pilot the program this year.

The program started last March in Rockford IL and has since expanded to places like Newark NJ and Santa Cruz County, Dallas TX.  The idea is to create an open source curriculum that can be used by other areas to run their own classes.

Unlike most economic development programs that provide tools to start businesses, Etsy’s goal is to provide supplemental income for people out of work during seasonal periods or perhaps to help a household boost itself over the poverty line.

Local classes will be hosted by the St. Petersburg Greenhouse, a collaborative effort between the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and City of St. Petersburg. Classes are free and available to crafters who have not sold on Etsy in the past.

Classes are taught by local craft sellers who have been successful using Etsy as an outlet. Topics include time management, branding, pricing, shipping and photography. Participants will be able to sell their first 20 items for free on Etsy. The first session begins August 4.

"Here in St. Petersburg, such a large part of our economy and what makes us go is in the arts," says Sean Kennedy, Greenhouse Manager and Economic Development Coordinator for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. "We think it’s important to help artists be in the best position to succeed financially as well as develop their craft."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Sean Kennedy, St. Petersburg Greenhouse

Embracing Our Differences Receives Donation For Art, Inclusion Programs

A recent donation will allow even more K-12 students in Sarasota and Manatee Counties to appreciate diversity through art.

Sarasota-based home builder Neal Communities recently donated $10,000 to support the efforts of Embracing Our Differences. A project of Coexistence Inc., Embracing our Differences’ mission is to create awareness and promote the value of diversity and inclusion, particularly among youth. The nonprofit achieves this through community-based outdoor art exhibits as well as teacher training.

The organization's pinnacle event is its annual juried art exhibit, which displays billboard-sized images in downtown Sarasota and Bradenton. The images depict diversity and acceptance through the use of art and writing.

"It's about teaching the next generation how to get along,'' says Michael Shelton, Executive Director for Embracing our Differences. The organization focuses on relevant topics such as bullying, making a statement in a visual and effective way.

Through working with the Sarasota and Manatee County school districts as well as other educational organizations, Embracing our Differences was able to reach over 30,000 children during the 2013-14 school year.

The funding will be used to support educational programming such as the "Make-a-Day-of-It!" program, which provides free bus transportation for students and teachers to view the outdoor exhibit and other cultural venues, including Florida Studio Theatre, Mote Marine Aquarium and Ringling Museum. More than 13,000 students participated in the program last year, and the additional funding will make it possible for close to 25,000 to participate this year.

"Teaching children at a very young age will have not only a societal benefit, but a huge economic benefit as well from those who buy into it and accept it," says Shelton.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Michael Shelton, Embracing our Differences

Florida Universities Rank Among Best For Patents, Innovation

Innovation continues to grow among Florida’s top research universities, as indicated by a recent global ranking of universities by the number of patents granted in 2013.

The University of South Florida (USF), University of Florida (UF) and University of Central Florida (UCF) were granted 239 patents all together. This puts the group ahead of other prestigious groups such as the research Triangle in North Carolina (Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) and the Texas universities (the entire University of Texas system, Rice University and Texas A&M University), all of which have a longstanding tradition of high quality research and technology innovation.

Together, the Florida universities head the Florida High Tech Corridor Council,  an economic development initiative whose mission is to grow the state's high tech industry through research, marketing, workforce development and entrepreneurship. The Corridor’s partnership involves over 25 organizations, 14 state and community colleges and 12 workforce boards.

"It’s great to be recognized by the National Academy, which is well more than 100 universities." says Randy Berridge, Florida High Tech Corridor Council President. "The report reflects the strength in our 23-county corridor region."

The report was produced by the Tampa-based National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association and recognizes the role that patents play in university research, innovation, technology and eventually workforce enhancement. The goal is eventually to commercialize the patents, thus creating companies and jobs surrounding the success of the products or services.

Berridge attributes the success to the leadership within each university and the emphasis placed on the importance of high quality research. "It represents not only the university but the professors who are doing the heavy lifting in generating the technologies through their input and that of their top students," says Berridge.

USF was ranked 12 overall, with 95 patents granted – up from 83 in 2012.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Randy Berridge, Florida High Tech Corridor

Crisis Center Asks Youth To 'Drop An F-Bomb' In New Campaign

In a new effort to curb human trafficking in the Tampa Bay region, teens are being asked to drop the f-bomb, the "f" standing for "friend."

The campaign is a grassroots effort led by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay in partnership with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT) and Dunn&Co, a Tampa-based advertising agency that took on the project pro bono.

The tagline is designed to immediately grab the attention of teens through social media and events, asking them to stand up for friends touched by human trafficking to get them help. A website and a social media campaign (#fbomb211) list ways a pimp typically targets teens with warning signs such as a young girl dating an older man, buying things she can’t afford, or acting secretive, depressed or afraid. Friends of potential victims are encouraged to talk to their friend and seek help through a confidential call to 2-1-1.

The campaign will also include guerrilla marketing techniques such as hangers placed in dressing rooms of stores where teens frequently shop.

"If we can help to prevent one or more girls from being trafficked, then this campaign will have been a huge success," says Crisis Center CEO David Braughton.

According to the FBI, an estimated 200,000 people in the U.S. are trafficked each year, mostly young girls. The average age a girl enters into prostitution is 12.

Most of the girls entering into trafficking situations had friends at one time who might have noticed they were wearing nicer clothes or jewelry, or spending lots of time with an older man. The campaign is targeted at those friends who can make a difference early on, noting that the victims are often vulnerable and don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.

"If we can identify these issues early on and a friend can call, then we can do something about it," says Braughton.

The campaign is already catching on. Braughton’s high school daughter tried it out with stickers on her car, and has received questions about it.

The Crisis Center’s Women in Action group is funding the campaign, along with funds given to FCAHT Founder Anna Rodriguez from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Community Hero award.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Braughton, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

Young Chinese Artists Make U.S. Debut At 2 Tampa Bay Area Art Museums

An unprecedented look inside modern Chinese art of will be on display this summer in Tampa and St. Petersburg through a pioneering exhibit featuring 27 emerging artists from China.

"My Generation: Young Chinese Artists'' features work shown for the first time outside of China. The exhibit opens to the public at both the Tampa Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete on Saturday, June 7th. The exhibit also features a series of related lectures and performances, such as an exploration of the history of "Red Rock'' -- the Chinese rock scene and corresponding concert, another first to the Tampa Bay region.

Hand-picked and curated by Author Barbara Pollack, one of America's foremost authorities on Chinese art, the young artists have almost all grown up under their nation's one-child policy and tend toward subtlety where politics are concerned. Yet they express issues of alienation, self-definition, cynicism and rebellion though their work in variety of media. The environment, reaction to massive urban areas, the paradoxical market economy, the personal side of growing up as only children and the pressure for marriage and family despite sexual orientation are backdrop themes to much of the work.

The exhibit will ''introduce us to parts of Chinese culture that we know nothing about and I think people will be really surprised,'' says David Connelly, an MFA spokesperson.

"This exhibition represents a milestone in the life of this institution, and our partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg is an important step forward for the nature of regional partnerships,'' says Todd Smith, Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art, who originated the project and recently resigned to pursue another museum opportunity in California.

The collaboration between the two museums is an innovative approach that allows more art to be shown. For example, one of the more acclaimed artists in the show, Sun Xun, is creating a large installation specifically for the MFA, utilizing animation and drawings, which will take up an entire gallery.
 
At the same time, the concurrent approach cross-pollinates the region's art lovers. The museums are offering a $20 discounted combination ticket so that visitors can enjoy the full experience.

"We are hoping that with the outstanding innovative work in the show,'' museum patrons and art lovers will cross Tampa Bay to see both exhibits, says Connelly.
 
"My Generation: Young Chinese Artists,'' will be on view June 7 through Sept. 21, 2014. The exhibit will then travel to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for display later this year.

Writer: Kendra Langlie
Sources: David Connelly, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
 

Lakeland Art Installation Honors Veterans, Public Servants

A new public art installation in Lakeland pays tribute to veterans, police, firefighters and emergency responders.

The piece is a collaboration among Platform Art, Polk County Veterans Council and Lakeland youth.

Platform Art worked with Polk County Public Schools to provide workshops for high school teachers to help them incorporate 3D curriculum into their classrooms. They then held a design challenge, asking students to create a sculpture that represents public agencies using a one foot square footprint. Over 60 students responded to the challenge.

The winner was Lake Region High School senior Maria Vazquez, whose sculpture was then fabricated on a larger scale in glass and steel by regional artist Tom Monaco. The final piece consists of two vertical slabs of steel with images of first a couple looking at each other and then a baby behind them. A glass plate in front is engraved with the poem "Honor" by William McGehee, which wraps around a silhouette image of a soldier.

"You’re not only looking at a public servant, but at the reasons they do their job – their family, children," says Cynthia Haffey, executive director for Platform Art and graduate of the University of South Florida.

Vasquez first got the inspiration for the sculpture when she came across McGehee’s poem. After further research, Platform Art realized the poem was written while McGehee was in high school, and that he is currently on his second deployment in Afghanistan. He recorded himself reading the poem, which is incorporated into the display.

Once Vasquez’s design was selected, she met with Monaco and talked about how the public could interact with the piece and how people could approach it physically and visually.

"It was a great learning process for her," says Haffey. "She was stunned at the amount of thoughtful consideration you have to put into a work of art when doing something for the general public."

Vasquez is the daughter of immigrants living in Polk County. After graduating, she will attend Polk State College and then plans to further her education at a design school.

Platform Art is a nonprofit organization in Polk County that focuses on visual arts, leaning toward public art. The project is the first in a series of three with a similar theme and purpose. It will be displayed in City Hall for the summer, and will then be installed in Veterans Park. Eventually, the hope is for this and other sculptures in the series to tour the Tampa Bay region and potentially the State.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Cynthia Haffey, Platform Art

USF's Patel College Hosts Internationally Acclaimed Climate Change Expert

USF students studying sustainability now have another resource to help understand the global impact of climate change and steps that can be taken to reduce the effects.  

The Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida recently awarded Rajendra Pachauri, Ph.D. the Eminent Global Scholar in Sustainability Award. The newly created award was designed to recognize professionals who are doing significant work to advance the well-being of the wider global community.

"It reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the work we do at the Patel College," says Patel College Dean Kala Vairavamoorthy.

The College also hopes the award recipients will be an ambassador and adviser for them and support their research and education programs, which include a focus on sustainable communities and environments.

Pachauri is a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He visited USF recently and spoke with students about the Climate Change report recently released by the United Nations. His lecture, titled "Energy Scenarios and Climate Impacts," focused on the impact humans are having on the environment and the results of this impact such as shrinking polar caps, rising sea waters and higher concentrations of greenhouses gases. He also discussed projected risks of these changes such as slowed economic growth, new poverty traps in urban areas, food utilization issues and increase in disease.

His lecture wasn’t all doom and gloom though. He discussed the opportunities for change, which was inspiring for the students. Possible solutions include more rapid improvements in energy efficiency and more utilization of low-carbon energy supplies from renewable sources. The Patel College is working on some of these very issues.

"Having someone of his stature who is at all the meetings where [climate change] is discussed and debated, sharing where the planet is in terms of external pressures and impact of resource management -- for our students, it’s a really big deal," says Vairavamoorthy.

Pachauri also communicates the political dimensions and interests from other countries, helping students learn how different governments respond to this information and the nuances involved in trying to negotiate and operate as a global community in light of these uncertainties.

USF is looking to continue Pachauri’s involvement with a more formal partnership, leading to more visits and engagement with students.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kala Vairavamoorthy., Patel College of Global Sustainability at USF

Florida Music Students Win Scholarships For Piano Performances

Six young pianists from around Florida were awarded a total of $22,500 in scholarship and prize money in the 2014 Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Competition for Piano. 

Ten pianists made it to the final stage of the three-round competition in late March, which was judged by Julian Martin of the Juliard School; Robert Sherman, an award-winning radio broadcaster, music critic and educator; and acclaimed Pianist Derek Han.

Three pianists from the Scholarship Level (ages 14-19) received a total of $7,500 in scholarships. Priscilla Navarro, 19, of Ft. Myers was awarded the first prize Lee & Jerry Ross Scholarship of $3,000. Second-place Prize Winner Alvin Xue, 15, of Wellington, received $2,500 in prize money; and Third-place Winner Tiffany Chen, 16, of West Palm Beach received $2,000. 

In the Performance Level (ages 20-25), Heqing Huang, 20, of Boca Raton was awarded the first place Virginia B. Toulmin Award, amounting to $6,000. Second-place Winner Emily Charlson, 23, Tallahassee, received $5,000, and Third-place Winner Dan Sato, 25, Miami, was awarded $4,000. 

Endowments from private donors and money raised by Friends of the Artist Series organization provide the scholarship funding for the Artist Series Competition. 

The Artist Series Concerts Competition was established by Artistic Director Lee Dougherty Ross in 2002. Under the guidance of Coordinator Joy McIntyre, Professor Emerita of Music at Boston University, the competition grew to the statewide level in 2007. Since 2007, McIntyre says the competition has run on a multi-disciplinary cycle that annually celebrates top pianists, string musicians and vocalists.

“I applaud the Artist Series and its known leaders, Lee Dougherty Ross and Executive Director John Fisher. They have done really marvelous things with it. …  They are investing money in the future of classical music by supporting these young musicians,” McIntyre says. 

McIntyre adds that the city of Sarasota itself provides a unique cultural environment that fosters young musicians and artists.

“It’s a cultural mecca, if you will, where all kinds of things are going on. People of all levels of appreciation, whether it’s orchestra or theatre or art; classical or jazz music -- or the circus, of course -- are active supporters of the arts. Sarasota is where it’s at in terms of lively cultural life.”

Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: Joy McIntyre, Artist Concert Series Competition Coordinator

Ignite! Tampa Bay Announces Speakers For 4th Annual Event

Notable names in the growing Tampa entrepreneurship scene will take the stage at the Cuban Club on May 22, 2014. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the fourth annual Ignite! Tampa Bay, an event billed with the phrase "Enlighten us, but make it quick!''

Speakers will cover a range of topics from local politics to TED-like inspirational talks. Armed with slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds and whatever props they can carry, presenters take the podium for exactly five minutes to inspire and "ignite'' the audience. 

Ignite! Tampa Bay 2014 presenters include local Tampa and St. Petersburg residents who are active members of the startup community: USFSP Entrepreneurship program co-Founder Nathan Schwagler will discuss his love for Tampa Bay with a talk titled "On Gratitude''; Software Engineer and Technologist Aubrey Goodman is tackling "Active Vulnerability''; and Launchtrack Founder Jonathan Cordeau is talking about "How NO Empowers.'' A complete list of speakers will be released in coming weeks. 

Chris Krimitsos, founder and CEO of the Tampa Bay Business Owners, will be the evening's emcee.

Held at the historic Cuban Club in Ybor City, the 2014 Ignite! will strive to find a balance between inspiring and overwhelming the audience, says Joy Randels, one of the event's organizers.
 
The national movement (founded in Seattle in 2006 through O'Reilly Media) launched in Tampa in 2011. Some might say that Ignite! Tampa Bay has found footing after three years of trial and error.

Almost four years ago, Ignite! was one of the first entrepreneurial showcases to step into the Tampa limelight. The event moved from the former Wyndham Tampa Westshore (now Holiday Inn Tampa) in summer 2011 to the Glazer Children's Museum in January 2012, doubling in audience size. By 2013, the evening was staged at the Tampa Theatre in downtown Tampa, where over 800 attendees heard from more than 30 speakers.
 
"It was too much,'' Randels says of the 2013 event, which ran long. "This year, we will be done on time so that people can go out and connect afterward, and the number of presenters will be limited to 20.''

Randels spoke at the 2013 event, challenging local entrepreneurs to work together to change the status quo and be supportive of each other's endeavors.
 
Ignite! Tampa is subsidized by the Hillsborough County EDI2 fund through Technova, Florida Inc., a nonprofit that produces entrepreneurial events like Ignite! and Barcamp Tampa Bay throughout the year, along with supporting independent events like Startup Weekend, Startup Bus, Tampa Hackerspace, FIRST Robotics and Robocon.

Join the Ignite Tampa Bay Meetup group for event updates or visit the website to purchase tickets.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Joy Randels, Ignite! Tampa Bay

Iconic Ringling Cube Gets Facelift From Students

For decades, motorists and visitors to Ringling College of Art + Design have been greeted by the same image on the college’s front lawn: A minimalist, tilted cube that stands more than 15 feet high at the corner of Tamiami Trail and Martin Luther King Boulevard. 
 
Over the years, time and the elements weathered the Cube into a drab, gray block, and it faded into the scenery for most passersby. Three Ringling College students, however, recognized the sculpture as a six-sided blank canvas, and seized the opportunity to give the Cube a fresh makeover. 
 
Graphic Design Seniors Mariana Silva, Anna Jones and Kim Daley developed the concept for the “Faces of Ringling” project, a school-wide collaboration aimed to give the Cube a literal “facelift” by combining the self portraits of two dozen students.
 
“A lot of alumni like the Cube a lot, so we didn’t want to remove it. Instead, we were looking for a cost effective way of bringing life back to the Cube, and in a way that would represent the college today and its diverse student body,’’ Silva says. “We found that bus wrap is cost effective and can be done quickly.” 
 
The team worked within the RCAD Design Center, an internship class that gives students the opportunity to work on “real world” projects, to draft the concept for “Faces of Ringling,” and presented to the college board early in the Spring 2014 semester. They also put out a call to student artists for self portraits, and received more than 100 submissions.
 
The team selected the work of 24 students from approximately half of the college’s 14 majors to be displayed in four-portrait collages on each of the Cube’s six sides. Sarasota-based sign company, Signs in One Day, installed the Cube portrait wrap on April 11, providing the Cube with a fresh face -- 24 of them, in fact.
 
“The idea is to create something different every year, or at least regularly, with lots of student involvement. It’s a better representation of the school,” Silva says. 
 
Writer: Jessi Smith
Sources: Mariana Silva, Kim Daley, Anna Jones: RCAD Graphic Design ‘14
 

Global Business Forum Discusses Indo-U.S. Partnership, Economic Growth

As actors, actresses and film fans converge in Tampa for the International Indian Film Acacemy’s (IIFA) Bollywood awards, the FICCI-IIFA Global Business Forum focuses on the business side of the relationship between the U.S. and India.

A joint initiative of the IIFA and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Forum takes place at the Tampa Convention Center April 24 – 25.

The theme: "Indo-U.S. Partnership: A Catalyst for Economic Growth'' focuses on the trade relationship between India and America, bringing in change makers, thought leaders and business owners to discuss new and existing business opportunities.

Speakers will represent government, education and industry, and will include Consul General of India Ajit Kumar, Dr. RK Pachauri, who leads the Nobel prize winning UN Intergovernmental panel on Climate change, Raj Biyani, managing director of Microsoft IT-India and N.R. Narayana Murthy, executive chairman of Infosys Limited.

Prominent women leaders will speak about issues particularly relevant to women. Speakers include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Nisha Desai Biswal, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs; Judy Genshaft, president of the University of South Florida; and Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston and former USF Provost. Actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopera and actress Tara Abrahams will present the Girl Rising Project, a global campaign for girls’ education.

The Indian economy is currently the 10th largest in the world, with trade between India and the U.S. reaching the $60 billion level in 2012.  

The event is the 10th of its kind, and the first time in the United States, indicating a strong interest in developing relationships and strengthening ties between the two countries. With close to 30,000 people of Indian descent, the Tampa Bay region was a natural fit for the forum’s U.S. debut.

The event will increase the visibility of local brands on an international scale. "It’s a recognition of Tampa Bay to the world," says Kunal Jain of TiE Tampa Bay, an event partner.

The event is led by the University of South Florida College of Business and Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council, among others. Partners include Enterprise Florida, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Visit Tampa Bay and TiE Tampa Bay.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kunal Jain, TiE Tampa Bay

Too Funny! Eckerd College Improv Team Among Top In Nation

An improv group from Eckerd College was selected to perform at the longest-running and largest improv festival in the world.  

The 11-student group, Another Man’s Trash, performed at the Chicago Improv Festival on April 4. The team is one of only two student groups selected to perform at the event, which featured 150 performances. Seven of the group’s members performed, and the trip was partially funded by the Eckerd College Organization of Students.

Formed in 2008, the group was founded and is completely run by students from all majors, from theater to marine science. The group has grown in popularity, with weekly shows bringing sellout crowds on campus, even having to turn people away at times. The audience selects the subjects for the shows, and the students make it their own.

Being a part of the group is not only fun, but a learning opportunity for the students. Being on stage in front of hundreds of peers takes a considerable amount of poise, not to mention communication skills and the ability to think on your feet.

These skills can be applied to a wide range of future careers -- any job that requires presentations or working with people. The group's director, Geoffrey Fella, takes a more personal view. "My favorite skill that the group has taught us is how to honestly portray life on stage,” says Fella. “People think improv is about making jokes in front of an audience, but truly beautiful improv aims at presenting the truths of our day-to-day lives in a way that is funny in and of itself."

Fella, a philosophy major, learned about the group second-hand and at first wasn’t particularly interested in performing. He underwent an apprenticeship to see if he was a good fit for the group, and he learned to enjoy the challenge. Eventually, he fell in love with the craft. "Improv makes you a better human being."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Geoffrey Fella and Tom Scherberger, Eckerd College

'This Is Big': TEDxTampaBay Gears Up For Fifth Year

Do you enjoy learning about big ideas? Are you interested in hearing about the human brain from a neurobiologist's perspective? How about an award-winning journalist's thoughts on media and psychology?

These, and other innovative ideas, will be at the forefront of the fifth annual TEDxTampaBay conference.

The theme for 2014 is "This is big,'' and TEDxTampaBay plans to deliver.

"We want to explore an expansive topic, and chose an eclectic mix of presenters that will explore a truly 'big' idea-- our brain, our minds and our selves,'' explains founder Gina Clifford. "The energy that builds during TEDx events is incredible, and we hope to inspire that level of engagement again this year.''

The half-day event in May will showcase speeches and presentations from several Tampa Bay area innovators and thought leaders. TEDxTampaBay 2014 presenters include:

·      USF Health neurobiologist Dr. Edwin Weeber: "What we know about the human brain.''

·      President Emeritus of The Poynter Institute Karen B. Dunlap: "Is media shaping our psychological development?''

·      Root Learning CEO Jim Haudan: "Why does authenticity matter?''

·      Latin-inspired Jazz Musicians La Lucha: "Eclectic musicians challenge our thinking about music.''

TEDxTampaBay is based on the popular international TED conference model -- community talks where presenters discuss "ideas worth spreading'' for inspired audiences. Subsequently formed independent TEDx events have evolved in cities worldwide.

