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USF to host Young Universities Summit in Tampa

In the world of education, a university that is less than 50-years-old is considered young. It may compete with older, more established universities with centuries of history and global reputations.

So young universities have been meeting annually in places like Barcelona, Spain, and Brisbane, Australia, to talk about common challenges. Organized by the U.K.-based Times Higher Education (THE), the Young Universities Summit has never been held in North America. Until now.

Nearly 200 presidents and other education leaders from across the globe are expected to converge on Tampa June 5-7 to attend the summit hosted by the University of South Florida.

“We were deeply honored to be asked to host,” says Ralph Wilcox, USF Provost and Executive Vice President. “We’re just immensely proud that THE recognized the great strides that the University of South Florida has made in partnership with the Tampa Bay community.

He notes USF cannot become a “world powerhouse in education” without the community, nor can the community achieve its goals without a powerful foundation in higher education.

The summit will be an opportunity for education leaders to learn from each other.
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“The University of South Florida found ways to overcome those [higher education] challenges, and they wanted to be sure other universities, young universities from across the United States and around the world, have the opportunity to visit Tampa and to visit the University of South Florida,” says Wilcox, who holds a doctorate in Global Studies from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Founded in 1956, USF falls into Times Higher Education’s category of Golden Age universities opened to meet the demand of service members returning from World War II. Nine of Florida’s 12 public universities fall into the Golden Age or young university categories being served by the summit.

Times Higher Education ranked USF seventh among public U.S. universities in the Golden Age category in April 2017.   

Whether the university is 50 or 70, they share common challenges largely associated with competing against institutions with reputations dating back as much as 900 years.

“One identifies those universities that have a brand that’s been established,” Wilcox says. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better than. They are more recognized than the younger universities.”

Younger institutions tend to be more ambitious, dynamic and agile. Sometimes they possess a greater ability to be relevant in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, he says.

“There are advantages with being young, and those advantages tend to rest around our sense of agility and nimbleness to respond to change, to respond to the needs of the marketplace,” he says.

Younger universities tend to focus on research that has a high impact. “We’re looking to improve the well-being of the community we serve,” he explains.

At USF, much of the $550 million dedicated to research is focused on improving health, the environment or the needs of financial institutions, business and industry in the region and beyond.

“We tend to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship in ways that older universities tend not to -- and arguably have no need for,” he adds. “All too often they are quite comfortable.”

The summit features keynote speaker Andrew Hamilton, president of New York University and former vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, who will talk about his experiences in higher education. Other dignitaries are coming to speak from Israel, Scotland, France, England and Finland.


Tech Bytes: PikMyKid ramps up school safety efforts

With recent school shootings and other tragedies elevating concerns about the safety of students in schools, a Tampa company – through its use of technology -- is positioned to help make a difference.

Founded in 2015 after a mistake in a school pickup line resulted in retrieving the wrong child, PikMyKid is gaining attention as a problem solver. Its founders are headed for San Francisco to participate as a finalist in an international software-and-information-industry competition June 13.

We’ve always been seen as a startup so far,” says Chitra Kanagaraj, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer. “This is the award that is beyond startup.”

The company was named a finalist in the 2018 SIIA CODiE Award contest, Best Emerging Education Technology Solution for Administrators category, after virtual presentations. It was one of 152 finalists in 39 education technology categories.

 

PikMyKid, which now operates in public and private schools in 27 states, began rolling out a school-safety training program in Florida this month. That follows the release of its panic-button alert system being offered free while schools test the program and plan next year’s budget. The company's goal is to get initial responders to schools faster when there are intruders.

“We are giving schools one product that they can just focus on if there is a safety issue,” Kanagaraj says.

The company got off the ground with help from the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator at USF Connect and the Startup Scholars at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Now part of the Tampa Bay WAVE program, it also works with the TEC Garage in downtown St. Petersburg.

The mixup that inspired the company occurred when her husband, Pat Bhava, now Co-Founder and CEO of PikMyKid, went to pick up their fifth-grader and ended up with another girl in the backseat. The error was swiftly corrected, but it did trigger concern.

“It was really something we could change, rather than blaming the school or blaming ourselves,” she says.

When teachers are standing in the sun after a full day of class, facing a line of cars, things may not always go as planned. “It’s not their intent to mess up, but it does happen,” she says.

The app, licensed for use by the school or school district, is downloaded free by parents. It facilitates the pickup process by consolidating pickup changes and authorizations, improving safety and saving staff time.


Through a dashboard, parents have real-time communication with the school and are alerted as soon as the child leaves campus. “If there is anything wrong, the parents are able to fix the issue immediately,” she says.

PikMyKid, located at 5115 Memorial Highway, currently employs 10 and some part-time consultants. But it expects to add another four employees during its peak time in July and August, as schools gear up for the 2018-19 year. They are hoping to keep these full-time.


Company officials are looking for people with teaching backgrounds to work in customer service. “We think we’re competitive with what they’re getting from the public school system,” she says.

Read on for more news about Tampa Bay’s tech scene.

•  Monikl, which works similar to a dating service for jobseekers, has received a $25,000 Bizpark Grant from Microsoft and a Google Cloud for Startups Grant of $20,000, says spokesman Zachary Wright. The 1-year-old company now has some 25,000 active job candidates in its system. The company uses an algorithm to assess experience, skills, workplace preferences and personality.

Join Working Women of Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay WAVE for a morning of networking Wednesday, May 23. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. It’s followed by 1 Million Cups of Coffee, which is featuring two women-owned businesses as presenters.

• Homebrew Hillsborough, a networking group for techies and entrepreneurs in Hillsborough County, will be meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, May 25, at SecureSet Tampa Campus, 1403 E 9th Ave., Tampa. The group will be touring SecureSet, which offers comprehensive training for those interested in careers in cybersecurity. Sign up online.

• The Clearwater-based Digital Media Solutions, a digital marketing company, has acquired Avenue100 Media Solutions, LLC, a specialist in performance-based marketing and analytics in education. Avenue100 Media Solutions will join DMS’s education division, but operate as a separate subsidiary based in Massachusetts. DMS, which provides end-to-end customer acquisition solutions, has been recognized as one of America’s “Best Places to Work” in 2017 by Inc. magazine.

• TeamWerx, a platform designed to find innovative solutions to warfighter problems, has announced two challenges with cash prizes totaling $25,000. The submission deadline is Thursday, May 31, for help expanding the TeamWerx ecosystem, with a $2,000 prize. The deadline is Saturday, June 30, to enter a contest to figure out how to retrieve data from mobile locations using a mobile device but without revealing the locations of sensors. That prize is $23,000. Learn more.

Florida Polytechnic University graduated its first class of 220 May 4 in Lakeland. The group included most of the students who enrolled when the university opened in fall 2014. Dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, Florida Polytechnic is located on Interstate 4’s high-tech corridor between Tampa and Orlando.

The university’s robotics team, Purple Fire, earned the Judges Award recently at the VEX Robotics World Championship. The team of eight students won half of its matches and ranked 22nd internationally out of 45 teams.

And Florida Poly is attracting attention in Mexico for its bookless, digital library. The university’s Vice Provost of Academic Support Services, Dr. Kathryn Miller, was a guest speaker at the first International Colloquium on Library Architecture and Environments, hosted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico earlier this month.


Opioid Update: Sarasota firm working on Smart pill dispenser

A Sarasota design firm is working to curb opioid addiction -- and save lives -- with a Smart container that dispenses pills at pre-configured time intervals.

Called PILL, the product in development by ROBRADY design is packaged similar to a Z-Pak of antibiotics. “It just happens to be Smart,” explains Rob Brady, CEO and Design Director.

The design has developed over the last six years, ever since physician assistant Afton Heitzenrater observed opioid prescriptions were being filled too quickly. Her husband Jeff and Jeff’s uncle, Joseph Bujalski, were on board to help develop a solution. Bujalski came up with the idea of controlling the timing between doses, obtained the first patent, and brought the idea to ROBRADY.

During the last 18 months, ROBRADY has invested “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to develop the concept into what it is today, Brady says. It has a broader patent pending and, through consultant and team member Rob Hartwell, is reaching out to governmental leaders and potential industry partners.

With recycled parts and a projected cost of $2 per unit, the PILL is seen as a low-cost means of controlling opioid prescriptions and discouraging unauthorized use. The prescribed pills are locked into the device until pre-set times, after which the user can remove them from the foil blister pack. The dispenser and unused pills are returned to the pharmacist, keeping them out of the hands of the black market, those who would abuse them and potentially become addicted, and community water supplies. If it's been tampered with, it's noted through the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, along with pharmacists' comments.

The white computer chip and battery that power the device can be removed, checked, scrubbed of data and re-used. Pharmacists can retrieve usage data which can help future studies about how opioids are being used.

“In talking with physicians about this idea, they really like it,” Brady says.

Clinical trials could begin in six to nine months, but it’s uncertain when it might be commercially available to physicians and their patients. “Obviously, we wanted this thing available yesterday,” he adds. “We’re looking for a couple million more to take it across the finish line.”

Opioid addiction and overdoses have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses rose 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017, based on data from 52 jurisdictions in 45 states.

ROBRADY received positive feedback when it took a team to Washington, D.C. in April to promote PILL, and fight the epidemic claiming more than 120 lives every day. The group met with representatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, along with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, R-FL, and Lamar Alexander, R-TN.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which has passed unanimously out of committee, calls for package design to help prevent abuse and overdose.

“We think we have a real shot of getting this to market,” Brady says. “We’re lacking a few more partners.”

While the initial user is an individual prescribed opioids for pain, Brady doesn’t discount it may potentially have other roles. “I would love to see this thing help people that are already addicted,” he says.

But the device isn’t tamper proof, just tamper evident, which means it flags problems early. “If you smash it, if you break it, if you ‘lose it,’ you don’t get more,” he says. “Our position is we’d like to find that information out in the first 15 pills -- and not with the first overdose.”

So their initial focus is on those who potentially may become addicted. "We greatly reduce the people that we’re treating [for opioid addiction and overdoses,]” he says.

Keeping focused can help them do the job right. “We know that opioids are a huge problem,” he says. “We’ve got all kinds of things to tackle.”

Hiring Heroes: New Tampa Bay Area job fair focuses on veterans

Veterans dress smart, have good skills and are reliable. Though people like to honor them, employers are not always willing to hire them. That can be a real problem, but it’s one Stephanie Sims is looking to solve.

“Veterans show up, dressed up, ready to go,” Sims says. “Sometimes a job offer is not made. The employer might think they’re too good.”

Other times veterans have problems translating military skills into civilian life. “To find and to convey transferrable skills is not always easy,” she says.

So Sims, who has witnessed the problems at national job fairs, is holding her first Tampa area job fair catering to miliary veterans: the Tampa Bay Hiring Heroes Career Fair. Their motto is: “The Best Way to Honor a Veteran is to Hire one.” The goal is to help vets meet face-to-face with employers, so hurdles can be overcome. 

“I don’t think there’s any substitute for a job candidate getting face-to-face with a prospective employer,” asserts Sims, CEO and Marketing Director of Florida JobLink, a career fair provider since 1996.

Hiring Heroes is a new initiative of the Palma Ceia-based corporation in cities with a military presence. Three or four fairs are anticipated this year in Tampa and Jacksonville, with the event expanding nationwide next year.

She explains that a resume is easily trashed when an employer believes a job candidate is expecting a higher wage than that being offered. But when the veteran and employer meet, they can discuss circumstances that make the job doable.

“Employers just love the enthusiasm and the work ethic that veterans and their spouses have,” she says.

Sims also is bringing Hiring Heroes job fairs to neighborhoods where veterans live, to make it more convenient for those employed or responsible for childcare. This event is in Wesley Chapel, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at 2740 Cypress Ridge Blvd.

Some 30 employers are anticipated, along with some 600 to 800 job seekers. While the free event seeks to place veterans and those transitioning to civilian life, it is open to all. Job positions include healthcare, sales, marketing, insurance, food service, technical, production, clerical, customer service, education and legal. Register online.

Learn about other upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay region.

• A free job fair is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, for people interested in working for Hertz. Managers will be conducting interviews for -- and hiring -- counter sales representatives at the free event at Hertz -- Rental Car Center, 5405 Airport Service Road., Tampa. A minimum of one year of experience in high volume sales or customer service in a service-oriented environment is required, along with a high school diploma or its equivalent. Learn more.

• A Young Talent Tampa Bay Career and Resource Fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Tampa Career Center, 9215 N. Florida Ave. The free event by CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay caters to those 18 to 24. Check out the details.

• The JobNewsUSA.com St. Petersburg/Clearwater Job Fair is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at The Matheos Hall / Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 409 S. Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Parking and admission are free. Job seekers who attend can build their professional network, meet one-on-one with recruiters and hiring managers, learn about unadvertised, upcoming job openings, be interviewed and hired. Pre-register.

National Career Fairs is holding a free recruiting/hiring event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Registrants receive updates and alerts, plus the opportunity to upload a resume and search for jobs online beforehand. Candidates are advised to bring resumes to the fair and dress for success.

Florida StartupBus team runner-up in national contest

For the second year in a row, Florida’s StartupBus has claimed a top prize in the national competition that enables teams of potential strangers to start businesses in about three and a half days.

This year dadSAK, a team which created a versatile backpack enabling dads to tote infants, baby gear and other stuff, was runner-up in the New Orleans competition.

“It was really an amazing experience,” says Robert Blacklidge, Conductor. “We grew those individuals extensively in three days. They went out into the world. This is what’s really amazing about it.”

The Florida StartupBus rolled out of Tampa Friday, April 27, bound for New Orleans, where teams from eight different buses presented their businesses conceived and developed on the journey. Three teams were created on the bus that headed north from Tampa into Georgia, where riders stayed two nights in Helen while enjoying side trips to Nashville and Atlanta. Riders also stayed overnight in Biloxi.

The StartupBus was in New Orleans at the same time as the big Collision tech conference, where riders were able to share what they’d just learned with others.

DadSAK, a patent pending baby carrier/diaper bag/backpack, was the brainchild of Lance Robinson. Other members of the team, with representatives of Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Charlotte N.C., included Walter Mathews, Jeremy Losaw, Vanel Marc, and Geovanni Suplee.

The team put together a protype and website in the allotted time, advertising the dadSAK as a solution by dads, for dads from SAK LABS. It can be used separately as a infant carrier or backpack, or combined into a single unit. The website indicates dadSAK is taking pre-orders, with shipments starting in November.

Other teams were Buddy Bunker, designed to help people find a suitable golfing partner, and PolitiTrust, a functioning chatbot to help people find politicians that share their values.

Buddy Bunker team members were Edward Sanchez, Kyle Sasser, Kim Mohr, and Tatyanna Cobb. On the PolitiTrust team were Richard Kim, Rosmarie Morales, Adam Cummings and Jahtia Haynes.

Mentors on the bus were Brent Henderson, Chris Mcelveen and Prateek Gupta.

After the demanding schedule of the trip, Blacklidge advises teams to take a break rather than forging ahead immediately with business plans. “My methodology is to tell them to take a month out,” Blacklidge says.

The StartupBus began nine years ago after the first participants decided to challenge themselves to create a company as they traveled across the country to a conference.

Last year two Florida teams made it to the finals, with DropIn Pedals claiming second place for an adapter that converts clipless bike pedals into flat pedals that can be used with casual shoes. That team from Dunedin included Morgan Thacker and Tyler Baumgardner.

Now Blacklidge, whose team Course Align made it to the finals in 2017, is planning to independently expand upon the StartupBus concept. He’s making plans to offer a similar entrepreneurial experience aboard a cruise ship, and may partner with an airline on an entrepreneurial program as well.

“It teaches people what they’re capable of,” he says of the StartupBus concept.

Blacklidge is not a newcomer to hackathons. He already has experience organizing events like 2017’s BizSprint, designed to help veterans develop their businesses.

“I’ve always known the power of hackathons,” he says. “What I want to do is really take it to a larger scale and grow it across the world.”


New service arms parents in battle against cyberbullying

Bullying is bad, but at least children can escape it when they are safe at home. With cyberbullying, not so much.

“Bullying no longer ends when the child goes home from school. It follows them home because it’s social media,” explains Allison Mook, Vice President of Client Services for a new Tampa-based service, BulliPatrol.

The company is trying to address the cyberbullying problem by raising parental awareness of their children's online activity. Its goal is to reach the most vulnerable with the message that they are not alone and can get help.

“Bullying now is different,” asserts Andrew Grubbs, Founder and President, a programmer who came up with the idea. “It’s always a threat. That’s where we need to accept that the genie is out of the bottle. Social media is here to stay. Kids are going to use it.”

The service works by analyzing phrases in online messages. “Once the child starts receiving messages that are negative, the parent receives an alert,” explains Mook, who is handling marketing.

The service, which costs $5.99 a month, has launched in Tampa Bay, with plans to expand nationally. It already is generating a fair amount of interest in the TV media locally and in North Carolina and Indiana.

It’s hard to say exactly what BulliPatrol’s staffing needs will be just yet. But Grubbs expects hires to be in Tampa Bay.

“We aren't hiring currently, but have identified our personnel needs and will be able to fill them as we gain momentum,” Mook adds.

In the meantime, they are reaching out to moms, mom and dad blogs and websites, schools, libraries and churches, even the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. “We feel like this is something we can actually make an impact with on a national level,” she says.

What’s next? “We’re always looking at how do we help the kids escape from the problem they’re experiencing,” Grubbs says.

Transit conference focuses on technology, future trends

Some 1,500 transit leaders from around the world, along with transit workers, vendors and manufacturers from across the country, will converge on downtown Tampa starting Friday, May 4, to talk about new transit technologies and hot topics like automated buses.

Ultimately, the nearly week-long event is about sharing what works and what doesn’t -- and showcasing what we have in the Tampa Bay Area to others in the transit industry.

"This conference means a big win for the local Tampa economy since conference attendees will be spending money at Tampa-area hotels, bars and restaurants thus boosting the monetary impact within the city," says Kenyatta Lee, Chief Administrative Officer/Interim Chief of Staff for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART). “This particular conference is their second largest, behind their annual conference. It kind of moves across the nation.”

Ticket prices ranged from $825 to $1,375 per person, depending on when they ordered and whether they’re a member of the Washington, D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association.  

The main event -- in the works for two years -- is at Tampa Marriott Waterside May 6th to 9th. Guests are expected to arrive on May 4th to participate in committee meetings, a welcome reception, and the International Bus Roadeo (yep, as in road) at the Hilton Tampa Downtown. Educational sessions and workshops begin Monday.

It consists of APTA’s Bus and Paratransit Conference and the Roadeo, a day-long competition of driving and maintenance skills which will take place Sunday at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in St. Petersburg.

In Tampa, there are sessions on topics such as "Next Stop: The Future,” ''Automated Buses in Transit,” “Automated and Connected Vehicles,'' “It’s All About the Ride: Strategies for Sustaining and Building Ridership,” and “Zero-Emission Buses Are Ready. ... Are You Ready for Them?” They’ll also be looking at shared challenges such as recruiting and retaining bus operators and dealing with distraction and driver fatigue.

HART will be giving technical tours to show its Compressed Natural Gas Facility, Hyperlink service connecting riders to regular routes and Streetcar Barn.

While in town, conference visitors will be able to use a new Tampa Bay transit innovation, the regional Flamingo Fare, for free. When the pilot program goes into effect on a limited basis this summer, Tampa Bay area riders will pay with Account Based Smart Card or Smartphone Application accepted across multiple jurisdictions.

Tampa Bay is holding its own in the transit arena, according to Lee. HART ranks 68 among 822 transport agencies in APTA, based on the numbers of rides not involving transfers. PSTA ranks 72.

“We have been recognized for being very creative and innovative with what we have,” she explains.

So what else is happening? After a misstart with a contractor that didn’t keep on schedule, HART will again be seeking proposals for driverless services downtown. It’s looking to get proposals in June and get the vehicles on the road by December.

Since it will be in a formal submittal process, it’s up to the vendors to propose what they can offer, and discussions are precluded. “We can’t have a lot of conversation with them,” she says. “We can look from afar to see what they have available.”


Tech Bytes: TiE recognizes area business leaders

At its annual TiECON Florida, the nonprofit TiE Tampa Bay did what it does best: It connected businesses and investors to help them achieve success. The result was raising awareness about some of the region’s successful companies.

Three “Present Your Startup” competitors, culled from 42 submissions, were recognized. Five other companies were chosen for special awards.

“There are much larger competitions in terms of prize money. What is far more important is the visibility that these entrepreneurs get on a national and global stage,” says Kannan Sreedhar, TiECON Florida’s program chair. “That is one of the unique things that we do as TiE.

The event on March 31 drew nearly 250 to the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center at the University of South Florida, where they heard presentations from Arnie Bellini, Co-Founder and CEO of the Tampa-based IT firm Connectwise; Steve Raymund, Founder and Former Chairman/CEO of Clearwater’s Tech Data; and others.

“Present Your Startup” winners were Prefer Hired, a Tampa-based company for online recruitment, first place, $1500; Simpleshowing, a real estate brokerage firm operating in Tampa, second place, $750; and Russellville, TN-based Shockwave Motors, the designer of a three-passenger electric roadster that recharges in eight hours from a standard wall outlet, third place, which did not come with a cash prize.

“All three winners have the opportunity to present to the local TiE angel community," he says. “Top winners will also have the opportunity to present at TiE Global.”

Other winners, who received crystal globes, included Tony DiBenedetto, Co-Founder of Tampa's Tribridge, who claimed the Super Entrepeneur Award for having a significant positive economic impact on Florida through job creation and for leading a profitable enterprise with at least $25 million in annual revenues.

The Social Entrepreneurship Award went to MacDonald Training Centers for its positive social impact, while the Angel Investor Award was awarded to Dr. Vijay Patel for investing in Tampa-based startups in 2017. Paul R. Sanberg, Senior VP for Research, Innovation and Knowledge Enterprise at USF, was given the Community Champion Award for backing the community in 2017. The Startup of the Year Award went to Pik-My-Kid, which provides a tool to make school dismissals safer and more efficient. It made a profit within one year.

Nominations came from the greater Tampa Bay Area.

TiE was founded in Silicon Valley in 1992 by successful people with roots in the Indus Region. It has grown into a global organization with 11,000 members and 60 chapters in 17 countries. The Tampa Bay chapter, started in 2012, is now setting its sights on hosting a global conference in the future.

A charter member of TiE Tampa Bay, Liberty Group Hotels Executive Chairman Raxit Shah will be featured in TiE's Entrepreneurship Series later this month. He will share his journey and provide information about the establishment of Liberty Group, with current investments of more than $450 million in 55 hotels. The event, free to TiE members, is slated at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at USF Connect, Oakview Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Registration is scheduled at 6:30 p.m.; dinner is at 8 p.m. after the presentation. Non-members and guests pay $10. Learn more by visiting the Events page and searching for the TiE Tampa Bay chapter.

Read on for more Tampa Bay Area tech news.

• If you need help defining your target business market, check out the free “Tools to Find Your Target Market” class at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The event is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. until noon Wednesday, May 2. The class by the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative will include information about free electronic resources you can use to conduct demographic research and define your target market. The event is free. No registration is required.

The event follows 1 Million Cups of Coffee, a regular weekly program to educate, engage and connect business owners.  That free event runs from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 2, at the ECC. You can just show up.

• CEO and Co-Founder of Next Machine. Phillipa Greenberg, will be speaking on “How to Lead with Grit and Grace” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 3, at USF CONNECT, Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. Hosted by the USF Student Innovation Incubator, the event is free for Tampa Bay Technology and Student Innovation Incubator companies. Others pay $10 at the door. Lunch is  included. Register online.

Also at USF Connect, The CEO Forum: Tampa Bay featuring DiBenedetto is slated from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, at Oak View Room. The event is co-sponsored by GrowFL. General admission is $15. Register online.

• Have you been wondering how business analytics can help you make strategic decisions? Then the Florida Business Analytics Forum is for you. Designed for mid- and senior-level executives across various industries, the free event offers a program with important insights on topics like machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, algorithmic fairness, health-care analytics and various ways to interpret big data. The event is scheduled Tuesday, May 15, at USF’s Marshall Student Center Ballroom in Tampa. Check-in starts at 11 a.m. The forum is presented by Suntrust Foundation, the USF Muma College of Business, and the Center for Analytics and Creativity. Register here.

• The countdown is on for poweredUP, the Tampa Bay Tech Festival, on Wednesday, May 23, at Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st St. S., St. Petersburg. Doors open at 12:30 a.m. for the 1 p.m. event highlighting people and projects in Tampa Bay’s tech ecosystem. “Last year we had 650 registrations and more than 500 attend. This year we anticipate doubling last year’s numbers,” says Daniel James Scott, Co-Executive Director of Tampa Bay Tech.

On the calendar this year is a panel of CIOs talking about the future of technology and our workforce: Sigal Zarmi, PwC; Andrew Wilson, Accenture; John Tonnison, Tech Data; and Kim Anstett, Nielsen. Also featured is CEO2CEO, with David Romine, CEO of AgileThought; and Tom Wallace, CEO of Florida Funders; and Otto Berkes, Co-founder of Xbox, developer of HBO Go and CTO of CA Technologies. Tech tracks are planned on cybersecurity, data science and innovation.

Tickets are free for members, which includes employees of member companies. Non-members pay $100. Learn more.

• Six Florida Polytechnic University students have been interning at the Winter Haven Economic Development Council this semester with the goal of helping Winter Haven become a smart community. The plan is to build on the city’s fiber optic network and expand residential and business markets. Students have been interviewing residents, businesses and government leaders to determine how different sectors can benefit from being a smart city, a move that uses technology to prepare for the future.

• Mark your calendars for Ignite Tampa Bay, where some of the area’s most talented people share their stories. Ignite 2018 is slated Wednesday, June 13, at Palladium Theater, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. The evening features five-minute presentations intended to teach, enlighten, or inspire. Topics vary. The event by the Tampa-based nonprofit Technova Florida, Inc., which is dedicated to creating tech and maker communities empowering positive change, came to Tampa Bay in 2011. Learn more.

• President/CEO Linda Olson of Tampa Bay Wave, a Tampa-based nonprofit growing tech-based companies in the region, has been named to Rays 100. The group is advocating for the Rays’ move from St. Petersburg to Ybor City and increasing business support for it. The Wave also has announced support for Tampa Bay Rays 2020, the nonprofit securing community support for the move. The Rays announced they were all in for a new Tampa stadium in February.


Commuting without a car: Tampa ridesharing aggregator offers cost-saving option

Users of ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft can find prices surging after a Tampa Bay Lightning, Bucs or Rays game. With prices potentially more than double, it’s a good time to shop for the best price. But who wants to stand on the sidewalk thumbing through a bunch of apps to find a bargain?

With the ridesharing aggregator Whipster, you don’t have to. The free, Tampa-based app enables ridesharing customers to find the service that offers the best service in real time.

“Our revenues are generated on the backend with those business relationships,” explains Founder and CEO Russel Olinger.

Whipster was officially incorporated in January 2017. Since then, it’s expanded to 400 U.S. and Canadian cities. It also operates overseas when a vendor services that area.

Olinger says the aggregator used on Androids and iPhones is needed because there are simply too many ridesharing apps, some 40 across North America.

“The single biggest response we get [to our app] is ‘I had no idea that there were so many rideshare companies out there,” he says.

In Tampa Bay, Whipster gives riders a variety of options. Besides Uber and Lyft, it includes taxis, bike share, and public transit. Curb, a taxi app, appears to be pushing into the Tampa market, he says.

Whipster helps smaller vendors to compete with more established providers, especially in new markets, Olinger says.

Its next goal is “telling the world we exist,” he adds.

With the cost of a car at about $750 a month, millennials and other cost-conscious commuters in urban areas are ditching the car to get around at a fraction of the cost, Olinger says.

“They’re looking to urban transportation options,” he adds.

Bike sharing is an option available in downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg and other neighborhoods, as well as at the University of South Florida, through the Coast Bikes brand.

Some 600,000 bike miles have been logged since 2014 when Coast Bikes first came to downtown Tampa, says Eric Trull, Regional Director-Florida for the provider, Cycle Hop.

Pay-as-you-go pricing at $8 an hour, along with membership rates, are even attracting bike owners for one-way trips. Computers mounted on the bikes and GPS systems are a deterrent for bike thieves.

Trull says the response to bike sharing has been tremendous.

These bikes are getting a ton of use,” he says.

Started in Tampa, Coast Bikes is now offering bike sharing in the United States and Canada. 

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority offers yet another sustainable option through its 50 Compressed Natural Gas buses, 46 HARTPlus vans and eight HARTFlex vans. Together they remove nearly 580 cars worth of carbon dioxide emissions from the road annually, according to Sandra Morrison, HART Deputy Press Secretary. 

HART called attention to its effort to go green by handing out plant kits on April 17 in honor of Earth Week.


Job News: Connecting to employers in Plant City, Tampa Bay Area

Graduating seniors need jobs. Employers need employees. But sometimes there is a failure to connect -- and both sides may flounder.

