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Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission wins award for best practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

USF rolls out succesful share-a-bike program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radio show podcast program teaches Tampa teens digital entrepreneurship

Local Tampa Bay area teenagers have the chance to learn about digital radio programming and podcast creation during a seven-week class at the Hillel Academy in Carrollwood.

Tampa Bay-based non-profit Forward Thinking Initiatives (FTI), in partnership with Life Improvement Radio, is teaching local students who range from 5th through 12th grades how to start their own radio podcast program at the Teen Radio Show: The Digital Entrepreneur program.

Students are learning “everything they need to know to create their own podcast program, including how to create scripts for actual guest interviews, how to use the technology, understanding how to finance their own show, how to create ads and sponsors, and how to interview exciting guests,” says FTI founder Debra Campbell.

Campbell hopes to see students take the skills they learn in the Teen Radio Show program, which began in mid-September and runs through mid-November, and apply them to other interests. 

“When young people think about starting their own business, they typically don't think to begin with their own passions and interests,” she explains. “Although all of our programs are under the umbrella of entrepreneurship and innovation, we frequently theme the programs to appeal more to the young people we work with.”

During the seven week digital entrepreneurship workshop, students learn about:
  • Technology used to create podcasts
  • Conducting an interview
  • Developing and writing scripts for guest interviews
  • Financing a radio show
  • Creating ads and sponsors for the show
  • Interviewing live guests on the air
Podcast programs created by students in the classes will run on Life Improvement Radio.

“What I hope the students will gain from the experience is a ‘no fear approach’ to learning something totally new, or even a bit intimidating,” Campbell says. 

Parents might just learn something, too: “Last time we ran the program, many parents stayed for the classes as well,” Campbell explains. “We welcome parents! It fosters great dinner conversations at home.”  
The two-month-long program takes place weekly on Friday evenings at the Hillel Academy in Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa. 

Students in the Teen Radio program are "gaining entrepreneurial skills such as budgeting, how to finance their programs and how to market them,” Campbell says, “but my hope is this will be the kind of learning kids gain when they get a new game that they want to learn how to play. They don't think about the learning, they just jump in.”

FTI aims to engage young students in after-school programs that focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and creative thinking. A recent FTI program hosted at the St. Petersburg Greenhouse taught students from local Artz4Life Academy about helicopter design and innovative thinking. FTI programs and partners such as the Greenhouse and the John F. Germany Library have earned accolades including the Kauffman Foundation Platinum Award and The Freedoms Foundation Leavey Award for Private Enterprise Education.


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.

To learn more about TiE Tampa Bay, visit the group’s website.

Caution: Flashing yellow left-turn arrows light up more Tampa Bay intersections

Florida motorists still getting used to flashing yellow left-turn signals, are seeing more of them at intersections throughout the Tampa Bay area. The signals have become increasingly common along major roadways, such as State Road 60 in Clearwater, Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa and State Road 54 in Pasco County. 

The flashing left-turn arrows started appearing across the United States several years ago and caught on quickly as innovative devices to improve traffic flow. The first one was installed locally at the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and Belcher Road in Palm Harbor in November 2009. 

“Since then, the use [of these signals] has been implemented at state and local intersections throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties,” says Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Kristen Carson. 

In some respects, the distinctive-looking, four-lens traffic signals generally function in much the same way as the more widely recognized three-lens traffic signals; a green arrow provides a protected left turn; a red arrow tells drivers to stop. It’s the blinking yellow arrows that sometimes confuse drivers.

The flashing yellow arrows (actually an amber color) indicates that motorists in the left-turn lane are permitted to cautiously make left turns, but they must yield to oncoming traffic. 

A solid yellow left-turn light signifies that a red light is about to illuminate and therefore motorists should prepare to stop if they have not yet proceeded into the intersection. 

The flashing yellow lights have been replacing a common five-lens traffic signal widely referred to as a “doghouse” signal. Doghouse signals, featuring a clustered arrangement of four lenses topped with a single red light, provide drivers with a green left-turn arrow for a short time; once the protected green left-turn light disappears on the doghouse signal, a solid, circular green light indicates motorists should yield to oncoming traffic before making left turns. 

“Research from the Federal Highway Administration found that the flashing yellow arrow made significant improvements to left-turn safety compared with the circular green signal,” Carson reports. 

There are currently about 90 intersections in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties with the flashing yellow left-turn signals. More are on the way.

“The department has received positive feedback from citizens with continued requests for locations, on a case-by-case basis, to be modified with the flashing yellow arrows installed.”

Design Week art installations to transform Selmon Greenway

A pop-up festival, art installations along the Selmon Greenway and design-inspired events throughout the local region are all part of the expanded Tampa Bay Design Week in October 2015.