TED and TEDx are often marginalized as tech-centric events, but Clifford says the experience is much more diverse. She notes that TED, a nonprofit organization that first appeared on the scene in 1984, stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) talks.

"Over the years, we've hosted poets, scientists, social activists, journalists, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs,'' Clifford explains. "Furthermore, TEDx presenters strive to connect with our humanity -- so, you could say that TEDx presenters are part performer and part presenter.''

Clifford founded TEDxTampaBay in 2009 "to inspire, energize and build a critical mass of people who enjoy sharing truly big ideas.''

TEDxTampaBay is completely run by a volunteer crew and made possible through ticket sales and sponsors like IBM, ThinkTank, Industrial Strength, Studio@620, ClearpH and Creative Loafing.

"Because TEDxTampaBay is not a money-making endeavor, we couldn't produce an event of this magnitude without generous sponsorship support,'' Clifford says.

500 attendees are expected at TEDxTampaBay 2014, which takes place on Thursday, May 15, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center. General admission tickets to TEDxTampaBay 2014 are now available for $30.00, including lunch; or $75 for lunch, premium seating and a TEDxTampaBay T-shirt.
 
Writer: Justine Benstead
Source, Gina Clifford, TEDxTampaBay founder

Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay V14 Focuses On Community Spirit

Attendees at the 14th installment of Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay will meet new people and discover new things and happenings in the Tampa Bay region.  

Pronounced "pech chak cha," the event on April 11 is a place for the community to network, share stories and open their minds. Speakers will share 20 slides that run 20 seconds each in an effort to keep their talks precise and keep the audience engaged.

The events typically don't have a pre-determined theme, but rather seem to evolve based on the speaker lineup. V14 carries the theme of cool and interesting things groups are working on in the city. You’ll hear about a bike sharing program called Coastbike, as well as Tampa Hackerspace, a community space in downtown Tampa where members share equipment and projects.

City of Tampa Councilwoman Lisa Montelione will talk about the importance of open lines of communication both inside and outside of local government.  Montelione attended one of the first Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay events and was blown away by the atmosphere and the topics. "There’s something for everybody," says Montelione."Often times there’s something being presented that you've never heard of before."

Other speakers include:
    •    Angelo Nales - Tattoo Artist
    •    Bill Shaw - Tampa Hackerspace
    •    Brandon Murphy - Ad guy
    •    Eric Trull - Coastbike
    •    Noel Smith - GraphicStudio
    •    Noelle Mason - Skydiver
    •    Steven Fage - Robotics

The event takes place at the Tampa Museum of Art. Admission is $5 and includes access to the Museum’s exhibits. This is the second event at the Museum, and plans are to continue to host future events there.  

"Besides being a phenomenal space, there’s a good synergy between the Museum, which presents national works, and what individuals are doing on a local level," says Ken Cowart, Pecha Kucha Tampa Bay founder and organizer.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ken Cowart, Pecha Kucha; Lisa Montelione, City of Tampa Council

Startup Aims To Improve Your Shopping Experience With One Simple App

Almost every product you purchase in day-to-day life has one thing in common: a paper receipt.

For flexReceipts, that's a problem. What's their solution? Going paperless.

Backed by an investment from TiE Tampa's Angel Network in late March 2014, the startup company is poised to enter the national market with a tech-savvy answer to traditional paper receipts.

Customizable digital receipts tie in modern tech trends such as recommendations from retailers, social media, tailored special offers and more. flexReceipts intends to simultaneously solve a pain point for consumers and provide an enhanced marketing platform for businesses.

"flexReceipts has great growth potential,'' says TiE Tampa Charter Member Ashok Kartham. "I think it can be a success story that the area needs, to showcase tech startups from the Florida region.''

Tomas Diaz, flexReceipts founder and CEO, was a sales executive at Whirlpool for more than a decade before developing the startup company in 2011. Diaz and other management team members "bring deep retail experience'' to the startup, says Kartham.

flexReceipts has received several previous rounds of funding, including an investment by The Florida Technology Seed Capital Fund, LLC (FTSCF), a subsidiary of the Institute for Commercialization of Public Research, in March 2014, and an investment from Winter Park venture fund and business accelerator venVelo in August 2012. The company is also active on AngelList.

Four investors from the TiE Tampa Angel Network -- Kartham, Prashanth Rajendran, Seema Jain and Dr. Rajan Naik -- invested in the Orlando-based startup. The company, which has already partnered with some major retailers, plans to bring new technology jobs to Florida over the next few years.

TiE Tampa's goal is to expand angel investors beyond charter members and commit $1 million in angel capital in 2014. To this end, Rajendran is assembling a structured, experienced team and due diligence processes as part of an Angel Forum initiative to help lower the risk associated with angel investment and enable more syndicated deals, Kartham says.

"TiE is uniquely positioned to make a difference to the growing startup ecosystem in the Tampa Bay area and Florida,'' Kartham says. "We hope to invest in innovative startups in Tampa in coming months.''

This is the second angel investment out of TiE Tampa. The first was awarded to mobile conference app Feathr, which "has made significant progress and grown revenues since receiving TiE angel funding more than a year ago,'' Kartham says.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Ashok Kartham, TiE Tampa

Hillsborough Community College Hosts April Job Fairs

Students and alumni from Hillsborough Community College (HCC) as well as the general public can meet local employers at one of three upcoming job fairs.

The job fair series begins with the HCC Brandon Campus fair April 2, continuing with the Ybor City Campus April 7 and ending with the Dale Mabry Campus April 15.

"We are proud to serve the Tampa Bay area and want to help individuals succeed in their professional and academic life," says Gianna Nicholas, job placement assistant at HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus.

Companies in attendance will discuss current position openings in the Tampa Bay region. A wide range of industries and companies will be represented. Participants include Busch Gardens, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa Electric Company, Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Early Autism Project, Randstad, Hilton Worldwide and USAA.

Position openings will be both part-time and full-time, and include: research analysts, therapists, customer service associates, retail sales associates, benefits consultants, law enforcement officers, engineers, information technology professionals and accountants.

The job fairs are marketed for HCC students, but are open to anyone in the Tampa Bay community who is seeking a new position.

"Our Career Center’s mission is to assist anyone in the community, not just our students," says Randy Disks, manager of the Career Resource Center at HCC’s Brandon Campus. "Our philosophy as a community college is that we are part of the [larger] community."

Disks noted that the job market seems to have steady growth in recent years, as is demonstrated by the strong employer interest in the upcoming career fairs. The fairs are a good way to gauge the companies that are hiring in the Tampa Bay area.

Workshops will also be held leading up to the job fair on topics such as resume writing and how to prepare for the fair.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Randy Disks, Gianna Nicholas, HCC

Gasparilla Fringe Festival Features Uncommon Arts To Make You Gasp!

As the 2014 Gasparilla festivities wind down, there’s one more opportunity to experience the arts Gasparilla style, but not in the traditional realm.

Gasp! The Gasparilla Fringe Festival presented by Creative Loafing and Tampa Museum of Art promises to enlighten and indulge attendees with multidisciplinary arts experiences not to be found elsewhere.

On March 28 from 6 to 10 p.m., the Museum will be transformed into a performing arts mecca with performances from over 30 local visual and performing artists, including both emerging and established.

"The event speaks to the vibrancy of the culture here, that so many different kinds of performing arts are thriving," says David Warner, editor-in-chief for Creative Loafing. "This is a way to support them and also get a taste of all of them.”

Actors and actresses will perform short plays inside Mini Coopers, affectionately referred to as "Mini Plays."

Post Dinner Conversation will perform improv, while letting the audience call the shots.

Musician Acho Brother will collaborate with a live action artist painting an oil canvas in reaction to the music.  

Graphicstudio will bring a printing press, and Creative Loafing’s Peter Meinke and Erica Dawson will create "chat books" called cordelistas. The studio’s exhibition, Graphicstudio: Uncommon Practices at USF, will also be open exclusively for attendees.

Lynn Waddell, author of Fringe Florida, will present in collaboration with Ward Hall, legendary carnival talker.

The event is designed to be a true reflection of the vitality and diversity of the arts community in Tampa Bay.

"They’re very talented people, making this work here," says Warner. "It reflects the community in ways the community doesn’t always get reflected."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Warner, Creative Loafing

Social Mobile Conference Embraces Branding In New Economy

As consumers move beyond traditional ways of finding information, purchase decisions are made based on sharing, comparing and rating experiences using social media. Real-time information through a mobile device is becoming an expectation. In light of this, brands are continuously looking for new and meaningful ways to connect with customers.

The Social Mobile Engagement Conference & Code Challenge, September 4-5, 2014 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina, is designed to be an outlet for this kind of information while highlighting local talent and organizations to senior tech leaders from across the nation.  

The event is an expansion of the Social Mobile Payments Conference, which took place twice since 2011 and focused on social media and mobile commerce. After the last event in 2013, organizer Bruce Burke started looking at the thought process leading up to the transaction of buying a good or service. By focusing on just the payment aspect he felt he was missing part of the story. By widening the scope and audience, Burks hopes to appeal to an even broader audience that is interested in learning more about the customer journey, including the user and social experience. "Engagement starts when the product is first discovered by the consumer," says Burke.

Burke’s company, Gulf Bay Consulting, is organizing the event but his motivation behind it is a sense of purpose and wanting to see the Tampa Bay community help create the next big thing.

The first day will consist of workshops on topics such as user experience, social communities, mobile engagement, big data and gamification. The second day will be a code challenge, sponsored in part by the Hillsborough County Economic Development Innovative Initiative (EDI2). Coders will hack, explore and create. The afternoon will be open to the public, where people can vote for and cheer on their favorite teams and coders.

Abstracts are being accepted until March 28 for individuals and companies interested in presenting at the event.  

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Bruce Burke, Gulf Bay Consulting

Hillsborough County Grants More Than $200K To Local Tech Events

Hillsborough County has awarded $230,000 in funding to 31 local applicants through its flagship tech-centric program, the Economic Development Innovation Initiative (EDI2).

The EDI2 program is the first of its kind of Florida. Established in June 2013, the program aims to bring innovation, job creation, technology and new business to the Tampa Bay region. In an effort to lead this movement, the Hillsborough County Economic Development department set aside $2 million in funding to award to events and programs that are centered around technology and innovation. Led by County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, EDI2 awarded $307,000 to applicants in the first round of funding in fall 2013.

Some of the latest round of funding will go toward programs and events already well-established within the Tampa Bay community, such as Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2014 in March, monthly StartupGrind events, and the Moffitt Cancer Center's Business of BioTech 2014.

The bulk of the funding was awarded to one-off conferences like Gulf Bay Consulting's Social Media Engagement event in September 2014, which received $12,375. Girls in Tech Tampa Bay, meanwhile, was awarded $12,500 for outreach and an event in December 2014, and TiE Tampa Bay's TiE Breaker III 2014, which took place in January, received $19,000. The University of Tampa's Entrepreneurs Student Organization was awarded $14,500 for its Southeast Entrepreneurial Conference in February 2014.

Other funded programs include the Computer Mentors Group, Inc., which was awarded $25,000 for the 2014 STEM Education Showcase Tampa, and Nuturism Media Group, Inc., awarded $25,000 for Running Lean Bootcamp. Both are in May 2014.

To view a full listing of funded projects and applications, visit the Hillsborough County website.

Events and programs must meet several stages of criteria before they are awarded funding, including the ability to measure event metrics and a way to clearly identify the economic development impact of each project.

EDI2 is "focused on building a vibrant and sustainable startup community and is centered on the use of technology and innovation,'' according to a news release from Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County is currently accepting applications for its third cycle of EDI2 funding. Applications and additional information can be found at the EDI2 website. The deadline to apply for the third round of EDI2 funding is April 1, 2013.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Annette Spina, Hillsborough County

New Partnership Makes Digital Signage More Accessible, User-Friendly

Wondersign and IAdea recently announced a partnership that will enhance the flexibility and user-friendliness of the digital signage world.

Wondersign is a cloud-based content delivery system for digital signage. Customers purchase the signage hardware for restaurants, stores or other areas and use Wondersign’s product to manage the content design and development. The drag and drop interface works with any web browser and doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge. Based out of Switzerland, Wondersign runs its North American operations from its Tampa office.

Taiwan-based IAdea provides media players and sign boards to power large-scale, commercial grade digital signage projects. The partnership offers customers a way to manage their devices out of the box, simplifying their deployment and operation.

"The fact that [IAdea] has identified a cloud-based software-as-a-service like Wondersign as a strategic partner for the future shows where the industry is going,” says Casper Fopp, director of marketing and public relations for Wondersign.

The partnership is particularly useful for small- to medium-sized businesses that may be new to the world of digital signage and overwhelmed with the prospect of managing multiple signage locations. The cloud-based nature of the software is attractive to businesses that have different locations and are not able to have a physical presence everywhere their signage is placed.

"The partnership helps a lot of people get into the digital signage world with easier access," says Alvin Kuo, senior sales manager for IAdea.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Casper Fopp, Wondersign; Alvin Luo, IAdea

Webber Kerr Associates, Junior Achievement Partner To Guide Next Gen Business Leaders

A new partnership utilizes the knowledge and experience of a Tampa-based business to guide and educate local youth.

Webber Kerr Associates, an executive search and consulting firm based in Hyde Park, is partnering with Junior Achievement to provide financial support, mentoring and guidance.

Webber Kerr wanted to select a charitable organization to donate a percentage of search fees for every contract signed during 2014.

"Discussions kept coming back to children, education and preparing the next generation of leadership," says Emily Wagner, managing director for Webber Kerr.

The employees were particularly impressed with Junior Achievement’s mission, which is helping youth achieve skills in entrepreneurship, economics and financial literacy through real-world experience with business leaders.

In addition to the financial support, the company wanted to have a physical connection with the charity. They are allowing their employees paid volunteer time to participate in speaking engagements, mentoring programs as well as the Pam & Les Muma JA BIZTOWN, a mini city that contains up to 23 fictitious businesses to allow youth to experience economics in a real life setting. Students receive "jobs" such as accountant, retail sales representative and banker, and there’s even a city mayor.

A native resident of Dunedin and University of South Florida graduate, Wagner participated in BIZTOWN herself while in fifth grade. "I remember exactly what job I had and what a good experience it was." The experience left such a good impression, she wanted her company to play a major role in giving back to today’s youth in the same way.

"We have to be focused on children, their education and growing their careers, giving whatever we can, whether it be monetarily, guidance or mentorship" says Wagner, speaking about the business community in Tampa Bay. "The economic health of the entire area depends on it."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Emily Wagner, Webber Kerr Associates

University Of Tampa Receives National Recognition For Excellence In Entrepreneurship

The University of Tampa (UT) Entrepreneurship Center adds to its list of accolades the Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program Award from the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The award is given annually to recognize programs that have been in existence for three years or less or have undergone a major revision during the same time period. Programs are judged on: innovation, quality, potential viability, comprehensiveness, depth of support, sustainability and impact. The top four schools were invited to present before a set of judges at a national program in Texas in January.

UT’s program, which boasts 250 undergraduate and graduate students, has undergone a transformation recently from a focus on family businesses to a more comprehensive emphasis on the entrepreneurial mindset, appealing even to students who aren’t interested in starting their own business.

"We focus on building intellectual capital," says Rebeca White, director of the Entrepreneurship Center and professor of entrepreneurship at UT. "We certainly want to have businesses come out of the program, but the real focus is on building entrepreneurs."

White feels that strong support from the university is key to UT’s winning the award, noting that the university wants to be known for entrepreneurship. "We have a lot of great momentum," says White. "We were able to prove our ability to do what we say we’re going to do."

One example of this support is the creation of an entire floor of dedicated space for the center in a new building set to be completed by Spring 2015. The space will bring together students, educators and experienced executives to develop entrepreneurial concepts and launch new ideas. UT also plans to take the concept across campus and provide programming for students outside of the business college, including nursing, art or theater majors who want to be more engaged in an entrepreneurial mindset.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Rebecca White, The University of Tampa Entrepreneurship Center

BLUE Ocean Film Festival Casts Wide Net For Talent, Technology

The international BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit, which arrives in the Tampa Bay region for the first time in November 2014, has announced an open call for film submissions. Entries will be accepted through April 28. The early bird deadline is Feb. 28.
 
The week-long festival and summit will be a magnet for filmmakers from around the globe, including emerging talent and amateurs. 
 
Based on previous responses, BLUE Ocean organizers expect to receive 350-370 original submissions. Debbie Kinder, the festival's co-founder and CEO, anticipates an ecosystem of independent entries based on the innovative technologies now widely available.
 
"Cameras like the GoPro are a technology disrupter; they are really changing the way filmmaking's done,'' says Kinder. "I think what we're seeing is a trend of more up-and-coming filmmakers and students that have the ability to get up and tell good stories as technology becomes more affordable.''

These emerging technologies tend to attract young filmmakers. In the past, "we had student films from filmmakers as young as 5th grade,'' says Kinder. The festival will host a separate category for Tampa Bay K-12 students. All students will receive special recognition for participating.
 
The platform of the festival, and the available technologies, make it possible to promote conservation through storytelling. The forward-thinking event will use films, such as Blackfish, to bring up complicated questions, but the dialogue will be focused on finding solutions and encouraging progress.

"We discuss issues, but we also want to highlight success stories. There are great success stories and those need to be heard more,'' says Kinder.
 
In addition to the submissions and summit discussions, the festival has become a hotbed for high-tech unveilings. At the last festival, Google launched its Oceans Street View and the 360-degree underwater camera that would start their work capturing images of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Google has confirmed another product launch for the upcoming festival.

"A lot of people come together at BLUE. There's still a lot of great technology that comes out to the festival in general; whether it's about filmmaking or just communications as a whole,'' says Kinder.
 
The BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit will take place Nov. 3rd through 9th. BLUE will be headquartered in St. Petersburg at the downtown Hilton, with events taking place at venues in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Sarasota. For more information on submitting your film, visit the festival's 2014 film competiion page.

Writer: Ash Withers
Source: Debbie Kinder, BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit

Tampa Clothier Scores In Gasparilla Distance Classic

It's been one big year for Black & Denim Apparel Company.

In 11 short months, the boutique clothier has grown from Kickstarter-funded roots into the official sponsor of all branded merchandise and apparel for the 2014 Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic.

For the past three years, footwear and apparel giant Nike has been the official race sponsor, "so we have big shoes to fill,'' says Black & Denim founder Roberto Torres. "This gives us an audience of over 30,000 people. This project is huge!''

After a local runner and Black & Denim fan suggested the company approach the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association with designs, Torres explains, "It just took off from there.''

Black & Denim is set to provide long- and short-sleeve T-shirts for competitors in the annual race, held Feb. 22-23 in downtown Tampa. The company hopes to expand apparel and merchandise to include hats, thermals, "hoods'' (hooded sweatshirts), and more in 2015.

Fans will be able to pre-purchase branded merchandise on the Black & Denim website the week prior to the race as well as on race weekend. In the company's first year as a race sponsor, they will offer "six kick-ass designs that are edgy and fun -- family-friendly, as well,'' says Torres.

Since opening a boutique storefront in October 2013, the company has rapidly outgrown the space, moving to 1907 East 7th Ave. in Ybor City. Torres also has short-term plans to open a store in Channelside and a long-term goal to bring a store to Tampa International Airport by 2018. The company employs five people in Tampa and will hire two more for the Channelside location.

Every semester, notes Torres, "we have four interns from either the University of Tampa, University of South Florida, or the International Academy of Design and Technology.''

Black & Denim will showcase wares in a booth at the 8 On Your Side Health and Fitness Expo at the Tampa Convention Center during race weekend. The 2014 Expo will feature 99,000 square feet of vendors, says Torres.

"We are very excited about the opportunity, to say the least,'' says Torres. "This race attracts runners from all over the country.''

By: Justine Benstead
Source: Roberto Torres, Black & Denim

Hillsborough Arts Council Launches Power2Give Donor Portal

A new online crowdfunding platform being launched this week is designed to solicit new donors and donations to support arts and cultural organizations in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Power2Give is similar to other crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but the focus is on helping local arts and culture organizations fund projects that might not be funded through traditional campaigns.

The concept began with the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte, NC. It has expanded to include 21 metropolitan areas who have raised $4.5 million through 1,880 projects in just two years. The Tampa Bay region will be the 22nd community to join Power2Give.

Projects are listed on the site for 90 days. If the fundraising goal is met before then, the project is removed from the site. If the goal is not met, the money is still given to the nonprofit, another differentiator from the all-or-nothing model used by many other crowdfunding platforms. The organizations also provide donors with non-cash benefits.

In the spirit of transparency, organizations are encouraged to break projects down to explain exactly what they cover. This transparency also aims to create more patrons for the arts by providing a closer glimpse into what goes on within the organizations. This idea has proven successful, with an estimated 44 percent of donors across the 21 metropolitan areas being first time arts patrons.

“You can feel confident that the project is real and the money is going somewhere,” says Terri Simons, director of program services for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, the sponsoring organization for the Tampa Bay arm of Power2Give.

Power2give Tampa Bay
launches February 12 with over $100,000 in projects to fund, including: helping students with disabilities attend summer animation camp through VSA Florida, creative journaling projects for families of domestic violence through the Dunedin Fine Arts Center, a mosaic on the outside of the building at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin and underwriting costs for some of the performers at the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Terri Simons, Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Straz Center Brings Arts To Underserved Populations

The Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa provides programming to underserved populations throughout Tampa Bay through on-site programming and community outreach.

The Center currently has more than 30 partnerships with organizations and schools throughout the Tampa Bay region, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, University Area Community Development Corporation, Big Brothers & Sisters of Tampa Bay, MacDonald Training Center, and Moffitt Healthy Kids Program.

The longest standing partnership is with Metropolitan Ministries Partnership School. Now in its fifth year, the Center provides ballet classes on a weekly basis using a skills-based curriculum. They also have an after school program that includes a theater workshop.

Partnerships allow the Center to send faculty, staff and visiting artists on site to schools and other organizations to teach them about creativity and innovation through exposure to the music, dance and other performing arts.  

The impact the programs have on youth cannot be understated, providing a safe place for children, some of whom are homeless and most of whom would not be exposed to the arts otherwise.

"They get a chance to fully immerse themselves into the magic of the transformational power of the performing arts," says Wendy Leigh, VP of Education for the Straz Center and the Patel Conservatory. "In doing so, they’re making friends and feeling confident. It enlarges their persona and their outlook on life."

Programs are funded by donations.

Applications for the 2014-15 Community Partnerships program will be available March 3 and accepted through April 4.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Wendy Leigh, Straz Center and the Patel Conservatory

Burger 21 Expands, Adds 50+ Jobs in Tampa

Award-winning fast-casual dining chain Burger 21 is expanding to include on-going franchise development, which will create up to 50 new jobs per restaurant. The company is also adding operations as well as research and development positions to support the company’s continued growth.