In Plant City, they’re trying to do something about that. A grass roots movement, of sorts, has been growing. “We’re wanting to make those connections so we just continue to prosper,” explains Yvonne Fry, Chief Fry Cook at Fryed Egg Productions, a Plant City marketing firm.

A revised website, Plant City Jobs recently had a soft launch, and the third annual Future Fair is scheduled Thursday, April 26, at the Trinkle Center on Hillsborough Community College’s Plant City campus.

The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam addressing several hundred students from Durant High School, Plant City High School and Simmons Career Center.

“I’ve been asked by so many people in the community, “Can I come?’ ” she says. “The companies of course want to meet as many people as they can.”

So the event, with approximately 50 businesses, apprenticeship programs, technical schools, and the military, includes a community component for the first time this year. Members of the community can meet with decision makers from noon until 2 p.m.

The Future Fair additionally includes a panel of business leaders who will share their own career paths and discuss opportunities for high school graduates. Moderated by Danny McIntyre of The Improvement League of Plant City, the panel includes Gilbert Esparza of Star Distribution Systems, Michelle Valdes of Tint Plus, and Matt Stone of A Stepping Stone Air Conditioning and Heating.

Fry, who describes herself as a serial volunteer, has been observing the situation as a parent and business owner. “I think that Plant City is the most special place in the whole world,” she continues. “I really believe that there is so much opportunity here. We are on the cusp of a whole next generation of what’s coming.”

Plant City has a strong sense of community, and people are rallying together. From the nonprofit Raiders Champion Foundation, to the Hillsborough County public schools, to Hillsborough Community College, to the Improvement League of Plant City and Safe and Sound of Hillsborough County, they are partnering. The Plant City Economic Development Corporation and business sponsors like The Mosaic Company, Hillsborough Education Foundation, Stingray Chevrolet, Florida Public Utilities, Star Distribution Systems, Suncoast Credit Union have been involved.

Among the advocates is Plant City Mayor Rick Lott, a member of the PCHS Business Advisory Board, and a proponent of economic development.

“What’s unique in Plant City is that the owners of our businesses, the C-level folks, are in the room,” she says. “The magic happens whenever somebody looks at you and says, ‘I believe in you.’ That’s a big part of what we’ve done.”

Ultimately, it’s more than about jobs. It’s about building a future for young people. “If people have jobs, they’re purposeful. They’re able to be altruistic and help with other things. They stay out of trouble,” Fry asserts.

The movement began at Plant City High School and has grown to include the year-round, 1-year-old Plant City Career Academy that prepares select students, who are not college bound, for the workforce. “It’s amazing the jobs that we have here in Plant City,” she says.

Below are other job opportunities in the Tampa Bay Area:

• The Tampa-based Greenway Health, a health information technology and services provider, has announced plans to add 104 positions through December as part of a $1.8 million expansion. The new hires at its Westshore location, which will be paid an average annual wage of more than $57,000, will fill positions in software development and training, legal, cybersecurity, and marketing. Greenway Health offers integrated electronic health records, practice management solutions and other tools to help improve care coordination, profitability and efficiency for ambulatory healthcare practices nationwide. Learn more.

• The global endurance sports firm IRONMAN announced in March that it was creating 70 new jobs and expanding its Tampa headquarters. The company is hiring for new jobs in a variety of areas. To check out the openings, visit Teamwork Online and search for IRONMAN.

• Currently in a growth mode, the Clearwater-based KnowBe4 is hiring. The IT security firm lists 26 positions on its website (some out of town) and invites interested applicants to submit a resume for future openings. Among them are software sales representative, which requires at least two years of experience, and a human relations generalist which requires at least one year of related experience. Learn more.

• The UK-based global design firm Atkins is seeking an architect intern in Tampa. The temporary part-time position may include developing models and drawings, along with construction and design budgets and schedules. For more information, visit the Atkins website and search for Tampa.


New Orleans-bound StartupBus rolls out of Tampa on Friday

The Florida StartupBus -- packed with 30 entrepreneurial-minded people who may be strangers to each other -- is set to roll out of downtown Tampa at 8 a.m. Friday, April 27. The bus embarks on a 72-hour journey of more than 650 miles to New Orleans, stopping at Atlanta, Nashville, and cultural and entrepreneurial hotspots.

Along the way, participants can create a product and business, take risks without consequences, and connect with mentors and collaborators who can help make their venture a success.

For some, it may be a life changer. “StartupBus is about experiencing, essentially, the first year of a startup,” explains Robert Blacklidge, the Lead Conductor. “We compress it into a short amount of time.”

Ultimately, the StartupBus is not about churning out a bunch of businesses, however. “Our goal is not to create companies,” he says. “It’s to give people the experience of creating a company in a short amount of time.”

The route the bus will take wasn’t disclosed.

“When you’re starting an entrepreneurial experience, you don’t know what the road is ahead of you,” Blacklidge says. “We like to keep the experience that way too.”

About a third of this year’s participants are veterans, like Blacklidge, who served in the U.S. Air Force. He describes the StartupBus as a boot camp that puts together hackers, or the creators, with hipsters, the designers, and hustlers, the marketers.

They’re in for a grueling experience: 15- to 18-hour workdays where they rely on Red Bull and coffee to function. “It’s not a cakewalk,” he points out.

In the end, it’s about opportunity rather than “creature comforts,” or “habit,” he says.

“We’re showing them a mountain that they don’t have a choice but to climb,” he explains. “All the time, people will rise to the challenge.”

Bus riders with be in the Big Easy on Monday, April 30, and Tuesday, May 1, along with the big Collision tech conference April 30-May 3.

Some 30 teams from eight buses, including a bus from New York City with women interested in block chain, the technology used to build crytocurrency, will be presenting their businesses before industry leaders.

The prize is the experience, the people you meet and the bragging rights,” Blacklidge says.

This trip’s sponsors include Veterans Florida, Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Innovation Initiative EDi2, and the technology consulting and software development firm, Sourcetoad.

Nine years ago, the first StartupBus wasn’t planned. Some entreprenuers were headed across the country to a conference, when they decided to challenge themselves to create a company along the way. Since then the idea has been growing, turning into an international challenge that spurs inventiveness and creativity.

“You would be amazed what gets created in a short amount of time,” Blacklidge says. “It’s truly an incredible experience.”

In 2017, two Florida teams were among the five finalists: Course Align and DropIn Pedals.

Blacklidge came up with the idea for his company, Course Align, while on the bus. The company, designed to help universities develop curriculum that meets evolving business needs, is in the seed-funding stage with 14 employees, most of them unpaid interns.

Conductors Morgan Thacker and Tyler Baumgardner, a 2017 team out of Dunedin, placed second with DropIn Pedals, an adapter transforming clipless bike pedals into flat pedals that can be used with casual shoes.

A limited number of seats are available on the bus for latecomers this year. “Every year we get one or two people that just found out about it,” Blacklidge says.

Potential participants can sign up at http://Startupbus.com/florida using the invite code 83Degrees.

“They will need to fill out the application and schedule an interview when they sign up,” Blacklidge says. “The time line will be tight to get them through the process and on the bus.”

Participants need to pay for a $399 ticket, plus food, hotels and airfare.


Career Cafe: Workshop helps girls land the jobs of their dreams

A Pinellas County high school student has created a career program that teaches the job-hunting skills girls need to land their dream jobs. Called The Career Cafe, it's intended to help girls compete more favorably in the marketplace.

Anne Bauer, a 17-year-old senior at East Lake High School in north Pinellas County, developed the program after recognizing two years ago that women face wage discrimination in the workplace. She’d attended a Women’s Conference of Florida, where she learned of the problem.

“My eyes were opened to the gender wage gap between male and females in the workforce,” she says. “I realized I was going to be entering the workforce soon. I did not want that to be prevalent at all.”  

So Bauer, a Girl Scout since kindergarten, created The Career Cafe, where girls can practice interviewing and hone resume-writing skills before they actually have an interview. The first Career Cafe was held in October; a second cafe is scheduled in May.

“The goal of The Career Cafe is to prepare the girls when they are looking for a job,” explains Clara Moll, VP of Membership Innovation for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It [the interview] is very daunting. Some of them have never attempted to look for a job for themselves.”

A cafe, open to girls in high school and above, up to 23 years of age, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at The Kaizen Collaborative, 5215 W. Laurel St., Ste. 110, Tampa. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.

Girl Scout membership is not required.

The program teaches job-hunting skills like networking, personal branding, and interview dos and don’ts. It features opening remarks by Jamie Klingman, a Lightning Community Hero of the Year in 2014, and speakers Debbie Lundberg of Presenting Powerfully, along with Robin Kraemer and Ronda Clement of My Matrixx.

Coaches and volunteers include Camie Gibertini, Valley National Bank; Holly Donaldson, Holly Donaldson Financial Planning; Stephanie Gaines, Citi; Juliann Nichols, Julo Strategy; Adeola Shabiyi, Citigroup; and Jennifer McVan, Florida Hospital.

Bauer’s efforts have been recognized by the 2018 Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Heroes of Tomorrow program, which awarded her a $25,000 college scholarship. She plans to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa next fall and double major in biomedical engineering and finance.

Another $25,000 was awarded to the Girl Scouts to continue the program.

“We hope to keep it going,” says Nicole Gonzalez, Public Relations and Media Manager for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It’s definitely a great opportunity for high school.”

While the Scouts do offer other career-related programs like Camp CEO, The Career Cafe is open to the general public and gives girls a good career overview. “This is really more about envisioning their lives and where they see themselves,” Gonzalez says. “You’re going to leave here with the tools that you need.”

The Girl Scouts are looking for volunteers for the event, especially to help with resume writing and mock interviews. “It’s a good way to bridge the gap between women who are older that have more experience and the younger girls that are just starting their professional life,” Moll says.

To register or volunteer, visit the Girl Scouts website and search for The Career Cafe. For more information, email careercafe@gswcf.org.

Bauer will be receiving the Girl Scouts’ highest accolade, the Gold Award pin, for her efforts Saturday, June 9.

Women in Florida earn an average 87.5 cents for every $1 a man earns, according to The Status of Women in Florida by County: Employment and Earnings, a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in partnership with Florida Philanthropic Network and Florida Women’s Funding Alliance.

That’s up from 79.9 cents in 2004.

The report released April 9 shows the Sunshine State receives a D+, ranking 36th in its Employment and Earnings Index based on the number of women in the workplace, women’s median annual earnings, the gender wage gap and women in professional or managerial positions. The grade dropped from C- in 2004.

Learn about upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay area.

Hillsborough Community College is holding a free job fair Tuesday, April 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gym on the Dale Mabry Campus, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa.

• ECHO, the Emergency Care Help Organization, has scheduled its Spring Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Brandon Boys and Girls Club, 213 N. Knights Ave., Brandon. The event is free. Learn more.

• Career Showcase is holding a Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The event specializes in careers in sales, particularly pharmaceutical, medical, IT, inside and outside, as well as business development, financial services, customer service/call center and marketing recruiting. It is free and open to recent college graduates through executive candidates. Pre-registration is required.

JobNewsUSA.com’s Tampa Job Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Dr. The free event caters to all jobseekers. Recruiters will be available.

• A free job fair for Registered nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants is slated from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Kindred Hospital Bay Area St. Petersburg, 3030 6th St. S., St. Petersburg.
Learn more.

• Nations Joblink is targeting jobseekers from the Bradenton, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch areas with its Tampa Bay Career Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Homewood Suites Conference Center -- Sarasota Lakewood Ranch, 305 N. Cattlemen Dr., Sarasota. The event is for career seekers from a wide variety of industries. It’s free -- and hiring will be done on the spot. Register online.


Tech Bytes: Competitions spur tech innovation

A woman-owned business, VRenewables LLC of Tampa, claimed a $3,500 cash prize March 29 for its design for a hybrid, standalone streetlight independent of the electric grid.

Led by Vrinda Vairagi and Shesh Narayan Vaishnav, the company has a vision to work toward a better future. Its streetlight, which uses solar power, took the Social Entrepreneur Student Pitch Award, sponsored by local companies Connectwise and Sourcetoad.

Vairagi has experience in business relations and HR management while Vaishnav is in photovoltaic research industry, says Vaishnav, CEO. 

The award was given at the 2018 Innovation Summit organized by the nonprofit Synapse. “I am planning to invest this money towards the research and development of the hybrid street light which will be powered by both Solar Module and Wind Turbine,” Vaishnav says. 

“I think Innovation Challenges are the single most effective way to catalyze innovation and spur collaboration in a very organic, tangible way,” says Trey Steinhoff, Lead Designer and Challenge Organizer at the Summit. There truly is nothing more inspiring than having groups of passionate, talented people put their heart into building something on a tight deadline.”

Other award winners were Tracy Ingram, owner of Dade City's Intention Technology, in a Connectwise challenge; and Matt Spaulding, in the Metropolitan Ministries Hackathon for Social Good. Both also won $3,500 each.

Connectwise was looking for an inclusive interface for employees and other users. “I built a [mobile-friendly] bot that could be put on any existing site with a few lines of code,” Ingram says.

Metropolitan Ministries sought digital solutions to help those in crisis, so it can operate more effectively. Details were not immediately available.

These awards were sponsored by Connectwise, Sourcetoad and Metropolitan Ministries. 

The creative problem solving that is required to compete in these events forces competitors to push their assumptions and come up with solutions that no one saw coming, not even the partner companies,” Steinhoff says. “The cherry on top is seeing these competitors working together with each other and the partner companies at and after the event. I have been to a lot of tech and entrepreneurial events in Tampa Bay and have yet to see another event that molds deep, genuine relationships quite like a hackathon or pitch competition.

Read on for more local tech news.

Thomas Wallace, managing partner of Florida Funders, will be featured at the April Diary of an Entrepreneur program. Wallace, an active angel tech investor for 25 years, co-founded his first business at the age of 23. His talk, "Startups and Raising Capital," will include insights from his career as a tech entrepreneur, executive, investor and more. The presentation by TEC Garage is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 10, at Microsoft, 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, Tampa. The event is free, but reservations are requested because of limited seating. Learn more and/or register here.

• A panel discussion entitled “Cybesecurity – Skills, Trends and Industry” is planned at the next Trep Talks gathering for entrepreneurs at Hillsborough County’s Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City. The event is planned at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at 2101 E. Palm Ave. Sign up online here.

• Florida Venture Forum is hosting the 11th Annual Florida Early Stage Capital Conference and the 8th Annual Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition Friday, May 18, at The Westshore Grand in Tampa. Described as one of the largest angel and early-stage-investors’ gatherings in the Southeast, the event features pitches from dynamic Florida-based ventures, along with panel discussions, speakers and presentations. The deadline for presenter applications is Wednesday, April 18. Presenters are required to pay conference registration fees. Learn more here. At the event there will be two, $25,000 cash prizes to Accelerating Innovation Award winners from Space Florida.

• The U.S. Air Force is looking for help closing the science and technology gap, so it’s hosting a workshop Thursday, April 26, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The workshop for the scientific community, academia, and business professionals will include ideas about how to facilitate a conversation about Air Force technological advances. The deadline to submit ideas is Friday, April 13. Learn more about the 8 a.m. event at CW Bill Young Hall.

• If you’re looking for recognition for your business, consider TechCo.’s Startup of the Year competition. It’ll give you the opportunity to expand your startup by providing opportunities to meet investors, gain insight, get funding and win prizes. Startups need to be innovative and have a live, viable product. Candidates must submit their applications before Monday, April 30. Check it out here.

• Florida Polytechnic University students in Lakeland have joined the quest for biofuel. Using algae from Polk County lakes, they are working with a professor of biology, Dr. Melba Horton, to find a renewable energy source. While algae already is being used for biofuel, this source would be cheaper. The research is being funded by Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute.

In other Florida Poly news, Dr. Kanwalinderjit K. Gagneja, a computer science professor, has won a $44,000 grant from the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida to develop a new Digital Forensics course. Through hands-on training, the class would help address a shortage of cybersecurity experts.

The university drew a record crowd of 300 to its third annual Women in STEM Summit March 14, to hear a panel of successful individuals talk about how they applied science, technology, engineering and math to their careers.

• Knack, a Tampa-based peer-to-peer tutoring service, was as finalist in the 2018 Challenge Cup contest in Washington D.C. March 22. Tampa’s Preferhired was a semi-finalist in the contest hosted by 1776. The winning company was Caribu in Miami.


Tourme: A digital platform transforming the tourist industry

Bill Marquez’s quest for a pineapple-picking farm in Maui turned into an unforgettable adventure. He realized -- with help from friendly residents -- other travelers could fulfill their dreams too.

As a result, Tourme was born.

Developed by the St. Petersburg-based International Touring Apps LLC, the Tourme platform makes it easier to book memorable personalized tours at a savings.

“We’re really mainstreaming tours and travel,” says Brittany Cooper, Tourme’s Marketing Coordinator.

As a child, Marquez had noticed tourists disembarking from cruise ships in Bonaire, the Dutch island near Arruba in the Caribbean, with cellphones that didn’t work. He wanted to make it easier for them to connect to the locals. Later, he recognized the niche in the market when he wanted to book his own pineapple-picking tour.

He eventually became business partners with Gary Capuano, company Co-Founder and Principal, who had witnessed the rise in development in St. Petersburg.

Today Marquez is CEO of the company located in co-working space in the Station House in downtown St. Pete. At 2 years old, it has six employees, most of them remote. International Touring Apps is scouting for an office worker to help manage tours, and expects to hire local residents for office and management in the future. “We’re taking it day by day,” she says.

Prospective employees should visit partner.tourme.com to apply for tourist guide and other positions.

Tourme received more than 10,000 applications from tour guides since the beginning of the year. About 800 have been approved in more than 180 cities across the world. The platform offers at least 400 user-generated tours -- and plenty more are pending.

The number of users wasn’t disclosed, although the company is projected to have 50 million downloads by the end of 2020. “It’s gong to be huge in the next couple of years. We anticipate having millions of users,” she says.

The company, which launched its platform earlier this month, is preparing for rapid growth. “I think that it’s going to be a great tool for the tourist industry,” she says.

Tourme is expected to benefit both tour guides and tourists. “We just really want to streamline that process,” she says. “It will be disruptive, in a sense. I think it will be an asset.”

It will make it easier for guides to book customers. Tourists will find it easier to find reputable guides and book their tours without using big companies or cruise lines. Larger groups are expected to benefit most from the peer-to-peer approach.

“I think we’re just following the natural progression of how business is done these days,” she explains.

Tourme will be adding badges to some profiles to show the guides are licensed. Ratings and personal endorsements will be available.

The platform has an app for tour guides and an app for tourists. Now available in the App Store and Google Play, both are free to download and use.

Tourme makes its money through a 25.5 percent cut of the touring fee. “Taxes vary by location,” she says. “No one booking a tour in Florida will have to pay a service charge.”

The company’s mission right now is building recognition for the brand and strengthening partnerships with visitor and convention bureaus and others.

It is enjoying the sense of community in downtown St. Petersburg. “The industry for startup companies has just been booming in St. Petersburg for the last couple of years,” she says. “It just really fell together and seemed like the perfect place to get started.”

Read on to learn more about the Tampa Bay Area job market.

• If you’re interested in helping grow Tampa’s downtown, check out Strategic Property Planners, a joint venture between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC that is developing Water Street Tampa. It lists 10 openings on its website, including an asset manager, assistant controller, IT help desk and systems administrator, real estate development manager, senior development analyst, senior graphics designer, senior development multi-family residential manager, senior recruiter, and VP for construction management-office. An open-ended “Opportunities at SPP” listing invites applicants for urban developer, construction project manager, marketing expert, accountant, real estate technology visionary, or finance expert. Learn more about job openings at SPPTampa.

• The Tampa-based chronic care management company, Caresync, lists 17 job openings in Tampa, including telephonic nurses, nurse phone care coordinators, a medical care coordinator, and project administrator. Learn more about the jobs.

• The Mentor Network, a national network serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities or other medical-related needs, lists two job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area. One is for a quality improvement specialist in Tampa, who must have at least three to five years of experience in quality improvement or a related field, and a direct support professional or caregiver in New Port Richey, who must have at least one year of related, direct care experience. Check out the details here.

• Robert Half is seeking a junior, mid-level software engineer to work with a client in St. Petersburg. This permanent position pays $50,000 to $70,000 annually and requires C# and SQL knowledge. Check into opportunities through Robert Half.

Know of other growing companies adding jobs in the Tampa Bay Area? Email tips@83degreesmedia.com


Job fairs help connect people to open jobs in healthcare, many other professions

Jobs in the healthcare field aren’t just for nurses, doctors, and other trained medical personnel. There also are plenty of opportunities for janitors, drivers, cashiers, administrators, sales personnel, and lots of other non-medical employees.

The Brandon-based Red Carpet USA Entertainment and Events can help you find these opportunities. It is holding its first Medical Career Job Fair Thursday, April 12, at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there that people don’t know is there,” says Susan Longo, CEO of the seven-year-old firm that holds job fairs, car shows, motorcycle shows and other events throughout Tampa Bay. 

Longo’s background is in healthcare -- and she noticed the need for employees in the field at a recent job fair, when Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center gave her a list of some 400 openings. “That’s a lot of openings,” says Longo. “ We couldn’t even begin to list them.”

Longo, who works with Arthur Pierce, the company’s Operations and IT manager, and Carolyn Miller, Community Liaison, is planning some 20 to 25 employers at the event. They will be accepting employer signups until Wednesday, April 11, the day they set up tables at the facility on U.S. Highway 301 south of Interstate 4.

“We’re trying to find a couple [of employers] that do multi-level marketing in the health field,” she adds. “They’re very welcome to come.”

They also are looking for at least one hospital, an insurance company and firms that employ drivers that deliver medical products.

The job fair offers free resume help and review plus free classes from Gene Hodge from HodgePodge Training in St. Petersburg, who helps applicants assess their talents and abilities. “When people come in, we ask them ‘what are you looking for?’ ” Longo explains. “When we get a shrug, we send them over to Gene Hodge. A lot of people come in just to get their resumes.”

She encourages jobseekers to dress appropriately. “Definitely, be ready to be interviewed. We’ve had people walk out with jobs,” she says.

Those who want to attend the free fair, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Fairgrounds Pavilion off Martin Luther King Boulevard, are advised to signup in advance at http://redcarpetusa.us and skip the sign-in line. Available jobs will be posted online prior to the event.

“My advice to anybody coming to a job fair is know in advance what you want,” she adds.

Check out other upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay region:

• A Rocky Point luxury hotel is looking to hire approximately 100 team members for its hotel and new dining and party venue. The Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas Tampa is holding a job fair from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, March 21, at the hotel at 7700 W Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. The hotel is accepting applications for food and beverage supervisor, restaurant manager, sous chef, line cook, server, bartender, barback, host, food runner, dishwasher and room service attendant. Jobseekers are encouraged to apply online here. Previously called the Bay Harbor Hotel, the property has undergone extensive renovation to create an elegant, resort-style ambiance. The final stage, to be completed this spring, includes the pier-side dining and poolside party venue.

• A Nursing Job Fair is slated from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both Thursday, March 22, and Friday, March 23, at the nonprofit skilled nursing facility Egret Cove Center at 550 62nd St. S., St. Petersburg. The center is looking for experienced nurses, nursing students, and new graduate nurses. Tours and interviews will be given. Please reserve a place by contacting Betsy Norris, Lead Recruiting Consultant, at 561-353-7848 or by emailing her at BNorris@facsupport.com.

• Aramark is holding a job fair from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. Aramark is looking to fill part-time seasonal, event-based positions that may involve working nights, weekends and holidays. The positions include bartenders, catering attendants, cleaning crew, concession stand workers, concession supervisors, cooks, runners, stand leads, suite runners and warehouse worker. Jobseekers are advised to apply before the event for one or two positions only. The event is free; plan to be interviewed. Attendees must reserve a place and bring a resume. Learn more.

 

• Bradenton and Sarasota jobseekers can check out the free Employment Expos job fair from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 26, at Sahib Shrine, 600 N. Beneva Rd., Sarasota. The event is for jobseekers beginning their careers or searching for a career. Opportunities include cooking, housekeeping supervision, front desk supervision, resort hosting, shuttle driving, and life-skill coaching. Register online.

• The Tampa Bay Times is holding its Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, April 9, at The Coliseum, 535 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. No pre-registration is required for the free event, which anticipates more than 50 local employers. Learn more about the Times’ job fairs and other expos here.


• Tired of submitting your resumes online and getting no reply? Mark your calendars for the Tampa Career Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport Tampa. The event, which is free for jobseekers. is conducted by Best Hire Career Fairs. It enables you to learn firsthand about the businesses that are hiring – and what their needs are. Employers hire on the spot. A wide variety of industries are expected to participate, including agriculture and agribusiness, apparel and accessories, banking, employment, energy, fashion, fine arts, green technology, sports, video games and web services. Learn more and/or register.

• Florida Joblink and Nations Joblink are pairing up for the Florida Joblink Career Fair slated from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa. The event targets jobseekers in Tampa, Brandon and Lakeland. The goal? To connect growing companies with the best talent, regardless of race or affiliation. A variety of career opportunities are anticipated. Learn more.

• United Career Fairs has scheduled a Tampa Career Fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The event kicks off with an executive presentation, where companies can introduce themselves and their job opportunities. Jobseekers in attendance can then meet with hiring managers of their choice. The fair focuses on sales, business development, marketing, customer service, retail and sales management jobs. Learn more about this free event.


Tampa Innovation Summit features Hyperloop, Tesla, IBM, Water Street Tampa, and more

Imagine traveling from Tampa to Tallahassee or from Tampa to Miami in 20 minutes or so? Or zipping across the continent from Florida to California on the ground, at airplane speeds, safely and securely? It may sound like a science fiction plot, but it isn’t.

It’s a revolutionary, tube-based transport system capable of speeds of 700 miles per hour, which has been under development since 2013 by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a California-based company.

Hyperloop has put together a team of more than 800 on six continents to work on the system powered by magnets and sunlight. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s already attracting plenty of interest. A Cleveland-to-Chicago run could well be the first in the United States. And it has already passed the muster of a major reinsurer, Munich RE.

So where does Tampa Bay fit into this, you might ask? Hyperloop’s CEO Dirk Ahlborn will be a featured speaker at the 2018 Innovation Summit March 28 and 29 at the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. The event organized by the nonprofit Synapse is part of an effort to unify the community to make Tampa Bay a “very welcoming and easy place to do business,” says Marc Blumenthal, a Founding Partner of Synapse. 

What Hyperloop is developing has the potential to change the way people think and operate as well as where they can live,” he says.

They’re designing this thing to be far more affordable than ... most rail,” he adds.

Ahlborn’s talk, part of a segment on the future of mobility after lunch on the 29th, is expected to lead to further meetings among community leaders. “Clearly Hyperloop is something that can be considered to move people around the region and the state,” Blumenthal says.

The summit is expected to include 257 exhibitors, more than 70 pavilions and 55 breakout sessions. It also has at least a couple of more items of special interest on transportation. Kasra Moshkani, a General Manager for Uber in the southeastern U.S., is expected to share Uber’s vision for the future in that segment on mobility. 

“It’s not going to be whatever they do today. It’s going to be what they do tomorrow," explains Blumenthal. “Somebody’s got to move you the last mile.”

Tesla will have a number of vehicles on hand on the 28th to give people rides around the arena and downtown.

Look who else is talking

Other key speakers include Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner and part owner of Strategic Property Partners, the real estate entity which has embarked on the $3 billion Water Street Tampa project; Dr. Bernard Meyerson, Chief Innovation Officer of IBM; Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of the Innovation Hub started by Vinik; Arnie Bellini, CEO of the Tampa-based Connectwise; Dr. A.J. Seth, CEO of Bionic Miracle; Col. Josh Potter of the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Transnational Threats Division; and Blaire Martin, Executive Director of Florida Angel Nexus.

There will be sessions for folks of varying interests, allowing them to focus on topics like financial tech and blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, biotech and healthcare, defense and cybersecurity, building a business, urban tech, software, coding and more.

Participants also can take in exhibits like On Med, a telemedicine booth facilitating physical examination and treatment without the doctor or pharmacist being physically present. Or from Marxent, a St. Petersburg software company which has developed View In Room Augmented Reality for furniture retail. Or the Tampa-based Flymotion Unmanned Systems, a veteran-owned small business utilizing drones for public safety purposes.

Signups for the summit have already far surpassed last year’s 600. We anticipate no less than 2500. We can probably support 4,000. They should hurry up and get their tickets,” Blumenthal says. “We just want people to participate. It’s for everyone. It’s not just for people involved in tech.”

Reservations for breakout sessions are encouraged but not required. A mobile app will enable users to sign up on their Smart phones or on the web.

At the event, Synapse is rolling out its digital platform to help businesses make those all-important connections required to further their endeavors. “Tampa’s success is the state’s success,” he says. “We believe it’s important to nurture those relationships, those connections across the entire state.”

