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50 tech jobs coming to downtown St. Petersburg

At least 50 high-tech jobs will be created in downtown St. Peterburg.

Inside Sales Solutions, which provides technology firms with sales consulting, training, recruitment and lead generation services, has established its national headquarters in St. Petersburg. The announcement of the new headquarters was accompanied with news that the company is projected to create 50 new jobs over the next two years.

“This is a conservative estimate though and we could be closer to 100 new jobs over this period,” says Aidan Snee, Principal at Inside Sales Solutions.

With offices in New York City and strong relationships with established brands such as HP and IBM, as well as next generation business-to-business technology companies, this announcement is a big win for the city of St. Petersburg.

So what was the draw to the area?

“As a service-based business, it's essential we're able to access the right people in the right environment,” Snee says. “They need to stay and grow with us as we grow and adapt to the rapidly changing tech industry we serve. We  looked at many different locations and did analytics on them all. The Tampa Bay region finished an easy first place in almost every category.”

The company considered locations in Austin, Atlanta and Kansas City before deciding that St. Petersburg was the best fit for their national headquarters.

The new positions being added at the national headquarters for Inside Sales Solutions in St. Petersburg are all IT sales and IT account management positions. For more information, or to apply visit the company's website.

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? April job news roundup

Travel consulting, marketing and engineering are just a few of the fields that are seeking qualified candidates in this month's job hiring roundup from 83 Degrees. 

Here's who's hiring in Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg in April 2016:

All Children’s Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine in St. Petersburg is hiring for a Human Resources Assistant. The role will be primarily responsible for daily operational assistance and administrative support. A high school diploma and two years of office experience are required. Strong organizational and communication skills required.

To learn more or apply, click here.

Colliers International seeks a Digital Marketing Associate with an interest in the real estate industry. The role will report to the CMO and will focus on the latest digital technologies in property marketing and business development. A bachelor’s degree is required; strong project management and communication skills are preferred. Some in-state travel will be required.

Learn more about the role here

Expedia Cruise Ship Centers is hiring for Vacation Consultants at the company’s South Tampa offices. The company expects to hire up to 20 full- and part-time consultants in coming months, some of whom may work from home. 

Click here to learn more.

IAP Worldwide Services seeks an Engineering Manager to oversee all operational aspects of contract objectives at MacDill Air Force Base. A minimum of 10 years experience, a BS in Engineering, and  a P.E. are required. Apply at the company website.

IQPC Exchange is looking for qualified candidates to fill several roles in the Tampa Bay area; a Conference Producer to work in event services as an organizer; a Marketing Manager; an Event Coordinator and an International Sales Executive.

To learn more about each role, visit the company website. To apply, contact careers@iqpcexchange.com.

Kelly Services is hiring for a Paid Engineering Intern. The successful candidate will have a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (mechanical or electric preferred). The full time internship will be paid, with the opportunity for permanent placement after one year.

Click here to learn more about the position or apply.

Sterling Payment Technologies, a sales payment and processing service, is hiring a Digital Content Writer to craft ebooks, articles, blog posts, and more. The successful applicant will have 1-3 years of copywriting experience in a corporate environment, experience writing for B2B audiences, and a B.A. in Communications, Journalism, English or a related field.

To learn more about the role or to apply, click here

Following a career fair in March, the expanding Tampa International Airport is still hiring for a number of retail and commerce positions at shops and restaurants in the airport’s main wing and terminals. Find out more about employment opportunities at the airport 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.

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.

Tampa startups raise $2.9 million in seed funding

Anyone who has visited a laundromat knows the drill: bring coins to operate dryers and washing machines.

But in a laundromat in Tampa's Carrollwood neighborhood, there is a more streamlined method of paying for laundry services: through a smartphone application, Washlava.

“It’s a mobile application that replaces coin-operated laundry," says Washlava's Founder Todd Belveal, a serial entrepreneur.

The application's uses go beyond pre-loading payment, Belveal explains: "You can reserve a machine before you go, monitor the machine while it’s in cycle, and ultimately tender the payment in a fast, seamless way when you’re done.”