There's no doubt that Americans love burgers -- especially a better, livelier experience that serves a fresh burger with style. With fast-casual dining and the better burger concept rolling in $75 billion per year within the overall burger industry, fast-casual dining represents less than 3 percent of that number.

Burger 21 serves a variety of high-quality, fresh made-to-order gourmet burgers, fries, salads and shakes to people of all ages in a modern environment.

"It's a very small sliver of the burger business, but it’s growing at a rate of double digits. Clearly, there's enormous potential there. We are capitalizing on the need and desire for consumers to have higher quality burger options. At Burger 21, we focus on variety," says Dan Stone, VP of franchise development.

Founded by the owners of The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., Burger 21 opened its first location in Westchase in November 2010 and sold its first franchise in early 2012. The company has since sold more than 20 franchises across nine states and plans to sell 20 new franchises this year.

The Burger 21 brand experienced significant growth in 2013, opening five new franchise restaurants and generating $12.4 million in systemwide revenue. The company’s strategic growth goal also includes the addition of 10 new franchise units this year, which is expected to generate more than $24.5 million in total systemwide revenue.

"The more we sell, it has a trickling effect of us being able to provide increased support to our restaurants. The more we open, the more support we will need at our home office. Much of what will happen this year is a result of activity and sales that happened last year," says Stone.

Since 2010, Burger 21 has added more than 150 new jobs to the Tampa Bay region. The company is targeting expansion in Pinellas County by 2015.

"We definitely have a strong interest in bringing the brand to Pinellas. We are franchising all other areas," says Stone.

The company is hosting a February 13 webinar on franchise development. To register for the live webinar, visit the company’s franchise website. For career development opportunities, visit the company online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Dan Stone, Burger 21

USF, (ISC)2 Partner To Bridge Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

The University of South Florida is taking cybersecurity education head on, partnering with the world's largest not-for-profit information security professional organization (ISC)2 to launch certification and master's degree programs designed to create job preparation for thousands of students and professionals throughout Florida.

The collaboration between the University of South Florida and (ISC)2 (pronounced ISC squared) is chiefly designed to help bridge the workforce gap between the large demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals and the amount of skilled professionals who are prepared for the market.

Last year, the Florida Legislature expressed interest in the state becoming a leader in cybersecurity and proposed that USF take the lead in the effort for our region.

USF has since spearheaded the development, putting together a full academic program that offers more core resources and certifications in cybercrime, cyber intelligence, cyber operations and more.

"The strategic objectives were driven by a lack of resources in the cybersecurity department. There is a real need for cybersecurity professionals. We want to create a robust program that will help create jobs and resources," says Sri Sridharan, managing director at USF’s Center for Cybersecurity.

A November 2013 report found that 49,000 cybersecurity jobs were available throughout the country, yet only 2,000 individuals were professionally qualified to perform the necessary functions that the jobs entail.

The partnership also allows USF to offer CISSP preparation courses and administer the CISSP exam under the (ISC)2 umbrella. (ISC)2 is considered the "gold-standard" of cybersecurity industry certifications.

There is a significant range of professional opportunities within the cybersecurity field, including psychology, forensics, law, compliance, IT, photography, policy and more.

In addition to the focused academic programs, USF’s Center for Cybersecurity will also conduct applied research and outreach as well as collaboration with the healthcare industry and other vertical markets in order to further share the message about the cybersecurity industry.

Online transactions and elaborate tech grid systems are a significantly increasing element of our progressive society, technological innovations, and local regional development. Bridging this workforce gap will prepare and pair thousands of professionals with high-paying, high-demand jobs necessary to help protect the future of our growing digital world.

"Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing issues facing our world today. It's what keeps bank accounts secure, health records private, transportation grids protected and identities from being stolen. We have a huge role to play in ensuring that today's students have the skills to tackle the cyber challenges of tomorrow, so that we can all continue to live, work, bank, travel and communicate safely," says USF Provost Ralph Wilcox.

USF's cybersecurity certification program is targeted to launch later this spring. The master's degree program is scheduled to launch in the fall 2014.

"Anyone who has at least four years of experience, a degree in cybersecurity, and a CISSP certification -- they are looking at a six-figure salary to start off with. So these are high-paying jobs, great jobs, great demand," says Sriharan.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Sri Sriharan and Ralph Wilcox, The University of South Florida

Traveling Tampa To Austin: StartupBus Southeast 2014 Seeks Applicants

Some startups are born in a basement, others in an office. Just a few are inspired by a weeklong bus trip with a group of "hackers, hustlers, and hipsters'' -- an experience known by many in the tech community as the StartupBus. This year, StartupBus Southeast leaves Tampa for Austin on March 2nd, 2014.

As the bus from the Southeast region travels toward SXSW in Texas, a group of 20-30 selected "buspreneurs'' will develop and execute an original startup idea to present at the end of the trip.

2014 StartupBus Southeast organizer Ashley Mooney of Tampa explains, "This is more than a hackathon, more than a road trip, and much more than a pitch competition. It's a journey of passionate entrepreneurs aboard 7 different buses from around the country. Each team must conceive, build, and launch a startup in around three days.''

Interested? Applications are due by mid-February.

"Those who should apply are startup-minded Web and mobile developers, designers and business developers who can generate buzz in a short period of time and know how to pitch their face off,'' says Mooney. "Our advice to applicants is: If you have technical skills, show 'em off -- give us links to your work. Show us why you're an outstanding choice and get creative!''

For almost five years, StartupBus has played a role in fostering the Tampa startup community. StartupBus Southeast invites applicants from the entire region, so "buspreneurs'' from Tampa's startup community will have the opportunity to mingle and make connections with entrepreneurs from surrounding areas.

The ultimate takeaway, says Mooney, is the opportunity that waits at the destination. "You pitch your startup to big name venture capitalists, high profile members of the tech startup community, and in front of hundreds of other entrepreneurs. The best outcome would be that you get funded -- it's happened -- and even if you don't, you are launching your business in front lucrative eyes that can really get the word out about your new startup,'' she explains. "Attendees are pitching to major investors along the way, like Dave McClure from 500 Startups and Robert Scoble from Rackspace.''

Mooney, a digital content manager for Organic Salon Systems and early Google Glass Explorer, will ride the bus as both a participant and organizer in 2014. This year's Bus Conductors, who have participated in previous years, are each members of the Tampa startup and tech scene. Mooney is joined by co-conductors Will Mitchell, of StartupBros, Taylor Wallace, of WeVue, and Lindsey Nickel-de la O, of Nickel Communications.

"Tampa residents who go on the bus have an incredible opportunity ahead of them,'' Mooney says.

The participation fee for "buspreneurs'' is $299. Ticket cost does not include accommodations, food, drink or return trip. To learn more, visit StartupBus Southeast on Facebook or Twitter.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Ashley Mooney, StartupBus Southeast

Two Maids & A Mop Expands To Tampa, 15 New Jobs

Residential cleaning company Two Maids & A Mop is expanding to Tampa Bay, launching its first franchise development and creating up to 15 new jobs in management, sales and personnel over the next year.

Featured in Inc. 500 as one of the nation’s fastest-growing residential cleaning companies in the consumer products and service industry, the company grew from a small staff of 4 to 140 employees by 2013.

"We are a Southeastern-based company. We identified a couple different markets that we absolutely wanted to be in, and Tampa was one of them," says Ron Holt, CEO and founder of Two Maids & A Mop.

With 12 company-owned locations in five states, Two Maids & A Mop took a large part of 2013 to explore and research the potential for strong franchise development after receiving several inquiries for franchising opportunities from across the country and as far away as the United Kingdom.

The company’s expansion into Tampa Bay was a unique collaboration of a targeted strategy, key business relationships and the right timing.

Holt had developed a friendship with Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman, owners of College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving. Friedman and Soliman’s business growth plan included expansion into the cleaning service industry.

And so it was.

A joint-venture business relationship developed, merging Friedman’s and Soliman’s new cleaning concept under the Two Maids & A Mop mantra, and emerging as the company’s first franchise location.

Moving forward, Tampa will serve as regional headquarters for franchise development as the company further develops new franchise locations throughout the United States, creating up to 40 more jobs in Tampa in the process.

"The first step is to create a huge success in Tampa, to build a large business, to employ a lot of people, and to create more job growth in the Tampa area. The second step is to begin marketing the franchise concept all over the country," says Holt.

For more information on career opportunities, visit the Tampa company website. To inquire about franchise development opportunities, visit the company’s franchise website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Ron Holt, Two Maids & A Mop

Covidien Invests $18 Million in Hillsborough, 165 Jobs

Leading global healthcare product provider Covidien is making its mark in Tampa Bay, planting a new medical device manufacturing facility and making an $18 million capital investment in Hillsborough County, which will create up to 165 new jobs by 2017.

The company is hiring engineers, scientists and manufacturing operators at an average salary of $41,375.

Covidien is among an extensive list of biotech, life sciences, health and medical development firms that have recently selected the Tampa Bay region to expand their research, innovation and manufacturing operations.

As Tampa Bay’s talent pool, innovation, technology and medical market grows, the region is sure to gain additional developmental and growth opportunities that, in-turn, stimulate our regional growth.

"We specifically selected Hillsborough County for several reasons, including its talented workforce and the Tampa Bay region’s business climate, economy and quality of life. Our new facility will not only provide jobs for the local community; it will support Florida’s growing life science industry as well," says Phil Devlin, Covidien’s VP and General Manager.

In January 2013, a $165,000 local incentive package was approved by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, additionally supporting a commitment of $660,000 from the State of Florida through the State’s Qualified Target Industry (QTI) program.

The total QTI allocation of $825,000 will provide Covidien with $5,000 for the creation of each new job, incentives which will be payable over an eight-year period.

Currently occupying temporary office space in Sabal Park, the company will expand operations to its new 62,000-square-foot Riverview facility by mid-2014.

"Covidien’s choice to expand its presence in the state validates Florida’s position as a leader in life sciences and manufacturing. The company’s investment and jobs created adds to these extensive sectors. The opportunities created by Covidien will add value to Florida’s workforce, and I look forward to seeing their success continue in our state," says Gray Swoope, President & CEO of Enterprise Florida.

For information on career opportunities, visit Covidien online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Phil Devlin, Covidien; Gray Swoope, Enterprise Florida

St. Pete Celebrates Women Of Vision, Inspiration

Do you know a woman in Pinellas County who provides vision, leadership and inspiration to others? Perhaps someone who shows a passion for the region and puts her heart and soul into her business and the community?

The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce is looking to recognize these women at the Iconic Women of St. Petersburg luncheon on May 14 at Hilton St. Petersburg, Carillon Park.

"There are so many amazing people in Pinellas County," says Jo-An Thomas, Chair of the luncheon and multimedia consultant for Business Observer. "We often don’t know who these people are who are doing wonderful things in our communities every day."

Now in its 15th year, the event celebrates women who live or work in Pinellas County and are nominated by their peers in one of seven different categories: large business, small business, entrepreneur, nonprofit, community service, Woman to Watch (under the age of 40) and INSPIRE! Women of the Year.

Past honorees include Ashley Rhodes-Courter, 2012 International Woman of the Year. Rhodes-Courter spent a majority of her childhood in 14 different foster homes and is now an international speaker and advocate for education, community, youth and families. Lorraine Yaslowitz, 2013 INSPIRE! Woman of the Year, founded The Partners for Life Foundation in honor of her late husband Jeff, a fallen police officer. The Foundation offers support for families who have lost loved ones due to acts of violence. Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Jelks-Tomalin, 2012 Woman to Watch, is a fifth generation St. Petersburg resident and healthcare industry leader on the local and national levels. Her rich history of community involvement also includes Pinellas County Urban League and the Green Light Pinellas transportation initiative.

The event’s presenting sponsor is Ceridian. Nominations are sought through January 31.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jo-An Thomas

BlueGrace Logistics Adds 55 New Jobs in Tampa

Transportation management firm BlueGrace Logistics is expanding its east Tampa operations and is slated to create up to 55 new jobs by the end of 2014.

Featured on Inc. 500 as the 20th fastest growing company in the United States and as the number one fastest growing logistics and transportation company, BlueGrace helps to simplify and streamline supply chain management for their customers by combining industry expertise with innovative technology solutions.

BlueGrace was founded in Tampa in 2007 and quickly grew from a small office of 8 to 35 employees by 2010. Within the last three years, the company has grown to more than 140 employees while additionally hosting satellite offices in Chicago, Baltimore and Salt Lake City.

The company is now preparing for additional growth by expanding its 12,000-square-foot office in Riverview.

"We are increasing the size of our building and are breaking down a few walls to house all of our employees," says Senior Marketing Manager Natalie Lane.

The newly created jobs which will focus on sales, operations, customer loyalty programs, marketing, technology and administrative functions will help to enhance the company’s internal support for its franchise developments.

By the end of 2013, BlueGrace added 42 new franchises to its network and will add more than 40 new franchises in 2014. BlueGrace is also launching their new franchise website this week.

BlueGrace has grown nearly 50 percent in the last year and attributes its growth to its market presence, technological innovation, capital gains, employee additions, and its powerful franchise development channels.

"The logistics industry is seeing a boom and an upswing that is consistent with franchise development," says Lane.

Innovation and technology is at the heart of the company and does not just extend to the logistics solutions that BlueGrace provides to customers.

The company’s corporate culture largely features on-going employee training in an effort to help employees be more valuable to the marketplace -- whether with BlueGrace or in pursuit of a new career opportunity.

"We support that type of growth and are big on culture, which attracts a lot of people to our organization. We love our city," says Lane.

The company is also creating 20 new jobs in the Chicago market, is a member of IFA's VetFran Initiative which helps connect veterans with franchise opportunities, and also is a major supporter of philanthropic causes throughout Tampa Bay.

For more information on career opportunities or franchise development, visit the company online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Natalie Lane, BlueGrace Logistics

Gulfport's 2Cool Art Show Features Florida Artists

Artists from the Tampa Bay region and across the state have a chance to show and sell their work at the 2Cool Art Show, February 8 and 9 at the historic Gulfport Casino in Gulfport.

The juried event is hosted by the Professional Association of Visual Artists (PAVA), a statewide organization located in Pinellas County. PAVA began 28 years ago to provide a means for artists to exhibit and work together. Programs include educational materials, guest speakers, networking opportunities and other resources to help new and veteran artists further their careers.

The group’s signature event is the Cool Art Show, which takes place each summer in St. Petersburg. Now celebrating 25 years, the event’s success led the City of Gulfport to invite PAVA to Gulfport Casino for the third annual 2Cool Art Show, co-hosted by the City of Gulfport and the Downtown Merchant Association.

Some 37 artists are expected to attend with a variety of mediums – from paintings to ceramics, jewelry and sculpture. James Parziale, a furniture maker from New Port Richey, will be attending for the first time as well as Joyce Curvin, a paper mache artist from Palm Harbor.

"Most of the people there are local artists, so you get to know who in the community is making what kind of art," says Susan Gehring, the event’s co-chair.

While attending the show, patrons can visit the surrounding community and get a taste for what Gulfport has to offer – including unique boutique shops and restaurants. "Make a day of it, come to visit us and the rest of Gulfport," says Gehring.

Admission and parking are free.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Susan Gehring, PAVA

Moffitt Cancer Center's SPARK Offers Internships

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Summer Program for the Advancement of Research Knowledge (SPARK) is helping to stimulate and strengthen medical innovation by preparing student interns for career growth in cancer research and biomedical science.

"The mission of Moffitt Cancer Center is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer, so one important way to do that is education and training of researchers," says Dr. Doug Cress, SPARK program director.

Through a 10-week intensive research training program, SPARK allows experienced undergraduate students having a career interest in biomedical science or fields related to cancer research an opportunity to significantly dive into specialized research areas via a variety of programs, including cancer biology and evolution, cancer epidemiology, chemical biology and molecular medicine, health outcomes and behavior, and immunology.

With such an in-depth and expansive field as cancer research, students are able to explore their interests in policy, scientific writing, psychology, laboratory experimentation, and more.

"Every student has a different experience at Moffitt. It depends on what they are interested in," says Cress.

To help guide the creative process, students are assigned a mentor within a particular research group and define goals with which to make an impact over the 10 weeks.

The idea is to increase the students’ knowledge base while providing training and instruction on methodologies, processes, and intricacies critical to the development of cancer research.

The internship program is among key opportunities in medical research and development available in the Tampa Bay region’s growing healthcare provider industry.

"Moffitt as a business is a huge contributor to the economy in the area. You can’t necessarily bring all the talent from the outside. The more talent you train from the inside, the better your perspective is. We hope to be able to bring the interns that we train back into Moffitt as they become independent researchers and independent physicians that contribute to our mission," says Cress.

Moffit is accepting applications through February 15 for participation in SPARK. The program is free to participants, and a taxable stipend is provided.

Selection into the program is based upon relevant experience, a written essay and academic performance as well as recommendations from teachers or faculty.

Selected students must commit to a 40-hours-per-week schedule, which may be completed during any 10 weeks between May 1 and August 31.

For more information on SPARK, visit the program online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Dr. Doug Cress, Moffitt Cancer Center & SPARK

Forward Thinking Initiatives Launches First Youth Entrepreneurship Academy In St. Petersburg

Forward Thinking Initiatives, a nonprofit organization that helps Tampa Bay teens learn the value and principles of entrepreneurship and innovation, is partnering with the St. Petersburg Greenhouse to launch its first youth entrepreneurship academy.

The first class of the academy, ART-repreneurship for Teens, launches in February 2014 and is designed to teach students the importance of incorporating passion of the arts with business savvy in order to promote their expertise while bringing themselves to market.

"It’s a lot more than teaching a business plan. These skills are critical whether you’re an intrapreneur or an entrepreneur," says the organization’s founder and President Debra Campbell.

In 2004 with the support from the Tampa Bay Partnership, Florida High Tech Corridor and Verizon, Campbell created Forward Thinking Initiatives as an economic development initiative aimed at providing teens and educators with entrepreneurship education focused on innovation, leadership and critical thinking necessary to our evolving workforce.

The initiative grew out of an effort to create a vital link between education and economic development.

"We found that entrepreneurship skills were so critical to what is now called common core. It crosses all kinds of educational, real-world curriculum," says Campbell, who has a background in economic development.

FTI recently partnered with the St. Petersburg Greenhouse, an extension of the City of St. Petersburg which evolved from the city’s Business Assistance Center into an epicenter connecting businesses and entrepreneurs with a wealth of resources designed to support and promote successful and continued business growth.

Campbell’s central goal is to encourage and cultivate entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviors that transform youth into empowered thinkers, essentially promoting personal growth while motivating the region’s economic growth.

"They are learning entrepreneurship through specific subject matter like arts entrepreneurship or technology entrepreneurship. This is a unique experience that provides valuable employees and workforce associates to our companies," says Greenhouse Manager and Economic Development Coordinator Sean Kennedy.

FTI’s February class will cover:
- How to market yourself, your portfolio and your product for school or career
- Identifying real business opportunities
- Career opportunities in the arts
- Launching your own business in the arts
- Meeting and learning from professional artists and entrepreneurs

FTI is currently registering students for the program which runs from February 17 to March 27. The fee is $260 for the full program.

For more information on Forward Thinking Initiatives' mission and ART-repreneurship program registration, visit them online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Debra Campbell, Forward Thinking Initiatives; Sean Kennedy, St. Petersburg Greenhouse

Community Crowdfunding Grows Tampa Hackerspace

Crowd-sourced funding can be a modern, effective way to get innovative ideas off the ground. In Tampa, a hackerspace that opened in fall 2013 has proven this point, exceeding their Kickstarter pledge goal of $10,000 by around 50 percent.
 
Money raised through the Kickstarter project, which will be funded at 9 p.m. Tuesday, January 14, will allow Tampa Hackerspace to grow and evolve as a community innovation hub.

Pledge goals include equipment upgrades and community outreach through workshops, local partnerships, and hosting educational events (specifically: helping people who "don't know they are makers yet,'' and teaching kids).

"Our top priorities are to purchase a CNC Mill, Laser Cutter and electronic kits made specifically to get kids inspired and confident about making,'' says Tampa Hackerspace Cofounder Ryan Holmes notes.

Workshops like the quarterly Restart Tampa event will "inspire/help the local community to repair their own appliances by providing them with tools and the confidence to do so,'' says Holmes. "Besides Restart, we are focusing on making programs specifically focused on kids on Sunday afternoons.''

The first "Kid's Open Make'' was held on January 5, 2014; click here for a calendar of upcoming Hackerspace events.

When the group reached 20 percent of their initial $10,000 Kickstarter goal in just a few hours, Holmes was "flabbergasted.'' So far, over 130 backers have pledged donations ranging from $3 to $2,500.

"I definitely knew that there was support out there, but I didn't know it was that digitally connected enough to push out $2,000 in two hours. Just goes to show how much people really want it,'' says Holmes.

Tampa Hackerspace, a state-level nonprofit, is housed on the ground floor of the CoWork Tampa building in West Tampa at 3104 N. Armenia Ave.

The Hackerspace Kickstarter page notes that CoWork Tampa "will significantly discount their $57 coworking membership to $20 per month for six months to every backer of our Kickstarter, plus every member of Tampa Hackerspace, when we reach our $15,000 stretch goal.''

To pledge a donation, visit the Tampa Hackerspace Kickstarter page before 9 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, January 14.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Ryan Holmes, Tampa Hackerspace

James Hardie Invests $80 Million, 100 New Jobs in Plant City

James Hardie, global manufacturer of fiber cement siding and interior products, is making an $80 million capital investment in eastern Hillsborough County, expanding its Plant City operations and creating 100 new manufacturing, engineering, project management, and administration jobs by 2015.

"This is an exciting time for James Hardie in both Plant City and around the world. Innovation that happens in Plant City resonates around the world, and the catalyst is the great environment we have here. Employees see themselves as a family, and that says a lot about the people in the city and the surrounding community," says Ryan Sullivan, south division general manager for James Hardie.

James Hardie's expansion plan includes 100,000 square-feet of additional manufacturing space, new machinery, and new equipment, essentially doubling production capacity to meet the increased industry demand for its fiber cement siding products.

The company first established operations in Plant City site in 1994, which currently employs 100 associates.

In 2012, in an effort to increase the community’s competitive advantage in high-impact economic development projects, the City of Plant City approved a moratorium on the collection of transportation mobility fees.

Resultantly, James Hardie received a fee waiver of $37,300, further solidifying market productivity, regional economic growth, and job creation for Tampa Bay.

"This is great news for our community. Manufacturing is an important part of our economic growth strategy," says Mark Sharpe, chairman of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.

The company is also eligible for Florida’s new Machinery and Equipment Sales Tax Exemption program, which was approved by the state legislature in May 2013.