“As our urban core continues to grow and we discuss issues of mobility, it is critical to engage the public in a conversation about design's impact on our daily lives,” explains Design Week chair Kim Headland.

Interested parties are welcome to attend a design charrette session on September 25 and join a team, Headland says. After that session, teams will begin the process of building and displaying their final installation along the Selmon Greenway path, which opened in spring 2015.

Already, teams include members from an array of design disciplines, such as architects, landscape architects, graphic artists, artists, photographers, planners, interior designers and students. Those interested in the role that public art plays in the local community may want to join.

Design charrettes are “an opportunity for guided brainstorming” for teams to begin developing concepts around the TBDW theme, 'Mobility and Connectivity','' explains Headland, a member of event sponsor American Institute of Design Architects.

Topics for consideration include:
  • What design elements will encourage pedestrian activity?
  • How does design and art impact our daily routines in the city?
  • What role does tactical urbanism play in our downtown community?
  • How can design influence the experience along the Greenway and make it "uniquely Tampa"?
  • What is the future potential of our City's under-utilized areas?
  • How can design elements and space adjacent, positively impact the greenway?
  • How can design promote economic growth and development along pedestrian paths?
  • How do historic events and places impact future design on a variety of scales?
The main objective of Design Week is “to promote the importance of design to the broader community, while engaging the community in relevant conversations about how design shapes our built environment,” Headland explains.

The Design Week team hopes to accomplish that goal by demonstrating the impact of design on local community through temporary art installations by the design teams, which will be placed along the Selmon Greenway, between the Tampa Riverwalk and Jefferson Street.

Headland hopes to see the designs “engage festival goers in thinking about 'Mobility and Connectivity,’ specifically along the Greenway.”

Events for TBDW will begin October 9 and conclude with a “Made in the Shade" event and a pop-up festival on October 17th.

The free, family-friendly pop-up fest is set to coincide with Tampa’s Streetcar Fest on the same day. The TBDW lineup has also expanded to include stops in St. Petersburg: a Dining by Design event, and a panel discussion with Rogers Partners Architects and ASD about the new St. Pete Pier designs.  

“Tampa Bay Design Week brings together designers, enthusiasts, leaders and citizens to celebrate, inspire, showcase and grow Tampa Bay’s creative community,” Headland says.

For a full schedule of events or to learn more about the Sept. 25 design charrette, visit the Tampa Bay Design Week website

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.

Learn more about the SBA InnovateHER Challenge requirements here.

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.

USF area in Tampa gets new pedestrian safety beacons

New pedestrian safety beacons have been installed along a one-mile stretch of 50th Street between Fowler and Fletcher Avenues in North Tampa. The goal is to help prevent accidents such as one that involved a University of South Florida student who was seriously injured in November 2014 while crossing the busy two-lane thoroughfare. 

The flashing beacons were officially unveiled on Wednesday (Sept. 16, 2015), and transportation officials spent the morning along the road passing out educational cards to pedestrians to help teach them about the new safety measures. Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were also out in force, pulling over speeding motorists. 

“Speeding is one of the biggest problems we face when it comes to pedestrian safety,” says Julie Bond, a senior researcher at the Center for Urban Transportation Research. “We don’t want people to be scared to walk. Walking is a healthy and enjoyable way to get around, and we want our community to enjoy these benefits and feel safe.” 

The $70,000 pedestrian safety improvements along 50th Street are part of a larger initiative in the USF area. In early 2015, $5 million in improvements were completed along the congested stretch of Fletcher Avenue between Nebraska Avenue and Bruce B. Downs, just west of the USF campus. Speed limits along that portion of Fletcher Avenue were also reduced from 45 miles per hour to as low as 35 miles per hour.

“This is really an extension of the pedestrian safety enhancements that were recently completed along Fletcher Avenue,” Bond says. The flashing beacons along 50th Street, which benefit students walking to and from several apartment communities just east of the campus, pave the way for further pedestrian safety improvements around USF. In the next year, similar pedestrian safety enhancements will be completed along 42nd Street and 56th Street. 

These projects are funded and supported by a consortium of organizations, including the CUTR, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Transportation. Another major advocate is WalkWise Tampa Bay, a grassroots initiative that aims to educate local citizens on pedestrian safety. The organization also offers free, personalized pedestrian safety presentations. 

“We need to talk to more people,” Bond adds. “Education is the only way we can help pedestrian and motorists safely co-mingle on the roads.”

HART upgrades innovative app so you can track your bus

No more standing at the bus stop wondering where your bus is.