The company received $1.8 million in a 2016 seed funding round, so more Washlava-operated facilities may be coming. About a third of the funding that Washlava received came from a private investor in Tampa, Belveal says.

Tampa Bay WaVe, where Washlava spent some time incubating, was a “great environment for us to be in,” Belveal says. Startups and aspiring entrepreneurs should focus on building a business plan and preparing a pitch, but building relationships with potential investors is just as critical to securing funding in Tampa, Belveal, who grew up in Tampa, explains.

“I’ve raised money for a lot of startups,” Belveal says, “and it has very little to do with the ideas.”

Instead, the serial entrepreneur says, relationships are key.

On the south side of Tampa Bay, the St. Petersburg-based startup TAO Connect, Inc, has been accepted into the Florida Funders network. The mental health online management platform startup, developed in the University of Florida’s Innovation Hub, has been awarded $1.1 million in funding from Florida Funders, Florida Angels Network and New World Angels.
 
TAO's founders, who exclusively focused on college students in university settings initially, plans to use the funds to expand into offering the mental health platform's services to veterans, therapists and Medicare patients.

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.
 
For more information about the TBCAC Community Job Fair, call 813-812-JOBZ or 813-812-5629, or visit TBCAC's website.


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

The Live Hiring job fair in St. Petersburg is hosted by National Career Fairs. To register for the free career fair, click here.

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.

Click here for directions to the CFE Arena on the UCF campus. 

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.

March job news: Who's hiring in Tampa Bay? IT company, architecture firm, and more

Work for one of the most popular city destinations in the state; sign on with an architectural design firm; perform quality control as a software engineer. These Tampa Bay area job opportunities -- and more -- are available in March 2016. 

The City of St. Petersburg is hiring for a number of opportunities, including Librarian, Digital and Media Specialist, and many other roles in maintenance, sanitation, and with the golf course. To search the available job opportunities with the city of St. Pete, click here and select “search vacancies.” 

HDR design firm is hiring a Project Architect for the company’s Tampa offices. The position will entail leading a team of engineers, designers and architects on architectural projects. A Bachelor's or Master's degree in Architecture is required, along with five or more years of experience. Registered architects only.

Follow this link to search for the role and apply on the company website. 

Suncoast Credit Union is hiring for a number of roles in Tampa and Brandon, including an investment operations manager and several member advocates and tellers to serve the Brandon community.

The operations manager should have a Bachelor’s degree in a business-related field, at least six years of experience in the securities industry, and two to four years of experience serving as a supervisor.

To learn more or apply for the role, click here.

IT management service SunView Software, Inc. is hiring for dozens of positions in Tampa, with a recent office expansion that created room for 45 new jobs. Click here and follow instructions to submit a resume. 

National staffing firm iTalent, LLC is hiring for a full-time copywriter position. The successful candidate will have five or more years of creative copywriting experience (previous advertising agency is a plus). The copywriter will assist in marketing and advertising campaigns and communication including advertisements, promotions, mailers, fliers, brochures, posters, in-store signage and digital media.

iTalent is also seeking an Interaction designer/UI designer for a six-month contract that could become a full-time role with benefits. To learn more about either job opportunity, visit the company’s website.

Cloud-based commerce company Verifone is hiring for several roles in the company’s Clearwater offices, including multiple software QA engineers, a senior business analyst, a recruiter, and more. The Software QA Engineer role requires a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and 5-10 years of experience in software test engineering. The role is responsible for developing and performing test plans.

To see a complete list of available roles with Verifone, 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.

Swiss-owned SpecPage moves its North American operations to Manatee County

SpecPage, Inc., a Switzerland-based technology company that develops software solutions for the food manufacturing industry, has relocated its North American branch offices from Warwick, Rhode Island to Bradenton, FL with support from the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC). 

The EDC assisted the Swiss company in site selection and in applying for a performance-based economic development incentive grant from the Manatee County government. The Manatee County Board of Commissioners approved the incentive, based on SpecPage’s plan to add 15 jobs in Bradenton over the next five years. 