Momentum is building for the Tampa Bay Area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “You can sense that this is the moment. This is the crescendo, where we bring all the great members of this community together and we start working for a common vision,” Blumenthal says.

Learn more or signup on the Synapse website here.


Tech Bytes: TiE looking for novel tech startups for pitch opportunity

The deadline is fast approaching for entrepreneurs who want to pitch their startups at TiECON Florida 2018, an annual conference by the nonprofit TiE Tampa Bay to foster entrepreneurship.

“We are looking for entrepreneurs who have an idea in terms of digital transformation across any and all industries,” explains Kannan Sreedhar, program chair for the conference. “It could be in the areas of social, mobile and cloud services. They could be leveraging artificial intelligence, virtual reality or augmented reality and Iot, Internet of Things.”

Applicants have until March 12 to apply for “Present Your Startup,” which will give about 10 startups the platform for seven-minute pitches to a panel of judges and angel investors.

The top three finalists will have an opportunity to pitch to the national or global TIE organization as well,” Sreedhar adds.

The emphasis is on opportunity and exposure. “People recognize the TIE brand,” Sreedhar says. “We will help you build your brand. We will help you get recognized. What we are not is a foundation.”

TiECON 2018 offers a day packed with activities starting with registration at 8 a.m. and lasting through 10 p.m. March 31 at the University of South Florida’s Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on the Tampa campus. This year the program includes three featured speakers, instead of one keynote speaker, and has a more enterprise rather than consumer feel, Sreedhar says.

Featured speakers are: Arnie Bellini, Co-Founder and CEO of Connectwise, a Tampa-based IT firm, who’s having a question-and-answer session on entrepreneurial life lessons; Steve Raymund, Founder and Former Chairman/CEO of Clearwater’s Tech Data, who’s speaking on the challenges of growing an organization organically over a long period of time; and Sarvajna Dwivedi, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the Redwood City, CA-based Pearl Therapeutics, now a division of United Kingdom-based Astra Zeneca, who’s sharing about why he became an entrepreneur.

Other highlights include sessions by Apparsamy Balaji, Director of Enterprise Data Management and Web Applications for BayCare Health System, on analytics in healthcare; and Theodora Lau, Director of Market Innovation for AARP, on caring for the aged at home. Other sessions focus on financial, urban and government technology, angel investing, and patents.

Awards also will be given, including the Super Entrepreneur Award, Social Entrepreneurship Award, Angel Investor Award, Community Champion Award and Startup of the Year Award. Winners will receive crystal globes. 

The event is free to TiE members; non-members pay $100, the regular annual membership fee. “We are not looking for one time participation,” he says. “The more you participate, the greater the value you get.”

Learn more and register here.

TiE, short for The Indus Entrepreneurs, was started in Silicon Valley in 1992 by successful people with roots in the region. The global organization has 11,000 members and 60 chapters in 17 countries. The Tampa Bay chapter was founded in 2012.

Read more about what’s happening in the hot Tampa Bay tech scene.

• Hillsborough County Community College has received a $250,000 grant from the Everyday Entrepreneur Venture Fund in Norwalk, CT, as a seed fund for students. The fund is to help launch community college students into business; matching funds will be sought from area businesses.

•  Tampa is getting closer to having driver-less cars. As part of a demonstration for transit experts and local leaders Feb. 27, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, city of Tampa, and the Michigan-based May Mobility arranged for a May Mobility fleet to carry passengers on the city streets and Marion Transit Way corridor. HART is hoping to implement the driver-less vehicles in this same area by the end of this year – and May Mobility is being considered as a potential partner.

• Clients at the Florida Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA) are featured at the 1 Million Cups Tampa networking event from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. 1 Million Cups is hosted weekly and it’s free. Registration is not required.

• Artificial intelligence will be the focus of a meetup from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The monthly event is open to anyone interested in artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. It’s free and registration is not required.

• If you are a Latino tech entrepreneur, check out the free co-working space at Tampa Bay WaVE in downtown Tampa. Its FirstWAVE Venture Center at 500 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 300, is open to Latino founders and cofounders on the first Wednesday of the month – March 7, etc. at 8 a.m. Not Latino? Women entrepreneurs can come free on the second Wednesday of the month starting at 9 a.m. Veteran businessmen and businesswomen can come at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of the month. Learn more and sign up here.

• “What’s the Buzz about Blockchain?” is the topic at the next meeting of Tampa Bay Women in Technology International scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, 4610 Eisenhower Blvd., Tampa. The event costs $25 for non-members; members are free. Register online here.

• The St. Petersburg-based InformedDNA, a large independent supplier of genetics services, has been expanding its counseling services into 14 major health systems nationwide. InformedDNA services include a variety of specialty markets including oncology, ophthalmology, maternal and fetal medicine, pediatrics, and cardiology.

Sabal Smart Homes, a new townhome development at 532 Fourth Avenue South in downtown St. Petersburg, is offering high-tech options like an electric car charger, and a connected-home “Einstein Package,” a rooftop alfresco kitchen and in-home private elevator. The home automation system includes technology from companies like Sonos, Nest, Lutron and Alarm.com. Developed by Salt Palm Development, the initial eight units start at $740,000 and feature three bedrooms, multiple baths and a one-car garage. Construction already has begun on a second building expected to open by the end of the year.

• Payton Barnwell of Tampa was one of 41 globally to receive the 2018 Brooke Owens Fellowship, which ensures her a paid summer internship at one of the nation’s leading aviation companies. A junior at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Barnwell will be interning at Generation Orbit, an Atlanta aviation firm that builds launch systems. Barnwell also will be mentored by a senior aviation professional.

In other Poly news, a new 8,600-square-foot Student Development Center featuring geothermal heating technology opened Wednesday, Feb. 28. Relying on the Earth’s heat, the competition-sized, eight-lane pool is kept at near-constant temperature. The building was designed by Straughn Trout Architects LLC in Lakeland and utilizes natural lighting in the interior. It features a strength and cardio training area, plus office space and a multi-purpose room.

ª TeamWERX, a prize challenge program to help warfighters, has released two new challenges. It’s looking for a light-weight and rugged hose storage and delivery system compatible with Air Force Special Operations’ hose lengths and sizes, by March 31. The deadline is April 15 for augmented reality navigation assistance using GeoPackage. Learn more.

• It’s almost time for WAMICON. The 19th annual IEEE Wireless and Microwave Technology Conference is planned April 8 and 9 at Sheraton Sand Key. The theme is "mm-Waves and Internet of Things (IoT) for Commercial and Defense." Learn more.


Career Readiness: USF pilots program to digitally demonstrate skills

If you’re a jobseeker, there’s something you really ought to know: more than likely, your resume will have to pass the muster of a machine before you’re given an interview. It works very much like search engines when they rank websites, except it’s your resume that is ranked by keyword.

“It’s just easier to let computers make the first pass,” explains Peter Thorsett, Communications and Marketing Officer for Career Services at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

That is not to say you should stuff your resume with keywords so it’s nonsensical. After all, humans are behind the machinery. Still, it can help to know how your resume is being screened.

Networking is advised to help you build your skills and connect you to potential employers. “It’s best not to go it alone,” advises Lynn Chisholm, USF’s Director of Internships and Career Readiness. “So much of it is based on who you know and whether you are branded effectively for the company.”

Keeping current also is important. “I have not seen a lot of success in individuals who think what they did 15 years ago will help them get a job now,” she adds. “The whole process has changed.”

USF is helping students compete in an increasingly automated job market through its new Career Readiness Badging program, now in pilot mode on the main campus. It works pretty similar to the Scout badges system, except students don’t wear the badges on a sash. Instead, they post digital badges on resumes or electronic job boards, helping students rank higher on applicant tracking systems.

“The more we can have a student showcase those skills ... The more likely it is that they are going to be called in for an interview,” Thorsett says.  “We also empower them with the right language to be able to talk to an employer.”

The pilot began last fall and is expected to roll out across the Tampa campus next fall.

USF recognizes students may not be able to articulate their academic experiences effectively, or in ways employers expect. So the badging program helps by building and demonstrating eight key skills including communication, leadership, critical thinking technology, global citizenship, career management, professionalism and teamwork.

Through various partners on campus, even more badges are offered. For example, USF Libraries are offering workshops to build skills in Adobe Creative Cloud, Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator and Premiere. The workshops, which are one and half hours long, are in the afternoons and evenings, says Barbara Lewis, USF’s Digital Learning Librarian.

More workshops are planned, and students can also use the school’s subscription to Lynda.com for online tutorials, she adds.

The program helps prepare students for broader, open learning sources in the future. “It is exciting for our students. They’re learning how to do something they’re gong to use their entire career,” Chisholm says. “It’s going to set them up for career success beyond USF.”

Students on the Tampa campus can enroll in the program through the online job platform Handshake or through Career Services. Professors can involve students through their department or individual coursework. There is no charge to participate.

There are lots of opportunities for jobseekers in Tampa Bay, if the numbers of recruiters on campus are any indication. Top career fields are healthcare, tech, sales, and financial services.

Internships are being used to recruit new talent. “We find that there is a very healthy market for internships in the Tampa Bay area,” Chisholm says. “There are likely more internships than there are students to fill them.”

Read on to learn more about the local job scene.

• Two of the 2018 FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For are based in the Tampa Bay region, including the Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets ranked 47th, and the Clearwater-based Baycare Health System ranked 65th. Power Home Remodeling, which ranked 87th on the list, has a Tampa Bay office at 4135 Crescent Park Drive in Riverview. It is based in the Philadelphia region.

Publix hires for a wide variety of careers in the region, including corporate and administrative, real estate, quality assurance, marketing, pharmacy, distribution, manufacturing and human resources. It likes to promote its associates. An online search tool lets potential employees track opportunities that suit their particular interests and qualifications.

Baycare operates 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay region, including St. Joseph's Hospital in West Tampa, and has openings listed for medical technologists, registered nurses, clinical nurses, patient support technicians, histologists, pharmacy technicians, cooks, medical office reps, environmental services techs, home health clinicians and more.

Power Home Remodeling currently lists openings for sales representatives in Riverview. Learn more.

• Interested in a career in Finance? Raymond James lists a wide variety of openings in St. Petersburg, including summer internships, a staff accountant’s position for a new graduate, a number of analyst positions, a reconciliation specialist, a portfolio reviewer, and a marketing associate for investment products.

Headquartered in Herndon, VA, Indexcel, a technology provider specializing in Cloud Services, Application Modernization, and Data Analytics is looking for a Tableau Developer/Data Reporting Analyst in Tampa. The job requires the ability to act as a data storyteller and liaison between tech and non-tech workers. The position requires one to three years in reporting and analytics.


Tech Bytes: A modern business matchmaking service prepares to go live

Singles often go online to numerous dating sites in hopes of meeting that special someone. Making business connections, especially for busy entrepreneurs who must stay laser focused to keep moving forward but need the help of other specialists, isn't as easy.  

Now a Tampa nonprofit is preparing to launch a digital platform to help businesses make meaningful connections that can mean the difference between going nowhere and getting ahead.

“There’s a lot of customers here. There’s a lot of talent,” says Brian Kornfeld, a founding partner at Synapse. “There’s also a lot of money. ... The connections aren’t taking place.”

The platform, slated to go live March 29, is “slick,” “easy to use” and capable of digitally pairing Tampa Bay businesses better than regular search engines, he says. Whether people want to know how to invest in a startup or real estate, learn about blockchain, build a business or host an event, or simply need to work with a specialist such as an accountant, an attorney or a success coach.

Signup is free for most users, such as entrepreneurs, inventors, mentors, jobseekers, employers, entrepreneurial service organizations and government workers. Those considered innovation enablers, like patent attorneys, bankers, accountants, software developers and marketers, would pay a small fee.

Kornfeld, Marc Blumenthal and Andy Hafer are founding partners in the effort underway since last year. The platform's launch is anticipated during Innovation Summit 2018, the second summit in Tampa Bay connecting innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations and community leaders.

The summit will be held March 28 and 29 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, and will feature Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik as the keynote speaker during the kickoff at 9 a.m. He will share updates since the event last year as well as future plans.

Also slated to speak are IBM Chief Innovation Officer Bernard Meyerson, Henry Ford Health System Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Mark Coticchia, Water Street Tampa’s Innovation Hub CEO Lakshmi Shenoy, and Dr. Ajay Seth, who is famous for his bionic work advancing treatment prospects for prosthetic patients.

Multiple innovation hubs, focusing on defense technology, Internet of things, blockchain, cryptocurrency, wearables, robotics, 3D printing, renewables, energy, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital health, urban tech, and financial tech, will feature product demonstrations and speakers from companies in the region.

To buy tickets, visit the Synapse website.

Read on to learn more about what’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech scene.

Tampa Bay WaVE has launched a new TechDiversity Accelerator Program funded by a $100,000 grant from The Nielsen Foundation. The 90-day program is for early-stage technology firms with a majority ownership by a minority, woman, veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person or combination of these.

The WaVE is currently accepting applications for the program to run this summer. The application period closes March 31.

• 1 Million Cups Tampa, a free national program to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The event is free and registration isn’t necessary.

Homebrew Hillsborough is meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23, for a visit and tour of AVI/SPL, an audio video technology company, at 6301 Benjamin Rd., Suite 101, Tampa. Homebrew is held monthly at different locations for techies and entrepreneurs to network.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Forman has developed an app for fellow Berkeley Prep students named Flower Sale – and it has been accepted into the App Store. An alumna of Tampa’s Hillel Academy, Forman created the app so students can buy flowers for one another. Funds raised are designated for the Students Helping Students Scholarship program through the school’s French Club.

• Four companies in the Tampa Bay region made G2 Crowd’s list of the top 25 companies in Florida’s business-to-business tech scene. They include Qgiv of Lakeland, ranked 7th place, followed by VIPRE Security of Clearwater, 17th; Connectwise of Tampa, 19th; and SunView Software of Tampa, 24th. The top ranking company was Goverlan of Coral Gables.

• Florida ranks third in the nation for cybercrime and losses reported to the FBI, according to a report, The State of Cybersecurity in Florida, released Feb. 8 by The Florida Center for Cybersecurity (FC2) at USF. On the plus side, the report done with Gartner Consulting says “Florida is well positioned to develop a strong workforce, with nearly 100 cybersecurity certificate and degree programs offered by institutions of higher education across the state.”

• At Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, faculty members are working on next-generation spacesuits to make astronauts happier, more comfortable, and efficient. Because astronauts can be adversely affected by lack of exercise, excessive light and lack of sleep, professors Dr. Arman Sargolzaei and Dr. Melba Horton, together with Computer Science student James Holland, are developing Smart Sensory Skin to detect deficiencies through wireless sensors. The sensors can initiate changes in temperature, light exposure, light color, and oxygen levels.

In related news, seven of 10 science and engineering students chosen for the Hays Travel Award from the Florida Academy of Sciences Council are from Florida Polytechnic. Students will be presenting their research projects March 9 at Barry University in Miami Shores, during the FAS Annual Conference. The winners were Mechanical Engineering student Brian Gray of Tampa, Mechanical Engineering student Sean Cloud of Brandon, Mechanical Engineering student Geoffrey Doback of Brandon and Computer Science student Nathaniel Florer of Kissimmee, Mechanical Engineering student Ecieno Carmona from Summerfield, Innovation and Technology graduate student Jephté Douyon of Haiti, and Innovation and Technology graduate student Mohammad Bharmal of Pakistan.

• Digital currency: risky business or a big moneymaker? Bitcoin Pioneer Charlie Shrem can help you decide what to believe. Shrem will be speaking on “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Future of Finance” from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 1, at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s College of Business. The event is open to the public. Register by Feb. 28 here.

• Students at USF St. Pete are participating in 2018 Ex Labs, a competitive Accelerator Lab involving the latest technology. Teams will be creating new products, business plans and marketing strategies March 12 through 16. One team will win a training package from Cisco valued at $2,300.

• In Manatee County, the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Angel Colonneso has begun offer e-filing through Simplifile. The office now is able to electronically receive, stamp, record and return documents in minutes with less error and cost.

• A licensed and registered Microsoft refurbisher, Goodwill Manasota’s Tech Connection program kept more than 208,000 pounds of e-waste from the area’s landfills last year. It raised nearly $71,000 last year, plus more than $17,000 in January. The program to refurbish and resell computers and accessories, headquartered at Goodwill’s Ranch Lake store at 8750 E. State Road 70, Bradenton, installs the Microsoft Digital Literacy Program, helping to improve basic computer skills.

• The Mulberry-based ArrMaz has opened a new, state of the art Innovation Center at the company’s headquarters. Designed for its research and development team, the center features a modern work environment with cutting-edge laboratory equipment for analytical and synthetic chemistry. Its open layout facilitates collaboration, team-based research and innovation. A 50-year-old company, ArrMaz is a global producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, fertilizer, asphalt, industrial ammonium nitrate, and oil and gas industries.


Top educators to provide free training to inner city businesses

Businesses in or near urban or economically underserved areas in the Tampa Bay region can receive free training from top name educators beginning Feb. 28.

The Inner City Capital Connections program, rescheduled from Sept. 12 as a result of Hurricane Irma, will kick off with a conference at University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa.

This is a really awesome opportunity for businesses to get the tools that they need to achieve the success that they desire,” says Hyacinth Vassell, director of the program.

The goal is to help businesses overcome obstacles to growth, such as lack of capital. “It’s an opportunity to work on their business while they are being guided by the most brilliant minds in the U.S.,” she says.

To be eligible, businesses must be in or near a depressed area or have 40 percent or more of their employees living in a distressed area. That’s broadly defined to include “parts of the city that have had little investment or disinvestment” as well as major population centers, adds Jeremy King, VP of Corporate Communications for Regions Bank, an ICCC partner.

“That’s almost everywhere in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. We don’t want anyone to feel limited,” King says.

The company must be at least two years old and have $500,000 or more in revenue.

What ICCC primarily looks for is “readiness to participate,” Vassell says, “readiness for growth.”

“This is about helping each business take stock where it is now, identify where it wants to be in the future and identify a path how to get there,” King adds.

Founded in 2005, the program is ICCC’s first in 2018 and first in Florida, unless you count last year’s training relegated to webinars after Irma.

The ICCC training consists of modules on growth strategies, including talent management, entrepreneurial finance, marketing and sales, and access to capital. Among the experts involved are:

Dobbin Bookman, an adjunct lecturer from Harvard University who holds dual master’s degrees from Harvard and who works with MBA students and the Harvard Business School’s Career Services program to assist businesses;

• Gail Taylor, a professor of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, who is an expert in marketing communications, retail promotions and services marketing; and

• Susan Perkins, an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at University of Illinois-Chicago, whose specialties include business strategy, corporate governance, and organizational learning.

The deadline, originally set for Feb. 9, has been extended to Feb. 16. Interested companies, which can send one representative in a senior leadership role, can apply at www.iccapitalconnections.org. Click on “Tampa Bay” and “application page” to access the form.

Run by the Roxbury, MA-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a nonprofit, ICCC is offered free because of partnerships with Regions Bank and other regional sponsors including Florida Blue, Carlton Fields, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Ernst and Young, United Way Suncoast, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Valpak. ICIC was started by Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School Professor, to build communities through education and investments from the private sector.

“Our goal as we sponsor ICCC is to connect with the small business communities in various markets that we serve, and work with them hand in hand,” King says.

The Birmingham, AL-based Regions will be providing coaching, expertise, and information. “This is about beginning a relationship and providing access to opportunities for these businesses long term,” he explains.

According to its preliminary 2017 report, the ICCC has trained 1,659 businesses and created 15,946 jobs. Average revenue grew 172 percent while raising capital of more than $1.47 billion.

ICCC is heading for 14 cities where they will hold executive education seminars in 2018, including Atlanta, Memphis, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The program also includes webinars and a live meeting at the conclusion.

It hasn’t been decided if, or when, the ICCC program will be offered again in Tampa.


Job fairs: Employers recruiting at Florida Polytechnic, Kaiser, and more

Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland is preparing for its third Career and Internship Fair -- its largest to date.

“We’re starting to have a product in our students. Companies are seeking the technology, the innovation that our students are bringing forward,” says Kathryn Miller, Vice Provost for Academic Support Services.

The fair increased from 13 companies in 2016 to 29 in 2017 and 53 companies who had signed up by Monday for 2018. Open to all Polytechnic and state university system students, as well as Polytechnic alumni, the event will help attendees find jobs and meet internship requirements.

“We do have a variety of career fields [represented] with a concentration on engineering, computer science, logistics and data analytics,” she says. “That directly aligns with our curriculum.”

Among the companies signed up are Accusoft, Baycare Health system, Citrus Connection, the city of Lakeland, CognitutorDronePhD and Publix Super Markets.

The event is slated from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the campus Innovation, Science and Technology building designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and Albert Alfonso. Eligible students and alumni are asked to email Miller to register.

The university, established in 2012, opened in August 2014 and attracted nearly 1,450 students by fall 2017 semester.

Read on to learn about more career fairs in the Tampa Bay area.

• if you’re looking for a job as a certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse or registered nurse, check out the Rehabilitation and Health Care of Tampa Job Fair. The fair runs for three days at Rehab and Healthcare Center of Tampa, 4411 N. Habana Ave. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14; Thursday, Feb. 15; and Friday, Feb. 16. Attend, meet the management team, and tour the facility. On-the-spot interviews will be given. Register online.

• Sales professionals can learn about opportunities in a variety of career fields at Career Showcase’s Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event specializes in careers in the pharmaceutical, medical, IT, business development, financial services, customer services/call center and marketing industries. It’s open to everyone from recent college graduates to executive level candidates. Pre-registration is required.

• Kaiser University is holding its annual career fair for students, graduates and members of the community. The free event is planned from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 5002 W. Waters Ave., Tampa. Among the employers anticipated are Quest, New York Life Insurance, Spectrum, Cognizant and Computer Generated Solutions. Learn more.

• Interested in part-time seasonal work at Raymond James Stadium? Aramark will be doing interviews for a variety of jobs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb.21, and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 3, at the stadium. Reservations and resumes are required. Learn more.

• Norwegian Cruise Lines is hiring staff for its ship Pride of America. It is holding two information sessions on shipboard employment on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at Hilton Tampa Downtown, 211 N. Tampa St. Attend either at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. Sessions begin promptly at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. following registration; an interview follows. Norwegian is looking for candidates with recent experience in a number of jobs including Asian Cuisine Sous Chef, Assistant Chief Butcher, Broadcast Technician, Entertainment Technician (Audio/Stagehand), Pastry, Restaurant Steward (Busser/Server), Stateroom Steward (Hotel Room Housekeeping), and Utility Galley (Dishwasher). Register online.

• The Pasco County schools are looking for teachers. Their Spring Instructional Job Fair is slated from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Dr. John Long Middle School, 2025 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. They’ll be holding Teacher Certification Information Sessions so candidates without certification can learn what steps to take. The 20-minute sessions are scheduled at 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Pre-register here for this free event.

• Mark your calendars for March 14: a live recruiting/hiring event is slated from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Plan to register, upload your resume, attend with plenty of resumes, and be hired. The event by National Career Fairs is free.

• Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs is holding its Tampa Career Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event features hiring managers from small to large companies representing a variety of industries including biotechnology, chemical, communications, electronics, entertainment and recreation, green technology, information technology, journalism and media, health and medical, real estate and sports. Learn more.

• Jobseekers in the Sarasota and Bradenton areas can meet and interview with employers at a career fair by Nations Joblink and Florida Joblink. The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Homewood Suites Conference Center – Sarasota Lakewood Ranch, 305 N. Cattlemen Dr., Sarasota. Top companies will be represented in a wide variety of career fields including advertising, beauty and cosmetics, financial services, fine arts, legal services, manufacturing, motion pictures and video, transportation, and web services. Candidates are advised to be ready to be hired at this free event. Register online here.


Millennial Mixer: Diverse networking group hits one-year mark

He’s an internist. She’s a general dentist. Together, they run the Healthy Bodies Medical and Dental Center in Brandon. The husband-and-wife team, Martha and Watson Ducatel, got their start with help from Millennial Mixer, a regular East Tampa event that brings together millennials and those who want to connect with them.

“It’s really just to connect millennials and to connect other people with millennials,” explains Fort Myers native Ivy Box, Millennial Mixer's founder and curator. “We just want to provide a comfortable atmosphere.”

Millennial Mixer attracts a diverse crowd to its gatherings at 5508 Co-working and Collaboration Exchange, a place where small minority-owned businesses can operate affordably. While there, attendees might munch on finger foods, order drinks at the cash bar, or buy food from food trucks.

The space is donated. Sometimes wine is donated to be sold at the event. So people show up and mingle. Businesses show up and advertise for free.

“It’s a mixed crowd. A majority of businesses are minority owned,” says Box, whose parents migrated to Florida from Haiti for a safer environment and more financial opportunity. “They’re diverse in their background and they’re diverse in their professions.”

The idea developed to make more people aware of the exchange run by Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan Inc. and Coastal Bay Properties. “It just made sense. Provide something for millennials to do. Get them over to 5508 to see what’s going on,” says Box, a millennial herself.

So Millennial Mixer began as an every other month event – and celebrated its first year in existence with a gathering Jan. 24 at 5508 N. 50th St. In the future, Box may hold the mixers on a quarterly basis and involve more people, perhaps by collaborating with other groups on themed events.

Many who come aren’t familiar with the facility made of refurbished old storage units converted into offices and businesses. Its conference center is the event space, where vendors can set up tables and people can sit at high top tables in the middle and socialize while music plays in the background.

Through word of mouth and social media promotion, the event has grown from 30 people and three vendors to more than 100 with 13 to 14 vendors. “That’s all that can fit in that room. We’ve had to run away vendors,” she says. “We’re almost at the point where we probably need to get a bigger space. For now, we’ll stay at the space that’s free.”

What sets Millennial Mixer apart is its demographic and its laid back approach. After all, there are no memberships, meeting agendas or admission fees. “Here people can ... loosen up a little bit. They can chill at the bar,” she says.

In keeping with the millennial style, the mixers last about two hours. “We like it fast and quick,” Box says.

Box, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit Voice T.H.E. Movement, has a passion for encouraging those who seek to inspire others. A portion of money generated goes toward the organization seeking to improve individuals’ quality of life through health, education, arts, entertainment, and technology.

A marketing consultant and former castmate on Black Entertainment Television‘s hit reality TV series College Hill: Interns, the event helps Box connect to marketing clients. It’s also a place where she can sell her self-help book, The 365 Go Get H.E.R.S. Guide.

Though Millennial Mixer is designed for business, personal relationships could potentially develop. “For us, it’s strictly business,” Box says. “Whatever happens, it’s on them."


Tampa company works to cut power costs for businesses

The Tampa-based COI Energy Services has gone live with a platform designed to cut energy costs from 6 to 30 percent for commercial and industrial users. Among its first clients are the University of South Florida Research Park and an undisclosed Tampa-based utility.

We’re getting a lot of attention from utilities. This is definitely a problem that has not been solved [previously],” says Founder and CEO SaLisa Berrien. “It is a unique solution.”

The company is preparing for growth by raising seed capital to pay for 12 additional staff members needed to serve more than 1,000 customers. It’s hiring people in software engineering, marketing, business development, and customer’s experience within the next quarter.

USF Research Park was to be the first to use the platform. That installation was completed Thursday, Feb. 1, with training following.

The park also lined up a $1,650 rebate on a 150-ton air conditioning unit.

“Energy sustainability is an important issue at the University of South Florida Research Park, and we are proud to be one of the first customers for COI and explore how this new technology can provide us greater insight into how we use energy,” says Allison Madden, director of USF Research Foundation Operations.

Site inspections for some 100 users are required before the utility can utilize the system. “It will save in time and cost to support the grid. Simply put, our platform saves time, saves money, and saves the environment for both the utility and its business users,” Berrien says.

Another major customer is PBS39, a key account for Pennsylvania Power and Light.

A public demonstration is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at the Galleria of USF Research Park. It is expected to attract investors, potential customers and partners. “Anybody that is interested in clean tech is welcome to come,” she adds.

The 2-year-old company helps energy users save in three key ways: 1) by alerting customers when are able to cut waste, and 2) notifying them about potential rebate programs they qualify for, and 3) facilitating the sale of renewable energy into the grid. It is designed for businesses with a peak use of at least 50kW.

“We can predict their bill, based on how they are using their energy now,” Berrien says. “If they’re fine with the way the bill looks, they can continue operating as they are.”

COI Energy already has outgrown its three-person office space at USF Connect in the Research Park. The staff is using communal office space at the facility while the company waits for a larger office. It also is considering space in Channelside.

Additionally, COI Energy has been participating in the climate economy innovation accelerator, Accel-VT, in Montpelier, VT. It is slated to complete the three-month program, aimed at helping with capitalization, next week.
 


World IA Day: Walking tour of downtown highlights information architecture event

Local residents are familiar with parking in the Poe Garage in downtown Tampa to get to the Straz Center by crossing West Cass Street through the glass-encased walkway next to the John F. Germany Public Library. But are they acquainted with the library's auditorium? Not so much.