Living in a world with modern technology definitely has its pros, one being the ability to track the bus you are waiting for on your phone. HART recently launched a new technology for its customers called OneBusAway. Hart partons can instantly track buses to see where the bus is, and calculate the distance either by number of bus stops or miles from the customer's location.
Features include an interactive map with vehicle locations, search engine-based interface, and an ADA compliant text-only mobile interface. OneBusAway can be accessed by both traditional computers as well as smart phones.
According to Shannon Haney of HART, OneBusAway improves the passenger experience.

“As part of the pilot project in Tampa, Georgia Tech conducted pre-and post-surveys, that for the first time quantified the effects that real-time transit information had on the passenger experience,” he says.  “The results outstandingly showed that wait times on the bus and anxiety levels significantly decreased, while customer satisfaction with HART and the sense of security while waiting at the stop increased.”

A couple years ago, HART launched a similar OneBusAway app, which delivered real-time bus arrival information directly to a passenger’s smart phone or computer giving customers real-time information. Since it was launched, it has been accessed more than 300,000 times per month.

With the upgrade, allowing customers to track buses on their phones or computers, HART hopes to see an even larger increase in those numbers.

“This was an important investment for HART,” Haney says. “It fully supports our mission and agency goals to provide safe, innovative and cost effective public transportation services that enhance the quality of life in our community.”

Car sharing partnership takes off at U of Tampa

Going carless in Tampa Bay is easier than ever for students at the University of Tampa. Through a new partnership with leading car sharing network Zipcar, UT community members have 24/7 access to three vehicles: a Ford Focus, a Toyota Corolla and a Nissan Versa Hatchback.

About two-thirds of UT’s full-time students live on campus. UT freshmen are not allowed to bring cars to campus, so the car sharing service provides a necessary alternative for those students, as well as any UT students, faculty and staff ages 18 and older.

Zipcar Florida market manager Smokey West says that the cost savings and sustainability” the car sharing service provides for universities “is the driving force behind the expansion of Zipcar on campuses across the country,” including at UT.

“Students are smart, tech savvy consumers who appreciate Zipcar’s ‘wheels when you want them’ approach,” West says. “They have access to a car when they need it, and freedom from the cost and maintenance of car ownership.”

Previously, UT offered car sharing on campus with Hertz 24/7, but the company discontinued their university programs. In late summer 2015, ZipCar “contacted UT with a similar car sharing program,” explains Tim Harding, UT Associate Dean of Career Development and Engagement.

With campus located within walking and biking distance to downtown Tampa, Harding says that most students tend to use the cars “to run errands that take them outside of the downtown area, for beach outings, shopping at the malls, or short regional road trips.”

The cars, which will have designated on-campus parking spots for easy pick-up and return, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Members can use a mobile app to secure a reservation, lock and unlock doors, and even honk the horn. Reserve a car for as little as an hour, or as long as a week.

UT community members can join Zipcar for $15. Rates for vehicle reservations begin at $7.50 per hour or $69 per day; the cost of gas, insurance and up to 180 miles of driving per day is included. Zipcars can be reserved up to a year in advance online, over the phone, or through the iPhone or Android mobile app.

Zipcar will waive a first year annual membership fee for former members of the Hertz 24/7 service. UT students, faculty and staff can join Zipcar.

With partnerships at more than 400 universities across the United States and Canada, Zipcar also operates in Austria, France, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom; members can use Zipcars in other cities when traveling.

Also in Tampa, the University of South Florida’s Parking & Transportation Services, in conjunction with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at USF, has partnered with Enterprise on two ride and car share programs, Zimride and CarShare at USF.

More information about USF’s Alternative Transportation options can be found here

Who's hiring? College, construction company, custom T-shirt designers, and more

Create custom T-shirts for customers around the country at Big Frog in Clearwater; take part in exciting biology lab research at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus; or promote the local area to international eyes in a media relations role with Visit Tampa Bay.

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 September 2015:
Big Frog of Clearwater

The custom designed T-shirt retail store seeks a Graphic Artist/Retail Consultant for the Clearwater location. Job responsibilities will include management of daily retail operations, generating quotes for custom work, creating custom artwork, and printing and fulfilling orders.

The successful applicant will have a working knowledge of graphics programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator or CorelDraw, or a related program. To learn more about the role or to apply, click here.

Bloomin’ Brands

The popular Tampa-based parent company of Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill and other well-known national chains is hiring for a Digital Marketing Manager for Carrabba's Italian Grill. Responsibilities will include writing and editing blog and other social content; conceptualizing seasonal campaigns and other promotions and social program strategy; monitoring social media channels; and more.

A Bachelor’s degree with a copywriting or journalism background preferred; the successful applicant will have 3-5 years of related business experience.

The company is also hiring for a Director of Marketing Communications for Bonefish Grill. The role includes assisting with strategic planning and development of marketing communications programs; implementing various advertising initiatives across multiple print and digital platforms; developing strategies to drive system traffic, revenue and growth; developing partnerships with internal management stakeholders; and more.