SpecPage now occupies 1,100 square feet with options to expand at Wildwood Office Park, 3645 Cortez Road, Suite 100, in west Bradenton.

“We are a global company and plan to strengthen our position in the North American market. The growing, yet affordable area of Bradenton provides good opportunities for future hiring as well as convenient access to several airports for national and international travel,” says SpecPage North America VP Paul Meunier. 

Meunier says that SpecPage plans to create up to 15 jobs based in its new Bradenton offices over the next three years, primarily in sales and support roles. The growing company’s clients currently include global brands such as Campbell Soup Company, Kellogg’s, Mondelez and Nestlé Wagner. 

Sharon Hillstrom, President and CEO of the Bradenton EDC, views the Swiss company’s relocation of its North American offices to Manatee County as a valuable step in a multi-pronged effort to retain the talent emerging in record numbers from area colleges and universities. 

“One of the things we’re really focused on at the EDC, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Realize Bradenton, is [the young professional] demographic. Each organization is addressing some component of how we can attract and retain talent here. It is of prime interest, and our belief is that the more companies we have coming here, the more opportunities will present themselves to graduates,” Hillstrom says.

Hillstrom notes that there are currently five institutions of higher learning in Manatee and Sarasota County that are working in collaboration as the ‘Consortium of Colleges on the Creative Coast’ to attract students and strengthen the Tampa Bay area’s economy. Bringing global and IT-based companies like SpecPage into the area, Hillstrom says, confirms Bradenton’s value as a destination for other businesses to base their operations. 

“This area provides a great business climate. We are a business-friendly government, labor costs are somewhat lower here, and the quality of life obviously speaks for itself. … Bringing in companies like SpecPage is the best advertisement we have in that sense. We plan to use those types of wins to recruit other companies to the area,” Hillstrom says. 

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. 

To apply or to learn more about the role, click here.

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.

To learn more or to apply, click here.

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.

Learn more or apply here.

Bristol Myers Squibb is hiring for several positions in Tampa, including roles in technical support, analytics, IT management and more. Learn about specific job requirements or apply for these roles here.

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.
 
To apply, submit a cover letter, resume, design portfolio, writing sample and three references to the Chamber of Commerce via email.

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. To apply, email a resume and cover letter to svptampabaysearch@gmail.com.
 
Find out more about the role here.

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.

Apply for one of these roles via Teamwork Online.

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.

Tampa Bay tennis pro serves up love for the sport with innovative game

Tampa Bay area tennis professional David Archer is rallying for support behind a new game his dad invented to teach children how scoring occurs. Tennis, The Game was invented by Richard Neil Archer in 1997 to help the younger Archer’s four-year-old son, Justin, learn the rules of the game. 

“My dad used a cardboard carrying tray from a 24-pack of Pepsi and a string tied across the top of that to create a net,” explains Archer, who is now 55 years old. In 2000, the Archers made 2,000 copies of the game and sold it to parents, schools,and organizations throughout the United States and in other nations, including England, Mexico, Serbia and Spain. 

“Tennis scoring is easy once you get it,” Archer remarks, “but getting to understand it can take time.” A rather unusual 15-30-40 scoring sequence and unique gameplay terms, such as “love” for a score of zero points and “deuce” to describe a tie at 40 points, make learning the game challenging for many, both young and old, who are unfamiliar with tennis. 

More than 2,000 copies of Tennis, The Game have been sold over the years, but now the Archers are hoping a Kickstarter campaign will serve up enough funds to produce more copies of the game to educate more children in classrooms across the country. 

“Tennis, The Game allows 30 children to learn the scoring and basic rules of the sport in 45 minutes,” Archer says. “The game is retro -- you have to interface with someone to play the game, handle scoring, call the right lines. It’s not a roll-the-dice, move-the-piece kind of game -- you’re really playing tennis.” The Archers, who sell the game for $30 each through their Kickstarter site, are hoping to raise $15,000 to launch the next edition and fund a series of YouTube videos that will teach tennis fundamentals to a much wider audience. 