"James Hardie has been a valuable member of our business community for more than two decades. Its decision to expand in Plant City is a testament to the strong business environment we’ve created, and validates our role as a top manufacturing and distribution center," says Plant City Mayor Mary Thomas Mathis.

For more information on career opportunities, visit James Hardie online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Ryan Sullivan, James Hardie; Mark Sharpe, Hillsborough County BOCC; Mary Thomas Mathis, City of Plant City

Project Transition USA Helps Veterans Find Civilian Careers

For many military veterans, making the transition from military to civilian life can prove challenging -- especially landing a good job.

Project Transition USA is on a mission to ease that process by using the power of LinkedIn to help military veterans find and position themselves for unique post-military career opportunities.

The nonprofit organization teaches LinkedIn workshops to transitioning military, veterans, and dependents, showing them effective LinkedIn and professional strategies that will help ease their transition into the civilian workforce.

"We teach them how to brand themselves and be attractive in the market," says Nancy Laine, president and workshop facilitator.

Laine, the daughter of an Army Chaplain and also known as "The Linked Concierge," discovered the potential of LinkedIn after making a valuable new client connection via the online professional network.

Laine and the Project Transition USA workshop team share personal experiences and success stories with veterans about the benefits of using LinkedIn as a networking resource that can lead to rewarding civilian career opportunities.

For several, personal networking or using a platform such as LinkedIn can be a bit uncomfortable after having been removed from the normalcy of every-day career advancement opportunities.

"We start out by addressing their number one fear -- privacy," says Laine.

The Project Transition USA team then starts veterans out with LinkedIn 101, easing them through the learning curve of LinkedIn’s platform while teaching them how to best share their skills that many employers and recruiters look for in candidates, sharing information on:

- Creating a noticeable profile to showcase your skills
- Strategies to build a network to promote hiring
- Effective job-searching techniques on LinkedIn's website
- How to connect with influential people with common interests
- Guidance from professional recruiters and influential community leaders

Although 93 percent of recruiters are currently using LinkedIn as a resource to find qualified candidates, a substantial 69 percent of military veterans report finding a job as the most significant hurdle in their transition.

In November 2012, Project Transition USA collaborated with MacDill Air Force Base to bring the LinkedIn Job Search Workshop to MacDill’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) -- the first held on a military base anywhere in the world.

The organization’s progressive goal is to additionally teach civilian career transition strategies to active duty service members prior to being discharged, integrating the approach in collaboration with each United States military base to capitalize upon the long-term benefits of career preparation to prospective employers after military service.

"They want a meaningful career, and we point them in the direction of whatever makes them come alive," says Laine.

For information on workshops or how to get involved, visit Project Transition USA on LinkedIn or online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Nancy Laine, Project Transition USA

Angelo's Invests $50 Million in Florida, 120+ Jobs In Pinellas

A national pioneer in recycled building materials, Angelo’s Recycled Materials, is expanding rapidly, recently selecting St. Petersburg, as its national headquarters and creating more than 120 new green jobs by the end December 2013.

Angelo’s, which has already created more than 100 jobs locally in 2013, recently added a new container division for construction and demolition job sites and currently operates six active recycling facilities.

As Angelo’s continues to expand through the addition of new recycling operations centers, the company also plans to add more than 200 jobs over the next few years.

"The company saw a real need for this kind of business in St. Petersburg. The entire area and the building has been repurposed to make the property more attractive. It is the perfect place to invest their future," says Mario Farias, public relations manager.

Founded by Angelo Iafrate in 1960, the company originally recycled reclaimed concrete into aggregate and road-base products. Realizing the opportunity to reuse many of the materials that were originally discarded during the demolition process, Angelo & his brother designed a machine to crush the concrete while extracting metals, sand, wood, plastics and other particles in order to avoid unnecessary landfilling and reduce costs on construction projects as they reuse materials.

In addition to the 13-acre site at its new St. Petersburg headquarters, the firm has invested more than $13 million in Pinellas County and over $50 million in the state of Florida, and is committed to continuing its investment in the Tampa Bay region.

"We are committed to investing in the greater St. Petersburg area and all of Florida by building upon our existing locations and developing new locations," says Angelo’s Principal Dominic Iafrate, Jr.

Angelo's recycling rate is over 80 percent in its St. Petersburg and Largo materials processing facilities, which is critical to helping city, county, and commercial clients reach the state's 75 percent recycling goal

The company is also in the permitting process to add four additional yards in Florida in 2014: one in Brandon, one in Tampa, and two in Orlando.

For more information on career opportunities, visit Angelo’s online.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Dominic Iafrate and Mario Farias, Angelo's

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

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

FIVE By FIVE Art Show Returns To Tampa Oct. 18

The Hillsborough County Arts Council is hosting its second annual FIVE by FIVE fundraiser on Friday, October 18, at the Tampa Museum of Art. 

The $10 entrance fee is an excellent deal for catching up on culture and to possibly walk away with a valuable piece of art.

"The Tampa area has great artists both visual and performing,'' says Terri Simons, Director of Programming for the Arts Council. "This is a night you can come to one location and see a variety of visual arts, but you can also see scenes from theater, performances by professional musicians, actors, poets and dancers throughout the evening.''

Benefiting the Arts Council's individual artist grants, the FIVE by FIVE international call-to-artists has brought in more than 700 pieces of original artwork fit concisely to the required five-inch-square surface (artists are also permitted to extend five inches in depth). The individual artist grants program has provided $640,335 to 390 individual artists since 1989. Last year's FIVE by FIVE event raised $9,625. "It's truly small art for a BIG cause,'' says Simons.

This uniquely mosaic exhibit will be displayed in the Tampa Museum of Art's Stephen Dickey Lecture Hall and each piece will be available for sale from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. for a flat price of $25 each. The pieces are displayed anonymously, only after purchase is the artist's name revealed.

The skill levels of participating artists range from beginning student to longtime professional. The organizers hope to encourage patrons to choose their art "democratically'' according to how it appeals to them visually, not by artist name.

Artwork submissions were largely from the greater Tampa Bay region, but a significant contribution came from artists around the nation and the world -- including pieces from as far away as Canada, the Ukraine Europe and Asia. 

Building on its inaugural success last year, which drew in a crowd of nearly 900, the surprisingly multidimensional event includes a powerful array of 38 professional performance artists donating their time, with five-minute performances non-stop throughout the night. Attendees can also avail themselves of the Tampa Museum of Art's current exhibitions during the event, which include the Modern Masters: Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, and Joan Miro as well as Fragile Waters: Photographs from Ansel Adams, Ernest H. Brooks II and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly.

New this year, and highly encouraged, is the availability to purchase tickets in advance to avoid cumbersome lines the night of the event.  Also, the exhibit will be maintained in its entirety until 9 p.m. so that guests will have the opportunity to view it as a whole before those purchasing the artwork will be permitted to leave with it.

Writer: Kendra Langlie
Source: Terri Simon, Hillsborough Arts Council

Amazon Deal Brings 1,000+ Jobs To Tampa Bay

Signed, sealed and delivered.

Amazon is set to open its newest fulfillment center in Ruskin, creating 375 new quality jobs having at least 115 percent of the state’s average wage. The new operation will bring more than 1,000 permanent jobs to Tampa Bay.

The expansion of Amazon into Florida will additionally create several hundred seasonal temporary employment opportunities as well as construction jobs.

"This is bigger than landing the Super Bowl, a national convention or the Olympics. It’s a mega-storm of growth that’s hitting our county with feeder bands that will create economic growth all over this area," says Commissioner Sandy Murman.

USAA Real Estate Co., a company that works with Amazon on the development of its distribution centers, and Ryan Companies US, Inc. reached an agreement late Wednesday, closing on the sale of land for the South Hillsborough County property that will house Amazon’s new distribution facility.

Amazon has signed a long-term lease with USAA for the South Shore Corporate Park property near Interstate 75 and State Road 674 in Ruskin. Construction of the fulfillment center will begin immediately.

The deal comes nearly four months after Amazon’s proposal to expand and create more than 3,000 jobs in Florida.

The company’s expansion project for the development of the center in Ruskin also includes a 3rd party investment of $200 million toward improvements and equipment, further increasing Amazon’s stock in the Tampa Bay market.

For additional information, visit Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Commissioner Sandy Murman, Hillsborough County

USF Energy Conference Designed To Be Conduit For Collaboration

A conference aimed at bringing together students, researchers, businesses and other members of the Tampa Bay community to network and exchange ideas on sustainable energy will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, in the University of South Florida's Marshall Center.

"IDEA: InterDisciplinary Exchange in Action'' is the name of both the conference and the student group organizing the event. A diverse mix of topics will be presented in the day-long conference, ranging from the emergence of "green'' computer networks to geothermal technology, energy-saving techniques for waste minimization, and the future of global sustainable societies.

"Our goal is to create an annual conference where ideas from different disciplines can be shared and eventually lead to collaborations,'' says Eleanor Clements, a PhD student in chemistry and president of the newly formed IDEA group. "We chose sustainable energy as the first topic and have had a great response from academics at the University who want to share their research.''

In addition to a full slate of speakers, the event will feature a trade show for local businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs involved in sustainable energy, Clements adds.
 
Conference speakers include:
  • Dr. George Philippidis, Patel College Associate Professor of Sustainable Energy, will discuss his research in biomass and algae technologies for sustainable production of transportation fuels and  renewable power. As director of the Renewable Fuels Laboratory, Philippidis has engineered technologies to grow fuel-producing algae while reducing water and energy consumption.
  • Kenneth Christensen, a professor in USF's Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will be discussing his research on energy efficiency of computer networks or "green networks.''
  • Professor James Stock will speak about environmental and energy implications of "reverse logistics'' and the energy required for product returns, including remanufacturing, repairing, and refurbishing of products, packaging reuse, recycling, minimization and substitution.
  • Dr. E. Christian Wells, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Founding Director of the USF Office of Sustainability, will share his global perspective on  environmental economic decision making, sustainability science and social issues such as the global culture of environmentalism and sustainable societies of the future.
  • Allan Feldman, Professor of Science Education, will discuss his research on the role that K-12 teachers and students can have in scientific and engineering research projects, particularly in fields related to sustainability.
  • Cheryl Hall, Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs, will look at the ways in which different understandings of freedom, happiness and sacrifice influence our imagination of the possibilities for creating environmentally sustainable societies.
  • Michael J. Lynch,  Professor of Criminology,  will address environmental justice in the United States, the distribution of hazardous waste sites and chemical accidents, global warming, environmental law and regulation, and  environmental crimes.
  • Friedemann Buschbeck, Green Party liaison to Germany, will speak on his recent visit and how the German government encourages green innovation.
  • Ashleigh Stewart of Young of Americans for Liberty will discuss free markets in relation to energy innovation.
  • Jay Egg of EggGeoThermal will discuss geothermal technologies  and  his recently published article in National Geographic on the same topic.
The conference is open to the public and will be held in the Royal Palm Ballroom in the Marshall Center. Admission is free; sponsors and exhibitors may follow this link for more information.

Writer: Marcia Biggs
Source: Eleanor Clements, IDEA

1 Million Cups Of Coffee Support Entrepreneurship In Cities

A new opportunity is brewing for entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay. 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg officially kicks off October 9 at St. Petersburg Greenhouse and invites business owners, mentors and the entire community to come together to support local businesses and start-ups.

The concept was launched through the Kauffman Foundation, with the idea of seeing how much business and support entrepreneurs could receive around one million cups of coffee. The idea is simple: every Wednesday at 9:00 am, communities across the country bring together entrepreneurs, mentors, advisers and business minds to learn about and support new businesses. Each event features two businesses that present for six minutes each and then allow 20 minutes of questions, with the event ending at exactly one hour.

The concept began in Kansas City in April of 2012, and has rolled out in 20 communities nationwide. Kauffman provides back end administration, support and promotion, as well as opportunities for participating communities to gather together for benchmarking.  

The organizing team for 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg consists of: Sean Kennedy of St. Petersburg Greenhouse, John Morrow with USF St. Petersburg’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation Alliance, Reuben Pressman, serial entrepreneur, Danielle Weitlauf of Tampa Bay Innovation Center and Richard Wood with Eagle Datagistics.

“We want more energy, more people coming together to talk about entrepreneurship in a very casual format,” says Danielle Weitlauf, Manager for Tampa Bay Innovation Center and one of the organizers for 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg.

In keeping with the 1 Million Cups theme, Kahwa Coffee is donating coffee each week.

Presenters for the kick-off event are Eye Crawler and Causetofund.

A common question that comes up at other 1 Million Cups events is: “What can the community do to support you?” Speakers will walk away with just that -- advice, connections and support from the community.

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

Tampa Startups Compete For National Attention At Tech Cocktail Event

Have you heard of Taskvilla, a Tampa company that offers business-hiring software? How about Tie the Knot, a custom website and iPhone app builder for the modern bride and groom?

Tonight at Fox Jazz Cafe on West Kennedy Boulevard, these local startups, along with LilyPad, Seat by Seat, and Valet Boss, will each compete for the title "Hottest Showcasing Startup'' and the chance to continue on to a two-day national conference in Las Vegas.

Since 2006, Tech Cocktail has hosted "Socials'' in cities worldwide, including tech hubs like San Francisco and Austin. For the first time, Tech Cocktail is coming to Tampa.

"Tech Cocktail was created to stimulate local tech communities,'' explains Gracie Stemmer, marketing director for Tampa Bay WaVE and head of the Tech Cocktail Committee in Tampa. "The event will showcase some of the area's most exciting tech companies and most supportive organizations.''

Entrepreneurs, supporters of the tech community or members of the public who are interested in what is taking place in Tampa Bay's tech world are welcome to attend, Stemmer says.

Criteria for selection of the five startups that will demo tonight included being established less than three years ago, raising less than $1 million in total funding, and having a working product in at least beta stage.

Each startup will have two minutes to pitch their products, while attendees will have the opportunity to network with members of the local entrepreneurial community and area tech enthusiasts.

Community-building events are an asset to Tampa's entrepreneurs, Stemmer says. "When our local community comes together and rallies around our startups, we are re-enforcing and strengthening what Tampa Bay has to offer.''

Tech Cocktail Celebrate, to be held in Las Vegas on Oct. 22-23, will offer 30 worldwide finalists the opportunity to showcase their companies to big names in the tech world.

"Becoming a recognizable tech community in the national entrepreneurial arena will not only keep our talent here in Tampa Bay, but also allows us to move talent in to our thriving area,'' says Stemmer.

Tech Cocktail's Social is Tuesday‚ Oct. 8th‚ 6-8:30 p.m., at Fox Jazz Cafe at 5401 W. Kennedy Boulevard.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Gracie Stemmer, Tampa Bay WaVE

Anago Cleaning Systems Grows, Adds 40+ Jobs in Tampa

Anago Cleaning Systems’ Master Franchise Owners Raul Gonzalez and Omar Fernandez are spurring economic growth in Tampa Bay, creating small business opportunities for entrepreneurs while generating more than 40 jobs.

One of the leading commercial cleaning franchise organizations with over 2,400 business units across the country, Anago has been recognized by the Entrepreneur Magazine as the 10th fastest-growing franchise in 2013 in the United States and by the National Minority Franchising Initiative as the top franchise for minorities.

"We are adding small businesses by virtue of those people who open a cleaning business and are simultaneously adding jobs because the unit franchisees are hiring employees to assist them in running their small business," says VP of Marketing Judy Walker.

Cousins that came from a close-knit family in New York, Gonzalez and Fernandez moved to Florida together and saw a need for growing companies that would cater to the entrepreneurial needs of the Spanish community. Many of Anago’s Florida unit franchisees are from different countries -- entrepreneurs seeking business opportunities but who may face market entry and language barriers.

"They saw a need that people wanted. In a community, people really stick together, and we wanted to become part of that community by reaching out to them and fulfilling their needs," says Trish Carr, regional director of Anago Tampa.

For the past 15 years, Gonzalez and Fernandez have successfully added new franchise units in the area, connecting entrepreneurs with a structured business management system, allowing franchise business owners the freedom to concentrate on their craft while fulfilling the American Dream. The Master Franchiser, Anago Tampa, provides the franchise unit with on-going local contracts, mentorship, marketing and administrative services, effectually connecting families and communities with long-term business and job opportunities.

"We work hand-in-hand with our business owners. We build relationships," says Carr.

Gonzalez and Fernandez have already added seven new franchise units this year and plans to plant up to eight more before the end of 2013.

"I have so much faith and belief in Omar, Raul and Trish. Their success has been excellent through the years, and we expect them to grow exponentially and the economy as well," says Walker.

For more information on unit franchise or career opportunities, visit Anago Tampa online or call Trish Carr at 727.535.8752.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Judy Walker and Trish Carr, Anago Cleaning Systems

Granex Opens Manufacturing Facility, Adds 50+ Jobs In Tampa

New and emerging stone processing company Granex, Inc. is beginning construction on its new manufacturing facility and will create new jobs for more than 50 new employees. Over the next four months, the company will add crane operators, machine handlers, office administration, marketing specialists and accounting team members.

Granex specializes in processing dimensional stones like granite and marble. By sourcing stone from several different countries and importing them directly into the United States for processing here, it essentially creates a new industry segment for domestic engineering of distinct stones.

"It’s a new kind of industry. This industry will bring the Tampa Bay area onto the world map of manufacturing cities. We will be importing from almost 40 different countries, and we will proudly put Made in USA," says Granex President Raj Emandi.

The opening of the new northeast Tampa manufacturing facility is a part of a $6 million capital investment that will provide a place to process the direct imports, attracting American buyers while presenting a significant cost-savings alternative to purchasing from other countries.

"We are producing huge blocks of granite and marble stone and cutting them in America," says Emandi.

After production, Granex will also begin exporting to other countries including Europe, and Central and South America.

The company is obtaining final permitting for construction of the new facility, will complete construction within four months, and will go straight into production.

Emandi’s goals are to create a wholesome environment for employees by introducing them to the new jobs, offering training, and positioning them for long-term growth with the company's specialized services.

Granex’ growth plans include targeting $8 to $12 million sales within the first two years, expanding the capability and volume of the company and increasing sales, further creating additional job growth.

"Within two years, we will be increasing the capacity of the company by adding a few more machines. We are anticipating to double sales and add more jobs," says Emandi.

For more information on unique business partnerships or career opportunities, visit Granex online or call 813.874.8400.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Raj Emandi, Granex

WellCare Contributes $1M To Step Up For Students

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. is offering scholarships to improve health and educational opportunities for students in need.

WellCare announced its participation in the Step Up For Students scholarship program, contributing $1 million to help provide K-12 students coming from low-income families or poverty circumstances the opportunity to participate in learning environments tailored to their scholastic needs. Since 2004, WellCare has contributed $9 million for 2,400 students throughout Florida.

"WellCare always has a health focus, but we understand that you actually have to touch people’s lives to improve their health. When we start young, we know that we will have healthier adults in our community. Start young and build their futures and potential through these scholarships," says Denise Malecki, Corporate Communications Manager.

Through the Step Up For Students initiative, students are given the opportunity to excel in their educational environment by being able to participate in private schools or out-of-district public schools that may be more tailored to their individual learning needs.

A significant long-term benefit of the program is the potential break in cyclical poverty situations and the creation of successful life paths for children in challenged economic circumstances.

The program recognizes the differences in children’s learning styles and aims to give families choices in their child’s education -- an option that many financially stable families may already have.

Since the program’s start, more than 331,000 scholarships have been awarded.

"For 11 years, our program has been helping our state’s most disadvantaged and academically vulnerable children access the schools that best meet their needs. The program exists to promote equal educational opportunity, so all of Florida’s children have a better chance at a successful future. We are grateful to WellCare for heling us make this mission a reality," says Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill.

For more information on WellCare, visit them online. For information on Step Up For Students and how to get involved, visit their website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Denise Malecki, WellCare; Doug Tuthill, Step Up For Students

Tampa Bay Arts Summit Promotes Regional Collaboration

A first-of-its-kind regional arts summit will take place Oct. 25, 2013 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, bringing together arts organizations, arts advocates, legislators and administrators from the five counties surrounding Tampa Bay. 

The Regional Arts Summit: Return on Investment aims to promote collaboration between arts organizations of all disciplines to better leverage advertising and marketing dollars, avoid scheduling conflicts and to build and share audiences.  Through interactive presentations and breakout sessions, participants will discuss topics such as cooperative programming, advocacy, regional funding, cultural tourism, and arts in healthcare. 

“To be successful, the arts have to be regionalized,” says attorney Peter Zinober, Chairman of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and shareholder at the law firm Greenberg Traurig, who came up with the idea of the summit. He envisions the event as a powerful brainstorming and networking session, “Putting people in the same room to develop strategies and ideas, develop more revenue while spending less.”

Presented by the Hillsborough County Arts Council, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and Creative Pinellas, the full-day event will feature keynote speaker Randy Cohen, VP of Research and Policy for Americans for the Arts from Washington DC. Cohen who will speak on the future of the arts in America -- “Where will we be in 10 Years?” He is a noted expert in the field of arts funding, research, policy, and using the arts to address community development issues.

Registration is available online through the Hillsborough Arts, Inc. website

Writer: Kendra Langlie
Source: Peter Zinober, Arts Council of Hillsborough County

Hackerspace Builds A Community Home In Tampa

How would you like to use a 3D printer to turn a wild invention into a working prototype? At Tampa Hackerspace, this kind of dream will soon be a reality.

Sufficient funding for the group's founding members to set up shop at CoWork Tampa was met in early August.

Working under a "short deadline to make it happen,'' founder Bill Shaw explains, the group appealed to Facebook members to help raise enough initial revenue to secure their new space, a large open-floor plan venue on the ground floor of the West Tampa building.

Education is the primary goal of the Tampa Hackerspace, says Shaw, founder of nonprofit Inspiration Labs. Shaw hopes to "build a community of people who like to experiment and tinker.'' 

Along with offering free classes and facilities where individuals and groups can work on projects, Tampa Hackerspace will house "equipment that's mostly too expensive for people to purchase on their own. We'll have 3D printers, laptop location equipment, soldering stations -- there will be a lot of things that people can come to use as members,'' Shaw explains.

Classes will be taught by members and the curriculum will be regulated by member interest, but Shaw notes that the Tampa Hackerspace hopes to bridge the gap between a "hackerspace and a makerspace.''

He emphasizes, "The type of audience that we're targeting are people who are into the do-it-yourself thing -- and not just traditional 'hardware' people. We have a pretty large number of people now who are into electronics and robotics and technology, and I think we have the potential to bring in members who enjoy different types of art projects, like the Tampa Bay Steampunk Society.''

Classes will also cover a broad range of topics: "Technology is not the only component; there's a large creative side to what we're trying to accomplish, as well,'' Shaw explains.