Downtown drivers have probably noticed the tall Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse on District Court on North Florida Avenue. But have they paid much attention to the Robert L.Timberlake Jr. Federal Building at 500 Zack Street? Probably not.

And when some come to The Portico at North Florida Avenue and East Tyler Street for open mike night, or youth activities, they might notice the old pipe organ. Yet they probably don’t remember the old church steeple that was a downtown landmark before the old Methodist Church building was demolished there in the 1960s.

Similarly, Tampa Bay residents are familiar with architecture and even landscape architecture. But they may have not heard of Information Architecture, an information age term first introduced in 1975 by Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of the TED Conference.

The Internet made information architecture more relevant -- and it garnered more of a following with Peter Morville’s book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, which he co-authored with Louis Rosenfeld and Jorge Arango. It’s now the focus of World Information Architecture Day, a global event which began seven years ago in 14 cities including Ann Arbor, MI; Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Vancouver, Sao Paolo, Bucharest and Johannesburg.

The free event, held in conjunction with the Grand Rapids, MI-based Information Architect Institute, first came to Tampa four years ago. A Tampa team led by Amy Espinosa and Carlisle Stoup has been preparing the next program to be held Saturday, Feb. 24, at the downtown library’s auditorium at 900 N. Ashley St. Featured are Dan Klyn, president of IAI; Gus Paras, one of the library auditorium’s architects; and Arango, a partner in the Oakland, CA. consultancy Futuredraft.

“Now that technology has progressed so rapidly, and we have information being consumed all the time, there’s more of a need than ever to recognize it [information architecture],” Espinosa says.

Although the late 1990s book was launched for the digital age, the concept has evolved since then. “Digital and physical worlds are merging -- machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented virtual reality. Now we are organized,” explains Espinosa, a Tampa consultant and self-taught information architect. “Information architecture is in a new space.”

The Tampa Bay program, which kicks off with registration at 10:30 a.m., features a two-mile walking tour including the riverfront and some of downtown Tampa’s less talked about sites like Franklin Exchange block, Tampa Police Department block, and Tampa municipal building block. Participants are encouraged to bring a water bottle and comfortable shoes for the walk from 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

While there’s concern for older buildings like the Tampa Theatre, built in 1926, which is being refurbished, newer buildings may be torn down or drastically altered to meet current needs. Concern about the future of the library buildings helped prompt the tour in an attempt to bring awareness to structures built between 1940 and 1989. It’s also an opportunity to share stories about the people and culture of Tampa, as well as buildings that existed downtown at some point.

“We wanted to do something a little unique this year,” Espinosa adds. “That’s why we decided to focus on preservation and do a walking tour.”

She’s been interviewing people to put together a book about the city’s history as well.

Part of the goal of the day is to teach others what information architecture is. “We want people to be interested in information architecture,” says Espinosa, who has a background in digital and software design.

IA involves organizing information by location, alphabet, time, category, and hierarchy, according to IA expert Chris How, in his video “Yippee-IA: All You Need To Know About Information Architecture In 10 Minutes.” It’s useful in different professions because they involve information being shared with students or customers.

Espinosa says the day’s theme this year is “IA for good.” “The question is how can IA help protect people from misinformation?” she continues. “Cities around the world will be tackling this topic in their own way.”

Tampa’s goal is to stress the importance of learning and researching to find the truth. “That is what we feel will help people protect themselves from misinformation,” she explains.

WIA Day is for those who are interested in learning about Tampa and about information architecture. Interested parties can register online; the event ends with a 5 p.m. Happy Hour.

In case you’re wondering, information architecture is a “high-paying” career, Espinosa says. But it’s not widely known. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook refers to the field of Information Architect Librarians under the category Librarians; in fact, there aren’t many colleges with an information architect degree, although there are information and library science and design curriculums.

“The educational system hasn’t caught up,” she says.

Read about the Tampa Theatre renovation project.


Tampa Bay Startup Week: Bigger, better than ever

Tampa Bay Startup Week is growing -- and expecting to double attendance with this year’s diverse program spanning both sides of Tampa Bay. This year’s calendar, which attempts to weave diversity into the events, features a panel of female leaders who, collectively, have experience raising $500 million in capital.

“It’s going to be really cool. We’re really excited about it,” says Lead Organizer Gracie Leigh Stemmer.

“Gender dynamics in the workplace” will be discussed, she says. “Men and women both were highly recommended to come to the talk. We want it to be a conversation.”

The event is called “Fullstack Pancake Breakfast + Boost Your Business with the $500M All-Star Panel,” and it starts at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, with a pancake breakfast sponsored by Full Stack Talent. Stefanie Jewett, Founder and CEO of Activvely, will moderate the panel including Chitra Kanagaraj, COO of Pikmykid; Susan O'Neal, CEO and CTO of Dabbl; Joy Randels, serial entrepreneur and CEO; and Jamie SewellCMO of Washlava.

The program, which lasts until 10 a.m., is being sponsored by Startup Sisters. It will be held at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa.

Startup Week 2018, scheduled from Monday, Feb. 12, through Friday, Feb. 16, is expected to draw some 3,400 attendees, double the number who participated in 2017. Early registrations were brisk, with about 1,300 registered by Friday, Jan. 26, Stemmer says.

Keynote speaker is serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, co-Founder of the full-service digital agency VaynerMedia. Most known for helping his father grow one of the first e-commerce wine sites, WineLibrary, into a multi-million dollar business, Vaynerchuk is a New York City venture capitalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is expected to talk about marketing, media and his new book, Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence - and How You Can, Too.

His 30-minute talk, followed by a question-and-answer session, is slated at 5:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St. Seating is limited and an RSVP does not guarantee a seat, so interested parties are advised to arrive early.

The free event is intended to help people with business ideas, people trying to network, people trying to raise capital, and people developing new ideas/products within larger corporations.

Organized by the nonprofit Startup Tampa Bay, the event is presented in conjunction with Tech Stars, a global network that helps entrepreneurs be successful.

The program in its fourth year features 14 tracks on a wide variety of topics including education and health technologies, cybersecurity, legal, veterans, food and beverage and fashion. Some tracks will have limited seating because of the size of the venue.

Here are some other highlights.

• Q&A with Tampa Bay’s Talent Leaders, “Learn from the Pros and hear their successes and failures!” The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Monday, Feb. 12, Redeemer, 1602 N Florida Ave, Tampa.

• “How to Build a Multi-Million Dollar Business from Home,” slated from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 12, also at Redeemer, 1602 N Florida Ave, Tampa.

• “Pitch the Press,” with members of the local media giving their ideas about to effectively work with journalists, scheduled from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa.

• “Startup Surge,” hosted by Tampa Bay WaVE, an accelerator for Tampa Bay’s tech community, is scheduled from 9 a.m. until noon on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa. Seating is limited at the program bringing together regional tech advisors.

• “How to fund your TB startup using Bootstrapping, Internet, Blockchain and ICO” features high-tech from artificial intelligence and Blockchain, which powers Bitcoin, to the Internet of Things, smart homes and cars. The class kicks off at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m. and lasts an hour. It’s at CAVU, 1601 N. Franklin St, Tampa.

• “How to Build an E-Commerce Empire from Scratch (using Amazon and Shopify)” is planned from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, at Station House - 4th Floor, 260 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

• If you’re seeking the ear of startup health and technology CEOs, this is the event for you. A CEO Roundtable, with limited seating, is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Station House - 4th Floor, 260 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg. The CEOs will be meeting with attendees in small groups. The event is suited for investors, plus collaborative individuals in healthcare, research and the community.

Check out the full program and register here. Registration is recommended.


Ministry employment lab works to end joblessness

Many people think of Metropolitan Ministries as a place that feeds the hungry and houses the homeless. But the ministry is also working to solve those problems by helping people find jobs. Just ask Chef Pete Bates. Or Bob Kines.

Bates runs a six-month training class for line cooks as part of a culinary arts program created by the ministry’s Vice President of Social Enterprise and Food Service Cliff Barsi. Graduates work at places like downtown Tampa’s Ulele’s and Mise en Place restaurants, and make use of their knife skills to advance.

Kines coordinates the Employment Lab, also known as the Computer Lab, which often serves as a port in the storm for the homeless who need a general mailing address -- or help creating a resume or free gmail account.

Some, looking for an alternative to day labor pools, turn to the ministry for help securing an entry-level job. “We’re basically ... a quick fix or a Bandaid, with the hope of getting them a little more self confidence,” explains Bill Stone, the ministry’s outreach services manager. “Our future goal is to hopefully have more employers know who we are, and have more communications.”

Though the process is informal, the ministry can refer the needy to employers looking for entry-level help. “They just need somebody that’s reliable,” Kines says. “They [the homeless or displaced] are not at a real disadvantage to anybody else when it come to entry-level employers.”

The people who end up at Metropolitan Ministries, located at 2301 N. Tampa St. in Tampa, are of varying education levels. But its GED program is there to help those who don’t have a high school diploma. Instruction also is available with personal finance.

A frequent limitation is lack of transportation. “Very few of the folks that come in here have their own transportation, which does limit some of the things we can have them engage in,” Kines adds.

Read more on for job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area:

  • The city of Tampa is listing 13 job openings, among them a Benefits and Human Resources Management System manager requiring five years of experience, three in a supervisory capacity. The full-time position, which pays $70,532.80 - $110,676.80 annually, requires at least a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business/public administration or a related field. Among the other openings are fleet mechanic II, automotive equipment operator III, building maintenance tradesworker I and police officer. Learn more here.
  • Johnson and Johnson has an opening for a junior graphic designer at the company’s Vogue International in Clearwater. A candidate with a bachelor’s degree or higher in communications, graphic arts, advertising, interactive media or a business-related field is sought. Graphic design experience – and thorough knowledge of Adobe Creative Cloud Suite -- is required. The company also is seeking a clinical specialist in Tampa for NeuWave Medical, a division of Ethicon and a member of the Johnson and Johnson Family of Companies. The candidate must have at least a high school diploma and related medical training; an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a healthcare field is preferred. At least five years of medical experience is required. Visit the Johnson and Johnson website for more details and other openings.
  • Walker Consultants in Tampa is looking for a civil/structural engineering intern this summer to assist project managers in new design and renovation projects. The position, which runs from May to August, involves collecting data, participating in on-site survey teams, and assisting in the design of conventional elements. The company also is seeking a project accountant with an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance and one to five years of experience. Check current openings here.
  • McClatchy is seeking a medical media consultant to work in the advertising department at The Bradenton Herald. The job pays salary plus commission. Candidates should be knowledgeable about and use consultative sales practices; experience in media or digital sales is a plus. Learn more here.
  • Franklin Templeton Investments is recruiting a senior client service representative-international transfer agent for its St. Petersburg office. Job candidates must speak English and Spanish and possess an undergraduate degree or equivalent experience. Learn more about this job or other Franklin Templeton openings here.
  • Tampa’s Haneke Design is seeking a User Interface Designer, an iOS Mobile Application Developer and an Android Mobile Application Developer. Candidates can learn more and apply at the company’s website.

If you are hiring skilled workers with five or less years of experience, drop us a line.


Job fairs recruit road crews, students, stadium and beach help

State contractors are looking for road construction crews for long-term work in the Tampa Bay Area.

“In the next 10 years, Tampa is the focus area,” says Rich Alvarez, director of workforce development for the Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-entry Coalition. “They’ll be long-term jobs.”

PERC is a partner in The Pinellas County Construction Careers Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Pinellas Technical College, 901 34th St. S., St. Petersburg.

“We’re going to have clients there that are looking for jobs,” Alvarez says.

Typically the applicant pool is small for road construction jobs, which involve physical labor outdoors. “Companies are more willing to consider people they might not have considered in past,” he says.

The fair is an opportunity for jobseekers 18 and older to meet with contractors ready to hire for positions like general laborers, pipe layers, welders, carpenters, traffic flaggers, paving and concrete workers, and heavy machinery operators. Openings exist for both experienced and inexperienced candidates. The program’s goal is to boost the number of minorities, females and veterans in federal- and state-funded roadway construction jobs. 

Employees are being sought for the Gateway Expressway Project and other active road and bridge projects in the region. The Florida Department of Transportation currently has 19 ongoing road projects in Hillsborough County and another 17 in Pinellas County.  Learn more about local road projects here.

Applicants should be drug free, eligible to work in the United States, capable of lifting 50 to 90 pounds, and have transportation to work. Interested individuals are advised to bring resumes and a great attitude to the free Onboard4Jobs event. Registration is encouraged, but it isn’t necessary. Learn more at On Board 4 Jobs

Other partners in the fair include FDOT and Quest Corporation of America.

In Tampa, University of South Florida students and alumni from all campuses will be converging on the Marshall Student Center on the main campus soon for three separate job fairs.

The All Majors Fair is slated from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31, followed by the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1. The Accounting and Financial Services Fair is scheduled on Friday, Feb. 2, at the same times. Learn more here.

Continue reading for information about other Tampa Bay area job fairs.

  • Looking for part-time work? Check out the Aramark Job Fair at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Wednesday, Jan. 24. The free event kicks off at 5 p.m. and lasts until 7 p.m. Attendees need to RSVP and bring a resume for these part-time seasonal, event-based jobs. Aramark is looking for bartenders, catering attendants, cleaning crew, concession stand workers, concession supervisors, cooks, retail sales associates, runners, stand leads, suite runners and a warehouse worker. Positions may involve nights, weekends and holidays. Interested parties should apply beforehand for one or two positions at most. Interviews will be inside the East Galley/Club Entrance. Candidates should enter at Gate B, with the guard shack on the left. Learn more.
  • Be prepared to meet, interview and be hired at the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce job fair for the retail, hotel and restaurant industries Monday, Jan. 29. The Clearwater Beach Hospitality Job Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Clearwater Beach Recreation Center, 69 Bay Esplanade, Clearwater Beach. The event is free. Register online.
  • Jobertising.com has planned its Tampa Career Fair with diversity in mind. The fair, scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 30, brings together jobseekers with diversity-minded companies. The free event is from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Airport – Westshore, 4500 West Cypress St., Tampa. Jobseekers should bring resumes and be prepared to interview.
  • All Support Services is holding its Tampa Job Fair and Hiring Event for healthcare workers Friday, Jan. 26. The free event will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at 5404 Hoover Blvd., Suite 11, Tampa. All Support Services is looking for full-time, part-time, and temporary employees, with openings available for caregivers, certified nurse assistants, home health aids, support living coaches, support employment coaches, and administrative support. Jobseekers must wear business professional attire or scrubs and present a resume at the entrance.
  • It’s time to mark your calendars for METRO Job Fair 2018, an annual event hosted by Metro Places, CareerSource Pasco Hernando, the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and Pasco-Hernando State College. The job fair will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the college’s Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. Candidates should dress professionally, bring plenty of resumes and register in advance.
  • The Florida JobLink Career Fair for Tampa, Brandon and Lakeland area residents is slated from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa. Its mission is to connect the best candidates with companies seeking top talent, regardless of race, creed or other labels. A variety of jobs are being offered, including sales, management, customer service, insurance, education, government, information technology, human resources, engineering, blue collar, clerical and more. Career and resumes services are available at the free event. Learn more.
  • National Career Fairs is holding a free, live recruiting and hiring event from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Holiday Inn St. Petersburg North Clearwater, 3535 Ulmerton Rd., Clearwater. Jobseekers should register in advance, upload their resumes at NCF Jobs and wear business attire.
  • United Career Fairs is planning its Tampa Career Fair for sales, management and business jobseekers from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 West Cypress St., Tampa. The free event caters to jobseekers of varying experience levels, providing face-to-face meetings with hiring managers. Jobseekers are advised to arrive no later than 6 p.m. to hear company presentations, bring 10 to 15 copies of their resume, look motivated, and wear professional business attire.

Synthetic body manufacturer grows in Tampa

The Tampa manufacturer of synthetic bodies for medical testing and training is in a growth streak. SynDaver, located near Tampa International Airport, has acquired the London area-based Lifecast Body Simulation, which specializes in making life-like mannequins, and a $186 million contract from the U.S. Department of the Army.

“Our bodies are made of a proprietary mix of water, salt and fiber,” explains Kevin King, the company’s VP of marketing. “It’s the closet thing ... to a real human for the medical training market.”

SynDaver, which handles management and assembly in Tampa, expects to merge the companies’ capabilities to create ultra-realistic, next-generation synthetic human and animal bodies. The models will include fully functioning anatomy and life-like tissues; humans will appear realistic enough to replace stuntmen in films.

“We’ve been making such great tissues from the skeleton on up,” King says. “Lifecast we thought was the world leader in the exterior.”

SynDaver did not release details about the acquisition made Sunday, Jan. 14.

Its models, distinguishable from cadavers because they don’t have a grayish cast caused by preservatives, are designed for use in anatomy and funeral science instruction, surgery simulation, clinical training, consumer product testing, automobile crash testing, TV and movie production, medical device testing and military product development. They are replacing live animals and cadavers.

“We want to continue driving the notion of patient safety and patient care as far as we can take it,” King says. “It’s all about the patient. As long as the focus remains there, we believe we are going to be successful.”

The company, which derived its name from the words synthetic and cadaver, is expected to supply both virtual patient simulation systems and whole body patient simulators for human medical and veterinarian training through its new government contract. Mark Owens, head of the company’s new Global Government Business Unit charged with overseeing the Army contract, described the deal as the "largest single award from DOD [the Department of Defense] that SynDaver has received."

Under the five-year contract with the Department of the Army’s Joint Project Management Office for Medical Modeling and Simulation, SynDaver is expected to deliver an indefinite number of simulators inside and outside of the United States for the training, evaluation and certification of medical personnel. The models will be used to train surgical personnel for both humans and canines.

Owens is one of seven recent hires in leadership roles, according to its website. "We are hiring nonstop right now for production and sales and also hiring in engineering," Founder Christopher Sakezles says.

Started in 2004, the company is experiencing rapid growth. “We’re growing at multiples of the compound annual growth rate of the industry,” King explains.

Among its clientele are industrial clients like Apple and Google, educational clients like the University of Florida and University of Saskatchewan, government customers like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and media customers like CBS, NBC and PBS.

The company’s models range in cost from $8,000 to $100,000 depending on the features sought.

SynDaver also is screening potential investors of $100,000 or more for its next private offering.

The technology used in the synthetic bodies dates back to 1993, when UF was involved in initial studies to create synthetic tracheas to replace live animals when testing airway devices. The materials developed are now used in the industry to mimic simple veins and arteries.

Sakezles, the president, chief technology officer, and chairman of the Board of Directors for SynDaver, is a Tampa native who earned a master’s in Materials Science and Engineering and a Ph.D. in Polymer Science from UF. He earned a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Florida.

Sakezles is expected to investigate live tissue replacement such as artificial hips or knees in the future. “We believe can play a role in the medical device and replacement arena,” King says.

For now, the company with strategic national and international flight access is working on new animals; a cat is coming out in the spring. They’re also working with a horse model. “We are driving toward rats and mice as well. They are being used so prevalently in testing,” he explains.

While the synthetic bodies are expected to replace real animals in surgeries like gastropexy, used to treat a life-threatening condition involving the stomach, they aren’t life-like enough to use in movies because they have no fur.

But Lifecast already has supplied human synthetic bodies for films like Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator, for which it won an Academy Award.

There are no plans for SynDaver models to be paired with robotics to do mundane tasks like clean house or pick fruit. “It’s just not something that’s in our wheelhouse, nor is it in our short term roadmap,” King says.

If something like that becomes a reality, he says, “it won’t be our stuff.”


DOD courts local innovators for MD5 accelerator

Business accelerators and hackathons are all the rage these days. Even the federal government is getting in on the act: its MD5 is on the local tech scene to help innovators create new products.

“We reach out to innovators that typically would not be working with the DOD [Department of Defense],” explains William Kernick Ph.D., a principal in the MD5 national security technology accelerator, which is part of the DOD. “We want to make these communities of innovators aware of very interesting and challenging problems. ... Part of what we’re doing is building those connections.”

MD5 held its first event in the Tampa Bay area in December in partnership with the Ybor City-based SOFWERX, an organization formed to facilitate collaboration between innovators and the U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM. Called Hacking the Human Element, the three-day hackathon brought together participants from across the United States to develop prototypes using wearable technology to boost productivity in austere environments.

Squad Dr. Bones McCoy claimed a prize worth up to $15,000 to work on a prototype that monitors vital signs through wearable technology, helping first responders to more easily assess the urgency of medical treatment.

 

“What we focused on was the telemedicine aspect,” says team spokesperson Tracy Ingram, CEO of Intention Technology based in Dade City, which is building non-invasive medical diagnostic tools.

In a combat situation, Squad Dr. Bones McCoy’s automated alert system would enable medics to identify stable patients from those whose conditions are rapidly deteriorating, or who are deceased. It relies on off-the-shelf technology that is commercially viable.

 

A member of Pasco Economic Development Council’s SMARTstart Incubator, Ingram recruited a seasoned team after showing up at the event's trade show. “We had this perfect mix of all these people that kind of came together to make this happen,” he says.

Members of the large team included David Hirschberg, Natalie Concors, Asia Hall, Alec Thurman, Brian Meredith, Steve McCalmont, Yves St Laurent and Terry Shaw.

The team expects to use the money to seek a Small Business Innovation Research grant for $200,000 to further the technology, with the goal of making it available to the military and commercial markets.


“Really what you are doing is extending telemedicine from the hospital room to potentially the home or wherever that patient would be,” says Ingram, co-Founder of the nonprofit Healthcamp Florida, which identifies innovative medical technologies.

The other teams receiving up to $15,000 were:

• Squad Smart Tourniquets, which showed how tourniquets embedded in undergarments could stop bleeding in extremities;

• Squad Blood Suckers, which demonstrated how an intravenous diagnostic probe can provide real-time and continuous blood analysis; and

• Squad Fabric Communications, which showed how fabric could be used to ensure communication in austere environments.


In addition to the money and mentoring, teams were recognized by Manufacturing USA at the Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC 2017) in Tampa in December.

While MD5 is working to improve the national security, its efforts are not solely to assist warfighters. “When we work with entities on these ideas, we like to focus on something called dual use,” Kernick says, adding it should be aimed at national defense and commercial markets. “Just doing a national security application is not sufficient for a company to be successful. You also want them to make sure they’re looking at dual use.”

 

A good example of why this is important is GPS, which was military technology 40 years ago. Commercializing the product advanced the product and reduced its cost.

 

The prize money will be awarded to teams for follow through on product development, with installments given at designated milestones. “We give them the freedom to put their plan in place,” he says. “We’re very flexible about how they deploy the funds. They have to keep it going.”

MD5’s customized approach doesn’t include a physical cohort, application process, or set program. Instead, the hackathon is the “lead-in,” Kernick says.

“It’s more like they’re now in the fold, so we continue to work with them,” he explains.

Kernick says discussions are underway about another event with SOFWERX. “We want to keep going and figure out another way to do a collaboration,” he says.

Interested in learning more about SOFWERX? Check out this article in 83 Degrees Media.


Tech Bytes: Tampa Bay WaVE joins Global Accelerator Network

The Tampa Bay WaVE, downtown Tampa’s tech accelerator, has become the first in Florida to join the Global Accelerator Network, a move expected to create new international opportunities for Tampa Bay’s tech community.

It adds credibility, its adds visibility and basically collaboration with the worldwide tech community,” explains Rich Heruska, Interim Accelerator Director. “It further puts the Tampa Bay and Florida tech system on the map.”

The Global Accelerator Network, which includes 90 top accelerators in more than 120 cities globally, can advertise the WaVE’s programs, giving it international exposure in its efforts to attract tech companies to Tampa Bay. It also will create new potential funding opportunities for WaVE companies, provide access to discounts, and enable free shared workspace opportunities in other cities, he says.

The WaVE has been interested in joining the network, which charges an annual fee of more than $10,000, for five years. “They don’t accept everybody,” he points out.

The nonprofit also has added three new board members: Joe Hodges, Stewart Kelly and Kailah Matyas. Alfred Goldberg of Absolute Marketing Solutions will continue to serve as board chair.

A pioneer in the healthcare field, Hodges’ latest venture is the Tampa-based CareValet, which helps to solve the healthcare access maze for consumers. Kelly is a sales account executive at Florida Blue with more than nine years of experience in the healthcare insurance industry. Matyas, managing partner at Redwood Partners, is expert at finding the best people to build successful businesses and accomplish their goals.

Additionally, Avril Stinson, a seasoned investor relations manager, has joined The WaVE as its new director of development. Her duties include community support and strategic leadership. Stinson previously worked as investor relations director for the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

In other tech news, Penny Hoarder Founder and CEO Kyle Taylor is scheduled to speak at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center’s quarterly Diary of an Entrepreneur program at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at Microsoft Headquarter offices, 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, Tampa. His talk will share how he grew his blog on personal student loan and credit card debt into a thriving website with millions of readers monthly.

When I first racked up all this debt I was afraid to tell anybody about it,” Taylor admits. “What I learned was that all that hiding was making the situation even more shameful for me. When I started to own it, and started telling people about it, is when I started making a difference.”

He’s developed a brand that shares stories from people who have accomplished their financial goals. “We really try to stay focused on our mission, which is to us money in people’s pockets. It really drives every decision that we make,” he explains.

That means turning away half of the advertisers, and passing on story ideas that would attract web traffic, whenever they don’t stay true to its mission, he says.

The event is free, but registration is recommended.

Read on for more tech happenings in Tampa Bay.

SOFWERX, a U.S. Special Operations Command-funded agency that works with the community to meet military and civilian needs, will be awarding six $50,000 prizes for passive infrared projects. Its Passsive IR Rapid Prototyping Event kicks off with an information session today, Jan. 16, and runs through Friday, Jan. 19. Winners will be announced after pitches are made Sunday, Jan. 28, and Monday, Jan. 29; they have two to four weeks to complete their prototypes. A second ThunderDrone Rapid Prototyping Event Tech Expo is planned Monday, Jan. 29 through Wednesday, Jan. 31, with more than $600,000 in prize money available.

• The survey deadline is Wednesday, Jan. 17, for the Startup Genome Project 2018. The group surveys 100+ local startups from assorted industries to support emerging startup hubs and produce a Global Startup Ecosystem Report.  It takes about 15 minutes to fill out; you’ll find the survey here.

Homebrew Hillsborough, a free monthly networking meeting, features a tour of the advertising firm Adjoy at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at 1906 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa.

• Geeks are gathering for their monthly Geek Breakfast at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at Jimbo’s Pit Bar-B-Q, 4103 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. The event is held regularly on the last Thursday of the month. Learn more.

Computer Mentors, an East Tampa nonprofit that helps youths build self esteem by teaching them computer skills, has launched a fundraiser to buy 100 computers for seven schools: Foster, Mort, Oak Park, Potter, Sheehy, and Booker T. Washington elementaries and Memorial Middle School. The computers will be used in classrooms or to create computer labs. Computer Mentors is trying to raise $210 for each computer by the end of January. More information is available at 813-236-1191.

• Interested in networking with the Tampa Bay tech community? The national nonprofit Launchcode is holding a Tampa Bay Networking Open House from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 East Palm Ave., Tampa. The free event is an opportunity for recent graduates of Launchcode’s LC101, as well as newcomers to the local tech scene, to hang out with potential employers in an informal setting. Free parking is available across Palm Avenue. Online registration is available.

• Ken Countess, managing director of the Countess Group, is featured at “Linkedin for Business: How to Get More Out of Linkedin,” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, at USF Connect’s Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. You can register online.
 

• The career site Zippia has recognized the “10 Best Startups to Work for in Tampa”: Whooshfly, SavvyCard, LumaStream, Fair Warning Inc, Therapist Assisted Online, Nitro Solutions, Priatek, Washlava, Peerfit, and PikMyKid!

 


Tampa-based startup focused on weight loss considers options for growth

When Mark Springer was in middle school, he was a chubby guy who joked about his weight to mask the pain. “I didn’t know where to get good information [about weight loss],” he recalls. “The best I could come up with was, what if I just start doing what skinny people do? They must run. They probably eat a lot of salads.”

So in high school, he took up running. He joined the cross-country team and he dieted by not eating. Although he shed unwanted pounds, he became gaunt. “I was just skin and bones. I had no muscle,” he says. “I was like a stick.”

At Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA, where he played football, Springer figured out how to beef up with a different body composition. “It changed my life. It gave me so much confidence,” Springer adds. “It really did turn my life around.”

Springer started Avatar Nutrition three years ago to share what he’s learned -- and help others sidestep the pitfalls of mass-marketed fad diets. Today, at 28, Springer is CEO of Avatar Nutrition, which customizes dietary recommendations for each of its 24,000 users.

“Most people don’t know what the scientific methods are for losing fat,” says Springer, who partnered with Katie Coles, now the chief science officer.

Dieters suffer because their bodies learn to survive on fewer calories when they are on low-calorie diets, he says. When their metabolisms continue to slow down, the diets eventually becomes unsustainable. In those cases, he recommends a “reverse diet” to rev up the metabolism again.