To apply for either position or explore other opportunities, click here.
Ryland Homes

The construction and home design company seeks a Homebuilding Supervisor for the Tampa team. The role will include managing all aspects of homebuilding while maintaining a budget; keeping construction on schedule and managing materials; monitoring cleanliness and safety standards; obtaining necessary building inspections as required; and more.

Successful applicants will have a B.A. or B.S; be familiar with current building codes; and have at least 2-3 years of experience in high-volume production homebuilding.

To apply or learn more, visit the company website

University of South Florida

USF is seeking a full-time Research Lab Assistant in the Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology at its Tampa campus. The candidate will work in the research laboratory of Dr. Kristina Schmidt, study mechanisms of genome instability in human cells; participate in scientific research such as analyzing data and performing genetic assays; and perform general lab maintenance duties such as ordering supplies and maintaining inventory.

A B.A., B.S. or M.S. in Biology and basic knowledge of molecular laboratory techniques is required. Interested parties should email a resume and 3 letters of recommendation, as a single PDF, to Schmidt  (Find her email here).
Visit Tampa Bay

Not-for-profit corporation Visit Tampa Bay, a tourism and economic development driver in the region, seeks to fill a full-time role in National Media Relations. The role will include serving as a PR liaison responsible for national and international media relations; copywriting external and internal content such as sales brochures, destination guides or website, e-mail and online content; identifying and maintaining appropriate media outlets and contacts; compiling editorial calendars and weekly editorial leads; and more.

A Marketing, Communications or Journalism B.A is required, along with a minimum of 5 to 8 years of marketing, PR or communications experience, and at least two years of experience in Tourism Marketing; destination marketing experience also required.

Visit Tampa Bay also seeks a full-time Sales and Promotions Coordinator. The successful applicant will be knowledgeable in CRM, Salesforce or other industry software; hospitality experience and a degree in hospitality, business or a related field preferred.

Job responsibilities include assisting a team of National Sales Managers, including guiding preparation for sales presentations; bid proposal creation and assembly; planning and preparation of a tradeshow booth; preparing and processing sales leads, bookings and other related communication; and more.

To learn more about salary and benefits for either position, head to the Visit Tampa Bay website. To apply, send your resume to: HR@VisitTampaBay.com
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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.                                                                                                                           

CourseDrive app brings mobile tech to golfers, country clubs

Imagine standing on the green at your favorite golf course in the Tampa Bay area, or elsewhere in the country, when heavy, dark storm clouds begin to roll in. By the time the clouds clear and the rain stops falling, the course – and clubhouse – is long empty.

What if there was a quick, convenient way for the club to send a message to golfers, enticing them to head back out by, say, lowering cart fees to half off for the rest of the day?

CourseDriver, a mobile application for golfers and clubs, evolved from co-Founder Gabriel Aluisy’s “passion for connecting golfers to golf clubs and creating a better experience for both parties.”

“Golfers are craving more technology to enhance their rounds and interact with the club. Clubs are looking to attract younger members as well as show existing members and guests that they are improving and innovating,” says Aluisy, a golfer himself. “Our app facilitates this.”

Acccording to Aluisy, CourseDriver creates “that immediate connection” between a golf club and its members.

Aluisy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from American University in Washington, D.C, is also the Founder of Tampa-based advertising agency Shake Creative. Advertising is an important aspect of the app; in-app instant messaging functionality is what makes it most attractive to clubs, Aluisy says.

“Clubs using our app have the ability to reach back out and communicate to anyone who has ever played a round at their course and downloaded the app,” he explains. “As long as our app is on a player's phone, the club is in the pocket of their target market to initiate a conversation or send a marketing message.” 

The app, which is free for the players to download, features the instant messaging function, along with features that golfers might need during a round, such as GPS distance tracking, score tracking, live satellite weather, round history and upcoming tournaments. Players can even order food and drink from the club via the app.

CourseDriver launched in April 2015 at Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club in St. Petersburg, and in August expanded to Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club in Stuart, on Florida’s east coast. After a stint in beta mode, the app will be available nationwide.

Aluisy developed the idea for CourseDriver into an app along with Gary Teaney, a business consultant with Transformational Consulting for Business.

“We brainstormed a feature set that would remedy the pain points my clients in the private club industry had,” Aluisy says. “They were losing members and had trouble attracting younger folks to the game. This was my solution.” 

Aluisy hopes to see the app in 200 clubs by the end of 2016. As the platform expands, he anticipates hiring locally in the Tampa Bay area for a sales team, developers, and designers.

To learn more about CourseDriver or request a demo, visit the website.
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