The group relies on the community it brings together, with "a small amount of revenue from classes,'' Shaw says, to raise enough funds for furnishings, equipment, and consumable resources.

"Primarily, our revenue will come from members. … There are a lot of other operating expenses now that we've secured the space,'' explains Shaw, "but CoWork Tampa has been really supportive in helping us make it work. And as we grow, we'll be improving equipment and adding new things to make it more valuable as a member.''

Tampa Hackerspace will offer 24/7 access to "keyholder'' members for $100 monthly, while lower-priced options are also available. Meetings, which Shaw hopes will becomes a weekly occurrence as Hackerspace finds footing, are open to the public.

Over 35 participants attended the group's second meeting. The next Tampa Hackerspace event will be held tonight (Aug. 20), at 7:00 PM, at 3104 N Armenia Ave.

Writer: Justine Benstead
Source: Bill Shaw, Inanimate Reason, Inc.

Where Love Grows: Meals Reconnect Tampa Families

A family is anyone under your roof for a day or a lifetime.

That’s the motto of Where Love Grows, a Tampa-based nonprofit with the mission of enriching families so they may in turn enrich themselves.

The organization was founded in 2012 by Vicki Anzalone, who moved to Tampa from New Jersey six years ago seeking warmer weather to help her fibromyalgia.

The inspiration came from watching her two sons, Chase and Chad, help their friend raise his son, Cam. Cam was being raised by single parents who had no extended family in the area. Anzalone watched the "it takes a village" concept come to life as Cam’s family became a network of his parents’ friends, who would often gather around the dinner table for laughs and good conversation.

The most recent initiative is Victoria's Good Table. Inspired by Anzalone’s grandmother, Victoria, the program provides a safe dinner table for hungry children in the Tampa area.

"My best memories came from around the table," Anzalone recalls of growing up. Her idea is to create these memories for children who would not otherwise have them due to poverty.

Anzalone cooks the meals out of her own home with just a 4-burner electric stovetop and receives help from volunteers for the delivery and serving, feeding 70 – 130 kids at a time, mostly at the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay. Meals are served family style, while people engage in conversation.

 "I’ve been asked to cook and come live with many children," laughs Anzalone.

Victoria's Good Table has fed 800 kids in Hillsborough County since its launch in January. Anzalone has received support from organizations such as Feeding America Tampa Bay, Chobani and the Tampa Yankees, who recently donated tickets to the Field of Dreams event which fed 130 kids.

"I’ve been blessed to be able to serve, but what I get back in return outweighs any efforts or cost," says Anzalone.  
Future plans include larger scale events with parents in attendance.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Vicki Anzalone, Where Love Grows

Tampa Entrepreneurs Develop BuzzMe App

Imagine that it’s 5 o’clock and you just remembered that today is a friend’s birthday. What do you do other than admit you forgot? You could call, post on Facebook, send her a text, or do something really cool, like buy her a martini at a local restaurant. You don’t even have to be at the venue to make it happen. And neither does she.

Thanks to BuzzMe, a new startup by Tampa entrepreneurs Nathaniel Waring and Philippe Theodore, users can browse a venue’s drink list or menu (pre-loaded on the app) from anywhere in the world, select and pay for the item they want, and then send or “buzz” the surprise to a friend. The recipient can redeem the gift whenever they happen to be at the venue. BuzzMe takes a small commission on each order.

What’s in it for the venue? “It doesn’t cost the restaurant or bar anything to participate, it gives them great visibility and they’re getting a sale from someone not even in their place of business,” says Waring. “It’s absolutely risk free.”

BuzzMe launched in June and so far, says Waring, about 15 local places are participating as are several national liquor brands. 

“I get pitched every day about different marketing ideas and this is one of the best,” says Alex Steppacher, Florida sales manager for Russian Standard Vodka. “People ages 25 to 35 are very social media-oriented. The brand exposure for us could be tremendous.”

Waring’s goal is to sign up 100 bars and restaurants in the Tampa region by fall, eventually expanding to Orlando and Gainesville and then to other areas around the country.

Writer: Janan Talafer
Sources: Nathaniel Waring, BuzzMe; Alex Steppacher, Russian Standard

Project GenYes! Brings Arts To Life For Generation Y

The Tampa Bay area is booming with technology accelerators, which provide mentoring and other resources to take a new company from idea to implementation. Inspired by the success of this model, Studio@620 in St. Petersburg offers a new accelerator for emerging artists in the millennial generation.  

Project GenYes! is led by Tampa Bay entrepreneurs Hunter Payne and Reuben Pressman, along with John Collins of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, artist-in-residence Sharon Scott, grant master Sandy Tabor and Bob Devin Jones of Studio@620. Funding is provided by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

"We’re inspired by accelerators for tech company startups because of their focused collaborative energy and are excited to see artists function within this platform," says Pressman.

The accelerator, which focuses on jazz, dance and theater, uses both virtual and physical space to turn concepts into performances while bringing multigenerational audiences together. Twelve artists will be selected initially from those who apply online to participate in a private two-month online workshop with vocalist, writer and mentor Sharon Scott. Six artists from that group will then go on to the second stage, where they will receive one-on-one mentoring, a website to gather additional support from the community, a $1,000 stipend to use toward their performance, and access to volunteers and creative space at Studio@620 to work and perform.

"This is crucial for the Tampa Bay community to keep our emerging artists engaged," says Pressman. "It says to them: We want you to share your journey here with us in Tampa Bay. Let’s all stick around and make something beautiful together!"

The team hopes the creativity collaborative energy of the project will serve as a sustainable model for other arts organizations around the world.

The deadline to apply is mid-October.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Reuben Pressman, Project GenYes!

Awesome Tampa Bay Engages Community In New Pitch Sessions

Now the Tampa Bay community will have a front row seat to the people, projects and organizations that make the region awesome.

Since 2011, Awesome Tampa Bay has been providing quarterly $1,000 microgrants to support projects that make the region a better place. Whereas in the past the decisions were made during a selection meeting with nine trustees, the group is now choosing grant recipients using a Shark Tank-style pitch session. The top five applicants will pitch their idea to the now 12 trustees in a public format. They will then receive feedback on what they can do to improve their idea. Although the grant will still be awarded to one recipient each quarter, the pitch session will allow everyone involved to benefit from the connections. The first session will take place August 22.

Awesome Tampa Bay is also joining other similar organizations around the world to participate in "Awesome Day in the World" June 27 with a Mid-Summer Awesome Party. The free community event from 5 to 7 pm at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa will celebrate the vitality and richness of the region, asking people to communicate what they like best about Tampa Bay and what could be done to make it even more attractive.

"Awesome Tampa Bay gives us the platform to celebrate the great, bright spots in our community and encourages people to take risks in order to make the community great," says Rafaela Amador, dean of awesomeness for Awesome Tampa Bay. "Every quarter we find a way to say 'yes' to making the community better, $1,000 at a time."

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Rafaela Amador, Awesome Tampa Bay

Teen's Gaming App Wins Startup Weekend Tampa Bay

More than 100 entrepreneurs, software developers, online designers and marketers convened to collaborate and compete in creating innovative startups during the fourth Startup Weekend Tampa Bay June 7–9 at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

Taking first place was Live Warfare, an interactive, person-to-person video game that takes place in real life using a smartphone. Players take a picture of someone and then digitally "shoot'' them, sending a notification to their opponent's phone.

The game is the brainchild of 14-year old Nathan Eyal, whose father Omer brought him to Startup Weekend and also participated in the product development. Other teammates included: Ed Galarza, Akira Mitchell, Ken Morris and Matt Saulding.

The judges used three sets of criteria to select the winners: customer validation, business model and execution. The Live Warfare team reached out to Eyal's friends and other participants for validation. They also created and executed the entire app over the weekend, allowing for a live demonstration at the event.

"We focus on the team, and I think their team was really strong,'' says Ryan Sullivan, co-organizer for Startup Weekend. "Because Nathan was so passionate about the idea, he kept the team moving forward and making decisions.''

Second place went to BuySignal, which monitors Twitter feeds to pull out indicators, or "signals'' that someone is about to make a purchasing decision. For example, someone might tweet that they need a repair for their car, which triggers a mechanic to reach out to them.

Taking third place was StreezWize. A team of 13 participants developed an app that allows people to provide real time feedback about potential crimes. The app attaches police and emergency service data to citizen input, which assists in solving crimes. 

"Crowdsourcing real time data is becoming a huge niche,'' says Kim Randall, co-organizer for Startup Weekend. "I'm super excited to see where Streetwize will go.''

Sources: Ryan Sullivan and Kim Randall, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay
Writer: Megan Hendricks

Metropolitan Ministries Grows, Adds 20 Jobs

Metropolitan Ministries plans to open the doors to MiraclePlace on North Florida Avenue in Tampa in August, and is expanding staff to accommodate growing outreach initiatives.

Listed as one of the Top Places to Work in 2013, the organization has increased its staff by 20 percent over the past year and is now adding 20 new client services team members, including social workers, resident services assistants, counselors and administration.

"We look for what we call four C’s: confidence, character, chemistry and calling. It’s critical that our team believes in what we do and believes in recovery and self-sufficiency for our clients," says Keri Howard, director of human resources.

For more than 40 years, Metropolitan Ministries has served the Tampa Bay region, providing special care for at-risk and homeless individuals and alleviating suffering through resources that instill hope, love and reconciliation.

"Over the last six years, we’ve seen a great recession take hold of many families in our community that are living paycheck to paycheck. The needs of the community have really expanded, and we’ve expanded to meet that need," says President Tim Marks.

Two years ago, Metropolitan Ministries presented a value proposition to its board that would stir local economic change and stimulate sustainability for families in crisis:

Double the organization’s capacity, serving twice as many families at just a 25 percent increase in overall expenses.

Thus, MiraclePlace was born, an initiative to stamp out homelessness while offering transitional housing, crisis counseling, life skills, and educational and career development.

Prior to MiraclePlace, more than 50 families in crisis were on the waiting list to receive housing -- a number that did not sit well with Marks.

"We just thought it was wrong. We were just disturbed that many that were on the waiting list -- 25 percent or so -- were children," says Marks.

The first phase of MiraclePlace will open in August, featuring 52 new units of housing, an early childcare education center, an expanded dining room and a new welcome center. The opening allows Metropolitan Ministries to increase capacity to serve a 20 percent growth in families living on campus.

The final phase of MiraclePlace is expected to open by March 2014, adding another 47 units of housing and leading to a transition plan for 99 additional families. As the organization meets the needs of the initiative, forward growth includes a new K through 5 school, a new gymnasium, an assembly hall, a youth activity center and additional warehousing.

"We expect to be in construction for another 24 months at the main campus. We are also trying to put together a capital campaign for Pasco County to build out a new kitchen and 24 units of housing," says Marks.

The construction of MiraclePlace will add more than 115 construction jobs as well as additional subcontract positions. As developments continue, Metropolitan Ministries will continue to engage partners, staff and volunteers.

"Our civil engineer teams will continue to be engaged with us at the main campus and some additional resources will be involved in construction in Pasco. We have a very vibrant volunteer program, and we’d like to provide more volunteers and mentors that can be involved with the day to day activities," says Marks.

For information on hiring or volunteer opportunities, unique business partnerships, or the donation process, visit Metropolitan Ministries’ website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Tim Marks and Keri Howard, Metropolitan Ministries

4th Startup Weekend Tampa Bay Moves To St. Pete

Do you have a business idea but need support and feedback to get it off the ground? Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur who wants to meet others of like mind and become a part of the next big business venture in Tampa Bay? Startup Weekend might be the place for you.

Holding its fourth event in Tampa Bay, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay is part of a larger network that has hosted more than 400 events in 100 countries around the world since 2011. The event is attended by individuals, teams and groups of entrepreneurs set out to make their mark on the business community and become a part of something new.

Attendees pitch their startup ideas and receive feedback from other participants. Teams then form around the top ideas (voted on by participants), which starts the 54-hour event complete with design, planning, collaboration and presentations. Groups receive feedback on their ideas from a panel of experts, and everyone comes out of the experience with new knowledge and connections.  

"Success is having people leave the event with a better understanding of how to take their ideas and bring them to life," says Ryan Sullivan, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay organizer and facilitator.

Sullivan also helps facilitate other Startup Weekends across the country. What’s unique about Tampa Bay’s event is that it doesn’t focus on a specific industry or niche. "We have a very passionate community and an abundance of unique ideas from different background," he notes.

The St. Petersburg location was chosen in hopes of better connecting the Tampa Bay region, as well as for the open layout that will encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among attendees.

The event begins Friday, June 7, at 6:30 pm and concludes Sunday, June 9, at 9 pm at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg.

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

TIE Investors Back Event Networking Mobile App

A group of investors in Tampa Bay is backing a new app designed to better facilitate networking connections at business events.

Four members of the Tampa Bay chapter of TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, recently invested in a 20 percent ownership of Feathr, a start-up created by former University of Florida students Aidan Augustin and Neal Ormsbee. The mobile app is designed to create better connections during events and conferences by serving as a virtual business card. It provides profiles and contact information for speakers, exhibitors and attendees, allowing people to connect instantly for meaningful communications. It also provides real-time schedule and room updates as well as logistical information about the event.

"Feathr has assembled a very talented team to build a mobile app to revolutionize the age old practice of business card exchange," says Ashok Kartham, TiE Tampa Bay Charter Member and board member for Feathr.

TiE Tampa Bay was founded in 2012, and is part of a global organization with 25,000 members in 17 countries. The organization provides local entrepreneurs with connections, education, mentoring and financial support. There are 22 charter members who provide most of the investment funding. The group is also open to general members, most of whom are local entrepreneurs and business owners taking advantage of the expertise.

The philosophical foundation’s primary goal is to nurture and invest in up-and-coming companies with good ideas. Quarterly pitch sessions provide general members with a chance to have their idea heard in front of potential investors.

"We hope the Tampa chapter can make a huge difference in helping to grow tens if not hundreds of businesses in Tampa and Florida in the coming months and years," says Kartham.

TiE has already helped Feathr with product repositioning and marketing and billing and accounting systems. The app will be launched at VenturePitch Orlando on May 7.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ashok Kartham, TiE Tampa Bay

USF Student Makes Cosmetics From Moroccan Oil Plant

Chafik Abdellaoui has always considered himself an entrepreneur. Originally from Morocco, he first came to the United States in 2008 to pursue a BA in business. After traveling and launching a website in France, he returned to the U.S. in 2011 to attend the University of South Florida. He graduates this spring with an MBA degree.

Abdellaoui's mother was a beauty professional for many years, owning a spa in Casablanca, Morocco. Seeing his mother's success gave him the inspiration to get into the business himself.

In March 2012, Abdellaoui launched Prettymanagement.com, an online solution that allows beauty salon and spa managers to manage their customers, inventory, staff and marketing.

In March of this year, he started another company by the name of Pretty Argan. The cosmetics company produces organic, all-natural products using argan oil, a plant oil extracted from the kernel of the argan tree in the Souss Valley of Morocco.

The oil is extracted from the argan fruit, which grows on a 200-year-old tree that only grows in that part of the world. Women in a local cooperative pick the fruit, break the kernel inside and extract the oil from the kernel by hand.

Abdellaoui and his fiance discovered the oil while traveling to the Souss Valley. They noticed the Berber people there used it for almost everything – their skin, hair, food and some medicinal purposes. The oil is very popular in Europe, but isn’t as well known in the United States. Abdellaoui decided to dive in and launch a company to increase awareness of the benefits of the oil in the U.S. The oil is imported from Morocco, and the products are formulated and marketed in Tampa Bay.  

"I enjoy the entrepreneurial venture of trying to achieve something using my energy, time and investment," says Abdellaoui. He also likes that the company helps guarantee jobs for women in the Souss Valley.

Abdellaoui attributes the connections made while in the USF MBA program with helping him get the business launched. His graduate assistant position gave him direct access to the resources in the USF Center for Entrepreneurship. He also joined Tampa Bay WaVE’s roundtable and is using their co-working space.

"I'm trying to take advantage of as many resources as possible that are available to entrepreneurs in Florida," says Abdellaoui. "Tampa is a very good area because it does provide a lot of these resources."

Once becoming more established in Tampa, Abdellaoui plans to distribute Pretty Argan statewide and eventually across the nation.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Chafik Abdellaoui, Pretty Argan

Tampa Bay Touts Itself As Incubator For Healthcare Innovation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunscreen Film Festival Features Spanish Language Filmmakers, St. Pete

Hecho en Mexico is a documentary about the heart, soul, life, dreams and hopes of the artists and performers in contemporary Mexico. It captures the spirituality, identity, culture and tradition of what it truly means to be made in Mexico.

The film will be featured on opening night of the Sunscreen Film Festival, April 18 – 21 at the Muvico 20 Theaters and IMAX at Baywalk in St. Petersburg. It’s one of 30 Spanish language films that will be screened over the course of the four-day event, in addition to numerous other documentary, feature, short and independent films that span all genres.

The event is hosted by the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Society. Now in its 8th year, it has received national recognition and grown to more than 11,000 attendees.

The Spanish Language Filmmaker Showcase is funded by a grant received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and will feature films from Spain, Cuba, South America, Latin America and other places around the world, all made by Hispanic filmmakers.

Other Spanish Language feature films include: La Gran Facacia (The Great Falllacy), a documentary about the current political, social and economic situation in Puerto Rico, and Girl in Progress, a fiction film about single mom juggling work, bills an affair and her daughter’s attempted shortcut into adulthood.

It's the first Spanish Language film showcase in the Tampa Bay region, reflecting the strong influence of the Hispanic population and heritage in the region.

"Arts play a big role in the community," says Tony Armer, executive director of the Sunscreen Film Festival. "From an economic development standpoint, they bring more to the community than sports do."

The festival offers a way to support the arts, as well as to "enjoy some good films, workshops and parties," says Armer.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Tony Armer, Sunscreen Film Festival

Juvenile Welfare Board Hiring Senior Contract Manager, Pinellas

The Juvenile Welfare Board Children’s Services Council of Pinellas County (JWB) is adding a senior contract manager to their team to perform project management of core program initiatives that provide resources and funding to ensure the positive well-being of children and families.

With a central mission to ensure the development of children who are maltreated, children unprepared to begin school, or children who may be unsuccessful in educational development, the JWB collaborates and contracts with agencies to ensure that that the lives of each child are dynamically improved through special service programs. JWB is also finalizing the selection process for a new executive director.

“JWB is a vital bridge to a better future for the children in Pinellas County,” says Communications Manager Benjamin Kirby, so it is important for the senior contract manager to work as an internal and external liaison to JWB. “They are really the face of JWB.”

“We are looking for someone that embraces professionalism, the valuing of every child, the willingness to embrace collaboration, pursue innovation and celebrate results.”

The position calls for inter- and intra- departmental support in addition to grassroots efforts in the field -- to evaluate and perform contract compliance with collaborating organizations as well as meeting with social workers, childcare development workers, and families and children involved. Having a significant background in program management and social work as well as being familiar with GAAP, nonprofit management, youth & child development, health & substance abuse, and family counseling is fundamental to the success of the organization.

The senior contract manager will facilitate contract negotiations on behalf of JWB, evaluate and perform contract compliance, should have a master’s degree and should exhibit knowledge of state-related regulations as applied to human service organizations.

“It is incumbent that they carry themselves with a manner of accountability to the tax dollars expended through the programs, but to also understand the difficulties organizations face when providing services that so many people need.”

Interested candidates may view the full job description online and submit resumes by March 8, 2013 to human resources via email, fax to 727.530.7416, or via regular mail to Juvenile Welfare Board Children’s Services Council, Attn: Human Resources, 14155 58th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33760.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Benjamin Kirby, Pinellas Juvenile Welfare Board

March Madness In Tampa Is All About The Arts

Mayor Bob Buckhorn officially proclaims the entire month of March as Gasparilla Arts Month in Tampa.

It all kicks off the first weekend of the month with the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts March 2 – 3 featuring  traditional fine arts, such as ceramics, glass, pottery, jewelry, sculpture and photography, and two brand new, non-traditional mediums showcasing a different side of the arts.

Exploring Pirates

"PIRACY REDUX: Re-examining the Myth of the Buccanneer," looks at the contemporary vs. traditional idea of the pirate. A diverse group of artists will interpret and re-contextualize the idea of piracy in our local culture, whether it be in the traditional sense or the more modern piracy of copyrighted information.

The pod installation will feature art, video, dance and music in Kiley Gardens through the Sunday. The installation is presented by The Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts and curated by TEMPUS PROJECTS and Hampton Arts Management.

"It’s a new venue for art in Tampa, a cultural middle ground," says Tracy Midulla Reller, creative director for TEMPUS PROJECTS.

Kiting Tampa Bay

Kites will also be flying high, along with miniature kite displays featuring aerial photography produced by rigs attached to kites that take photographs while in mid-air. If the weather is right, a 252-square-foot kite will make an appearance.
The project is organized by Kiting Tampa Bay, a club with more than 50 members across the region who will also be on hand with information about kiting.

"Our goal is to share our passion for kiting with others," says Kelly Nunes, co-founder of Kiting Tampa Bay.

Kiting Tampa Bay was founded in October of 2011 with the motto "Just Friends Flying Kites." They chose the arts festival for a kite display because of the two organizations’ mutual goal of supporting children’s cancer charities.

Other Arts Events

Additional arts events in Tampa during the month of March include:

The Gasparilla Music Festival the weekend of March 9. This year's bands include Best Coast, Dr. Dog, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Dawes, Lord Huron, Ozomatli, The Meter Men with special guest Page McConnell, The Iguanas, Applebutter Express, Ozokidz, The Hip Abduction, Nervous Turkey and more.

The Gasparilla International Film Festival the week of March 19-24. Film showings take place in downtown, South Tampa and Ybor City.

Details about all the events can be found on the websites for the Arts Council of Hilsborough County and Visit Tampa Bay.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Kelly Nunes, Kiting Tampa Bay, Tracy Midulla Reller, TEMPUS PROJECTS

Week-long Event Showcases Tampa Bay's Craft Beer Scene

More than 70 breweries, restaurants, retail establishments, bars and festivals across the Tampa Bay region are coming together for 2013 Tampa Bay Beer Week, March 2 to March 10.

Now in its second year, the collaborative event began with the goal of showcasing Tampa Bay as a vibrant craft and specialty beer destination. 

"We actually have a thriving craft beer community in this area," says Gary Kost, executive director for Tampa Bay Beer Week. "There are some local breweries making world-renowned beer. It’s becoming a bigger culture."

The event is managed completely by volunteers. Participants include breweries, distributors, restaurants and even home brewers. Last year there were 150 events during the week. 188 have been scheduled so far this year, with over 200 expected.