“Metabolism can adapt in both directions,” he says. “It’s a survival mechanism.”

He says low-carb diets appear to be helpful by causing dieters to lose water weight. “Basically, you’re just peeing off all this body weight,” he explains. “It was never fat.”

While the Avatar’s program is nutritionally sound, it doesn’t require users to choose whole foods instead of fortified foods. “We’re not saying you shouldn’t eat whole foods. You’re not locked to them to be successful,” he says.

Avatar, which uses an app, charges $10 a month to gain access to the membership service. Members have access to a team of experts, such as a registered dietitian or certified strength and conditioning expert.

The program offers flexible dieting, which means there aren’t any no-nos. Users just adjust their protein, carbohydrate and fat requirements to include their favorite foods, or that piece of birthday cake.

“As your body changes, your needs for each of those micronutrients changes as well,” he says.

It takes the long-term, rather than short-term, approach to dieting. “It’s not just about what I can do in this six-week program,” he explains. “You have your entire life ahead of you. You need long-term thinking and planning to have results that stick.”

Avatar attracts users of all ages and walks of life, including women from a senior ladies ski club in Utah, nurses, and bartenders -- even a contingent of 200 from Singapore. “There’s almost like built in virality to it,” he explains.

Currently operating with a staff of 12, with a family-style office culture, Avatar is also employing four remote workers across the United States. “It’s a lot of fun. We kind of think of ourselves as a big family,” he says.

The company was growing so fast last summer they had to slow down the marketing. “The program is so effective that people using it are advertising it by word of mouth,” he says. “So many of our users are becoming walking billboards.”

Located on Northdale Boulevard in Carrollwood, Springer has decided to move to Austin, potentially next spring, to accommodate the company’s rapid expansion.

He is interested in Austin is for its commercial campuses that allow companies to grow to a few hundred employees in a building -- as well as for its favorable tax structure.

But his options are open for the time being. “I’m all ears for possibilities,” he says. “If Tampa and the region can offer incentives that are more enticing to stay ... then I want it.”


West Tampa startup Dabbl launches consumer-friendly advertising app

Consumers no longer sit still for advertisements. Instead of watching TV with ads, they watch on demand or use ad-free services like NetFlix. Or they opt out of advertising, or employ an ad block.

“The digital media industry is doing the best that they can to deliver what their sponsors need,” says Tampa entrepreneur Susan O’Neal. “The game has changed. The world has changed.”

Enter Dabbl. The Tampa-based digital ad company takes a new approach to that old challenge of how to engage customers.

“There’s always been a demand for consumer attention, but most of the time companies are buying consumer attention from a third party,” explains O’Neal, Dabbl’s founder and CEO. “Dabbl is the first time that a consumer is able to skip that part.”

Instead of relying on a broadcaster to provide a free show, advertisers connect directly with their audience through a campaign on Dabbl. They may ask their potential customers to view a video or take a survey, for example. In all, the interchange may take something like 23 seconds.

The kicker is the consumer gets paid.

“At the conclusion, money goes into your Dabbl wallet,” O’Neal says. “Once you get $10, you can choose any number of gift cards from our partners.”

While it’s not intended to be a job, it is a way to make a little extra while you’re waiting at a doctor’s office or the airport. That few seconds may net you .30 a clip, which amounts to $46 an hour.

With the average person spending some five hours a day on their Smartphone, this is a better way to use their downtime, O’Neal says.

“I don’t want anyone to make this his or her full-time job,” she adds.

While people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds like to interact this way, the ideal user is likely someone who buys groceries for the household, has a little bit of extra time, likes to learn about new products, and likes spending downtime on his or her Smartphone.

When they are paid for their time, consumers are more likely to be focused. “Most of the time you are going to give me your full and genuine attention,” O’Neal says. “The message that the brand was creating has a chance of doing what it was intended to do.”

O’Neal believes the advertiser/consumer relationship has matured. “We have to interact with consumers as partners, as peers,” she says. “Dabbl is the only place currently where as a marketer you can do that, and consumers respond honestly and enthusiastically.”

It creates a conversational experience in a digital space, rather than a gaming experience in a mall or retail space like the St. Petersburg-based Priatek does with Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY!

In the United States, companies spend $1 trillion on marketing, about $8,000 per household, according to the Association of National Advertisers. It’s been hard for companies to measure its actual value.

Digital ads may not even be seen because they may count as a chargeable impression when they are only partially visible for two seconds, O’Neal says.

“Digital advertising in particular is very broken,” she asserts. “Ads that aren’t seen can’t work.”

Dabbl, which opened in August, has some 30 to 40 advertisers, plus an undisclosed number of users who had some 6 million engagements in the company’s first 45 days of operation.

O’Neal founded Dabbl after an aha moment where she recognized marketing methods weren’t consumer friendly. “If I tried to use them in my personal life, I would probably not have friends,” she explains.

Headquartered in West Tampa in an old cigar factory at Armenia Avenue and Spruce Street, Dabbl has 35 employees, 20 in Tampa. They are looking to hire software engineers and sales personnel, possibly marketing support.

“There’s quite a bit of talent in this area that knows how to think about consumer relationships,” says O’Neal, a native Floridian from Fort Myers.

Their challenge is to grow both the advertising and consumer sides at about the same pace. “It takes awhile to change the way an industry thinks about how they interact with their audience,” she points out.

Dabbl is available from Google Play for the Android phone, or online at this link.


USF, TIE Tampa Bay enter collaboration agreement

The University of South Florida has entered into a five-year collaboration agreement with TIE Tampa Bay, the local chapter of a global nonprofit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, to further the development of Tampa Bay’s economic ecosystem.

“We’ve seen in the small steps we’ve made ... how much that increases the startup ecosystem,” says Valerie Landrio McDevitt, USF associate VP for technology transfer and business partnerships. “My expectation is that we're going to be able to see greater interaction.”

The collaboration began informally about a year and a half ago as an experiment.

“We tested out this relationship without any paperwork,” says TIE Tampa Bay President Ramesh Sambasivan. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t start off with things that we will not be using.”

The USF agreement involves its Tampa Bay Technology Incubator, which helps early stage technology companies succeed and grow, the incubator’s outreach arm USF Connect, and the Student Innovation Incubator. They are located in USF Research Park, which acts as a front door to the Tampa campus on Fowler Avenue.

TIE, founded in Silicon Valley in 1992, has 13,000 members in 61 chapters across the globe. It seeks to help entrepreneurs through mentoring, networking, education, incubating and funding.

Founded in 2012, TIE Tampa Bay is run by successful entrepreneurs who volunteer their time to help other entrepreneurs. In early 2017, angel investors from TIE formed the TIE Tampa Bay Angel Fund with the goal of attracting and retaining talent in the Tampa Bay and North-Central Florida region through capital and mentorship.

Sambasivan expects to see a closer collaboration now that the agreement is formalized. “What we want to see unfold is a closer collaboration in terms of bringing potential mentors to the startup companies, founders and USF incubator space,” he says. “We want to be able to give the startup companies a pathway to capital, whether it is through TIE’s network in Tampa or through TIE globally. The pathway just doesn’t happen on its own.”

He also expects TIE members who are investors to become more active in the incubators.

McDevitt credits Sambasivan for helping to bring the collaboration into being.Ramesh is essentially one of the catalysts of it,” she says. “My group and him work very well together, that whole group.”

“The TIE group is a critical component in the ecosystem,” she explains. “The local group has tremendous talent and then they also have an international reach.”

Established in 1956, USF serves more than 49,000 students in three locations on an annual budget of $1.6 billion. In the last year, TBTI has served some 77 companies that either hired to retained 360 employees and raised more than $54 million externally.

The two groups have collaborated on six projects including the Startup Shuffle, which gave startups a chance to pitch to venture capitalists, among them Dr. Kanwal Rekhi of Silicon Valley.


Florida trade mission to Israel solidifies local economic development efforts

Dr. Vicki Rabenou was an OB-GYN juggling motherhood in the 1990s and her very demanding profession. One day she got a life-changing wakeup call: Her two young children were talking to her in the native language of their nanny, a Filipino.

“I felt so guilty,” she recalls. “I took one year leave of absence.”

That was the end of her career as a physician. Instead the Jerusalem native discovered her love of helping entrepreneurs. She migrated from Israel to the United States, and eventually landed in Tampa.

I really fell in love with Tampa. This is a great place,” she says. “Everybody is so welcoming and happy to work with you.”

Today Rabenou is co-Founder, President and CEO of StartUp Nation Ventures, an Orlando-based company with offices in Tampa and Tel Aviv. She is positioned to change attitudes when Israeli companies view Florida as a place for tourism and agriculture, not tech.

“I believe that our solution is a complete solution that really takes care of 360 degrees of the needs of companies that are looking to reach out to the U.S. market,” she says. “It’s for the long run.”

SUNV is partnering with the Israel Innovation Authority to spur the growth of Israeli companies that want to locate their U.S. headquarters in Florida. It will be investing up to $500,000 in select, innovative Israeli companies -- who are eligible for a 50 percent match from the Israeli government -- through the Israel-Florida Innovation Alliance, a cooperative initiative, says SUNV co-Founder A.J. Ripin.

The government money is a loan to be repaid when a company has sales.

“Startup nation is a nickname that Israel has been called in the business marketplace, because of the success that Israeli companies have had,” he explains.

“Memorializing” the SUNV agreement was part of a Florida trade mission to Israel earlier this month that included Florida Gov. Rick Scott and an entourage of nearly 70, he says.

This collaboration that I’ve signed with the Israeli Innovation Authority is all about going to market,” Rabenou explains. “Most times Israeli Innovation will only finance research and development that is done, and stays in, Israel.”

“The idea is that we will do it by [industrial] cluster. We will choose clusters that we have strength with here in Florida,” she adds.

Israeli companies are interested in economic opportunities abroad because of limited opportunities at home in the state about the size of New Jersey, Ripin points out.

“The Israeli companies are really advanced. They just don’t have the opportunities because of the small size of the state,” he explains. “Their natural place for that is the U.S. ... Once their product and solution work in the U.S. market, then they’re able to compete in the global market.”

The initiative gives Florida access to a pipeline of innovation for industry clusters throughout the state. It will focus on two to four areas in 2018; possible areas include cybersecurity, hotel technology, agriculture technology, automated vehicles, smart city, smart city innovation, and medical technology.

SUNV leaders point out Israeli innovation already is having a positive impact in the United States. A 2016 economic impact study shows Israeli innovation is a major driver of the Massachusetts economy. It indicates more 200 Israeli businesses made the greater Boston area home in 2015, bringing in more than $9 billion that year.

“This is the right time to reach out to these Israeli startups,” Rabenou asserts. “I believe we can duplicate what they have in Massachusetts. This is the first step.”

During the trade mission to strengthen its economic development/trading partnership with Israel, Gov. Scott also recognized the first class of graduates from the Tampa-based Florida-Israel Business Accelerator. In addition, FIBA attracted the attention of the Israeli media.

Rachel Marks Feinman, FIBA’s executive director, who made the trip, says the mission gave FIBA an opportunity to cultivate both relationships with Florida leaders as well as people in the Israeli startup community. “If we can have a critical mass of Israeli companies that call Florida their U.S. home, or even their international headquarters, that can really set Florida apart,” she says.

“I’m pleased that there is this effort to support Israeli companies,” she says of SUNV. “I think the FIBA program has its own way of achieving its goals.”

FIBA, a technology accelerator launched in 2016 by the Tampa Jewish Community Centers and Federation, is preparing for another cohort of eight companies to begin arriving by mid-February. It will be choosing from a pool of at least 40 applicants.

“There’s a lot of work to do in a short period of time,” she says.


Looking for a job? Habitat, Sprouts, Penny Hoarder, FEMA hiring

Growth is bringing new jobs to Tampa Bay -- and two examples are expansions planned at Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and Sprout’s Farmers Market in Valrico.

The Clearwater-based Habitat, which has been working in south St. Petersburg on and off for 32 years, invested $1.8 million in the community this year, building 15 homes.

“We decided to go one extra step and purchase an office presence,” says CEO Mike Sutton.

Habitat purchased an existing building on 22nd Street South, directly south of St. Petersburg College’s midtown campus, for $165,000. It is expecting to move in by February or March.

“Our plan now is to have about 5-6 staff members that will work out of that office,” Sutton explains. “It will also be a hub for us to do education classes for our [Habitat] families and the community.”

Habitat is actively seeking a Director of Community Relations that will serve as the organization’s “face” in the community, Sutton says. Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree and be people-oriented. The job includes building one-on-one relationships in the community, serving on Habitat’s leadership team and ensuring the organization’s mission in South St. Pete is being fulfilled.

It also is a hiring program coordinator, who will be in charge of recruiting partner families, and an office/information specialist who will work with walk-ins to provide resources and troubleshoot problems. Additionally, two new site supervisors will oversee volunteers and homeowners with construction.

Habitat would like to fill the jobs by Jan. 1, 2018.

The underserved midtown area, which is directly south of Tropicana Field, includes properties between 9th Avenue South, 30th Avenue South, 4th Street South and 49th Street South.

“It [the new office and staff] is an investment outside of our normal budget,” Sutton says. “We do anticipate, as we move forward, it will be a regular piece to our program and our operations,”

Many of the existing homes in the area are in need of repair; others have been condemned. “A lot of the homes in the area are generational housing, so they are pieces of property or homes that have been passed down generation to generation. One of the biggest problems we see is finding clear title,” he explains.

The nonprofit builds new homes on property they’ve invested in, then sells them to qualified families with zero-percent mortgage rates. It also works with families to repair dilapidated homes.

Meanwhile the fast-growing retailer Sprouts has been expanding in Florida. “The local interest in health and value makes Valrico a natural fit for a Sprouts store,” says spokesperson Kalia Pang. “We’ve ramped up our expansion in Florida after the positive customer response and strong performance of our Tampa and Sarasota stores that opened earlier this year.”

The fifth in Florida, the Valrico store is scheduled to open at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in 30,000 square feet of leased space at 3315 Lithia Pinecrest Road. Sprouts is planning to hire 120 or more full- and part-time staffers, including department managers, assistant department managers, clerks, cashiers, a backup receiver, administrative coordinator and scan coordinator.

Sprouts is all about healthy living for less, so potential team members should share a passion for healthy eating and the fresh, natural and organic products offered throughout the store,” Pang says.

Interested persons can learn more at the company website.

The Phoenix-based Sprouts carries a full line of groceries.

Here are more job opportunities.

  • Interested in being an art instructor? There’s a Dec. 15 deadline to apply for Art Studio instructor positions with the Tampa Museum of Art. The museum is looking for teachers in beginning jewelry, electronic sculpture with batteries, lights, and small modules, and other fine art media. Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with a specialty in Studio Art, or an equivalent degree, plus images of work and at least two years of experience teaching in public or private settings. Instructors are paid $20 an hour. Apply online.
  • The Penny Hoarder, owned by Taylor Media Inc., announced in November that it has expanded its St. Petersburg offices and will be hiring 165 new employees by 2020. It currently employs 80, and will be adding video editors, writers, data journalists, media analysts, developers and account managers. The publication shares real stories about how people make and save money.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking to hire civil engineers, flood plain managers, site inspectors and casualty insurance workers to help Florida recover from hurricane Irma. Florida residents who are interested should visit employflorida.com and search for Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • The Minneapolis-based Sleep Number Corp., a mattress company that offers individualized, innovative solutions to improve sleep, has an opening for a sales professional in Clearwater. The position requires prior experience with face-to-face sales, preferably high-end sales.
  • The Nashville-based Correct Care Solutions is looking for healthcare professionals for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center at Land O’ Lakes. It has openings for a mental health professional, which requires a master’s degree in behavioral/social science, plus a registered nurse and licensed practical or vocational nurse.

If you are hiring skilled workers with five or less years of experience, drop us a line.

Exclusive dating app launches in Tampa, Orlando

An exclusive group of 507 in the Tampa Bay Area will gain access to an invitation-only dating app called The League today, Tuesday, Dec. 12. The app’s goal is to connect ambitious high achievers who are career focused -- and want partners to balance them.

“We weren’t planning to do this until spring 2018,” says Meredith Davis, head of Communications for the San Francisco-based company. “Once we launched Miami, we saw numbers in Tampa and Orlando skyrocket.”

The League had 2,524 in Tampa sign up, but pared that down for the initial class. Five percent are teachers, 3 percent are lawyers and 3 percent are founders. They live primarily in South Tampa, downtown Tampa, and northwest Tampa, representing 7, 5 and 3 percent of the class, respectively.

The League’s goal is to curate its membership much like universities do its students, using data from applicants’ Facebook and Linkedin accounts. It blocks colleagues and first-degree connections so users can keep their dating profiles and professional lives separate.

Users need clear photos, including face and full-body shots, of themselves alone rather than in groups.

Each week, a team at The League will sort through the wait list and invite more members, with the goal of having a diverse group in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, education, profession, and more.

The wait is intended to vet members and make sure they are interested in regular rather than casual dating.

The League profiles become live at noon. At 5 p.m. every day, dubbed Happy Hour, members will receive three potential matches. There also are groups similar to those on social media sites; groups might be for dog owners, or hikers, or people who like to eat brunch.  Members also can meet at special events, either The League events (such as a launch bash for Valentine’s Day) or community events like a parade.

“We’re really building a community,” Davis says. “It’s not just about dating. It’s about meeting other singles in your area.”

The app, which is free to download, can be used on iphones, Androids and tablets, but users pay for upgrades like additional matches or expedited review. It is different from apps like Tinder or Bumble because it is invitation only, she says.

“Not everyone gets in and the reason for that is this is a curated community,” Davis explains. “There are dating apps for everyone. Those are a great platform when you are looking for that.”

Members for the Tampa dating community will come from a 100-mile radius of the city. So far, the group includes women 22-32 and men 23-33, but later on The League will broaden the pool to include older adults. Their core demographic is for 28 to 35 year olds, she says.

Founded by its CEO Amanda Bradford, The League launches in Orlando Dec. 12 as well. Other cities may go live when they reach 2,500 applicants. “We wouldn’t open a city until we hit that number,” she says.

Davis is a success story for the app operating in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and other areas across the United States; she currently is dating someone she met in The League. “We’ve seen tons of success stories form it,” she says. “We even have a few league babies right now.”


Tech Bytes: Tech-related events look at success, failure

Starting a new business can be challenging, but it’s a whole lot easier with help from a friend. That’s the idea behind this December’s Trep Talks, which is all about startups. Whatever you consider them to be.

“We want to celebrate our startups in Tampa and the progress they’ve made,” says Jennifer Whelihan, manager of Hillsborough County’s Development Department, the event’s organizer.

The event features a panel discussion on what is a startup, how panel members funded their businesses, and how they define startup success. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions as well.

“We want to always, of course, include tech because that’s important, but also be inclusive of other successful startups in our community that we can learn from as well,” she says.

On the panel are Todd Belveal, founder and CEO of Washlava; Marvin Scaff, co-founder of Adjoy; Jacqueline Darna, founder and CEO of NoMo Nausea; Brent Kraus, CEO of Ella Bing; and Tracy Povolny, co-founder of Fresco Foods. Carlton Fields is partnering in the program.

The free event is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center at 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Ybor City. Reservations, which are encouraged, can be made online. Free parking is across the street.

The quarterly Trep Talk meetings give people a chance to connect with key businessmen and businesswomen in a friendly environment. The meetings are usually held the third Tuesday of the month.

“Our economy is growing here,” she adds. “The startup growth is a big part of that.”

Read on for more tech-related events in Tampa Bay.

  • Latino/Hispanic tech business founders and co-founders are invited to co-work for free on the first Wednesday of the month with Tampa Bay WaVE, a tech incubator in downtown Tampa where tech businesses can build, launch and grow. The next opportunity is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or later if you get in before the doors close) on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at FirstWaVE Venture Center, 500 E Kennedy, Suite 300. Check it out.
  • Failure can be part of your business’ success story. That’s the message of Chad Nuss, founder and chief revenue officer of InsideOut, a sales innovation lab, who is featured at the December Diary of an Entrepreneur program. Part of the Tech Talk series by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, the free program will be held at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Microsoft Headquarter offices, 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, Tampa. Reservations are encouraged.
  • Code for Tampa Bay is holding Open Hack Saturday! from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at Tampa Bay WaVE, 500 E. Kennedy Blvd. #300, Tampa. Group meetings are open to people who are interested in making government services and information more user friendly. Get the lowdown here.
  • Code Katas, a monthly get-together to do code challenges, is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Bank of the Ozarks' Innovation Lab, 100 5th St. S., St. Petersburg. Reserve a place.
  • If you run an innovative growth company, this may be your big chance. Florida Venture Forum is seeking applications for a $100,000 Accelerating Innovation Grand Prize Award to be given in late January. The application deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 20. Entrepreneurs will be applying to compete at the 2018 Florida Venture Capital Conference in Fort Lauderdale, where they will make presentations before equity investors. Eligible companies will be considered for the $100,000 cash prize given by Space Florida. Conference fees apply. Learn more.
  • It’s time to mark your calendars, Apple fans. Apple computer inventor Steve Wozniak is part of the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business Thought Leader series. He’ll be featured at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the USF Sun Dome Arena on the Tampa Campus. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Register here

Job fairs help relocating Puerto Ricans, sales professionals and others

Puerto Ricans are relocating to Florida in the wake of hurricane Maria – and they’re going to need jobs. That’s the idea behind the Job Fair for Relocating Puerto Ricans by the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County.

“Their number one concern is get the kids in school and get myself a job,” says Ana Rivera, who organized the fair at Southern Technical College’s Auburndale campus.

Housing is often provided by family or through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she says.

The 10-year-old chamber founded by Rivera has scheduled the free job fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at 298 Havendale Blvd., Auburndale.

In addition to helping relocating Puerto Ricans, the fair will be assisting the college’s graduates looking for work. “You’ll be seeing a potpourri of people here,” says Rivera, the chamber president.


Jobseekers are encouraged to bring an updated resume and whatever identification they have.

Online registration is available. “Everyone has been registering in advance,” she says. “The employers will have access to their emails.”

So far about 12 employers have signed up to participate in the event, some of them seeking bilingual employees for a call center or the local 911. “Even the Supervisor of Elections is looking to hire people to work at the polls,” she adds.

Three temporary agencies are looking for people for a variety of jobs, including teaching assistance.

The need for job help was highlighted by a Nov. 13 forum at Southeastern University, Rivera says, when Puerto Ricans expressed a need for a more “intimate forum” where they could ask questions.

 

After hurricane Maria wreaked havoc in their homeland, Puerto Ricans have been streaming into Florida for a better life. Gov. Rick Scott set out the proverbial welcome mat, opening Disaster Relief Centers for families and suspending state occupational license fees to ease the transition.

The Interstate 4 corridor has been an attractive place to relocate. “They’re finding Polk County has things to offer them,” she says. “It’s better for their buck.”

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

  • The Aramark Job Fair is planned from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Jobseekers need to RSVP, bring a copy of their resume, and enter through Gate B within the East Galley/Club Entrance. Openings are available for a wide variety of positions including bartenders, cooks, runners, stand leads, and warehouse workers, will be conducted. Jobseekers are advised to apply to no more than one or two positions in advance.
  • Nations Joblink is having its Florida Joblink 2017 Career Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at Holiday Inn Conference Center, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event serves people in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties as well as others in the surrounding areas. Multiple career fields will be represented, including sales, management, customer service, insurance, government, education, and human resources. Register online here.
  • A job fair is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at Stone Ledge Manor, a Thonotosassa assisting living and memory/respite care center located at 12006 McIntosh Rd. The center is seeking to fill positions in nursing, maintenance, activities and more. Register for the free event.
  • Tampa Job Fair, a Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs event featuring multiple employers, is slated from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore – Airport Area, 700 N. Westshore Blvd.,Tampa. This is an opportunity to meet – and interview with – hiring managers from both small and large organizations. A wide range of industries will be represented, including accounting, advertising, biotechnology, construction, health, information technology, journalism, music, tourism and telecommunications. The event is free. Register online.
  • Career Showcase is holding its Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The fair focuses on sales positions, offering job candidates an opportunity to connect with Fortune 500 companies. Show up promptly at 5 p.m. to hear the company presentations. Register here.
  • United Job Fairs is having its Tampa Career Fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at Doubletree by Hilton, Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. The fair specializes in sales, business development, marketing, customer service, and retail and sales management jobs. Reserve a place.

SavvyCard, MetLife, other growing companies hiring in Tampa Bay Area

Two new partnerships with publicly traded companies are propelling SavvyCard, the St. Petersburg-based digital advertising platform, into the national marketplace. As it gears up for more growth, SavvyCard is planning to expand its staff and open new offices in New York City and San Francisco.

New partnerships with the Irvine, CA-based CoreLogic and the Annandale, N.J.-based Verify Smart Corp. will help SavvyCard more effectively penetrate the real estate market.

CoreLogic’s Multi-Listing Service software serves 70 percent of the U.S. real estate market, allowing Savvycard to tap into that client base when they’re engaging in regular business activities.

“Our partnership with them means they are gong to be selling our product,” says David Etheredge, CEO, who co-founded the company with Daud Power, Lisa Nalewak and John-David Sims in 2011. “For a small startup, this is a huge benefit.”

Verify Smart Corp. is partnering with SavvyCard to jointly develop proximity services, enabling users to learn more about a listed property while they are nearby.

Verify Smart has made a “substantial” investment in SavvyCard and intends to use it as a “landing platform” for its “proximity solutions,” says Lou Pingitore, Verify Smart Corp.’s CEO.

“We’re very excited about the partnership,” Pingitore says. “What we want to do is really provide proximity marketing solutions to the industry.”

Real estate is one of its first proximity markets, he says.

SavvyCard automates marketing by integrating marketing tools like a business card, brochure, website and social media presence. It targets the real estate industry, business/membership organizations and individuals.

“It’s not just a digital business card,” Etheredge explains. “It’s a mobile marketing tool for people, for businesses, and for products.”

When networking, instead of handing someone a printed business card, SavvyCard users can email or text their new contacts, instantly connecting them to information they normally would have to visit a company website to get.

“You can share your card directly, you can link your card to any type of digital advertisement that you are doing, or you can post your card to social media,” Etheredge explains.

Currently free for individual users, SavvyCard is expected to begin charging $9 per month for individuals and $29 for businesses in early 2018. Large organizations pay a rate based on the number of users.

SavvyCard currently has about 144,000 users, mostly in Florida. About half are in the real estate sector. It employs 12 full-time employees and an additional four are either contract workers or part-time.

Plans call for the addition of four more staffers, probably early next year. “As we begin to scale the business, we’ll be looking to hire [even] more,” Etheredge says. “We’re currently looking for two product managers or product directors, a graphic designer and ... an office manager/operational manager.”

Those who are interested in apply can call 727-502-6012 or visit the company website and use the Contact Us form.

The new offices likely will be co-working or business accelerator-type space, and are intended to facilitate the negotiation of contracts in the Northeast and West, Etheredge says.

SavvyCard is currently in a funding round to raise capital for the expansion. It already has raised some $2.1 million out of its $3.5 million goal.

Read on for more information about opportunities in the Tampa Bay job market.

  • MetLife Inc., which currently employs more than 1500 in Tampa, will be adding another 430 jobs as part of a $25 million Tampa expansion, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation announced earlier this month. A leading financial services company, MetLife will be paying on average more than 150 percent of Hillsborough County’s private sector wage. The company provides insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to individuals and organizations. For more information, follow this link.
  • Home Buyers Marketing II is looking for real estate brokers in Tampa with two or more years of experience and an active real estate license.
  • The non-profit Ultimate Medical Academy, which trains healthcare workers, has several career opportunities in Tampa. Among them are an Admissions Representative, Senior Operations Analyst and Software Engineer II. Learn more.
  • The St. Petersburg-based Triad Retail Media, a global leader in digital media, is hiring a Director of Sales, Sales Manager, Account Manager and Accounting Manager. Learn more about these fulltime jobs here.
  • Davidson Hotels and Resorts, a large hotel management company, has several openings at Don Cesar Resort Hotel on St. Petersburg Beach. It’s seeking an Assistant Controller, Receiving Clerk and some cooks. Check it out here.


If you are hiring skilled workers with five or less years of experience, drop us a line.


Tech Bytes: Tech awards, new funding for tech programs highlight tech scene

Ray Carr, chief technology officer of Tampa’s Occam Technology Group, was named Technology Executive of the Year at an energy-charged tech gathering Friday, Nov. 10. At the gathering the organizer, Tampa Bay Technology Forum, officially announced its new name, Tampa Bay Tech.

Usually a traditional black-tie affair, the 14th Annual Tampa Bay Tech Award show reflected the growth and excitement of the developing Tampa Bay tech community. “The energy was quite palpable,” says Jill St. Thomas, the organization’s director of Partnerships and Engagement.

The group also exhibited a team spirit, reflective of the collaboration in Tampa Bay. “Working together gets us a lot further than standing in our own spots, our own lanes,” St. Thomas explains. “We wanted our organization to really be at the front of that.”