What’s the inspiration behind all of this? Spreading the love of tennis to the next generation, especially at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth who may not otherwise have opportunities to learn the sport. 

“I realized that many kids wake up every day and have no hope. I want to give these kids a hope and a future.” Tennis, The Game can be played indoors, taught in after-school groups and in other settings where children can be taught tennis without use of a court. 

Archer also parlays his love for the game by teaching children the basics as a coach with Global Community Tennis of Pinellas, a nonprofit organization that teaches at-risk boys and girls throughout the community beginner-level skills for free with the aim of preparing them for more competitive play at the high school level and beyond. 

The kids play on tennis courts at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Police Athletic League, High Point Neighborhood Family Center in Clearwater, and Citizen’s Alliance for Progress, Inc. Union Academy Family Center in Tarpon Springs. 

“We’ll learn how successful this can be when one of these kids becomes ranked in the United States Tennis Association of Florida.” 

Archer, who is authoring '8 Weeks to Tournament Tennis,' an instructional book aimed to prime children ages 5-8 in the fundamentals of the sport, says Tennis, The Game is something that children “absolutely love.” But the board game will need investors to expand the product into a larger market and subsequently help more young children learn about the sport. “Our mission is to instill a love for the game. Love is not something you manufacture -- it is given to you and then given to others.” 

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. 

Information on purchasing tickets can be found here.

West Pasco Business Challenge includes $1K cash prize

Local Tampa Bay area businesses will have the chance to pitch their ideas and compete for cash prizes and services in the West Pasco Chamber "Business Challenge" on January 28.

“The goal of the Business Challenge is to say ‘New Port Richey is open for business,’ explains City of New Port Richey Economic Development Director Mario Iezzoni.

The Chamber of Commerce advanced the idea of a local business challenge “because West Pasco County consists of many family-run businesses,” Iezzoni says.“The Business Challenges is one of several conduits New Port Richey is implementing to provide as a resource for further business development.”

A long-time professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida and a CPA, Iezzoni says the city hopes to convey a message of community growth through locally owned businesses.

“I’ve come to realize that children raised in a family-run business environment, witnessing the challenges their parents experience in the daily grind of operating a business, do exceptionally well in their own enterprises,” Iezzoni says. “The business challenge is one small step in a chain of events that must occur to achieve this lofty goal.”

Business Challenge finalists will present to a panel of judges, which includes: 
  • John Gaston, of Tampa Bay MultiMedia
  • Steve Farrell, of Team Farrell
  • Minh Mai, of Venom
  • Irene Hurst, Director of the USF MBA Program
  • Bob Carroll, of Bob Carroll Building Contractor, Inc.
Event prizes include a cash prize of $1,000 from an anonymous donor and a variety of cash and service donations from local businesses, including Waverly Media, HITS 106, Wiseman Accounting and Bookkeeping, Minuteman Press, The Tampa Bay Times, 72HRPrint.com, WPCC, and ABCO Graphics and Printing.

The presentations, which are open to the public, will start at 3 p.m. on January 28 at the Richey Suncoast Theatre. An awards program will be held at 5 pm at Dulcet Restaurant & Lounge.  

“The goal is to activate what I believe is a rather large talent pool of potential entrepreneurs,” Iezzoni says. “The goal is to leverage generational talent as an economic development strategy to address many of the economic challenges that exist along the Highway-19 corridor.”

Along with an emphasis on entrepreneurial talent among local business owners, the city is taking strides toward a goal of defining itself “as the next New Urbanism City,” Iezzoni says.

Efforts include an emphasis on walking, biking and upgrading IT infrastructure, as well as the development of two residential complexes that Iezzoni says are being designed as “new urbanism concepts” geared toward millennials.

“Millennials don’t want to waste time traveling, they want resources - such as the business incubator we’ve developed in town that is a crossroads and gathering place,” Iezzoni says. “They want recreation, nice parks, affordable neighborhoods, and unique natural resources such as the Grey Preserve to be close by, all within 5 minutes. Our city offers that.”

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.

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.
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