On March 2, Florida Brewers Guild hosts their Annual Beer Festival at Centennial Park in Ybor City, where the Best Florida Beer Championship winners will be announced. The awards ceremony will be held March 3 at the 14th Annual Brewers Ball at the Cuban Club.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will also kick off the week by tapping a ceremonial keg at Tampa Bay Brewing Company on March 2nd.

At the conclusion of the week, Cigar City Brewing in Tampa will host Hunahpu’s Day on March 9, featuring the annual exclusive release of the brewery’s Hunahpu Imperial Stout beer.

Other events include tastings at liquor stores, restaurant events featuring full four and five-course meals and food truck rallies -- all with lots of opportunities to sample local brews from Tampa Bay.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Gary Kost, Tampa Bay Beer Week

Suncoast Tiger Bay Club Seeks Executive Director

St. Petersburg's Suncoast Tiger Bay Club is all about sharing core public and political issues, and they are looking for a new executive director to manage administrative operations, membership and club programs.

Founded in 1978, the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, Inc. is a nonprofit, non-partisan political membership organization that fosters a platform for collaboration and sharing a better understanding of public issues.

The executive director will work closely with the board of directors, the club's president and the chairman to accomplish organizational goals including networking and securing speakers that fit the interests and objectives of the organization.

“We’re looking for someone who has experience in association management, and having a flare for it is important,” says Rick Edmonds, search committee chair.

As the organization’s mission centers on public and political matters, it is also important for the executive director to "have some interest and awareness in politics because it’s what we’re all about.''

The position requires a dedicated 60 to 70 hours per month and includes leading monthly meetings and acting as a liaison to "support the members and the goals of the club.''

Interested candidates may submit a resume and cover letter by March 8, 2013 to Rick Edmonds via email. Candidates may also respond via regular mail to: Rick Edmonds, Search Committee Chair, Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, Inc., c/o Poynter Institute, 801 South Third Street, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Rick Edmonds

Alpha House of Tampa Adding Residential Assistants

Alpha House of Tampa is expanding its staff and seeking residential assistants to provide residential care, vocational preparation and childcare assistance to Alpha House residents. Alpha House is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving homeless pregnant women and mothers with young children in crisis by providing safe housing and professional skills. Residential assistants will help Alpha House create safe, sustainable and effective futures for individuals in crisis.

The organization provides parenting classes, counseling, vocational training, spiritual support and other tools necessary for residents to become self-sufficient. They are now adding additional residential assistants to their roster and are also hiring a senior case manager to support their growing initiatives. Residential assistants will provide planning, scheduling and 24-hour residential support and care for 23 maternity residents.

Residential assistants play a core role in providing care and developmental assistance to Alpha House residents. "They are with the residents and help with maternity care, appointments, and transportation needs,'' says Rachel Luis, communications director.

Residential assistants should have experience working in human services and will be required to complete DCF background clearance and fingerprinting as well as receive and maintain CPR and Basic First Aid certification.

Several positions are available to help Alpha House achieve its goal of providing around-the-clock residential support: Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm to midnight and 3 pm to 11 pm; Saturdays and Sundays from 4 pm to midnight and 11 pm to 7 am.

Candidates may apply at the agency or may send resumes via email, via fax to 813.876.0657 or via regular mail to: Alpha House of Tampa, Inc., Attn: Barbara McCormick, Program Director, 201 S. Tampania Avenue, Tampa, FL 33609.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Rachel Luis, Alpha House of Tampa

Tampa Bay Youth In Florida Robotics Competition

A group of 10 Tampa Bay middle and high school students plan to show off their teamwork and technical skills at FIRST Tech Challenge’s Florida State Championship on March 2 in Daytona Beach.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge
is an annual robotics competition for students in grades 7 to 12. The challenge is run by FIRST, a the national organization that fosters youth interest in science and technology.

Teams of up to 10 students are provided with a robot kit and asked to design, build and program their robots using a game scenario that changes from year to year. The students are judged based on robot performance, an engineering notebook which documents the design and building process, a team video and overall teamwork.

Team Duct Tape, sponsored by Learning is for Everyone, is a group of 13- to 15-year-olds with the philosophy: Character before Completion. Typically based out of just one high school, Team Duct is unique in that it includes students from public, private and home schools across the Tampa Bay region. 

Teams receive the challenge in September of each year. This year's challenge, called "RING IT UP," involves a tic tac toe game, where the robot has to grapple plastic rings and score them on a peg board. At the competition, teams are randomly paired with another team who could end up being their opponent in the next round. In addition to the technical skills required, students must learn to collaborate and stay professional throughout the process.

"These are important skills that we want kids to develop as we grow our tech community," says Terri Willingham, president of Learning is for Everyone.

The team will compete against 24 students for various awards and prizes, including scholarships. To financially support the  team by helping subsidize travel costs, visit the Team Duct Tape website.

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

 

Polk College Presidents Sign Petition To Increase College Degree Attainment

For the first time in Polk County's history, all regionally accredited public and private colleges and universities have come together with the common goal of increasing the number of students who finish their college degrees.

The presidents of Florida Southern College, Keiser University, Polk State College, Southeastern University, Warner University, Webster University and Webber International University signed a letter in recognition of their support. 

The initiative is led by Graduate Polk, a collaboration of businesses and higher education championed by Polk Vision.

In addition to the letter, Graduate Polk is offering a phone number -- 863.298.6855 -- for those looking to return to college. Staffed by employees at Polk State College, the informational line directs callers to the institution that best meets their needs.

"The economic benefit as people advance in their careers and move into jobs where they have more options to earn more directly benefits the community we live in," says Eileen Holden, president of Polk State College. "It also sets the course in motion for future generations that college is attainable and affordable."

Polk State College recently signed the Reverse Transfer Agreement with the University of South Florida, which allows students who completed some academic coursework at both colleges but didn’t finish a degree to apply credits toward an Associate in Arts Degree at Polk State and automatically graduate.

Polk area businesses involved in Graduate Polk include: DSM, Mosaic, Polk County Appraisers Office, Polk County School District and Publix.

The Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA is part of the Tampa Bay Partnership’s Graduate Tampa Bay initiative, which aims to increase overall degree attainment in the region by focusing on those who have started college but haven’t finished their degree. The MSA is also competing with over 50 other metropolitan areas in the national Talent Dividend Competition, which will award a $1 million prize to the area with the largest increase in college degrees by the end of 2013.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Eileen Holden, Polk State College; Sara Roberts, Polk Vision

Young Inventors Win For Creativity, Innovation, Tampa

Tampa Bay K-12 students showed off their ingenuity at the USF Young Inventor Competition on February 11 at the Patel Center at the University of South Florida.
 
The event is an annual tradition honoring Thomas Alva Edison’s birthday. Now in its fifth year, the competition was founded by patent attorney Anton Hopen and his daughter Anna to inspire creativity and innovation among Tampa Bay youth.
 
The event has grown tremendously, from 80 entries at inception to almost 600 this year. Volunteers, including attorneys, executives, patent holders and inventors, narrow down the entries to determine 10 finalists, who ultimately present their invention in front of judges during the final competition.
 
Inventions are judged on creativity and originality, quality and persuasiveness / value, benefit to the public and marketability.

"They really look at the whole package," says Kari McDermott, assistant to the director at Innovation Express, the nonprofit organization that organizes the event.
 
This year's winner was middle school student Mica Jadick, for her cereal sifting device that filters out the crumbs in the last bit of cereal. The second place winner was George Seits, for his French fry condiment holder. Third place went to Katie Warren for her Boo Boo Baboon, a plush toy that holds a cold pack around a child’s arm or leg after an injury. Other finalists included Keely Karnes, who received the Outback Top Trademark Award for HEAR-RINGS, audio ear buds that combine with earring jewelry. Jonathan Ullom also received special recognition for his device that safely clears clogs of grass from lawn mowers. 
 
First, second and third place winners received cash prizes for themselves and their schools, and all participants received passes to the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).
 
The competition currently involves students from Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. The goal is to eventually expand to include more schools within these counties.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kari McDermott, Innovation Express

Pasco's Microloan Fund Grows Small Businesses

The Pasco Economic Development Council (EDC)'s community-based microloan program is helping  to grow small businesses in the county.

The microloan program has funded 15 jobs since its inception in April 2012. Aimed at companies that have a difficult time obtaining traditional loan funds (mainly due to size), the revolving loan continues to support businesses as funds are paid back.

"It's really important to support start-up and small businesses and give them access to capital to help them grow and hire," says Krista Hakes, economic development manager for Pasco Economic Development Council.

Eight small businesses have received funding thus far:

BVT Products, manufacturer of the Go Caddy multicompartment carry all bag, is using the funding for inventory support.

Good Faith Insurance, a health and life insurance brokerage firm specializing in educating retirees about their Medicare choices and benefits. The owner was the first Hispanic and woman-owned business to receive a microloan, which was used to hire an additional staff member to help with recent growth.

The first loan recipient, Dr. Jay Harvey at Personal Pediatric Care, is fueling growth and a change in business plan.   

Statewide Blinds, a mobile company that installs window treatments and cleans and repairs blinds across the state, is purchasing a trailer and other equipment.

Suncoast Fire Safety, offering training to help businesses stay in compliance with state and local fire safety laws, is growing inventory and upgrading equipment.

Tampa Bay Urodynamics, serving local physicians through mobile medical testing and therapy, purchased equipment and expanded services.

United Underwriters of Tampa Bay, a woman-owned insurance firm covering auto, homeowners, business and motor vehicle insurance, purchased marketing collateral and created a new part-time office position.

And the newest recipient, 301 Designs is an online retailer offering apparel and electronics products.

Pasco EDC partners with SCORE to walk applicants through the loan application process. Recipients also continue to receive technical assistance after the loan is dispersed.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Krista Hakes, Pasco Economic Development Council

Innovators, Educators, Businesses Join In Creative Exploration, Sarasota

What do Legos, Disney, musicians and improvisation have in common? They’re all part of the learning experience at the 10th Annual Florida Creativity Weekend, March 1st to 3rd in Sarasota. 

The Florida Creativity event begins on Friday, with intense immersion workshops to allow for intimate exploration of a selected topic. For example, Christine Alexander of the Florida Studio Theatre Improv and Lazy Fairy Improv Troupes, will help participants find their inner voice and discover new possibilities through the use of Improvisation and theater games. Jane Goldwasser of New Directions Consulting will help participants translate their dreams into an action plan, solve a great problem or get through the initial hurdle of starting a business on their own.

Friday evening, Sarasota-area musician Scott Blum will engage people in a musical experience by creating a band using conference participants.

Saturday and Sunday’s programming will feature speakers such as David Lunken from Cedarcroft Advisors, who will guide teams through the use of LEGO bricks to improve individual and organizational performance. Gert Garman, Global Creative Development Manager for Disney Destinations, will explore how to tell your own story through the use of creativity and senses.  

The goal: Participants might walk away with a new skill, a renewed sense of self, practical ways to make their business or team more productive or innovate, or even see themselves as creative for the first time.

“We are all potentially creative as human beings, and yet too many people do not realize that positive potential,” says Katherine Heusner, PhD, chair of Florida Creativity Weekend. “Having opportunities to unlock our own creative energies, finding ways to empower others. What a difference this can make in our lives, our region and our world.”

More than 200 participants are expected, including entrepreneurs, teachers, students, nonprofit professionals and artists.

The conference will be held at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and Florida Studio Theatre.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Katherine Heusner, Florida Creativity Weekend

Three Pinellas County Nonprofits Grow, Hiring Staff

Three Pinellas County nonprofit organizations are expanding their staff and seeking directors, program facilitators and case managers to accommodate their developing community growth initiatives. ALPHA House of Pinellas County, Inc., Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, and Homeless Emergency Project, Inc. are amongst a passionate hub of nonprofits dedicated to providing sustainable, secure futures for individuals and businesses.

ALPHA House of Pinellas County, Inc. is adding a new position for a part-time development director. With an emphasis in providing supportive services to homeless pregnant women and teens, new mothers and families experiencing crisis pregnancies, ALHPA House is seeking to expand itsresources and network of collaborative partnerships. The development director will network within the community, initiate new relationships and focus on creating and increasing sources of revenue through available grants and other associations. Interested professionals should have a two- to four-year degree or equivalent developmental experience. Resumes may be faxed to Jennifer Stracick at 727.821.4378 or sent by email.

Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce is hiring a new governmental affairs and leadership program facilitator. Tampa Bay Beaches recently launched an affiliate program to better focus on policies that affect the growth and success of businesses in beach communities. The role of the facilitator will “allow us to be readily available to act on behalf of our businesses and to enhance our advocacy efforts in a more grassroots way,” says CEO Robin Sollie. For information, contact Sollie at 727.360.6957 or by email.

Homeless Emergency Project, Inc. (HEP) is hiring for several new positions including a resource development director to secure private and corporate funding and case managers to provide structured goals and supportive services for program participants. HEP’s mission is to provide homeless and very low-income individuals and families with housing and services necessary to become self-sufficient and have improved quality of life. HEP is also hiring an activities coordinator to support a new program that provides “transitional housing for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans having post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Vice President Libby Stone. For a full list of available opportunities and to apply, visit HEP’s website.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Sources: Jennifer Stracick, ALPHA House of Pinellas County; Robin Sollie, Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce; Libby Stone, Homeless Emergency Project

New Alliance Aims To Support Tampa Bay Creatives

Do you work independently and want a way to connect with others for ideas? Are you wondering if it's possible to make a living as an artist or designer? Or maybe you're a musician or actor who wants to meet others in your field. Now there's a way for creative professionals in Tampa Bay to find camaraderie and support to help them make a living doing what they love.

Creatives' Alliance is a professional membership organization for established and aspiring creative professionals such as writers, musicians, painters, actors and actresses, dancers, film makers, tattoo artists, designers and photographers.

The group appeals to all creative disciplines, something that makes it unique in the Tampa Bay region. Strong professional circles exist for those in advertising, photography, architecture and the like. The new multidisciplinary alliance brings together everyone working in a creative field in order to form a more cohesive, collaborative community.

"I love the arts and have built my life on creative endeavors,'' says Aris MacInnes, countess of creativity for Imaginary Mind productions and founder of the Creatives’ Alliance. "I get so inspired by the culture we, as artists, create, and I am bothered by watching the struggles we face to be appreciated, supported and paid well.''

Offerings include mentoring, professional guidance, group brainstorming, coaching, training, industry benchmarks and collaborative tools.

The group's first event is a LaunchPad Workshop on January 19 from 9 am till noon at Keiser University in Tampa, which focuses on launching a freelance career, improving your focus and making contacts with like-minded people.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Aris MacInnes, Creatives' Alliance

Tampa Bay Inventors Named Fellows By National Academy Of Inventors

Six Tampa Bay innovators were recently named as Charter Fellows by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), a global nonprofit organization of universities and research institutions. The group is part of a class of 98 Fellows from 54 institutions, which includes leading scientists and inventors from around the world.
 
Tampa Bay's Fellows were selected based on outstanding leadership, product development, and their support of and participation in innovation as a whole. Here are the locals from the complete list:

    •    Richard D. Gitlin, Sc.D., professor of Electrical Engineering, University of South Florida -- Gitlin has more than 45 patents in the field of electrical engineering. His research includes areas such as digital communication, broadband networks and wireless systems.

    •    D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D., P.E., professor of Chemical Engineering, University of South Florida -- Goswami is co-director of USF's Clean Energy Research Center. He has developed 18 patents, his major accomplishment is a device that uses sunlight to purify indoor air.

    •    Barbara C. Hansen, Ph.D., professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of South Florida -- Hansen is a Director of the USF Center for Preclinical Research and holds a patent in the area of diabetes treatment.

    •    Alan F. List, MD, president and CEO, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute -- List holds several patents, including one involving stimulating growth in stem cells and bone marrow.

    •    Shyam Mohapatra, Ph.D. Endowed Chair, College of Medicine Internal Medicine, University of South Florida -- Mohapatra is director of the Division of Translational Medicine in the USF College of Medicine. His patents and research focus on molecular and cellular inflammation of allergens.

    •    Paul R. Sanberg, Ph.D., D.Sc., Sr. VP for Research and Innovation and President, Research Foundation, University of South Florida -- Sanberg holds over 100 health-related patents worldwide, primarily in the neurology field. His most recent research focused on innovative ways to repair brain damage.

"Tampa Bay should take great pride in this recognition of great minds who are conducting ground-breaking research,'' says Randy Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, a sponsor of the NAI Fellows Program. "Their work has a direct impact on economic development, career opportunities, the potential for entrepreneurial success and our ability to build an innovation economy.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Randy Berridge, Florida High Tech Corridor Council; Keara Leach, National Academy of Inventors

Knowledge M Hosts Innovation Guru, Tampa

Businesses in Tampa have an opportunity to take their innovation up a notch with the arrival of Guy Kawasaki on February 28. Kawasaki will be the keynote speaker at The Art of Innovation event at The Tampa Convention Center in downtown Tampa.

Kawaski, an entrepreneur, bestselling author and Silicon Valley venture capitalist, played a critical role in marketing Apple's Macintosh computers in the 1980s and was named an Apple Fellow in 1995. He is currently managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and co-founder of Alltop.com, an "online magazine rack'' of trending topics on the web.
 
"We're trying to help inspire small businesses to break out of their shell and be more competitive and innovative in their sector,'' says Charise Strandberg, social media marketing manager for Celestar Corporation, which is coordinating the event. "We want Tampa to jump to the next curve, to be in that thoughtful set of innovation.''
 
What does innovation really mean? What does it take to innovate? How do today's businesses innovate to remain competitive? Kawasaki will speak to these things and more, as he provides hands-on learning with specific actions that can be implemented after the event. The topics will be tailored toward the audience and will include strategic steps to creating new products and services, how to break down barriers to innovation, and how set and achieve high goals. 

Attendees will include large and small businesses from the Tampa Bay region, including Florida Blue, Bank of Tampa, Digital Hands and 352 Media.

"A lot of businesses are doing the same thing day after day,'' says Strandberg. "We want to break out of that, to make Tampa an innovation hub. We're only going to do that by bringing people like Guy to Tampa.''

For more information and to register, visit Knowledge M, a division of Celestar.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Charise Strandberg, Celestar Corporation

Operation Transition Prepares Veterans For Civilian Careers, Helps Grow Tampa Bay Companies

Because of the large percentage of unemployed veterans, WilsonHCG has launched Operation Transition, a veteran's initiative with a "holistic approach'' to creating sustainable careers and life paths for veterans and their families. The ultimate purpose of the initiative is to acknowledge the commitment of veterans and to support their transition back to civilian life by "providing the career tools they require to present themselves and their experience effectively.''

The concept emerged in the fall of 2011 when WilsonHCG and other companies from around the nation partnered with the TV show Dr. Drew's Lifechangers on the CW Network in an effort called "Putting America Back to Work.'' As Bridget Webb, Wilson HCG senior director of marketing & recruitment technology, sat in the audience, the story of a young marine veteran stood out. On a flight back to Tampa Bay post-collaboration, Webb thought about the significant number of veterans struggling to make the transition after returning from military service.

Webb pitched the idea of creating an initiative to prepare veterans for military to civilian life transition to company CEO John Wilson who loved  the idea; thus Operation Transition came to life and officially launched in the fall of 2012. As many veterans hold degrees and other expert certifications, Webb explains how the program helps them "get acclimated and find jobs'' while fostering an environment where they can get a one-stop collage of tools and resources. The program offers ''free career assessments'' which help veterans translate their unique skills to the current market in addition to helping them build a LinkedIn profile to showcase their expertise.

"We encourage companies to adopt veteran recruitment programs -- to find someone within their organization who is a veteran and who can be their champion,'' Webb says. This provides veterans with inspiration and the "tools they need to be successful which effectively increases the economy in Tampa.''

Operation Transition 2013 is partnering with several organizations to launch an April webinar geared toward sharing specific career assistance to transitioning veterans. In the summer, Operation Transition will have on-site locations where veterans will be "paired with hiring managers who are informed of the veterans' expert skills and who are ready to make the introduction and start the interview process,'' says Webb.

For individuals, companies or organizations wishing to get involved, contact Webb by email.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Bridget Webb, WilsonHCG

Tampa Company Serving Disabled People Adds Contractors

With a focus on serving families with disabled members, Positive Behavior Supports Corporation (PBS) is building a network of professionals who can provide quality services in Tampa Bay.

The company strives to ensure stringent internal quality standards in order to impact the families and improve their quality of life, says Clinical Director Jennifer Agganis. The company is currently contracting with board certified behavior analysts, board certified assistant behavior analysts and behavior assistants, thereby offering an alternative for unemployed professionals having a specialized expertise. It also opens doors for teachers, psychologists, doctors and other certified professionals to pursue part-time and fulltime work opportunities.

Many of PBS Corp.'s clients are individuals or families with children who suffer from mental illness and other disabilities that may present behavior and basic skill challenges that limit functional abilities. The firm has a growing demand to support Autism Spectrum Disorder, which includes Asperger's Syndrome, PDD-NOS and Autistic Disorder. Particularly for individuals diagnosed with these disorders or related disabilities, it is important to have behavioral services provided to them in "their naturally occurring environment; it's where their world occurs,'' says Agganis.

In just over three years, the company's overall client base grew from 100 to 600. "It's a constant ebb and flow based upon what each of our clients need,'' says Agganis. One family with a child having specific behavioral needs may require between 8 and 40 dedicated hours, so PBS is "constantly looking for analysts and behavior assistants.''

Additionally, professionals will be offered on-going online training on different behavioral aspects as well as mentorship hours toward ensuring final certification for those that require it.

The firm is expanding its core Tampa Bay services to incorporate speech and language pathologists and licensed mental health counselors. Interested candidates can apply online. For more program information, contact the West Coast Regional Coordinator Milissa Yeagley at 855.832.6727, ext. 1013.

Writer: Kaye Brown
Source: Jennifer Agganis, PBS Corp.

New Grants For Artists In Tampa, Hillsborough County

In a continuing effort to develop local artists and integrate arts into the community, the Arts Council of Hillsborough County is offering seven grants of up to $2,000 each to individual artists.

"The arts are what give us a quality of life,'' says Teri Simons, director of program services for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. "They bring us together as individuals. Creativity of a community is a pretty good measure of the quality of the community.''

Since 1989, the Council has awarded $600,000 in grants to individual artists through this program. Last year's winners included Erin Cardinal Wright, who choreographed and directed a dance film called "The Enormity of Two,'' which explores the common threads that bring two people together.  

"The goal is to enable the artists to pursue a project that will help them take their career to the next level,'' says Simons. "That might be through education, a specific medium or technique, or maybe equipment.''

The council is also looking for ways people can bring the arts back into the local community to benefit the citizens. For example, last year's grant winner Crystal Haralambou used the funding for education and support of Shakespeare Behind Bars, a nonprofit program that uses theater to help juvenile justice offenders develop life skills and successfully reintegrate back into society.