Nextech, a healthcare technology company in Tampa, was named Technology Company of the Year. Other winners were Michelle Curtis, senior manager of IoT Solutions Group, Americas, at Tech Data Corp. in Clearwater; Emerging Technology Leader of Year; Harness of Tampa, Emerging Technology Company of the Year; Jeremy Rasmussen, chief technology officer of Tampa’s Abacode, Technology Leader of the Year; Valpak in St. Petersburg, Technology Project of the Year; Vology of Largo, Excellence in Service; and Fintech of Tampa, Workplace Culture Program of the Year.

Tampa Bay Tech members represent more than 2 million employees, $300+ million in venture capital, and $500+ billion in annual revenue.

“We really are significant nationally and, for those of us that have been in the Tampa Bay market for along time, this is where we want to be,” St. Thomas says.

The organization’s new name was an attempt to rebrand and update. “We wanted our brand to feel a bit more reflective of the strength that we’re seeing in this market,” she adds.

At the event, Tampa Bay Tech also announced it would be holding its poweredUP Technology Festival May 8 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Here’s more techology news.

  • St. Petersburg College has landed a $250,000 grant to help build the Tampa Bay tech talent pipeline. JPMorgan Chase awarded the grant to fund a new program to help residents be hired by employers needing skilled tech workers. Working with TBT, the college will provide classroom and online training, plus provide a website where employers can connect with students and faculty. Funds also are expected to support the expansion of a boot camp developed by companies to give students real-world experience.
  • Tampa Bay WaVE , a tech industry accelerator in downtown Tampa , has snagged a $50,000 prize from the U.S. Small Business Administration. A three-time winner, it was one of 20 in SBA’s fourth Growth Accelerator Fund competition. The WaVE is looking to beef up services to women entrepreneurs in the tech sector; it offers open and free co-working for women tech entrepreneurs on the second Wednesday of every month. The intent of the SBA contest is meet needs for attention and funding in parts of the country where gaps exist in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The WaVE also is holding its Pitch Night at the Attic at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30. It is accepting applications its accelerator program through March 9, 2018.
  • Interested in personal watercraft? SOFWERX is having a collaborative event with a Nov. 17 RSVP deadline. It’s looking for partners to develop a functional prototype to assist warfighters. The event is planned Wednesday, Nov. 29. To RSVP or get more information, visit the SOFWERX’s Event Calendar.
  • Code for Tampa Bay is having an Open Hack at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at Tampa Bay WaVE, 500 E Kennedy Blvd #300, Tampa. The group is trying to use technology to make government information and services easier to use. The meeting is open to anyone interested. A Code for America Brigade, Code for Tampa Bay typically meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, but is beginning to meet on a Saturday to involve those unable to attend during the week.
  • Building Cities of the Future, a Commercial Real Estate and UrbanTech Summit, is being held Tuesday, Dec. 5, at  Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina. The event, by Bisnow and Dreamit, features Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik as an opening keynote speaker. The first-ever event, slated from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., is intended to drive commercial real estate through innovation. Bisnow is a commercial real estate news and events platform. Dreamit Ventures is a New York City-based global accelerator holding its first UrbanTech accelerator in Tampa. For more information or to register, visit Bisnow, click on Events and choose Tampa.
  •  Celebrate the holidays in Ybor with Tampa Bay Agile, Tampa Java User Group, Tampa Bay UX, and Front End Design communities. A celebration is planned from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, 1600 E. 9th Ave., Tampa. To RSVP, go here.
  • Steve Parker, an entrepreneur, executive and mentor, has been chosen as Director of TEC Garage, an incubator and co-working space run by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. TEC Garage fosters the creation of high-tech jobs by nurturing early-stage ventures.

WURK: Community radio for East and West Tampa

When Dee Jackson was growing up in the 1970s and '80s in West Tampa, his neighbors helped keep him in line when he became too curious. They were quick to reprimand him -- all over the neighborhood -- before he even got home.

But many people are reluctant to discipline another’s child these days, which empowers them to do wrong things, he says.

“That village concept, we have to get that back,” Jackson asserts.

That’s the idea behind 96.3 low-power FM station WURK, a community radio station serving East and West Tampa and a diverse audience of 460,000 potential listeners 24 hours a day in Hillsborough County. Its broadcast area extends from Mango on the east to the Howard Frankland Bridge on the west, Lutz on the north and MacDill Air Force Base on the south.

Other platforms, such as the Internet, expand the 100-watt station’s listening area to the entire globe.

WURK is intended to be a positive voice in the East and West Tampa neighborhoods, reporting the good news instead of the bad. It will be working to boost literacy and reduce high school dropout rates through job training.

“I know we will utilize radio as a tool to get the village back in shape,” says Jackson, who co-founded WURK with Horace Bailey.

The nonprofit, locally programmed station was made possible by the Local Community Radio Act, signed into law by former President Barack Obama. It was about five years in the making.

As a music producer, recording engineer and graphic designer, Jackson had been interested in doing radio programming as an outlet for musicians for a long time. He was inspired to actually start one while volunteering as an after-school youth arts coordinator in Brooksville.

WURK, owned and run by Rainbow Heights Neighborhood Association and Crime Watch Inc., offers music in a wide range of styles including Hip Hop, Folk, Latino, Jazz, Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Classical and Reggae. It is intended to appeal to African American, Carribean, Irish, Scottish, Italian, Latino, Indian, Jewish, Chinese, and other local groups.

“Our goal is to eliminate the division and create unity,” Jackson says.

Jackson, WURK’s General Manager, wants the station to serve as an outlet for musicians, but it also is intended to be a training ground for journalists, producers and graphic artists. The process has begun with two youths reading public service announcements. Later on trainees could cover high school football games.

In the future, he would like to partner with other media, training broadcast trainees by having them read on the air news stories written by the partners. Attributing the stories to the original news outlets would help them gain potential new readers.

Those who are trained may find jobs at the station as it grows. Job and business opportunity announcements by the station are intended to help others find success.

WURK also intends to help bridge a generation gap by reaching out to seniors and young people. “There was a communication breakdown,” he explains.

Now the radio station is focusing its attention on recruiting advisory board members; it currently has five including Dr. Carolyn Collins, former NAACP Tampa Chapter President; businessman Willie Anderson; James Green, who retired from United Parcel Services; Ralph Smith of Computer Mentors of Tampa; and Benjamin Baisden of West Tampa Alliance.

It's also soliciting funds to better help what he calls the “underserved,” in Tampa. “Funding is the key to be able to initiate those programs,” he says.

WURK, which has been on the air since April 2, already has raised some $25,000 for the endeavor. “I think the market is watching,” he says. “Participation is coming, and we’re growing with the help of a lot of our volunteers ... sharing our info on social media.”

While the station’s name is in line with its mission to train youths for jobs, it was actually inspired by all the work required into getting its call letters approved, Jackson says.


North Tampa company wins BioPitch competition

As Medical Director for Personalized Medicine at Moffitt Cancer Center, Howard McLeod became frustrated at the lack of tools to help individualize treatments for cancer patients. “If no company is going to provide these for us, we’d better build them ourselves,” he decided.

So McLeod, PharmD. and Moffitt Personalized Medicine Strategist Neil T. Mason, Ph.D., created their own company, Interpares Biomedicine. With Moffitt’s Jamie Teer, Ph.D., an Assistant Member, and a seasoned biotech executive Kevin Krenitsky, M.D., they created their own set of tools to help doctors and patients sort through a number of seemingly equal immunotherapy options.

“The big challenge in oncology going forward is how do to we pick, from amongst these apparently equal options, the one that is going to work?” explains McLeod, the company’s President and Chief Scientific Officer.

Interpares Biomedicine works with the blood to gauge the effectiveness of treatment. Through the blood, it can examine circulating tumor cells, rather than cells from a biopsy or surgical resection that occurred at diagnosis.

“As time goes on, it’s more and more difficult to understand the cancer you’re really treating,” he says.

It is important with immunotherapies to assess potential toxicity, because it can be fatal. “We’re looking at a patent’s immune system, the type of T-cells that are present. That gives us some indication how well they are going to respond to treatment,” he adds.

What sets them apart in the marketplace is that they’re looking at the immune system and the DNA, plus the potential toxicity. “More often than not that’s why we have to stop therapy,” he says.

Interpares Biomedicine won the 2017 BioPitch Competition in October in St. Petersburg, a contest which helps build interest from venture and angel funders. It was one of more than 40 companies that applied to compete for the award given at BioFlorida’s annual conference.

BioFlorida, which represents almost 6,000 research, biopharmaceutical, medical technology and bioagriculture organizations, chose 15 to make presentations in a closed-door session. Four progressed to the finalist stage, which involved an open presentation before panelists at the conference.

What’s next for the North Tampa company with a staff of 12?  It’s working to perfect its ability to predict drugs’ effectiveness. It’s also looking at other innovations it can adapt to its toolset to broaden its scope.

“At this point, we’re in clinical testing mode,” he says. “We want to generate additional data.”

As the company grows, it’ll be looking to add lab and sales staff. “Tampa is right on the verge of expanding its biotech sector,” he adds. “I’m very hopeful this can really help that continue.”


Tampa Bay job fairs match people with jobs; one caters to veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, CareerSource is holding its annual Florida Paychecks for Patriots Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, at The EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College, 13805 58th St. N., St. Petersburg.

“Paychecks for Patriots has made a difference in the lives and careers of thousands of veteran candidates and military family members in the past four years," says CEO Ed Peachey of CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas, which are hosting the event. "We expect the fifth year to continue that tradition, so Florida can continue to be the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation.”

For the first hour, the fair will be open exclusively for the military transitioning to civilian life, veterans, and their families, giving them the first opportunity to meet with potential employers. The event opens for the general public at 11 a.m.

At the event, information also will be provided on training and development programs available through CareerSource centers, such as the TechHire, CyberSecurity, CareerReady, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs.

Over 30 employers will be present at the event seeking to fill over 200 positions,” Peachey adds.

Among the job openings are positions for bus driver, caregiver, customer service representatives, fulltime sales, housekeepers, insurance agents, line cooks, mechanic, respite and servers.

The annual event is hosted by many of Regional Workforce Boards across the state.

Job candidates who want help preparing for the event can contact their local job center. Assistance is available with job applications and resumes. There also are Employability Skills Workshops (including Resume Development and Interviewing Skills Training).

Walk-ins are welcome to this free event, but attendees are encouraged to register in advance at either CareerSource Tampa Bay or CareerSource Pinellas.  Click on Career Seekers and then Career Fairs to access the webpage. Jobseekers also can also visit the CareerSource websites for more information on employers attending the opportunities available.

Here are some other career fairs you may want to check out soon.

  • Biz Bulls Connect gives students at USF St. Petersburg an opportunity to connect with potential employers from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at Lynn Pippenger Hall Atrium. Learn more on Handshake.
  • The Fall Instructional Job Fair, an event for teachers interested in working for Pasco County Schools, is slated from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at J. W. Mitchell High School, 2323 Little Rd., New Port Richey. Attendees can meet with principals, attend information sessions on certification, learn about the district’s benefits, and be hired for substitute or permanent positions. The event is free. Learn more and/or register here.
  • The Black Excellence Business Expo and Job Fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at Pinellas Technical College, St. Petersburg Campus, 3548 11th Ave. S. General admission to the event, organized by The Community Development And Training Center Inc., is free. Register online here.
  • The Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair held by The Tampa Bay Times is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore, 700 N. Westshore Blvd. Tampa. Admission and parking are free; no pre-registration is required. More than 50 local employers will be there. More information and online registration is available by visiting here.
  • The JobNewsUSA.com Job Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N., St. Petersburg. There are hundreds of job opportunities in various fields. The event is free and job candidates are encouraged to register online. Click on Search Career Fairs.
  • Interested in a job with a cruise line? Norwegian Cruise Line is holding a Cruise Ship Job Fair in Tampa. It’s looking to hire for a variety of positions, including assistant chief butcher, assistant cook, assistant waiter, broadcast technician, restaurant steward, stateroom steward and more. Bring your resume! There are two information sessions, one at 10 a.m. and one at 3 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Hilton Tampa Downtown, 211 N. Tampa St., Tampa. On-site registration is held one hour beforehand; the doors close at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. Interviews follow the sessions. More information and online registration are available here.
  • The Florida Joblink 2017 Career Fair is slated from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov 16, at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa. The fair, which serves jobseekers in Tampa, Brandon, Lakeland and the surrounding communities, is free. Career advice and resume assistance are available at the fair. Learn more and/or register here.

Natural skin care company grows with help from black business development initiatives

Renee Edwards didn’t set out to start a business. She was a mom with a problem: Her daughter was suffering from acne -- and she wanted to help.

So Edwards, who works in clinical research at St. Petersburg’s Hill Top Research, began experimenting with essential oils and exfoliation.

“It worked for my daughter [Jakara Fitzpatrick],” she says. “I thought I could sell it.”

And sell it she has. Her Skin Kandii products are available in nine retail outlets in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, including the St. Pete Store and Visitor’s Center.

A ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held last Thursday at the Second Avenue North store to mark the occasion.

“I think the real root of cleaning the skin, and relieving acne, is exfoliation,” she asserts. “I think the vitamins that are added to the scrub, and the essential oils ... aid in the healing.”

Edwards, Skin Kandii’s CEO, participated in two Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg-funded initiatives designed to help black businesses open and grow: Community Business Development Initiative and CATCH.

“It [the Community Business Development Initiative] has resulted in the creation of 27 new businesses,” says Sean Kennedy, Manager of The Greenhouse, which created the program. “Twenty existing businesses have seen revenue growth.”

The initiative was designed to encourage black-owned businesses, which are under-represented in the community, Kennedy says.

“The point of the program was to eliminate the barriers to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial growth,” he explains.

Skin Kandii became the first African American-manufactured product line sold in The St Pete Store, a retail showcase backed by the City of St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

Fitzpatrick was about 13 when she was experiencing severe skin issues, Edwards recalls. “She wouldn’t wear shorts or skirt in her early middle school and high school years,” she continues.

It took three years of testing, but Edwards eventually discovered sugar and essential oils could be used to exfoliate two or three times a week -- and get that problem under control.

“Once you exfoliate your skin, you also need to use a sunscreen,” she adds. “The fresh skin was turning darker.”

Along the way, with feedback from family and friends, Edwards learned enough to develop eight different scrubs she’s priced at $12.99 each. She’s also developed a lotion bar, lip balms and bath balms.

She has a stress reliever, a skin replenisher, a relaxing anti-inflammatory scrub, and even an Island blend to boost energy. Edwards’ best-selling product is a dry skin formula that has become popular as a foot scrub. It also can help with eczema.

Skin Kandii got is name as Edwards developed the dry skin formula to help her nephew, Jeremieco Robinson, with eczema. She enticed him by saying the product was candy for his skin.

Edwards also offers create-your-own formulas made with the essential oils the user prefers and containers labeled with a distributor’s name. In addition to being available in stores, Skin Kandii is sold at house parties.

Edwards would like to have a TV commercial in six months and eventually sell on St. Pete’s Home Shopping Network.

While Skin Kandii currently is run by a staff of three, she hopes to expand to hire “a whole lot of people,” she says.

She’s working on soy candles, to go on sale in December, and all natural soaps, to sell in the summer of 2018.

The Greenhouse is looking at funding options to continue the initiative, which offered training and business financing. The program already has assisted 60 businesses, among them the affordable housing firm Sago House, the youth employment company I Support Youth, the educational consulting company Global Intelligences and Brea’s Coffee, which also held a ribbon-cutting in October.

Meanwhile Tahisia Scantling, a consultant working with the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation, which now is backing the other program Edwards participated in, says the community development financial institution holds two cohorts of CATCH per year. It offers training and financing to help businesses.

Although a $100 application fee is charged, the fee is returned to the 10 businesses selected for the 15-week training program.

The CATCH acronym stands for coachable, action-oriented, timely, collaboration help. The program now is also being offered in Hillsborough County, with sponsorship by Wells Fargo.


Innovative Smart Lab to open in Tampa in 2018

The innovative builder Suffolk is planning to open a Smart Lab in Tampa that will help clients visualize construction projects using virtual reality. The construction firm, which already has opened a similar lab in New York City and San Francisco, currently is building the Tampa Smart Lab adjacent to its Channelside office.

“We are looking to open early in 2018, hopefully in January or February,” says Josh Christensen, VP for the Suffolk’s West Coast Operations in Florida.

The Smart Lab features a virtual reality cave, which simulates what it will be like inside a building that has not been constructed yet. “We call it a lab for a reason. We’re testing things,” he says. “You don’t have to go build in the field to see if you like it.”

Models will be technically accurate. “It’s a working model, not just a cartoon,” Christensen says.

A whole wall will be a touch screen for interactive planning and collaboration. “We used to do with sticky notes back in the day,” Christensen explains. “Now you do it all virtually, and all by touching.”

Another wall, for data, includes live camera feeds of the jobs.

The company has been relying upon virtual reality goggles, which limits the experience to one or two people instead of about six to a room. “Most people don’t love putting the goggles on,” he says.

Suffolk is adding an additional 2,200 square feet, 1,500 for the lab, to its office at 615 Channelside Drive, Suite 102. The office, which opened last spring, will now be 6,600 square feet. Cost figures weren’t released.

We’re in an existing building, We just took it back to the studs,” he explains.

The Smart Lab will primarily be staffed with existing workers.

Suffolk’s Smart Labs are expected to facilitate brainstorming in ways that can significantly alter project designs. For the industry, it may mean changing the way buildings are designed and built.

Its emphasis on innovation meshes well with the “entrepreneurial spirit” in Tampa, Christensen says.

“We have some challenging, logistically complex jobs, and it will really help us,” he adds.

More Smart Labs are to open in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles on varying schedules.

The national building contractor generates some $2.9 billion in revenue annually serving clients in healthcare, science and technology, education, federal government, gaming, aviation and commercial sectors.


Next for travelers? Ridesharing app for charter flights

A Jacksonville company is test marketing a ridesharing program for air travelers which would enable them to split the cost of chartering small planes with others. Called Whooshfly, the company -- currently in the Tampa Bay WaVE early launch program -- is making plans to move to Tampa next year, potentially in the spring.

“This is not for everyone pricewise. If you were to share the flight ... with a bunch of people, it would still cost you a little bit more than a first class ticket, but it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg,” explains Joel Relova, Founder and CEO.

The service, being tested in Florida, Georgia and Utah, relies on smaller aircraft with 3 to 12 seats. It is available in beta as an Apple iphone app, with Android and web-based apps anticipated later. “You can fly anywhere as long as you can afford it,” he says.

People can defray the cost of a chartered plane by sharing a flight with friends, relatives and co-workers attending the same event, or with other people in their network. Or they can open the flight up to others who are flying to the same destination. They also could choose to book a private flight.

People download the app from the Apple Store and make a request for service, which is submitted to operators who respond with price quotes. The users can then choose a veted provider and book their flights.

Co-founded with Wendell Chindra, Whooshfly currently has about 400 users and 12 operators, who have access to 60 airplanes in the Florida/Georgia region. Users pay a service fee in addition to fares. “Once you use it, you don’t want to go back to any other means,” Relova says. “The value there is really the experience.”

He explains users can avoid lines while enjoying the perks of a small airport, like having the airplane parked 50 feet from the door or being greeted by a pilot who knows them by name.

“That’s what people love,” he says.

The idea started about 10 years ago when Relova noticed a smaller jet at an airport, and learned it cost less than a million, far less than other jets. Things took off about two years ago after a presentation on the concept in Jacksonville. Since being admitted to the WaVE program last spring, Whooshfly has been utilizing the co-work space at the WaVE periodically.

“The WaVE has been very good to us. I love the people there. I love the energy. I love their passion for startups,” he says. “They’ve opened a lot of doors for us.”

What sets Whooshfly apart is travelers’ ability to pay as they go, without encountering membership/subscription fees or having to become one of the plane’s owners.

Moving to Tampa is part of their plan once the platform passes the market-testing phase. “We believe Tampa is the right fit for us. They have the environment, the ecosystem, that would support a tech startup like us,” Relova explains. “I understand there’s a lot of things going on from a tech and from a startup business perspective. We want to be part of that."


Tampa attorney heads Israeli business accelerator

Rachel Marks Feinman, the new Executive Director of the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator, believes bringing innovative Israeli ideas and products to Tampa can help set it apart in the competitive entrepreneurial tech scene.

My hope is that people understand that this is not a Jewish cause. This is an economic development effort that the [Tampa Jewish Community Centers and Federation] has really undertaken, and to a certain degree, is underwriting,” she explains. “My hope is that we really can engage the entire business community, and that they understand the value of attracting these companies here.”

Feinman, who succeeds Jack Ross at FIBA’s helm, brings to the organization her expertise in law and business as it prepares its second cohort.

“We’re definitely in a growth mode,” says Feinman, who was raised in the Tampa area.

Ross has taken a job with StemRad, a participant in the FIBA’s first cohort, that has decided to open its U.S. subsidiary in Tampa.

Feiman has been working closely with many investors and businesses in the community as a corporate partner with the Tampa-based Hill Ward Henderson law firm. While President of the Gasparilla International Film Festival, she gained experience in fundraising, cultivating relationships, and overseeing development.

Founded by the Federation in 2016, FIBA has had eight companies complete its program, and is planning a second cohort of eight between February and June. It will be split into two groups of four each, with each spending six to eight weeks of intensive training in Tampa. That’s up from one week, with the goal of enhancing their successes.

One of our key focuses is on customer generation for these companies,” she says.

The Israeli companies that work with FIBA are established businesses that can benefit from its help acculturating into U.S. society. “These companies all have a product that’s ready for market -- and ideally have customer traction in Israel or another market,” she says.

The goal also is to bring innovative ideas and products that can help solve local problems and build the local economy, distinguishing it from medium-sized cities looking to attract tech companies.

“We’re on our way to doing that,” she says.

Since she assumed her new job earlier his month, Feiman has been meeting with people. “Our plans really for now are to grow organically and work on successes for the companies that will translate into success for our community,” she adds.

There’s a long history of innovation in Israel that a lot of people are unaware of, she says. An example is an Intel chip which our computers rely upon.

Israel’s compulsive military service program, for Jews and those from the ethnic Druze community, puts lots of its workers in desk jobs using computers to solve problems. “A lot of them come out of the Army with ideas for businesses,” she says.


Clearwater advertising firm grows, new manufacturing jobs come to Pasco County

The 45-year-old Our Town America, an advertising firm that targets new residents, has moved its headquarters into 44,000-square-feet of office space in Clearwater -- and is making plans to hire 15 to 20 additional staffers.

I’m anxious to get them in here and give them an opportunity to grow with our company,” says CEO Michael Plummer Jr.

The company in a growth mode by working with businesses that want to advertise to new residents. Such businesses are often grocery stories, restaurants, hair salons and auto repair shops, or doctors and dentists who want to develop new business relationships. Businesses pay on average $200 a month to target potential customers by things like age, size of household, income, and other demographics.

About two to six weeks after move-in, residents receive an envelope offering “housewarming gifts” such as gift certificates for a free pizza or haircut to entice them to drop by and check out the neighborhood businesses.

When people move in, they’re still searching for those business,” Plummer explains. “They want to know where to go.”

Our Town America disseminates about half a million envelopes every month -- or more than 8 million each year. With some 63 franchises nationwide, they focus primarily on neighborhoods rather than zipcodes.

A lot of it is designed ... to get you off the couch and into those locations,” he says.

Once the initial contact is made, businesses may choose to follow up with another offer, a simple thank you, or a request for feedback.

Our Town America moved last week from smaller rented space in Pinellas Park to its own headquarters at 13900 U.S. Highway 19 N. Clearwater. Built by local contractor Mike Sinwelski, the facility features a 2,700-square-foot, high-tech conference room, a huge breakroom, and LED lights, plus a roof with solar power options.

The company, which employees about 58 locally, was founded by Plummer’s father in Des Moines, IA. After relocating to Omaha and Houston, the company moved to the Tampa Bay Area in 1990. It began selling franchises in 2005, and sold a record-breaking 12 this year. Despite its growth, it continues to be a family-based business with a welcoming atmosphere, which includes catered lunches, potluck dinners, company cruises and other perks.

“The vast majority of our folks have been here for a very long time,” he adds.

Our Town America is hiring for both part-time and full-time positions, with openings in customer service, appointment setting, inside sales and possibly production help for mailouts. Learn more by visiting the OTA website or calling 1-800-497-8360.

Here are more job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area.

Meopta U.S.A. will be opening a new facility in western Pasco County and hiring for 47 new advanced manufacturing positions. Headquartered in Hauppauge, NY, Meopta U.S.A. specializes in the manufacture of and distribution of precision optics such as binoculars and spotting and rifle scopes. It also makes prisms, optical mirrors, aerospace and medical assemblies, and tank periscopes. The jobs will be in the Trinity area and pay an average of about $49,000 annually.

• With all the jockeying by communities seeking Amazon’s second headquarters, the major online retailer is certainly on people’s minds. If you’re wondering about job prospects, read on. Brenda Alfred, Amazon’s Regional Operations PR Manager, says the retailers will be hiring 5,000 employees in Florida, most of them for the holiday season. She did not provide specifics for the Tampa Bay region.

“We employ temporary employees as a way of finding high-quality talent while managing variation in customer demand,” she says. “Following last year’s holiday season, thousands of seasonal employees found regular, full-time roles with Amazon.”

Interested individuals should visit the Amazon website.

Heart Gallery of Pinellas & Pasco, an agency working to increase the number of foster children who are successfully adopted, is looking for an Executive Director in St. Petersburg.


Working Women of Tampa Bay excels at networking, making connections

While working as a TV news producer for Channel 10, Jessica Rivelli wanted a casual, after-hours women’s networking group in the Tampa Bay area. But she didn’t find any.

“When I couldn’t find it, I chose to start it,” she recalls.

As a result, Working Women of Tampa Bay -- which serves Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties -- was born. Since November 2008, it has grown to 600+ members.

The group caters to entrepreneurs, wannabe entrepreneurs and women working in corporations, offering “affordable educational opportunities that just don’t exist elsewhere in Tampa Bay,” she says.

Starting from the Dunedin restaurant Casa Tina’s, it grew to 300 members in one year. A core group of 20 just invited women they knew. In 2010, Rivelli left her broadcast career of some 10 years to lead the group full-time, which fueled more growth.

I call myself an accidental entrepreneur,” says Rivelli, whose business is her membership organization. “I had not planned to become an entrepreneur.”

Working Women of Tampa Bay has become a virtual tribe of women supporting women, with a calendar of 20 events a month providing educational and professional development. Usually they appeal to both entrepreneurs and corporate workers.

We do have things specifically for entrepreneurs,” she adds. “Women Entrepreneur Exchange is one of those.”

The Exchange typically meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at Frazier & Deeter, 401 E Jackson St, Suite 2425, Tampa. Attendance is limited to 12 and the topic isn’t fixed; pre-registration is required.

The Entrepreneur Exchange a place where solo entrepreneurs, women who are often working alone out of their own homes or in co-working spaces, can connect with women of similar interests.

Everybody gets their own time [to speak] to be able to bring up their own challenges,” she says.

As a result of the relationships they form, they can put together a mini board of directors, solve business problems and gather much-needed feedback.

What sets Working Women apart is its ability to help women contemplating or starting businesses. “There are a lot of them who are transitioning from corporate America to owning their own business. They need everything from business cards to websites and networking,” she explains. “A lot of them are completely green when they come to Working Women.”

Its Young Women’s Leadership Exchange focuses on young women looking for help with professional development. The group operates similar to Entrepreneur Exchange, gathering women to talk about topics that interest them, like managing your manager and how to look for opportunities within your organization.

Meaningful Mentoring connects experienced business owners and employed women. The group pays for lunch to promote mentoring, allowing women to ask questions pertinent to them.

Working Women, which has an Orlando counterpart, charges a membership fee and offers membership discounts on its paid events, almost all of which are open to the general public. “We want people to come and try us out and see if we’re a good fit for them,” she explains.

The group also offers many resources – including handholding. “They need a support system for when things go good and things go bad,” she continues. “Every small business owner is going to have challenges.”

Ultimately, the group is a “safe space for women to really be themselves,” she says.

“We’ve formed a group of women that are really able to be honest and share what they’re going through with one another,” she says.

Working Women gives back to the community by giving seed money to business owners who need “a little bit of money” to put up a website, expand a shop, purchase marketing materials, or the like, she says. Membership isn’t required; applicants just need to be women in the Tampa Bay area.

“They have to tell us what they’re using it for,” she adds. “We want to make sure it’s something that is a game changer in their business.”


Author proposes pilot education project for adult learners

A Tampa author is gaining traction with an idea for a pilot education project to enable adults to attend college without encumbering a lot of debt. Vinny Tafuro, an economist and author of Unlocking the Labor Cage, appeared on the Tampa Bay Arts and Education Network last week and expounded upon his idea.