Funds for this year's grants are provided by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Council's FIVE by FIVE art event.

The Council also funds a grant program for arts groups and cultural organizations, which typically opens in August.

Requirements and an application for the individual artist grants can be found on the Arts Council website. The deadline to submit an application is Friday, January 18, 2013.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Teri Simons, Hillsborough Arts Council

Tampa Company Helps Businesses Define Market Through Data Analytics

Tampa Bay businesses now have a way to make sense of the often ambiguous analytical data available about their website and other digital media platforms. A franchise of E-Nor, a web analytics company originating in Silicon Valley, recently opened in Temple Terrace.

The company's name is derived from Noor, the traditional Mediterranean word for light. As a certified Google partner, the company's expertise is in bringing to light meaningful digital analytics that will help businesses better understand their market. Many companies already access data for free through Google analytics, but they might not realize the full potential of how valuable the data can be to their growth.

"The digital economy is really growing rapidly, and big data is a major part of its progress,'' says Bilal Saleh, principal partner for E-Nor and owner of the Tampa franchise. "With all that's going on online and with social media, companies have tons of data they don't have real access to or insight about.''

Saleh has worked in the telecommunications industry for the past 20 years at companies such as Motorola and MCI Communications. He and E-Nor's founder, Feras Alhlou, started their careers together at Precision Systems Inc (Psi) in St. Petersburg in 1990. Alhlou, an MBA graduate from the University of South Florida, moved to California. PSi was acquired by a California-based company.

The technical work is currently being done by E-Nor's parent office in California, but as the local office grows, the plan is to become a fully functioning operation, covering the southeastern U.S.
 
"The Tampa Bay area is really growing in the IT sector,'' says Saleh.

"There's a lot of emphasis on growing the IT talent in the area. We're very upbeat about the future of these services in the Tampa Bay area.''
 
E-Nor is hosting a two-day, hands-on training workshop focused on Google analytics January 22 – 23, 2013, in Tampa. The agenda includes in-depth information about market segmentation, data tracking and generating reports. For more information, visit E-Nor's website

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Bilal Saleh, E-Nor

Tampa Bay Businesses Team Up To Help Family In Need For The Holidays

Ten locally owned businesses in Tampa Bay are coming together to make the holidays a little brighter for a deserving family.

The initiative is coordinated by LocalShops1, a grass roots organization that supports locally owned businesses through community events and promotions.

"This is truly a regional approach to what local means, with businesses banding together and crossing city lines to do this,'' says Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1. "By coming together, local businesses can have a bigger impact, which of course helps the community.''

Over $3,500 worth of donations have been secured thus far, including a Christmas turkey from Three Birds Tavern in St. Petersburg, two mattresses from Tampa Bay Discount Mattresses, a collection of items from vendors at the Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market and the grand prize of a full child's bedroom set from The Iron Pelican Antiques & Home Décor. Thirty businesses are expected to attend a holiday party hosted by Island Flavors and Things in Gulfport to donate toys for the family.

A holiday party will be hosted at The Yellow House Event Venue, where the prizes will be given to the family. 

"Local businesses, in general, give much back to the community,'' says Venouziou. "Some studies show that, on average, local businesses give three times as much to local charities as compared to national corporations, so we weren’t surprised to see so much generosity.''

Families can be nominated by contacting: theironpelican@yahoo.com by December 14. Nominations should include the name, contact information, city they live in, ages of children and reason the family deserves to win. Self-nominations are not accepted.

Other local businesses interested in contributing prizes can contact LocalShops1 or call 727.637.5586.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Ester Venouziou, LocalShops1

T-Mobile Adds 150 Jobs At Tampa Call Center

T-Mobile plans to add 150 employees to its Tampa call center operations.

"We're investing in our Tampa facility, which we are expecting will be taking more calls as a result of increased sales,'' says Katie Bookey, PR representative for T-Mobile. "We’re staffing up in order to provide the first-class service we are known for.’

All of the positions that T-Mobile is looking to fill are full-time financial care representative roles. The company is looking for experienced reps, including bilingual reps who speak Spanish and English. Collections experience, as well as a history of work in a call center environment, is required.

The call center is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight, so there are plenty of shifts available to potential employees. T-Mobile offers employees a comprehensive benefits package, which includes medical/dental/vision coverage, matching 401(k) program and paid time off. In addition, employees receive mobile phone and service discounts.

According to Bookey, the company is actively recruiting and plans to fill all of the positions by the end of March 2013. Those interested in applying for the financial care representative positions can do so through T-Mobile’s website.

T-Mobile’s Tampa Call Center is located at 18205 Crane Nest Drive in Tampa.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Katie Bookey, T-Mobile

New Crowdfunding Website Helps Tampa Bay Nonprofits

The Money Crowd, a crowdfunding website designed for nonprofits in Tampa Bay, provides a new option for  community members to support the causes they care about. The site aims to give nonprofits an avenue to fundraise with little to no overhead and less administrative work than traditional projects.

"We wanted to see if crowdfunding could work on a local level for a niche market,'' says Kostas Stoilas, senior associate at Cushman & Wakefield of Florida and founder of The Money Crowd.

Nonprofits develop a need with a specific project, event or cause. The Money Crowd's volunteer team then meets with the organization to fine tune the concept and shoot video to be used on the site. Promotions are done by both the nonprofit and The Money Crowd, and donations go directly to the organization through their Paypal account.
 
A Venice, FL native and graduate of The University of Tampa's MBA program, Stoilas developed the idea while on the leadership council at Big Brothers Big Sisters, which is also the site's first project. The goal is to fund an event that will recognize volunteers who have been with the organization for five years.

The most recent -- and most successful -- project is Hannah's Homeless, a winter clothing and food drive to benefit St. Petersburg's homeless population. The project began in September and has already exceeded its $2,500 goal. The success of this project in the early stages indicates they're on the right path and the community embraces the concept.
Future plans include events to allow donors to meet the organizations they are benefitting for happy hours and networking. 

"Charities love it,'' says Stoilas. "Now we're trying to build the audience and get people to regularly visit the site to find other causes they can get involved with.''

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kostas Stoilas, The Money Crowd

Tampa Business Partners Recycle Used Clothing, Shoes

Going Green Tampa, a directory and advocate for eco-friendly businesses and City Recycling Group, a professional clothing recycling company, are partnering to keep textiles such as clothing, shoes, purses and stuffed animals out of landfills while benefitting those in need. The companies are seeking businesses to host bins at their site, making donating convenient and accessible to the community.

Clothes and shoes take up more space than any other non-durable good in the solid waste stream, accounting for approximately 12.5 million tons of total waste per year in the U.S. alone. That amounts to 67 pounds of clothing contributed by the average person.

Currently, 185 business host bins throughout the Tampa Bay region. Any type of business qualifies to host -- apartment complexes, gas stations, restaurants, retail establishments. Businesses can receive money back from the collections they turn in or choose to donate the money to a charity. City Recycling Group picks up collections weekly.

Most of the clothing collected is recycled as second-hand clothing and sent to Second and Third World countries. Some is made into cleaning and polishing cloths for industrial use, while some is recycled into fiber for insulation.

"It's a triple benefit,'' says Tara LaSalla, partner and account manager for Going Green Tampa. "Most importantly, it keeps things out of the landfill. The host also gets money back, and it furthers their green efforts.''

If companies don't have a lot of money to spend on a green initiative, this is an easy way for them to make a difference.

"It's helping people, and it's good for the environment,'' says LaSalla.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Tara LaSalla, Going Green Tampa

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

FEAST Benefits St. Petersburg Arts, Artists

A small contribution can make a big difference to St. Petersburg artists at FEAST Tampa Bay on November 15 at 6:30 pm at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Each $20 ticket includes a taste of St. Petersburg's best restaurants and a glimpse into current and future projects from local artists. Participants use their ticket to "vote'' on their favorite projects, with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the artists.

"We're engaging supporters of the arts with the artists that are doing work in the community in a very personal way. You get to meet the people and hear directly from their mouth what they're working on, making a direct line of support,'' says T. Hampton Dohrman, director of Creative Pinellas and co-organizer of FEAST Tampa Bay.

The event is the third of its kind in Pinellas, and the first collaboration between Creative Pinellas, Keep St. Petersburg Local  and the Museum of Fine Arts. The synergy between the three groups with their common support of the Pinellas arts and business community allows this innovative event to localize arts funding with a community voice. 

The partnership allows the event to capitalize on the pride of St. Petersburg restaurants that are donating the food so that ticket sales directly benefit the artists. As a new twist for this event, every artist will walk away with something. Each "vote'' from participants will directly transfer to cash for the artist, with the project with the largest amount of votes receiving additional funding from Creative Pinellas.

 The event "injects cash into the arts community for ambitious artists who are looking to do something cool and can make a lot of impact with the small amount,'' says Dohrman.

Artists can apply online through October 31. Tickets are available online or onsite.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: T. Hampton Dohrman, Creative Pinellas

Straz Center Takes Arts To Tampa Schools, Students

The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa offers high quality arts instruction to K-12 schools through a new Conservatory-To-Go initiative. Instructors from the Center offer on-site curriculum on a fee basis, allowing for a custom package designed to meet the needs of each individual school.

"They're getting a fully catered ongoing palate of arts education,'' says Wendy Leigh, VP of education for the Straz Center.

Subjects offered through the program include music classes such as string, percussion and woodwind instruments, theater and musical theater, and dance classes such as ballet and hip-hop. Most classes that are taught on site at the Center are also taught though the traveling program, which is meant to supplement arts programs currently in place in schools.

"In Hillsborough County in particular, the arts are very well served,'' says Leigh. But, most schools don't offer programs in dance or musical theater, allowing Straz to fill the gaps and provide additional enrichment for the students.

The pilot program at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic School provides theater and/or music classes to students in kindergarten through eighth-grade, serving more than 230 students since it began in September.

The program is in Tampa initially, but the goal is to eventually expand regionally.

"Not everyone can get downtown [for our onsite courses], so the more we can get these models to work the more we can serve the community all over the Tampa Bay region,'' says Leigh.
 
The Straz Center is participating in the Great American Teach-in on November 15. Schools interested in getting a sampling of this program can contact: (813) 229-7827.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Wendy Leigh, Straz Center

Snapshot: Images Portray Tampa Bay's People, Places

Tampa Bay's communities offer eclectic blends of culture, creativity and ways of life. A new website uses photographs to profile the people and places that contribute to this vibrancy.

Snapshot Tampa Bay looks at what makes Tampa Bay the cultural mecca that it is -- its people. The project is a labor of love by two local residents and creative advocates, Bryan Hunt and Julia Gorzka Freeman.

"It's our way of spotlighting people, events and places that are going on here in a novel way, to provide a glimpse into how we live,'' says Bryan Hunt.

The inspiration for the website came from their realization that there is lots going on in Tampa Bay that people don't know about. The site offers a different way of looking at people, by taking images inside their homes and businesses to show how they live.

They plan to highlight different neighborhoods to help people discover new restaurants, organizations and people, like Larry and Charlie Schiller of Schiller Salvage in Odessa. The Schillers travel the country to find the neatest and most quirky salvage items to sell in their store.

Other features will include the realm of Tampa Bay's creative economy, from someone living in a condo on the beach to a farmer in the rural areas of Brandon. Future plans include an "explore'' page that will help people navigate the Tampa Bay region and find cool places to go and things to do.

"We're creating a place for people to look at Tampa Bay in a new light,'' says Hunt.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Snapshot Tampa Bay, Bryan Hunt

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

USF, New College Pledge: Award More Degrees

The University of South Florida and New College of Florida are among just under 500 public colleges and universities across the nation pledging to raise the number of bachelor's degrees awarded by the year 2025.

Project Degree Completion, a joint program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), joins with the Lumina Foundation and other national organizations to increase the number of Americans with college degrees by 3.8 million, or to 60 percent of the U.S. adult population.

Among other things, the commitment pledges the institutions to reach out to students who took classes in the past but didn't finish their degree. A similar local effort began in March of this year as part of the Graduate Tampa Bay initiative led by the Tampa Bay Partnership.

"By signing on to Project Degree Completion, we publicly commit USF to doing its part to achieve these goals and add our collective voice to others calling for a renewed partnership between colleges and universities, states and federal government to restore 'best in the world' status to American higher education,'' says Dr. Paul Dosal, VP for student success at the University of South Florida.

The institutions signing the commitment also agreed to minimize expenses while making sure educational quality is enhanced, uphold quality student access, success and diversity, reduce the amount of time it takes to graduate and to support economic growth in the local regions including research and innovation. 

AASCU is highlighting innovative partnerships and programs on its website through initiatives such as the Innovations Exchange, an online forum for sharing information.

"New College of Florida is committed to providing students with a high quality, affordable, public liberal arts education which allows them to uniquely impact the world around them. The College has several initiatives underway to improve student success and thus help with the larger goal of reaching 60 percent degree attainment for the country,'' says Dr. Raymonda Burgman, associate provost for New College of Florida.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Sources: Paul Dosal, USF; Raymonda Burgman, New College of Florida

St. Joseph's Children's Mobile Medical Clinic Expands To Pinellas

The Mobile Medical Clinic (MMC) at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is crossing the Bay to expand its free services to children in Pinellas County.

The arrival in Pinellas will take place October 18 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Family Center in Clearwater. Appointments are required by calling 727-442-5355.

The MMC began in 2004 with the goal of providing required immunizations for children who weren't able to receive them due to health care or financial constraints. The service was so popular and critical to the community that additional services such as physical exams were added the next year.

"We're seeking to fill the healthcare gap, especially for people who don't have health insurance,'' says Kate Kennedy, child advocate for St. Joseph's Children's Advocacy Center and the MMC's coordinator. "We strive to be a bridge to care to give families the services they need at a time and place that's convenient for them.''

The 40-foot bus is staffed with nurses, a childhood specialist, a bilingual child advocate and volunteer pediatricians. Services include: well child physicals and immunizations, developmental screenings, and education and referrals about other community programs for those who have additional needs. Children are also assessed for unintentional injury risks. In 2011, the MMC assisted just under 1,000 children in Hillsborough County, from infants to 18-year-olds.

The expansion into Pinellas County is funded by a grant from Allegany Franciscan Ministries. Future plans include taking individual services off the bus when specific needs are identified in a particular community.

Children must be 18 years old or younger to participate. Parents much accompany children and provide a current vaccine record.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Kate Kennedy, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital

Lakeland Firm Offers Local NonProfits Free Branding

24 straight hours of branding, marketing, strategizing, design and community service. That’s what Lakeland-based Madden Brand Agency is planning for its 2nd Annual Brandathon, November 8 at 8 am.

The company's entire team of eight employees will work through the night to provide pro bono services for selected nonprofit organizations in Polk County. Deliverables will include logo redesign, branded collateral, strategic development or advertising campaigns.

"We really have a culture here about giving back,'' says Michelle Ledford, director of client services for Madden Brand Agency. "We get requests for pro bono work quite often, and this gives us an opportunity to go all in with a focused effort.''
 
Fourteen projects were completed during last year's inaugural event, with overall donations valued at $54,000. Projects included a brochure design for Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE), which provides meals and visits to seniors, and a logo design for Achievement Academy, which assists children with special needs. They also developed a donor development strategy for SPCA Florida in Lakeland. 

The company will provide a live feed with a web cam on their website and will also be posting updates to their blog and Facebook page to keep people up to date during the event.

Interested nonprofit organizations can submit an application by Wednesday, October 17, at 5 pm. Organizations must be a 501(c)3 located in Polk County and have an active Board of Directors who meets on a quarterly basis.
For more information or to submit an application, visit: http://brandmadden.com/brandathon

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Michelle Ledford, Madden Brand Agency

Tampa Chamber Targets Startups, Entrepreneurs

Local entrepreneurs and startups now have an ally in their hunt for success. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is starting a new initiative known as the Startup Scholars Program, which will focus on helping innovators and entrepreneurs access the resources needed to succeed.

"The chamber is in a unique position to unite entrepreneurs with the many isolated resources that are across the Tampa Bay region,'' says John Wakefield, business innovation subcommittee chair for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. "We feel the chamber can play a role in helping entrepreneurs by offering needs assessments and offering our resources to help them.''

Wakefield says the Chamber is looking for startups or entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of development for their product or service. Once entrepreneurs are chosen. they will be provided guidance and assistance in three major areas the Chamber has identified as crucial to a company’s success: seed capital, best management practices and sales growth.

In addition to receiving an assessment, the Chamber will also offer those chosen entrepreneurs membership to their organization, as well as a mentor.

The program is open to entrepreneurs in any industry sector. The Chamber’s mission with the Startup Scholars initiative is to ultimately help the greater economy.

"Our mission is to improve the likelihood of success for entrepreneurs,'' Wakefield says. "If we have more entrepreneurs and startup successes the result will be more jobs and economic development, as well as innovation.''

Applications are being accepted until October 19 and can be completed through the Chamber’s website. Entrepreneurs will be selected by the end of November.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: John Wakefield, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Free Event On Breast Cancer Prevention, Early Detection

The University Area Community Development Center (UACDC) honors Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its sixth annual "Day of Pampering'' event, Saturday, October 20, from 8 am to 2 pm. The event takes place at the University Area Community Center, 14013 North 22nd Street in Tampa. The goal is to educate women about prevention and early detection of breast and cervical cancer and wellness.

"This event empowers women to take charge of their health with screenings and workshops that are both free and fun," say Martine Dorvil, event organizer and director of community outreach at UACDC.

More than 300 women are expected to attend the free event to participate in on-site screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose and other common health concerns. Workshops will provide information on cancer prevention and early detection, healthy lifestyle and nutrition, overcoming stress and resources for cancer survivors.

The event has touched the lives of more than 1,500 women since it began five years ago. Attendees enjoy the interaction and sharing with other women, many who are going through treatment for cancer and other ailments. Their stories and positive attitudes are inspiring and contagious.

Funding is provided by donations and groups including the USF College of Public Health, Tampa Bay Community Cancer Network and Hillsborough County Health Department.

The focus is on the university area community, where there is a critical need to address health care issues and provide opportunities for quality, compassionate and accessible care. It is open to the public, and those who qualify based on income will also receive referrals for free mammograms and pap smears.

Activities will be conducted in both Spanish and English, and other translators will be available.

Pre-registration is encouraged; walk-ins will be allowed as space permits. To register, call the Hillsborough County Health Department at 813-307-8015, ext. 7112 or 3502. The registration deadline is October 12.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Martine Dorvil, UACDC

Selby Gardens Hosts Florida Wildlife Corridor Photos By Carlton Ward Jr.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' Museum of Botany and the Arts in Sarasota is featuring the photography of environmental photojournalist and Clearwater native Carlton Ward Jr. now through November 27.

A gallery walk and talk will be hosted October 17 from 5 to 6 pm. RSVP here for the special tour or call 941-366-5731, ext. 237.

The exhibit will feature 20 original photographs taken during the recent Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, of which Ward participated along with three other Floridians. The 1,000-mile expedition took place over a 100-day period beginning in January of this year with the goal of raising public awareness and generating support for the Florida Wildlife Corridor Project.

The project connects natural lands, waters, farms, forests and ranches from the Everglades to Georgia to protect the health and welfare of the people, wildlife and watersheds. This ultimately ensures the sustainability of Florida's water supply, as well as agricultural heritage and economies.

"Selby Gardens shares a common mission of environmental conservation with the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. We are invested in the success of the Corridor from the perspective of native plant conservation,'' says Jeannie Perales, director of education at Selby Gardens.

The exhibit promises to provide a unique opportunity to see the beauty of Florida in its many facets, most of which have never been seen by the general public. The vivid images of water, plants and animals will allow viewers to feel as if they are standing in the actual Florida Wildlife Corridor.

The exhibit will also include select images from Ward's Gulf Coast Collection, including shots of the sun setting and moon rising over Tampa Bay.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Jeannie Perales, Selby Gardens

Tampa Bay’s Young Professionals Call Regional Summit

Young professionals in Tampa Bay recognize that regional cooperation helps advance the strength of our communities and future opportunities for everyone.

In an effort to promote this cooperation and further the conversation, several young professionals groups are coming together for the second annual Tampa Bay Young Professionals Summit on Friday, October 12, from 1 to 5 pm at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus, room 204 in the Ybor Building.

The event is presented by Emerge Tampa Bay and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, with Clearwater Young Professionals and St. Petersburg Chamber Young Professionals.

The interactive Summit will feature a slate of local guest speakers and presenters as well as breakout sessions to energize participants about the future of Tampa Bay.

Presenters and participants will answer questions like:
-- How can we improve the current business climate and encourage rapid growth?
-- How can young professionals take an active role to improve the region?
-- What would be a game changer for Tampa Bay?

The focus will be on five industry sectors: urban growth/environment, medical tech and healthcare research, entrepreneurship and high tech, cultural impact and education.

"The main goal of the Summit is to educate, engage and gather ideas from Tampa Bay's young professionals for improving the regional economy,'' says Brian Seel, public policy chair for Emerge Tampa Bay and chief organizer of the event. "This is a unique collaborative opportunity to advance the priorities of our generation.''

The Summit will produce a 10-item Economic Action List which will serve as a guiding framework for young professionals to continue to contribute to the regional economy in a meaningful way.

A Happy Hour will also be hosted immediately following the event at New World Brewery in Ybor City.

Cost is $25 per person. Pre-registration at this link is encouraged.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Brian Seel, Emerge Tampa Bay

Tampa Celebrates Hispanic Heritage With Entertainers, Role Models

The City of Tampa Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Committee celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with its 24th annual celebration, taking place Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 11 am. at the Tampa Theatre.
 
"Our goal is to promote awareness of Tampa's Hispanic roots and diverse population, as well as raise funds for the USF Latino scholarship fund,'' says Israel Segarra, contract management officer for the City of Tampa and chairman of the Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Committee. "It's a great event, and we'll have a lot of fun.''

Entertainment at Tampa Theatre will include performances from the Showstar dance team from Tampa Gym and Dance and Marina Orosco from the local singing duo Latin Fun Singers.

Keynote speaker Lissette Campos, director of Community Affairs and Emmy Award-winning journalist at ABC Action News, will offer her personal story of trials and accomplishments and an inspiring message for local youth. Some 150 to 200 elementary school students are expected to attend, along with senior citizens groups and other members of the community.

Tedd Webb from 970 WFLA radio will serve as emcee.
 
Mayor Bob Buckhorn will present a proclamation recognizing Tampa’s Hispanic roots and diverse population.

Formed in 1988, the Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Committee is a grass-roots, volunteer committee comprised of city employees and retirees.

The group preserves and celebrates Tampa's Hispanic culture and promotes the importance of education to local Hispanic youth through mentoring and scholarships. Other events include Latin Fest and an annual gala event.