In a studio fireside chat with Debbi Stone, VP of Education for The Florida Aquarium, he continued to build on his proposal to fund adult learners through reserves corporations may have routed overseas to avoid taxes.

“Now it’s been broadcast on somebody else’s channel, not my own,” he quips.

What Tafuro is proposing is a pilot project that could mitigate the risk for adults who want to return to school in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. At that point, they’re likely giving up a salary they need to pay bills.

A college-educated, employed individual is more likely to make money for companies like Facebook, he says. Those students may even be inspired to become an entrepreneur -- and an advertiser. They also might be more likely to leave reviews, which is critical to Amazon’s sales model.

Instead of competing with a bunch of other cities offering similar amenities for Amazon’s new headquarters, Tafuro believes this pilot project is something unique Tampa Bay can bring to the table -- while skirting the competition from other cities. It could potentially fund 49,200 students nationwide.

It could appeal to Amazon, Facebook, Google or Microsoft, enabling them to boost their earning potential by increasing the education level of their users and bettering society.

“We’re the only community making the proposition,” he points out.

By convincing businesses to invest their reserves, or repatriate the money as Tafuro says, the pilot project might even help make things easier for former college students saddled with debt. “Right now there’s no incentive for the college loan industry to soften its edge,” he says.

Originally from Long Island, Tafuro has lived in the Tampa Bay area for nearly 26 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Tampa.

His book, released on Amazon in July 2016, introduces the concept of using cash reserves to fund education. Read an excerpt here.


Startup Week 2018 recruits volunteers, planning kicks off now

Organizers of the fourth annual Tampa Bay Startup Week are recruiting volunteers for the 2018 event that will again span both sides of the bay, offering presentations and mentoring for budding entrepreneurs.

“We really try to have a wide range of industries and topics for anyone,” says Gracie Stemmer, President of Startup Tampa Bay and Co-Leader of the event.

The event, organized by the nonprofit Startup Tampa Bay, is scheduled Feb. 12-16, 2018.  A kickoff, scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at The Franklin Manor, 912 N. Franklin St., Tampa, gives interested individuals a chance to learn more about the event and how they can become involved. Those who can't make it can get in touch with organizers through Facebook or the Startup website.

Stemmer says they are trying to tap into the community’s top talent to speak and run workshops, in addition to reaching out to experts regionally and nationally.

Co-Leader JR Griggs, President of Tampa’s Red Wall Marketing, says volunteers are needed to run industry or topic tracks. These track captains will line up speakers and help locate sponsors. There’s also a need for help with sponsorships, marketing, public relations, the street team, check-in, customer service, and cleanup.

“We’re just eager to work with anyone and everyone that wants to be a part of this,” Stemmer says.

Startup Week is designed to help people vet a business idea, get one-on-one mentoring to launch or grow their business, showcase their businesses, develop their professional networks, or expand their knowledge base. Businesses can be tech related, or traditional brick and mortar.

This year’s Startup Week, which might be starting in St. Petersburg and finishing in Tampa, is expected to feature some tried-and-true topics like design, veteran-owned, PR and marketing, hospitality, women-owned, robotics, cybersecurity and possibly a social entrepreneur track.

Mentors will be on hand throughout the week – and individuals can book a time slot with someone with expertise in their industry, Griggs says.

The current plan is to hold the event at the same venues as last year, Station House in St. Pete and Realto Theatre in Tampa.

“Our biggest goal right now is to get as many volunteers as possible,” Griggs says. “The goal is to make this bigger and better.”


Tech Bytes: BarCamp planned at USF, other events in Tampa Bay Area

Artificial intelligence. Wearable technology. Robots and drones. These topics -- and a whole lot more -- will likely be topics of discussion at the 10th BarCamp in Tampa Bay Saturday, October 21. Dubbed the unconference, BarCamp is about anything tech. Those who attend sign up to give classes in their areas of expertise.

“The best presentations are not prepared,” says Ken Evans, a board member for organizer Technova Florida Inc.  “PowerPoint loses its passion.”

One of the more “famous” presentations was about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, from a techie/engineer point of view, he says.

“We love narrow topics because that’s where you get the real in-depth discussion around solving problems,” he explains.

BarCamp will be at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. Guests may park nearby at the SunDome.

The fun officially begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast. Speaker signups are open until 8:45 a.m., with sessions running from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Lunch is at noon.

General admission to the event, expected to attract some 700 to 800 people, is free. “You can just show up. We really appreciate it if people register,” he adds.

Technova is building the tech community through events that help people learn, share, connect, and collaborate with peers.

Check out more Tampa Bay Area tech news below.

  • Applications are open for the Tampa Bay WaVE accelerator program. You’ve got until November 1 to apply to build, launch or grow your company and tap into the WaVE’s bank of 100+ mentors.
  • “Accounting for Success” is the topic of October’s Tech Talk by Tampa Bay Innovation Center. Paul Hays, Ginny Veit and Gretchen Whalen of CliftonLarsonAllen will hold an interactive roundtable discussion for the tech and startup communities. The program is slated at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 10, at Microsoft Headquarters offices, 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, Tampa. The event is free, but registration is advised because of limited seating.
  • Learn how digital media can help you grow your business from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, October 16, at USF Connect, Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. The program looks at the shift from Search Engine Optimization to Paid Advertising -- and how to position yourself for success. Featured are USF alumni: Eric Ortiz,
  • Executive Director of Sales and Acquisition, and Alex Andrews, Director of Content and Creative Strategy, both from McKay Advertising + Activation in Tampa.
  • • October 21 is Computer and Electronics Shred Day. If you have old hard drives, cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices, and you’d like to be sure the data on them is obliterated, bring them to Tampa’s Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library at 3910 S Manhattan Ave. between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It’s free – and you can even get a Certificate of Destruction. Just ask. The event is part of national Cyber Awareness Month.
  • The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization is holding its 2017 Global Conference and Pitch Competition, “Stop Dreaming, Start Doing,” October 26 through 28 at Hilton Tampa Downtown. The event, which kicks off at 11 a.m., gives collegiates an opportunity to network with entrepreneurially-minded students and hear presentations from seasoned entrepreneurs. and other experts.
  • Potential Unleashed is holding Innovation Gathering 2017 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 26, at USF Connect Galleria, 3720 Spectrum Blvd. Attendees will find out what’s happening in the Innovation District. Tickets are $50 for adults and $15 for students.
  • Tour the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator with the local area networking group, HomeBrew Hillsborough.  Mark your calendars for 8 a.m. Friday, October 27 at 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa. FIBA helps develop successful Israeli tech companies in Tampa Bay.
  • Knack, a South Tampa tutoring service using an app to match students with tutors who have aced the class they need help with, was the winning startup at Challenge Cup Tampa Bay.  The event, hosted by Tampa Bay WaVE in Sepember, featured 20 firms who competed in a two-minute pitch for a cash prize and a chance to proceed to nationals.

A force for healing through the arts in Tampa

Those who have found creative passions know how uplifting and soul-nourishing the arts can be, even in rough times. For military veterans, simply returning to civilian life can be difficult and painful on many levels.
 
Enter: Creative Forces.

In a joint project between Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs, the NEA, and Americans for the Arts, Creative Forces Summit will be honing in on Tampa for panel discussions revolving around military healing arts and community collaboration at the Straz Center on Oct. 23 & 24.
 
Panel discussions range from types of creative art therapies to building a more collaborative union between the arts and military communities, with performances and open mic sessions interspersed throughout the two-day event.
 
Art therapists who work closely with veterans see the progress of their work, albeit anecdotally. One of the highlights of this event will be talks by Andrea Assaf, artistic director of Art2Action -- which has been working closely with veterans since 2011. She will discuss her role in leading the program design for creating a clinical study to measure tangible success with military healing arts.
 
“We spent a year doing this study, which was designed by a collaborative process. In order to measure impact, we had to come up with a mixed-methods approach where the USF Psychology Department leads a quantitative process while the VA works on qualitative process,” Assaf says.
 
She has been running volunteer workshops at a branch of the VA, the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center, for over 4 years. While Assaf’s strengths rest in theatre, poetry and creative writing, she brings in guest artists to open up veterans to other artistic mediums.

The James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital is already a Creative Forces clinical site, with Tampa working on a Telehealth Pilot Program for veterans in rural areas. Being nearby, the MacDill Air Force Base doesn't hurt either. Their approach to art therapy is simple: Treat it as a need, just like any other treatment.

“I see the arts change and move people. Artistic expression is an important component in the healing and recovering process. What the government wants to see in terms of funding is data. The intention of this study is to document what we know intuitively into usable data to inspire further study and investment both from private and public funds in supporting this kind of work,” Assaf says.

For more information about arts programs and events in Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay region, visit The Arts Council website.

To suggest additional story ideas, email 83 Degrees.

To subscribe to our free weekly e-magazine, follow this link.

Hiring event targets paid interns; St. Pete career fair showcases services

Tampa Bay Intern is holding its twice-a-year hiring event in Tampa on Wednesday, Oct. 11, for students and recent graduates.

And, across Tampa Bay, organizers are preparing for the 2017 Community Redevelopment Area Career Fair and Showcase of Services scheduled Monday, Oct. 16, in St. Petersburg.

“Often we find that the internship turns into a regular, part-time opportunity, and they get extended or they turn into a fulltime opportunity,” says Jason Druding, Special Projects Coordinator for CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas, which runs the intern-hiring event.

Paid internships typically last from 13 weeks to six months -- and It is possible to arrange for school credit.

About 60 percent of the opportunities are internships, with the remaining 40 percent being entry level jobs. “There’s a big focus and draw for heathcare, IT and programming as well as marketing and sales. In addition, we do have some unique opportunities which we haven’t had before which focus on the construction, engineering type opportunities,” he adds.

Resume review and assistance will be available at the event, which is free and open to the public. More than 30 employers have signed up.

Pre-register to avoid the line and access the employer lineup in advance. Or just show up. Employer lists are available through CareerSource staffers and on social media channels.

The event is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the CareerSource Tampa Bay Career Center at 9215 N. Florida Ave., Tampa.

Tampa Bay Intern connects employers with students looking for internships. It is run by CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas.

Meanwhile, St. Petersburg is partnering with Pinellas Technical College and the Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition on its Career Fair and Showcase of Services. Nikki Capehart, St. Pete’s Urban Affairs Director, says this is the career fair’s second year and Showcase of Services’ 21st year.

“We wanted to join forces with them [PERC],” Capehart says. “They have an amazing built-in event.”

The event, which is free and open to the general public, features a wide variety of employment readiness help, potentially even a clothes closet for those who lack professional attire. More than 60 social service agencies are anticipated, offering resume help, educational assistance, employment assistance, information on expunging a criminal record, and more.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Pinellas Technical College Campus, 901 34th St. S. Pre-registration is encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome.

Crowds are expected to exceed 500, with varying degrees of education. Attendees should come prepared and ready to interview.

“We are still looking for employers,” Capehart adds.

Among the employers to be represented is the city of Petersburg, which currently lists a number of vacancies in a variety of career fields. Included are a Complaint Writer and an Information Specialist 1 with the Police Department, Pension Supervisor with Human Resources, Senior Plans Examiner for the Fire Department, Senior Professional Engineer for the Engineering Department, and Water Resources Director for the Water Resources Department


Co-ops to help homeowners save money on rooftop solar panels

Tampa Bay Area property owners have yet another incentive to go solar: the solar co-op. By banding together to buy rooftop solar systems, landowners can save up to 20 percent.

“We’re hoping that we get more than 100 signed up that would be interested in pursuing rooftop solar,” says Dr. Rick Garrity, a Volunteer Coordinator with Hillsborough League of Women Voters, a partner in the co-op project.

The nonprofit Florida Solar United Neighborhoods is collaborating with the League of Women Voters, Hillsborough County, the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County and others to spread the word about co-ops. It held a meeting at the University of South Florida in Tampa September 25 to explain more about the opportunity to purchase discounted solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

“There’s never been a better time to go solar. Prices came down 65 percent in the last five years,” explains Garrity, who retired two years ago as Director of the county’s Environmental Protection Commission. “You get a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government, right off the income tax bill.”

Here’s how the program works. When about 40 sign up, Florida Sun puts out the specifications to vendors, who submit bids. “Florida Sun will then evaluate the bids, rank them and provide that ranking to the homeowners,” he explains.

Homeowners form a committee that decides which installer to use.

Members of the co-op don’t need to live in the same neighborhood, but they need to live in the designated city or county. The co-op remains open for about three months to sign up any additional members.

Folks who are interested in going solar can sign up at the Florida Sun website, without obligating themselves to buy a system. They also can RSVP for area information meetings at the website.

Three informational meetings are scheduled in Hillsborough County, the first one from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday, October 9, at South Shore Regional Library, Community Rooms 1 and 2, 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin. Additional meetings are planned from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 8, at Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, Community Rooms C and D, 2902 West Bearss Ave., Tampa; and from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 5, at Seminole Heights Branch Library, Community Rooms A and B, 4711 Central Ave., Tampa.

Pinellas County residents living north of State Road 60 can also sign up for a co-op. Informational meetings are scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 10, at the Clearwater Library, 100 North Osceola Ave.; from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, November 9, at the Tarpon City Government Office, 324 East Pine St.; and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday, December 4, at the Safety Harbor Library, 101 2nd St. N.

A home solar system can cut your monthly power bill to $5 a month, but reducing the carbon footprint is important too, Garrity says.

“You’re doing your own little bit to decrease the amount of fossil fuels that are being burned,” he says.


Transit companies using new technologies to lower emissions, improve efficiency

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has been awarded $1 million in federal funding earmarked for an all-electric bus and/or charging equipment. The allotment from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration comes from $55 million disbursed through its Low or No Emission (Low-No) Vehicle program.

The grant money was awarded to 51 projects in 39 states in September. PSTA was one of five transit authorities in Florida to receive an award.

“It’s a competitive grant.” says Henry Lukasik, PSTA Director of Maintenance. “We’re very thankful that we did receive it.”

We’re looking at all ways [of spending it] to really make sure that every dollar is maximized,” he adds.

Joe Cheney, PSTA’s Deputy Director of Fleet Operations, says PSTA has been moving toward all-electric buses for nearly 10 years. It already has some 70 hybrid electric buses, which make up about 36 percent of its fleet.

One of the big advantages we’re anticipating, obviously, are zero tailpipe emissions," Cheney says. “The overall life cycle costs would be lower over the course of 12 years.”

Two electric buses priced at $800,000 each are on order, and likely will be delivered in May or June 2018. PSTA will be installing overnight, plug-in chargers as well as a charging plate to partially recharge the battery while buses are on their newly designed route in downtown St. Petersburg.

Buses will pull over and recharge for about three to five minutes. “While it won’t recharge the entire bus,” Lukasik says, “it will keep it maintained at a level of charge where it can continue out there all day long.”

Ashlie Handy, PSTA’s Media Liaison/Public Information Officer, says PSTA also has secured nearly $600,000 through the British Petroleum settlement fund to reimburse victims of the massive Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. “We are actively seeklng partners and grant opportunities,” she says.

“We’re finding ways to bring money from other places. We’re not tapping into our reserves,” she explains. “These are monies we are bringing to Pinellas County.”

Riders will find the buses similar in layout to its other buses, but much quieter. “Because there’s not an engine, it will be very quiet on the bus, probably to the point where people can carry on a conversation,” Lukasik says.

Across Tampa Bay, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority is awaiting the delivery of 15 compressed natural gas buses by the end of the year. It acquired 35 CNG buses in 2015-16, and 10 of its 25 additional buses earlier this year.

These new buses will be put into service in fall/winter 2017-2018, giving HART one of the youngest fleets in the state,” says HART’s Public Information Officer Sandra Morrison.

“Since 2015 we’ve saved approximately $720,000 using our natural gas compared to the cost of diesel fuel,” she says.

HART plans to transition the entire fleet of some 187 buses by 2025 as part of its move to cleaner, alternative fuel. The CNG buses cost approximately $300,000 less per vehicle than electric and have the ability to operate when the power is out, Morrison says.

Since 2014, the HART fleet has used the equivalent of 1 million gallons of diesel fuel.


Free computer class can launch your coding career

Have you ever wished you could write code for an app? This may be your chance! A national nonprofit organization, LaunchCode, is offering a free, 23-week computer training course in Tampa Bay.

“This is the first time we’re giving the class in Tampa,” says Matt Mawhinney, LaunchCode’s Florida Program Director.

The opportunity is made possible by the Florida Legislature, which earmarked some $400,000 in funds through the efforts of state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and state Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa.

The goal is to create a career path for people interested in tech-related jobs. “We don’t just say ‘take this class and good luck, get a job,’ ” he explains. “We form hiring relationships with employers.”

So for up to 120 who get into the class, there’s the chance of landing a $15-an-hour apprenticeship for up to six months -- and eventually a full-time job that might pay an average of $51,000 annually.

“We remove as many of the barriers as we can to acquiring the skills,” he continues. “We try to get you across the goal line into a good-paying career.”

The LC 101 Tampa Bay class focuses on computer science fundamentals and web development, which prepares students for careers in web and mobile software development. It attracts people with high school or GED diplomas or even advanced college degrees. Candidates must be at least 18.

It is being held at CareerSource’s Career Center on 9215 N. Florida Ave., Suite 101. Interested parties can apply here.  While no previous coding experience is required, applicants will need to complete the online application, aptitude test and beginning coding assignment. Applicants should allot 45 minutes for the process.

In the selection process, they look at test scores, the answers to questions, and prior interest in technology. They also consider race and sex in attempt to ensure classes are diversified.

Classes meet from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from October 17 through March 22. Information sessions on the class are scheduled at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 28, and Tuesday, October 3, at the center.  Interested parties are asked to reserve a place.

CareerSource Tampa Bay is working with LaunchCode as part of its effort to beef up tech talent in the community, designated as a TechHire community in December. TechHire communities throughout the nation are intended to build a pipeline of tech talent. 

It’s unclear when another class might be offered in Tampa. “We have long-term plans, but we want to be smart about how we do this,” he says.


October job fairs target unemployed, underemployed

Whether you’re unemployed or underemployed, an upcoming job fair might help you get back on track. There are several scheduled soon in the Tampa Bay Area.

“Underemployment is a big issue, and the people are looking,” says Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman of District 1.

Murman has organized a job fair Friday, October 13, in conjunction with CareerSource Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Community College.

“There are people that are still not employed, that need employment, and we’re here to help,” she says.

The event is free to both employers and jobseekers. “The employers need to call us as soon as possible if they are interested in being at the job fair, and making their jobs available, because we do have limited space,” she says.

She’s expecting about 55 employers and possibly 800 to 900 job seekers. A wide range of positions will be available including fulltime, part-time and contract.

The job fair, slated from 8:30 a.m. to noon at HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus at 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa, is Murman’s third in that Tampa location. She’s already held six in southern Hillsborough, which was hard hit in the 2008 recession as construction ebbed.

To find out the employers that will be in attendance, check out Murman’s website or call her office at 813-272-5470. Those who need help preparing can contact her office to be connected with those that can help.

Jobseekers, who may be hired on the spot, do not need to register.

Following the event, the fair will be virtual from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and can be accessed on personal computers or at the public libraries. Visit her website and look for the link, which will be live when it’s available.

Florida Joblink Career also has a couple of events scheduled in the Tampa Bay region, the first one from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 5, at Courtyard By Marriott University Parkway, 850 University Pkwy, Sarasota. The event focuses on Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Bradenton. It is free to jobseekers.

The second event is planned for the Tampa, Brandon, Lakeland and surrounding areas Wednesday, October 11. The company, which places an emphasis on diversity, is holding the event from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa. Admission is free for jobseekers.


Some of the careers included in both events are sales, management, customer service, insurance, education, government, IT, human resources, engineering, blue collar and clerical.

Learn more about these events here.

Here are some other job fairs scheduled in Tampa:

  • Tampa Career Fair is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 17, at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Learn more about the event by National Career Fairs here.
  • The Job News Job Fair is slated October 24 at George M. Steinbrenner Field, One Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn more at JobNewsUSA.
  • A Tampa Career Fair is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. October 25 at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport Tampa. The event by Best Hire Career Fairs is free. It caters to lots of different industries including accounting, banking, consulting, education, technology, public administration, tourism, video game and web services.

Tampa Bay jobs: New healthcare, restaurant positions on tap

Cognizant Technology Solutions has opened its fourth Tampa facility, with plans to hire an additional 75 employees. And Dave & Busters is planning to hire more than 230 for its new restaurant/ entertainment complex in the vicinity of Brandon Mall.  

The latest Cognizant expansion follows a 2014 commitment to invest $5.7 million in Tampa area facilities and hire 412 employees here. “We’re now increasing that commitment, investing approximately $500,000 more in capital expenditures and creating 75 additional jobs over the next 4 years,” says Eric Westphal, Cognizant’s Senior Director in Global Corporate Affairs.

Westphal indicates Tampa’s business climate was a draw.

“Tampa is home to many of the Fortune 500 and 1000 clients we serve, particularly in the healthcare and financial services industries,” he says. “Among the area’s outstanding features is the strong local talent pool of skilled business process, IT and consulting professionals.”

He notes a “thriving array” of support organizations in the area.

“Cognizant also has a growing partnership with CareerSource Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Community College to develop technology training courses for students,” he adds. “Driving these types of programs is central to our business philosophy as one of the nation’s largest employers of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) professionals.”

Cognizant is hiring full-time high-skilled technology and business professionals, with wages typically meeting or exceed local averages. Among the sought-after skills are IT application development, IT application testing, business process services, and application value management.

More information is available on the career page on the Cognizant website.

One of the largest providers of services to healthcare organizations in the United States, Cognizant’s new Tampa facility will focus primarily on healthcare support and services. The company, which also has operations in East and West Tampa, opened its new office earlier this month in approximately 30,000 square feet at 4631 Woodland Corporate Blvd. in West Tampa.

The Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s, which operates some 100 restaurant/entertainment complexes in North America, is scheduled to open its Brandon restaurant October 30, with hiring commencing September 27.

General Manager Tim Johnson is looking to hire for a wide variety of positions, including cooks, dishwashers, food runners, bussers, hostesses, servers, bartenders, plus technicians that work on the games and interact with the folks in the midway arcade area. He also is seeking guest ambassadors, front desk personnel, and customer service help in the winner’s circle, where people redeem their game tickets.

Salary is based on experience.

Experience is always a plus, but it’s not required,” Johnson says. “I usually hire everybody in as a part-time employee. I hope they’ll be full time.”

Interested persons can apply online.

The new 40,000-square-foot facility, which is under construction, will feature a dining room, sports lounge with a big TV and billiards, a main bar and midway gaming area. It will offer hundreds of the latest arcade games plus some old favorites like Pacman.

We’re entertainment across the board. It’s not just food and games,” says Johnson, who is relocating from Panama City Beach. “We’re just excited to be coming down to the Brandon/Tampa area. ... I bought a home there and I’m planning on making it home.”

Here are some more job opportunities.
 

  • Full-time temporary jobs are available to people eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance because their jobs were impacted by Hurricane Irma. CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas are developing temporary jobs for eligible individuals who want to assist with recovery efforts. Learn more at www.careersourcetampabay.com or www.careersourcepinellas.com. Disaster assistance is available for employers and individuals; there is an Oct. 16 deadline to apply.
  • As the nation recovers from hurricanes Irma and Harvey, the Small Business Administration is seeking temporary help with disaster relief in areas affected by the storms. Bilingual language skills are helpful. SBA is seeking damage verifiers, customer service representatives/public information officers, information technology specialists, construction analysts nationwide. Learn more.
  • The engineering company UC Synergetic has expanded it regional operations in ComPark 75 in Wesley Chapel and is expecting to create 25 new jobs. The Fort Mill, S.C.-based company, with 41 offices and 1,600 employees in 40 states, currently employs 80 in its 19,000-square-foot Wesley Chapel office. A a subsidiary of Pike Corporation, one of the largest providers of outsourced construction, repair and engineering services to U.S. utilities, UC Synergetic specializes in engineering and project management services.
  • Check out the latest career opportunities in the arts at the Art Council's TampaArts website. There currently are job openings for a museum operations assistant at Tampa Museum, a community programs coordinator at Straz Center in Tampa, and a part-time art coordinator at the SouthShore Library in Ruskin.
  • Ecological Consulting Solutions, Inc. is seeking a full-time biologist for its Tampa office. Duties for the Environmental Scientist I include working on surveys of threatened and endangered species, analysis of environmental constraints, wetland delineation, and permitting for wetland and listed species.
  • A data scientist position is available with SysMind LLC in Tampa. Two years of professional experience with Python is required. Duties include acquiring and organizing data so it can be used in advanced natural language generation apps.
  • Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater is looking for someone to maintain its tennis courts for some 30 to 39 hours a week. Applicants should be knowledgeable about all phases of court maintenance, be able to inventory and repair equipment, and have basic computer skills such as MS Word and Excel.

Dreamit’s UrbanTech program launches in Tampa

The New York City-based Dreamit, a top-10 ranked global accelerator and venture capital firm, has chosen eight companies for its first UrbanTech accelerator program, which it is holding in Tampa. One of the companies, Raxar Technology Corp., is Tampa-based.

“We’re really hoping to be able to contribute to the progress that is happening in Tampa Bay,” says Kurt Akman, who heads the company’s growth and marketing division.

Raxar, founded by Akman’s brother Peter, helps companies go mobile with its platform of tools that facilitate data collection and background analytics. The tools are especially helpful in any industry where people manage complex physical assets.

Dreamit received more than 300 completed applications for its first accelerator program focusing on technological solutions for real estate, city infrastructure and urban living. The selection process looked at the company’s idea, its potential in the market, the competitive landscape and the company founders.

It became interested in Tampa through a Dreamit alumni, Gainesville resident Bharani Rajakumar, an advocate of keeping Florida talent in the state. Rajakumar connected Dreamit with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who is partnering in a massive $3 billion, 53-acre project downtown called Water Street Tampa.

The accelerator program had been scheduled to officially kick off September 11 in Tampa, but the Tampa component is being rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma.

“We didn’t allow it to put a hindrance on what we were doing. We did things virtually rather than in person in Tampa,” says Seth Berk, Dreamit’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We’re going to be spending a few weeks in Tampa for sure as part of the cycle.”

The accelerator is placing the startups at CoWorkTampa offices within close proximity to the Water Street Tampa project, facilitating collaboration and instruction.

The UrbanTech program includes two, two-week road shows, one focusing on potential customers and the other one on investors. “Our hope is always that these customer meetings result in business relationships, a pilot program or full-fledge contracts,” Berk says.

The program includes a December 5 summit at downtown’s Marriott Waterside, which is expected to draw some 200 to 250 for a program including guest speakers and workshops.

Here are the other seven companies chosen for the cohort.

• Bignay Inc. is the developer of Gi Fly, a foldable, electric bike commanded by a mobile app. The bile can ride 40 miles on a single charge and is intended to facilitate urban commutes.

Cityzenith helps builders aggregate and analyze data sources involved with construction. Its InstaBIM tool offers easy drag-and-drop assistance with designing, building, and operating complex projects.

Ecomedes simplifies the buying process with a digital data management program. It helps users find the best products for their projects and simplifies the analysis of economic and environmental impacts.

• The wind turbine manufacturer Flower Turbines, which creates small and quiet turbines to be used near buildings and people, offers turbines ideal for urban settings.

Knowify, which offers a software platform for commercial subcontractors, assists users with bidding, tracking, and invoicing jobs. The platform increases efficiency, decreases mistakes and sets the stage for growth.

Lotik uses wireless sensors in its water monitoring service. The sensors clamp onto pipes to recognize water flow, find leaks and send the data in for analysis.

Twist Homes offers a turnkey lighting control system that includes wireless speakers, wifi repeaters and a platform for sensor modules.  It adapts easily to changes in building codes.


Tech Bytes: Small business symposium offers tech help

Owners of small businesses have an opportunity to learn how technology can benefit their businesses September 30 at a free symposium offering assistance with digital marketing, websites, social media and productivity.

“In 2017, you’re only limited by your imagination,” says Carrol Josephs-Marshall, President of Central Florida Community Planning & Development, the event’s organizer.

The symposium offers free help to startups, businesses in the growth mode and successful companies ready to ramp up. We offer technological assistance that is designed to help companies compete in a world that is becoming more and more digital,” she explains.

“We also take the digital discussion a step further by covering Business Intelligence and how it can make a small company an immediate competitor of a much larger corporation,” she says.

The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at the Ybor City campus of Hillsborough Community College; 1320 E. Palm Ave., Tampa.

The program features industry experts who want to share practices they use in their own businesses. “Each attendee will have an opportunity to interact with presenters and get contact information so they may be able to get a one-on-one meeting at a later time,” she adds.

This year’s itinerary includes Janette Blanco, a business consultant with Florida Small Business Development Center; Andrew Gold, Ph.D., with Hillsborough Community College, and Co-Founder of e2Venture and Operation Startup; Rita Sauri, with Hillsborough County Economic Development; Gregory Hart, Managing Director of Minority and Small Business for the City of Tampa; and Charles Young Jr., a CPA and Managing Partner with Young and Son, Inc.