The event is free and open to the public. The first 200 guests will enjoy a light lunch.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Israel Segarra, City of Tampa Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Committee

Brookings Targets Tampa Bay For Export Training

The Tampa Bay region has been chosen among other selected metro areas in the U.S. to participate in the prestigious Brookings Metropolitan Export Exchange. The Brookings Institution initiative helps local economies come up with their own export plans that target growth through market intelligence designed to increase the region’s exports and create jobs.

"The real impact of the selection will be increased business opportunities and jobs,'' says Betty Carlin of the Tampa Bay Partnership. "Tampa Bay makes up 25 percent of the state’s economy, yet we represent only 15.6 percent of Florida’s merchandise exports. We see that gap as an opportunity for real growth that a customized export plan could help us bridge.''

Tampa Bay exports increased more than 18 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Carlin says that some of the area’s major exports include computer and electronic equipment, chemicals and transportation equipment.

The Brookings Metropolitan Export Exchange, part of the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on state and metropolitan innovation, is a six- to 12-month program that involves training, and regional team work assignments.  Tampa plans to prepare an export market assessment, export strategy, as well as an implementation plan and policy memo as part of the exchange project.  Tampa leaders involved in the project expect to be completed with their export plan within six to nine months.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Betty Carlin, Tampa Bay Partnership

Polk State College Gets Creative To Up Graduation Rate

Polk State College in Winter Haven is increasing the number of degrees awarded, as motivated by the Graduate Tampa Bay initiative.

The Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA is one of three in Tampa Bay competing with over 50 other metropolitan areas in the national Talent Dividend Competition. A $1 million prize will be awarded to the area that sees the largest increase in college degrees by the year 2013.

Led by the Tampa Bay Partnership, Graduate Tampa Bay focuses on people who have started college but haven't finished their degree. 

"Getting their foot back in the door is a scary thing,'' says Naomi Boyer, associate VP for strategic initiatives at Polk State College. The College is making it less scary with some innovative ways to help former students finish school.

For example, they are removing barriers by graduating students who received enough credits but have not completed certain administrative steps required to graduate. They are also creating a "fast track'' online option for general education courses to help those who have completed some courses.

Another possibility being considered is reverse degree completion. Some students take courses at the College and then transfer to a four-year institution for the additional classes. These courses can be reversed back to Polk State College's system to show that the degrees were completed, providing students with the credential they earned.

The College is also reaching out to local businesses to provide services tailored to their employees, such as on-site advising. College reps  recently participated in a community event hosted by Polk Vision, where this idea, among other things, was explored with local businesses and other universities.

"We're dialoging with the businesses to help them conceptualize what's even possible within their scope of reference,'' says Boyer. The group plans to continue meeting on a monthly basis to explore other creative ways to increase college attainment.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Naomi Boyer, Polk State College

Tampa Screening Of "Unfinished Spaces'' Celebrates Arts Of Cuba

The Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) hosts a release of the film “Unfinished Spaces” October 5 at 7 pm at the Cuban Club in Ybor City.

The film documents the struggles and passion of three young, visionary architects commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to build a National Art School in Cuba in 1961. Their radical, pioneering designs attracted dancers, musicians and artists from across the country. Construction was abruptly halted with the onset of the Cuban Revolution, and to this day the project remains unfinished.

The film includes archival footage from 1960s-era Cuba, including Fidel Castro discussing his plans for the national art schools. It offers a unique window into the history of the arts in Cuba that is not often available to American viewers.

Woven within the historical presentation is a social message about the importance of art in Cuban culture -- and in any culture.

The architects offer an inspiring message about the power of the arts and the need for artists to push forward and create beauty in the face of adversity, be it censorship, oppression or political setbacks.

"We hope the film will offer a new perspective on the role the artist plays in society, and the way art can shape history,'' says Alysa Nahmias, the film's New York-based co-director and co-producer.

Tampa is one of five U.S. locations chosen to showcase the film during its public release in October, partly because of its large population of Cuban-Americans and Latinos. The producers aim to forge new dialogue with creatives, designers and anyone interested in learning more about Cuba's preservation and history.  The film is part of AIA's Archtober, a month-long set of events designed to get the public thinking about the impact of architecture and design.

Other events include an architectural walking tour of downtown Tampa on October 5, a Design Mixer on October 11, a screening of the film Design & Thinking on October 18, a Photography Awards Reception on October 25 and the annual Celebrate Design event on November 1.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Alysa Nahmias, "Unfinished Spaces''

TEDxTampaBay: The Future Of Stories At MOSI

With the motto "ideas worth spreading,'' TED (technology, entertainment, design) events bring together inspiring thought leaders with fascinating and motivating messages. The mission is to use ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world.

TEDxTampaBay, taking place September 21 at MOSI in Tampa, connects local people who have big ideas and want to create change. "It brings people together at a very human level, which is a powerful force for change of any kind,'' says Gina Clifford, co-founder and organizer. "It's kind of an organic entrepreneurial experience.''

Now in its third year, the 2012 theme "The Future of Stories'' explores the past, present and future of storytelling, particularly in an age of digital media. Storytellers include Sidney Pierce, a professor at the University of South Florida Tampa, who will share his research on an animal that steals chlorophyll from plants and then uses it to make energy. And Jayme Cellitioci, whose B.S. in psychobiology and M.S. in creativity help her explore the power of storytelling through free-choice learning platforms such as science museums and zoos.

Last year's event inspired meaningful connections that span beyond the event. Stanford University student Vineet Singal spoke about nonprofit health organizations he founded. As a result of his talk, he met a local woman who started a nonprofit to honor her daughter, who died from multiple sclerosis. Vineet now serves as her adviser and is helping her get the organization off the ground. 

Innovators, creatives, entrepreneurs, scientists, technologists and anyone open to new ideas is encouraged to attend -- especially those who believe they can and will change the world. The cost is $40 and includes admission to MOSI, free parking, a catered lunch, various activities during breaks and a full day of inspiring TED-style talks.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Gina Clifford, TEDxTampaBay

Front Row Tampa Bay: Live Webcasts Offer Media Alternative

The Tampa Bay Partnership and The Victory Group have teamed up to create live webcasts of interviews with community, business and political leaders from across the state in hopes that you and the rest of the world will tune in rather than watch traditional media coverage surrounding the Republican National Convention.

The idea behind Front Row Tampa Bay is to showcase the stories of innovators, investors and thought leaders in their own words unfiltered by outsiders or insiders who may be more focused on different perspectives or unfavorable comparisons.

"The program provides opportunities for organizations of all types to showcase leading industries, groundbreaking research, up-and-coming entrepreneurs and our unparalleled quality of life,'' writes Stuart Rogel, president and CEO of the Partnership. "Using cutting-edge technology, our four-day Web TV broadcast will spotlight some of the key drivers that position the area so well in the new economy.''

Stories and interviews with people like Florida Gov. Rick Scott, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn specifically showcase investment opportunities and job growth in industries targeted by the Partnership, namely applied medicine and human performance, high-tech electronics and instruments, business, financial and data services, and marine and environmental activities.

Front Row will also offer stories on local attractions and RNC-related parties as a way to show the experiences and faces of Tampa Bay residents and visitors.

The overall investment -- more than $500,000 -- is among the largest the Partnership and its investors or any other organization is spending to market Tampa Bay.

Writer: Diane Egner
Source: Stuart Rogel, Tampa Bay Partnership

MOSI Tampa Seeks Exhibitors For November Idea Faire

MOSI in Tampa is hosting its two-day inaugural Idea Faire in November. The Idea Faire is a celebration of human creativity and innovation. Exhibitors with ideas and creations related to technology, creativity and innovation are encouraged to participate in the event.

“We are looking for innovators in gaming, robotics, design, technology, music and art,” says Shannon Herbon, communication manager for MOSI. “This event provides exhibitors the opportunity to share their ideas and creations with the Tampa Bay community.”

The Idea Faire will be part of MOSI’s Idea Zone, which is a “do-it-yourself” lab that is currently open at the museum. Exhibitors who want to participate by sharing their ideas and creations can do so free of charge, however, participants must send in an application by Aug. 31st. Vendors who wish to participate in the Idea Marketplace can do so for a nominal fee.

The organizers of the event hope to have a diverse group of innovators and creative thinkers; therefore, there is currently no limit to the amount of exhibitors or vendors that can participate. Businesses, groups, educational institutions, innovators and clubs are invited to take part in the event.

“MOSI is the largest science center in the Southeast [U.S.], so we will find room for everyone,” says Herbon. “Rarely do you see an event that provides opportunities for vendors focused on robotics, video gaming, science and engineering.”

The 2012 Idea Faire at MOSI will take place Nov. 17th and 18th. To learn more about becoming an exhibitor or vendor at the event, contact MOSI at 813-987-6000.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Shannon Herbon, MOSI

Aviation Company In Manatee Expanding, Hiring 26

Radiant Power Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of backup power and cabin power management products for commercial aviation, is expanding and hiring in Manatee County. The company, which relocated to Florida from California in 1999, will expand its 20,000-square-foot facility by more than 6,000 square feet. According to the president of the company, the growth is attributed to strong sales and strategic planning.

“We have experienced organic business growth as the aerospace market continues to recover,” says Anish Patel, president of Radiant Power Corporation. “Also, we completed an acquisition in mid-April of Moritz Aerospace, and the strategic decision making, along with the funding we received from the county, we were able to make the decision to bring that business to Manatee.”

Patel says that he plans to hire additional employees over the next four years. According to the Manatee County Economic Development Council, the added jobs will pay 15 percent more  on average than the county average wage.

“We estimate we will add seven to 10 jobs within the next year, three of which will be engineering in production and production support,” Patel says. “As the business continues to grow based on the forecast, we anticipate the balance of the remaining 26 positions will be filled over the next four years, and those positions will be in product and product assembly as well.”

Radiant Power designs and manufactures custom power supplies, inverters and lighting controls for all production models of Boeing aircraft, as well as numerous regional jets and business jets. Job candidates may send their resumes or inquiries to human resources by clicking here.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Anish Patel, Radiant Power Corporation

Pinellas Author Offers Job Workshops For Veterans

Every Thursday morning at a church in Clearwater a group of veterans attend Lee Savage’s job search workshop. The program, AIM for Jobs-4-Veterans, was created by Savage to help military veterans transition into the civilian workforce.

"AIM for Jobs-4-Veterans is open to veterans regardless of age, gender or length of service,'' Savage says. "Since workshops are provided each week, unemployed veterans can jump in any time.''

Savage is no stranger to helping people with their job searches; he has more than 25 years of experience in human resources and job placement. He recently published a book titled, AIM for Jobs, which helps jobseekers navigate the job search process.

"One night I was awakened around 2:30 a.m. with the word 'aim' and a target,'' he says. "I got up and wrote it down including the arrow, which has the words of the acronym: attitude, initiative and motivation. I told this to my wife, Joan, and my kids and they encouraged me to write the book with that title and logo.''

Savage uses the information found in his book in the workshop that he leads every week at Heritage Church, 2680 Landmark Dr. in Clearwater. His goal is to reach 100 veterans each month until every unemployed veteran in the Tampa Bay region, and ultimately Florida, finds employment. To reach his goal, he seeks $25 donations from individuals in the community to pay for an unemployed veteran to attend the workshops and receive materials.

"Currently we have 10 individual sponsors at all levels and four corporate sponsors covering 52 veterans,'' Savage says. "We stay with each of our vets until they find a job; four have found jobs in the past six days.''

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Lee Savage, AIM for Jobs-4-Veterans

St. Pete Indies Reward Shoppers, Give Prizes In July

Big spenders at local businesses could win a sizable "thank you'' this month from Keep Saint Petersburg Local. The St. Pete-based independent business alliance has organized the "St. Pete’s Greatest Local Lover'' contest to celebrate Independents Week (July 1-7), a national celebration of local businesses organized annually by the American Independent Business Alliance.

To participate, customers can locate member businesses at Keep Saint Petersburg Local’s website. Shop, hire, dine, etc., and save your receipts on purchases made during the two weeks from June 30 to July 15. Then register on the KSPL website by July 18 to compete for the contest prize. (Only the top three spenders will be contacted to show their receipts as proofs of purchase.)

With more than 200 members including restaurants, retail stores, hair salons, web designers, lawyers, a dentist and a pest control company, KSPL is ready to connect customers with businesses, says founder and president Olga Bof, who launched the organization in January 2012. The goal of the contest is less to encourage spending sprees than to entice customers to drop the dough they'd be spending anyway at local, independently owned establishments.

"Maybe it's stuff that you're doing anyway these two weeks, but you're going to up the ante a little bit and support even more,'' Bof says.

The contest winner will take home a package of prizes that includes $3,000 worth of gift certificates from dozens of KSPL members including Mazzaro’s Italian Market, St. Pete Brasserie, Peaceful Warrior Massage, Vintage Interiors and Kathryn Cole Jewelry; $200 in KSPL currency to spend at member businesses; dinner for four at the winner's home, catered by Meze 119; a half-page ad in weekly newspaper Creative Loafing; and a one-of-a-kind commemorative award conceived and crafted by artist Joshua Poll of Zen Glass Studio.
   
Both individuals and businesses are eligible to compete as spenders. For a complete list of rules and regulations, click here.

Writer: Megan Voeller
Source: Olga Bof, Keep St. Petersburg Local

USF Ranks 10th Worldwide In Patents, Tampa

The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) ranked USF 10th  worldwide among all universities granted U.S. patents in 2011. Every year the IPO ranks the top 300 organizations worldwide to receive patents; this year 11 universities were included. Other institutions on the list include Stanford, MIT and Caltech. While USF ranked 281st among all organizations, it was the only university in Florida to be included in the report.

USF is a global research university, and part of what distinguishes us is that our faculty, staff and students are true innovators, free to think in any direction, and given incentives for success,” says Dr. Paul R. Sanberg, USF VP for research and innovation. “The discoveries and patents that come as a result of USF’s unwavering focus on research and innovation represent the potential for new products, new jobs and new businesses.”

USF was issued 86 patents, which is an increase of more than 3 percent from 2010. Valerie McDevitt, assistant VP for patents and licensing at USF, shared some of the most innovative patents USF created. They include:

1. Radioactive seeds that allow a breast surgeon to find suspected lumps or lesions for biopsy, resulting in earlier surgery times, a better procedure and improved outcomes;

2. A new type of roller coaster that lets the rider control their path to a larger degree than on most roller coasters;

3. A hands-free “dancing wheelchair” on which the rider uses his or her entire body like a joy-stick to move the chair;

4. A “backpack relocator” for wheelchairs that moves the backpack from the back of the chair to where the user can access its contents, providing tremendous independence for returning veterans and others with handicaps that limit their range of motion. 

Click here for a full list of the IPO report.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Paul R. Sanberg and Valerie McDevitt, USF

Florida Offers Economic Gardening Certification

Krista Hakes of the Pasco Economic Development Council (Pasco EDC) is one of six people in Florida to complete the Economic Gardening Certification offered through GrowFL.
 
Economic Gardening is part of a larger movement that takes an entrepreneurial approach to economic development through a model created by Chris Gibbons of Littleton, CO. The goal of economic gardening is to create jobs and improve the economy at the local level.
 
“Economic gardening helps second-stage companies with the challenges they face,” says Tammie Nemecek of GrowFL, which is the state’s branch of the larger economic gardening movement.

The certification program that Hakes completed is part of the National Center for Economic Gardening at the Edward Lowe Foundation, which follows the Chris Gibbons model. The certification enables Hakes to launch and administer a successful economic gardening program in Pasco that will help local entrepreneurs and small companies to grow their businesses.   

“The certification process involves online courses and webinars,” says Jessica Nelson, operations manager of the National Center for Economic Gardening at the Edward Lowe Foundation. “Overall the certification takes three weeks to complete.”
 
In addition to Hakes, the five other individuals in Florida who have completed the program include Paul Mitchell of the Volusia County Economic Development Council, Chelsea Jones-Finely of the Southern Florida Minority Supplier Development Council, Debrah Forester of the Charlotte County Economic Development Council, Mandy Hines of DeSoto County and Kara Palmer of the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee.
 
GrowFL has plans to certify more people in the future; those interested in becoming certified should contact Jessica Nelson at the National Center for Economic Gardening. Entrepreneurs seeking support for accelerating their business should contact their local economic development council or GrowFL.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Tammie Nemecek, GrowFL, and Jessica Nelson, National Center for Economic Gardening at the Edward Lowe Foundation

Manatee, Sarasota Entrepreneurs Can Get Coaching

Suncoast Community Capital (SCC) and the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership (UEP) are working together to offer personalized coaching to Sarasota and Manatee business owners. The UEP is part of the Kauffman Foundation, an organization dedicated to entrepreneurship. Individuals who qualify will receive one-on-one coaching from successful professionals with business expertise.

“The UEP approached us because it saw enormous untapped potential in Sarasota and Manatee counties, and it was impressed by what we have been able to do in supporting entrepreneurs in a short period of time,” says Mike Kennedy, president and CEO of Suncoast Community Capital. “Kauffman is the largest foundation in the world devoted to entrepreneurship, and we knew the UEP would be a wonderful partner to support entrepreneurs who want to quickly improve profitability and create jobs by offering personalized, one-to-one business coaching.”

In order to participate, eligible applicants must either have an idea for a business or be currently operating a for-profit or nonprofit business in either Sarasota or Manatee county.

“We simply are looking for ideas or companies of any type or size that have the potential to quickly increase profitability and create jobs as a result of the coaching,” he says. SCC and the UEP will assess that potential during the application and screening process.”

While approximately 48 entrepreneurs will be selected to receive training annually, only 12 applicants will be selected to receive the next round of coaching, which will begin mid-July.

Kennedy says that while his company is accepts applications year-round online, those interested in receiving coaching this summer need to apply by June 20.
 
Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Mike Kennedy, Suncoast Community Capital

TBTF's coolTECH 2012 Comes To Tampa On June 22

The annual coolTECH event hosted by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF) in Tampa is scheduled for Friday, June 22. Every year the event showcases the latest in technology and innovations created locally.

"coolTECH is important to our region's technology community because it shines a spotlight on the innovations and technologies being developed right here in our own backyard that will change the way we live and work,'' says Kimberly Wander, events manager at TBTF. "It also gives us the opportunity to highlight the entrepreneurs in our community.''

Wander says there is a fresh lot of exhibitors at this year’s event, including a solar thermal powered air-conditioning and water pumping system, the only web-based family emergency notification system tied to the national 911 agency network and a keyless keyboard that enables individuals with special needs the ability to communicate.  Nearly 50 exhibitors will display their latest technological innovations.

In addition to the exhibits, coolTECH 2012 will also feature Dr. Kenneth Ford, founder and CEO of the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC).

"Dr. Ford will be talking about human-centered computing, which is how human thought and action are inextricably linked to technology systems,'' Wander says. "Attendees will hear what the future will hold when computational systems are designed to amplify the human and machine components together in ways that exploit their strengths.''

Now in its fifth year, coolTECH will be held at the Tampa Convention Center on June 22 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sponsorship opportunities are still available, and tickets can be purchased online.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Kimberly Wander, Tampa Bay Technology Forum

Popular Clothing Swap Goes Monthly, Gulfport

A free clothing swap at the Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market is becoming so popular that city officials have agreed to make it a regular event on the second Tuesday of each month (June 12, July 10, etc.).

The idea is to bring in your gently used clothing and swap it for someone else's. Tired of that Hawaiian shirt? Swap it for a Guayabera! Lose 10 pounds on a vegan diet? Size down till you stabilize the weight. Buy a pair of shoes that pinch your big toe? Trade 'em in for a pair of sandals.

Items for men, women and children are accepted. So are extra items. And, if you can't find something to your liking, keep a voucher and come back next time.

Leftovers -- clothing and cash -- is donated to the Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) nonprofit organization, which serves survivors of abuse and violence.

"This is a great, easy way for community to come out and show support for some of our neighbors in their time of need as they flee domestic violence and being a new life,'' says Stuart Berger, CASA development director. "Simply go through your closets and pick out some gently used items. Then enjoy the swap, knowing that all remaining clothing will be donated to CASA to help others.''

The weekly Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market features more than 50 vendors, including fresh fruits and veggies, Florida beef and chicken, local herbs and crafts as well as live music, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The clothing swap is co-sponsored by the Gulfport Merchants Association, Historic Peninsula Inn & Spa and the Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market.

Writer: Diane Egner
Source: Daniel Hodge, Gulfport Merchants Association

Virtual Job Fair For Youth Seeking Employers, Tampa Bay

The Suncoast Workforce of Sarasota, in partnership with WorkNet Pinellas and several other Tampa Bay area workforce organizations, will hold a virtual job fair for youth starting May 13th and running through May 19th. The live week-long event will be free for job seekers and is catered to the younger demographic, ages 14-24.

“Businesses can benefit from a younger worker's perspective and new ideas,” says Sally Hill, communications director of Suncoast Workforce. “They tend to be open to learning and they thrive on coaching and mentoring from others. Youth are the workforce of the future.”

This is the second consecutive year for the virtual event that spans six counties. Other workforce organizations include Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance in Hillsborough, Career Central in Pasco, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida, the Pinellas Education Foundation, and Tampa Bay area public school districts and colleges.
 
Unlike a traditional job fair, where businesses set up booths and employers and job seekers engage in formal exchanges, the virtual job fair is done completely online in a much less ceremonial fashion. Employers will post their open positions and job seekers can browse jobs and apply during the week-long event. The virtual environment also takes pressure off employers to hire on the spot.

“Employers have the option to review candidate resumes at their leisure and they can decide whether to interview candidates by phone or in person before making their hiring decision,” Hill says.

Hill says that there is still time for employers to participate in the job fair and they would like more businesses to register. Businesses interested in virtually attending the job fair can register by visiting this link.

Writer: Kimberly Patterson
Source: Sally Hill, Suncoast Workforce

Tampa Bay Partnership Plans For Local Job Growth

The Tampa Bay Partnership, an organization focused on the economic growth and development of the region, recently revealed details of its three-year strategic plan to create high-wage jobs. The Regional Business Plan involves local community, business and education leaders working together to create quality jobs with a focus on industry clusters including: applied medicine and human performance; high tech electronics and instruments; business, data and financial services; and marine and environmental activities.

“The four industry clusters identified currently represent more than 350,000 jobs in the Tampa Bay market,” says Stuart Rogel, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership. “That is nearly a quarter of the region's employment base. At an average annual wage of approximately $46,000 or 19 percent higher than the region's average annual wage. With successful implemention of the regional business plan, we can grow this number to 500,000 jobs. Question is, how quickly can we get there?”

While the race is on to achieve the goal of 500,000 jobs, the partnership released its 12th edition of its economic scorecard, which showed that the Tampa Bay area gained 24,133 jobs between the third quarter of 2010 and 2011, which is the largest jobs g