Also on the program are Sean Josephs, of The Josephs Group, Inc.; Leighton Kyler, of Peak Performance Paradigm LLC; Dr. Veronica Walters, Founder, The Walters Academy for Entrepreneurship; Brandy Hastings, Regional Partnership Manager, Visit Florida; Fabian Yepez, VP,  Prosperausa West Coast; and Robert West Jr., Store Manager/AVP, TD Bank.

Check out more tech-related opportunities in Tampa Bay below.

• Tampa Bay is participating in the 1776 Challenge Cup September 19, joining more than 70 cities worldwide that are holding a pitch competition to single out their top startup. Winners will fly to New York City for the Challenge Cup Global Finals in November. If you’d like to come out and hear the pitches, the event is planned from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St. You can learn more about the event by the nonprofit business accelerator Tampa Bay WaVE here.

• Are you up for a challenge? You can help Hillsborough County control mosquitoes -- and prepare for a Zika threat. The Hack Zika 2017 event is scheduled for multiple dates, including a group hack September 22 to 24, independent teamwork from September 25 to 29 and presentations and awards September 30. The event is scheduled at Tampa Bay WaVE, 500 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 300, Tampa. Designers, programmers, developers, game engine experts, UX/UI experts, graphic designers and others are being asked to write software to help Hillsborough County Public Works Mosquito Control District combat mosquitoes through education, data collection and analysis. Zika is a disease spread by the Zika virus.

• Need funding for an innovative startup? The University of South Florida Chapter of National Academy of Inventors is holding a workshop to help you with that. Workshop: Avenues to Fuel Your Startup is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. September 25 at 3720 Spectrum Blvd., Oakview Room - USF IDRB Building, Tampa. A panel will talk about SBIR/STTR, VC funding and other seed resources. The event is free, but interested persons are advised to RSVP by September 18 by email or phoning 813-974-6414.

• Learn how artificial intelligence can affect our future at the Artificial Intelligence Summit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. September 26 at Ramada Westshore Hotel, 1200 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The effect of driverless Teslas, new search engine optimization rules on Google, and how wearable tech can help you save time are part of the program priced at $199. Members of Tampa Bay Business Owners pay $99 with a code. Learn more here.

• Learn how to get connected on the professional networking website, Linkedin, at Linkedin for Business Building, a program offered by Operation Startup. Operation Startup offers a wide range of business startup services to veterans. The program is scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. September 29 at Hillsborough County's Entrepreneur Collaborative Center in Ybor City, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. Walk-ins are welcome.

• In an attempt to make football safer, the National Football League and Football Research, Inc. are partnering with Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute on HeadHealthTECH Challenges. The series of challenges are focused on head protection, materials science, head kinematics and more. If you’ve got an idea, you can submit it by September 29. There will be multiple awards totaling up to $1 million a year, including in-kind support.


Clearwater boat manufacturer adding jobs after merger

After a merger, one of the largest catamaran builders in the United States is ramping up its Pinellas County headquarters and marina with plans to double its staff.

The Seattle-based Coastal Marine initiated the merger with the Clearwater-based Endeavour Catamaran Corporation because it was looking to increase its market base.

The new company is called Endeavour Corporation.

“We saw a potential for both brands,” explains Rob Harty, Endeavour Corporation’s President. “We used to have boats only up to 42 feet and now we have boats up to 50 feet. The brands complement each other.”

Coastal Marine was founded in Hong Kong in 2008 during the economic downturn. As the company looked to scale upwards, it moved to Seattle in 2012. Now it has resettled in Clearwater, where Endeavour Catamaran had an established name in boatbuilding.

“If we’re going to be in the United States, the Florida market is 10x larger than anywhere else in the country,” he says. “This is the mecca of boating.”

Endeavour, which is producing luxury and performance catamarans, is looking to double its local staff of 20, possibly in the next year. It is seeking skilled boat builders: people experienced in carpentry, mechanics, electrical, and fiberglass technology. It also is looking for office staff in sales, administration and marketing.

The company may hire at the entry level, train workers, and move them up in the company. “That’s always how I found it to work best,” he says. “Some of our needs are bigger than entry level.”

Experience in a related field may be helpful. “A boat’s very much like a house,” he says.

Endeavour Catamaran, which dates back to the 1970s, already had an extremely experienced staff that has been with the company for decades, he notes.

“When owners bring their EndeavourCats in for upgrading or maintenance, they’re likely to have the same staff who built their boat performing that service,” he says.

The merger occurred as a result of a successful collaboration between the two companies, which both were industry leaders in the design, manufacture and sales of power catamarans.

“The collaboration is a win-win for all involved. Blending the 40-year history and stellar reputation of EndeavourCats with the innovative spirit of ArrowCat has made the Endeavour Corporation a power cat powerhouse,” Harty says.

Endeavour is operating its manufacturing facility at 3703 131st Ave. N. in Clearwater and a marina at 13030 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg.

We’ve made a substantial investment in our 60,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Clearwater, where we’re planning to introduce and build two new entry-level boat models in the next six months,” Harty says.

“American Yacht and Custom, our servicing center, is due to open by the end of the year, thanks to a significant investment. We’re excited to offer top-notch boatyard services as well as custom rigging and detailing,” he says.

“We’re really proud of our new, massive, state-of-the-art paint facility. As the largest in the region, it’s certainly going to advance the use of composite coatings in the boating industry,” he adds.

The company’s boats are typically used for expeditions. “Our boats are used by people who really want a more all-purpose boat,” Harty says. “You can stay on this boat for extended periods of time protected from the elements.”

The catamarans are stable, high-performing, comfortable and convenient, he says.

“These boats are like Humvees. If there was ever a four-wheel drive monster boat, that is what we build,” he says. “People are not afraid to take it anywhere.”

The semi-custom boats sell for $289,000 up to $1 million.

Endeavor will be producing luxury catamarans under the Endeavor TrawlerCat brand and performance catamarans with the ArrowCat name. Its Endeavour 340 model, the result of collaboration between Coastal Marine and Endeavor Catamaran Corporation, will be featured this fall, offering a blend of simplicity, elegance, and efficiency.

What does the future hold? “Down the road we’ll expand to offer sailing catamarans,” Harty says.


Diary of an Entrepreneur: Tony DiBenedetto, Tribridge

Editor's note: Due to the threat of Hurricane Irma to the Tampa Bay Area, this event has been postponed until November 14th, 2017, same time, same place as described below.

Tampa Bay Innovation Center, an innovation and entrepreneurship center for technology businesses, will hold its quarterly “Diary of an Entrepreneur” program, part of the TECH Talk series, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. at Microsoft Headquarter offices, 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, Tampa.
 
The September Diary of an Entrepreneur program, “From startup to public company: the strategic investments that fueled the growth of Tribridge,” will be presented by Tony DiBenedetto, Tribridge chairman and CEO. 

DiBenedetto will discuss leading Tampa-based Tribridge from a startup in 1998 to a $180 million software, services and cloud business before recently being acquired by DXC, the world’s leading independent, end-to-end IT services company. He will share his journey on growing Tribridge through outside capital as well as strategic investments in developing culture, talent and innovation, according to a news release.

83 Degrees asked DiBenedetto a few questions to give our readers a sneak peak at the discussion. Here’s the result:

83 Degrees: What advice do you have for a young, tech startup today?

Tony DiBenedetto: Here are a few things I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur:
  • Passion. You have to really love the product or service you are selling. Starting a business is a 24/7 job and can put a lot of stress on your relationships. Also be prepared to get turned down -- rejection is part of it. Passion for what you do will help you overcome the personal obstacles.
  • Good People. Whether you need 1 or 300 employees, you’ve got to be able to attract talent. What will make someone take the risk in joining a start-up? Some people are attracted to the business idea itself, for some it’s leadership and for other it’s compensation. I would start with people who share your values and then evaluate their skills. 
  • Cash is King. Having a great idea for a new business isn’t enough. You need a well capitalized plan with plenty of cash. Take the time to think through the business model and what the costs truly are. Go into it with low expectations of revenue while you ramp up.  
  • Differentiate. Find an underserved market, and distinguish yourself from the competition. Even if it’s a large market, you can still identify a need or a gap that needs to be filled. You have to want to make the product or service better than what is already out there in order to truly differentiate your business.
83D: Please discuss the importance of innovation and how it has contributed to Tribridge’s success story.

TD: Technology is a highly competitive market so we have to be innovative and take risks. Entrepreneurial spirit has been one of our core values since Tribridge was started. Many of our software and cloud solutions came from ideas from our team members. We also use the fast fail model to help drive innovation. It’s a cultural movement that empowers people to implement new ideas. But if the idea doesn’t work, you pull the plug and quickly move on rather than trying to salvage something to the detriment of your customers, team members and the business. You have to build a culture of open communication and collaboration where team members feel comfortable generating a lot of ideas. Then you take action – launch the new service or pilot program – establish the goals for success early and measure them often. 

There is no fee to attend the Tampa Bay Innovation Center TECH Talk series, but space is limited. Advance registration is suggested.

Tampa service enables customers to text business phone lines

John Dalrymple called his veterinarian with a simple request. He wanted medication for his chocolate Labrador, George. But what he hoped would be a brief phone call turned into a 15-minute or more exchange, with him on hold the bulk of the time.

Dalrymple realized telephone calls weren’t always the most efficient way to do things -- and Text Our Company was born.

“We’re text enabling your traditional business landline and giving you the capacity to send and receive messages on that number,” says Dalrymple, CEO, President and Founder of Mobex, the Tampa company offering the texting service. “No one else is doing this to my knowledge.”

Text Our Company’s innovative service isn’t looking to replace the phone, he says.

“There are some kinds of transactions that just make it [texting] more efficient for the company,” he explains.

He points out most business lines don’t have texting capability and emails can become buried. “Texts get seen and responded to right away, but they are not so immediate you have to drop everything,” he says.

Companies access Text Our Company using a computer, tablet or phone connected to the Internet. Individuals log into the company account, where they can utilize a chatroom to communicate with clients.

Converting to the service is seamless. Customers can retain their existing business number, without changing providers, and/or add a new line.

Text Our Company is available as a monthly subscription, with no contract, for $29.95 and up. It has the ability to go beyond automated texts with their yes and no answers; customers can ask questions and receive answers to their questions.

“We’re really focusing on businesses that have a traditional business line,” he says.

Founded in 2013, Mobex is a telecommunications provider of VoIP, text messaging, and phone systems management services. It began developing the Text Our Company service last year with Haneke Design, a Tampa-based custom software developer, which transformed the idea into a usable product.

Dalrymple’s son Johnny, who earned an MBA from UT, has been working with him.

Text Our Company has been participating in the University of Tampa’s Community Incubator. It took first place in technology at 2017 New Venture Expo in April at the university.

Now UT’s Entrepreneur Center is among the firm’s customers, along with the Pinellas County Democratic Party, some doctor’s offices and an accounting firm. Mobex is rolling out Text Our Company to customers nationwide.

Because its business customers probably won’t be expecting to be able to communicate by text, the package includes an initial mass mailing to notify clients of the texting option.


BizConnect@Platt: Business owners learn, network at public library

Business people like networking, and often meet and greet at Tampa Bay Area hotel conference rooms. But now they have a new venue: the public library.

“We’re making an effort to reach out to kind of a non-traditional library population,” explains Business Librarian Chris Sturgeon, who founded BizConnect@Platt, a program attracting business owners to the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library at 3910 S. Manhattan Ave., Tampa. “They don’t think it’s a place to work on their business. ... We try to dispel that myth.”

He’s one of five business librarians in Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library system. Hired last year, Sturgeon’s job is to reach out to businesses and let them know the library is a free resource to them.

“The whole idea as to open up the doors,” he says. “There’s a demand here [for networking]. Let’s try it. Let’s just make it open to everyone.”

The library offers free digital access with a public library card to business owners’ databases like that offered by Reference USA, or to the training website Lynda.com. Readers also can access free digital subscriptions to magazines like Forbes.

Out-of-county residents can enjoy services by paying $100 annually for a library card.

“A lot of information is available online, but it’s not all quality information,” he explains. “That’s where we try to come in.”

Changes were precipitated by the digital revolution. “Our circulation numbers are still very high for books. The digital content is almost equally as popular,” he says, adding the Tampa-Hillsborough libraries have a “pretty sizable” ebook collection for businesses.

Part of the draw is the option of using the library as a temporary working space. “They can come in on a walk-in basis and reserve one of the private study rooms,” he continues. “There are plenty of places for them to plug in. ... They can’t book it in advance.”

Every first Friday at 8 a.m., about 25 business owners meet at the Jan Platt Library to hear a speaker and network. “We get a different crowd almost every time,” he says. “Our speakers have all been very generous with their time.”

At the September 1 meeting, Gary LoDuca, Founder of Thoughtful Wealth Management and Tax Advisors, a certified financial planner, will be providing tips on businesses taxes. In August Mike Harting, owner/operator of St. Petersburg’s 3 Daughters Brewing, told his business story.     

The events are free and open to the public. No registration is required. Check the calendar for upcoming events here.


Tampa Bay Area job fairs offer options for professionals, veterans and those in crisis

Chris Godier was serving in the U.S. Navy in Japan when the September 11 Twin Towers’ attacks occurred in 2001. Now a retired lieutenant commander living in Brandon, he’s planning to recognize and repay military veterans and their families through a career fair tailored to their needs.

“We advocate for veterans and their dependent spouses, children, for the issues that are plaguing their employment,” Godier says.

Godier’s business, Veterans and other Important Personnel Recruiting, is holding its first career fair September 12. “I picked the date on purpose. It’s to bring awareness to the veteran,” he says.

But the event is open to all jobseekers. “We want to help everybody. That’s absolutely our passion,” Godier adds.

After talking to veterans about job fairs, he’s planned an event that includes simultaneous instruction on topics like transition to civilian life, recruiters’ tips, preparing resumes, writing follow-up letters and networking. He’s also serving cake to help attendees expand their network.

“We’re trying to serve some cake and get them to talk to someone they never talked to before,” he explains.

Recruiters from some 35 companies including Allstate, Baycare, Brandon Ford, Coca Cola, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Verizon, will be on hand. James A Haley Hospital will provide assistance signing up for benefits.

The fair, which is free, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 800 Centennial Lodge Drive, Brandon.

More job fairs

Local jobseekers have plenty of job fairs to choose from in September. On September 14, the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) is holding its fifth job fair catered to eastern Hillsborough County residents in crisis.

The event is planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club, 213 N. Knights Ave., Brandon.

ECHO serves residents of Brandon, Dover, Lithia, Riverview, Gibsonton, Thonotosassa, Seffner and the Tampa zip codes 33610 and 33619.

Sharmaine Burr, ECHO’s Director of Social Services, say the organization helps a diverse crowd, from veterans, to people who lost their homes to fire, to people just released from jail, and those with four-year degrees who have been victimized by life’s circumstances.

“We don’t discriminate by income. All they need is an ID, social [security number] and proof of address,” she says. “We help them. Anyone that falls short, we lift them up.”

Burr strives to help individuals holistically. “I can get you the job, but can you keep that job? What’s in your life that can keep you from going to work?” she asks.

While there will be jobs in assorted industries, medically related jobs will be prevalent at the fair. “We have a bunch of jobs for the CNAs, RNs and LPNs. We also have direct care staff,” she says.

The free event will include support agencies such as veteran services.

ECHO also offers help preparing for the job fair as well. A workshop is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. August 31 at ECHO's Opportunity Center at 507 N. Parsons Ave., Brandon. Career coaching, mock interviews and resume reviews are available.

Here are some other jobs fairs slated throughout Tampa Bay in the coming weeks.

• Florida Job Link is planning its 2017 Career Fair -- Tampa/Brandon/Lakeland from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. September 13 at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa. Its goal is to connect the best candidates with companies, regardless of race, religion or other designation. Jobs will be in sales, management, customer service, insurance, education, government, I.T., human resources, engineering, clerical, blue-collar careers and more. The event is free and space is limited.

• A job fair and resource expo is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. September 7 at American Legion POST 5, 3810 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. The event by Red Carpet USA Entertainment and Events is free and 30+ employers are anticipated. There will be free parking, free resume review and free resume writing classes every hour, plus on-site computers. 

Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs is hosting its Tampa Job Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. September 11 at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. Jobseekers should arrive at 11 a.m. sharp and sign in to meet hiring managers. Professionals with varying levels of experience are encouraged to attend. Register to save your spot and view participating companies in advance.

• Kaiser University is holding Tampa Career Fair 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. September 12 at 5002 W. Waters Ave., Tampa. The event is open to students at the private, regionally accredited institution, as well as to graduates and community jobseekers. The fair will feature employers in multiple sectors such as business, legal, technology, allied health, sports medicine and fitness, and criminal justice fields.

United Career Fairs has scheduled its Tampa Career Fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. September 13 at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 West Cypress Street, Tampa. Jobs are in sales, business development, marketing, customer service, and retail and sales management. Jobseekers are advised to arrive at 6 p.m. sharp with plenty of resumes. The event is free.

• Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair kicks off at 10 a.m. September 18 at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg. The event by Tampa Bay Expos runs until 3 p.m.; admission is free and registration isn’t required. Fifty employers with immediate hiring needs will be on hand, so come ready to be hired! Jobseekers are advised to bring 20 copies of their resume, wear business attire, and have a positive attitude.

• The Congressman Gus Bilirakis Job Fair, with an emphasis on manufacturing and healthcare, is slated from 9 a.m. to noon September 26 at Pasco-Hernando State College Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. The event is free and all are welcome.


Local artists learn business skills at TEC Garage

Creative Pinellas and TEC Garage are collaborating on a program to help artists and creative professionals learn the entrepreneurial skills needed to be successful in today’s marketplace.

Thanks to funding from Creative Pinellas, artists and arts-related organizations in Pinellas County can apply to participate at no cost in TEC Garage’s nine-week Co.Starters Program that begins September 5.

TEC Garage is part of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, an innovation and entrepreneurship center for tech businesses that is managed by STAR-TEC Enterprises, Inc., a not-for-profit Florida corporation “whose goal is to foster jobs and promote economic development through assistance and support programs.” Located in downtown St. Petersburg, TEC Garage houses co-working and incubation space, as well as mentoring programs for emerging tech companies and entrepreneurs.

This will be the third time that Creative Pinellas has collaborated with TEC Garage to offer the course to the local arts community, says Barbara St. Clair, executive director of Creative Pinellas. Creative Pinellas is a nonprofit agency supporting the arts community with grant programs, events and activities.

The agency’s new emerging artist grant was featured in a March 21 story in 83 Degrees Media.

St. Clair says she first learned about TEC Garage when she inquired about the program’s co-working space before joining Creative Pinellas in 2016.

“I was impressed with the quality of the program,” says St. Clair. “Then after I was hired at Creative Pinellas, I met with Tonya Elmore, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, and we agreed that tech entrepreneurs had a lot in common with artists. Both are creative, independent, self-starters and on the leading edge of change. We decided if there was ever an opportunity for us to combine resources we would do that.”

About 20 artists, including Carlos Culbertson, a St. Petersburg mural artist better known as Zulu Painter, have participated in the Co-Starters Program since Creative Pinellas began offering funding for the course.

“Several artists have told us that it was one of the best programs that they had ever attended -- a life-changing experience,” says St. Clair.

Originally developed by an organization in Chattanooga, TN., Co.Starters is now being duplicated in cities across the U.S. with the mission of teaching entrepreneurs how to turn a creative idea into a thriving and sustainable business. 

According to Tampa Bay Innovation Center president Tonya Elmore, the partnership between Creative Pinellas and TEC Garage provides a “unique approach to the integration of the arts with entrepreneurship.”
 
“The Co.Starters program allows creatives to explore the probability of turning their passion into a thriving venture,” says Elmore. “The biggest take away from participants is that it saved them countless hours and mistakes of trying to launch their business on their own. The added value was being in the room with like-minded individuals experiencing similar roadblocks.“

St. Petersburg’s program is taught by Chris Paradies, president of Paradies Law, a boutique law firm specializing in entrepreneurs and small businesses. JJ Roberts, director of TEC Garage, is a guest speaker in the program. Participants meet once a week for three hours in the evening to discuss topics ranging from team building, problem solving and competition to understanding the customer, identifying the right message and marketing and understanding licenses, revenue, legal issues and distribution.

AirSpew: Teams build prototypes, compete for cash

Good will missions usually take a pilot, a co-pilot and an assistant to toss pamphlets out of the plane about an impending drop of food, medicine and supplies. But thanks to the Tampa-based OpenWERX, the process might become cheaper and easier.

It's latest challenge, AirSpew, has attracted 30 teams creating prototypes that spew information. They're vying for a $10,000 grand prize.

“We’re just trying to think outside the box, what else would make it easier for war fighters to communicate to a crowd,” explains Jeff Young, one of OpenWERX’s creators.

The challenge is the latest in a series by OpenWERX, which was formed nearly a year ago to help the public help the military and others. “If purely based on participation, this will be our biggest one,” he says.

The contest is called AirSpew because teams are making prototype devices that literally spew out literature or a verbal message using a speaker or radio. Teams also are working on mounts to attach the prototypes to the popular Phantom 4 drones.

The devices would reduce flight time and personnel hours.
 In addition to helping with good will missions, the invention might be used for law enforcement, Young adds.

Prototypes were due August 21; judging and awards will be on September 7. The first place team receives $10,000, while second place winners claim $5,000 and the third prize winners take away $3,000.

OpenWERX initially held month-long competitions, but decided to switch to quarterly contests because the teams asked for more time to work. The change also allows OpenWERX to offer larger cash prizes.

Challenges appeal to what he describes as the “maker community,” folks that like to use their hands to make things on their off hours. They may be engineers by trade, but most teams have people with differing skill sets. Some are students.

“I’ve seen definitively an outstanding turnout from folks like the University of South Florida, their engineering students have definitely been involved," he adds.

Ideas are submitted by war fighters and screened to see which ones are most suited to the program. The topic for the next challenge has not yet been chosen, and will be announced at September’s event.

Interested parties can sign up for alerts here.

OpenWERX is part of the Ybor City-based SOFWERX, named for its connection to Special Operations Forces. SOFWERX is a place the public can go to share ideas for what might become tomorrow’s hot inventions.


Think Anew, Superior Precast, announce new jobs in Tampa Bay Area

An innovative, Mississippi-based tech company serving the healthcare market has opened its first Florida office in Tampa and is hiring 20 with a budget of $1.2 million.

“What we desire is to make a call to Florida’s and Tampa’s best and brightest,” says Don Glidewell, President, Founder and CEO of the Flowood-based Think Anew. “Their only limitation is how big they want to dream, and how hard they are wiling to work to achieve those dreams.”

Think Anew opened in June at 1413 Tech Blvd., Suite 213, in Pinebrooke Office Park in the Interstate 75 corridor of eastern Hillsborough County. It is expanding its eight-member staff to include entry-level support staff as well as individuals in engineering, tech administration, network administration, field services, development or programming, web development, and marketing and sales.

“We are extremely competitive with our salaries,” he says.

Plans already are underway to double its 3,500-square-feet offices as part of a $100,000 investment into the community.

Glidewell was impressed with the area’s passion to recruit employers and the growing tech workforce. “This tech talent growth is really starting to bubble over,” he says. “We feel like we’re in the best place to achieve our business goals.”

Glidewell expects the Tampa office, the company’s third, to become a hub for the 10-year-old company that strives to be a one-stop, tech shop targeted to the senior living, long-term healthcare sector. A government mandated switch to electronic data keeping has brought major change to the industry.

“Imagine doing everything on paper and never using a computer, and then one day your facility is filled with computers. There was no in between there,” he explains. “We handle everything: training, implementation, security, disaster preparedness.”

Among its innovative products is a BOOMBOX,TM a disaster communications system that allows a healthcare facility to continue to chart medications and produce electronic health records with a 16-pound box emitting wireless Internet. It also offers phone calling, video conferencing and HAM radio. The company is accepting pre-orders for the $299-a-month emergency service.

“We’re a group of creators. We love to create new things,” he adds. “We’re really good at listening to our client’s pain points.”

Gov. Rick Scott announced Think Anew’s expansion into Florida August 8.

Here are some other companies hiring in the Tampa Bay region.

• A new Florida Department of Transportation supplier, Superior Precast, has decided to locate in Dade City in 62,777 square feet at Dade City Business Center. It plans to hire 100 people from the communities in the area, 27 of them by September.

Superior Precast makes precast concrete products for major road projects in the state. It is working with CareerSource Pasco-Hernando to recruit, hire and train its workforce. Salaries are close to 125 percent of the county’s average annual wage.

Jobs they are looking to fill include Plant Manager, Quality Control Manager, Office Manager, Administrative Assistant, Quality Control Technician, Forklift Operators, Carpenter, Welder, and Precast Production Workers. Jobseekers can apply here.

• The Tampa-based BlueLine Associates is seeking a Technical Recruiter with a bachelor’ degree and/or relevant experience in the staffing industry.

Tops Barber Shop on Temple Terrace Highway in Tampa is looking for a barber/hair stylist to cut men and women's hair. A barber or cosmetology license is required, along with at least two years of experience. The barber/stylist, who will work as an independent contractor, must know how to shave with a straight blade and hot lather. The position is for 36 to  38 hours a week, with Sundays and Mondays off.

Sun Trust is looking to hire and train a full-time universal banker for Pinellas County. Applicants should have at least a high school diploma and its equivalent plus one year of experience in service, sales, cash handling or payment transaction for another firm. The individual would be trained while waiting for a permanent assignment.

Linder Industrial Machinery Company has an opening for a payroll specialist in its Plant City Office. Applicants should have an associate’s degree and at least five year’s of payroll experience, plus excellent communications skills and proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and other related software.


If you are hiring skilled workers with five or less years of experience, drop us a line.


Tech Bytes: TechHire Boot Camp and more tech-related tidbits in Hillsborough County

Students were issued dog tags. They used an original, comic book-styled text. From their classroom in a previously vacant storefront at Tampa’s University Mall, they studied core concepts needed for technology jobs.

In the end, some 10 students graduated in mid-July from the first USF-TechHire Technology Boot Camp taught by Clinton Daniel, an instructor in Business Analytics and Information Systems at the University of South Florida’s College of Business.

“The second Boot Camp starts the week after Labor Day,” Daniel says, adding they are working with Metropolitan Ministries to supply a place. “We still don’t have a permanent home. That makes it tough.”

After a rigorous 30-day program, the first graduates are being recognized August 30 at a TechHire talk slated from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at USF CONNECT Galleria.

“We’re taking a different tack,” says Kelley Sims, a spokeswoman for the organizers, !p Potential Unleashed, a multi-jurisdictional district in north Tampa.

The talks are part of a series of business community meetings intended to build a pipeline of tech talent in the Tampa Bay region, as part of a TechHire initiative launched by then-President Barack Obama in 2015. The program is intended to create jobs and facilitate business growth.

Ninety percent of the Boot Camp is hands on, with the balance being discussion, Daniel says. “My philosophy was if these folks are going to try to get a job, the employer most likely wants to know ‘what can you do’?” explains Daniel, who designed the curriculum and text, called Core Technical Manual.

Daniel relied on his military background to develop the practical training, presented in a non-threatening way. Students could opt to write code for their projects – or not.

Boot Camp graduates, who also could opt into a paid internship, for the most part had attended or graduated from college. “We thought maybe it would be a bunch of students that never went to college,” he acknowledges.

“Surprisingly enough, there’s a lot of people who have gone to college, and they can’t find jobs,” Daniel adds. “There’s just more demand out there for tech.”

Some 348 have enrolled in the area’s TechHire program, according to Michelle Schultz, Programs Director for CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas. Some 142 already have completed training.

In other tech news Dreamit, a top-10 ranked global accelerator and venture capital firm in New York City, has set up offices at CoWorkTampa in the historic Garcia & Vega Cigar Factory. Dreamit is preparing to launch its first UrbanTech accelerator program with eight to 10 companies in September.

The workspace will be used by out-of-town startups when they are in Tampa for parts of the program, says Andrew Ackerman, Dreamit’s Managing Director.

Our aim is to put Tampa on the map for UrbanTech innovation and, more generally, establish it as the startup hub for the Southeast U.S,” he says.

Check out more tech-related news in Tampa Bay below.

• Nominations are open for the Technology Executive of the Year, the Technology Leader of the Year and the Emerging Technology Leader of the Year awards. The Tampa Bay Technology Forum is accepting nominations until 5 p.m. August 18 for these and other awards. You can even self-nominate. Get the scoop here.

•  A weekend-long hackathon for the hospitality industry, Hack Hospitality, is scheduled August 25-27 at Station House / The Iron Yard in St. Petersburg. Teams will be working to solve real-life industry challenges – and competing for a $3,000 first-place prize. The event is being held by Startup Tampa Bay.

Homebrew Hillsborough is touring the mobile cellphone business pioneer Syniverse at 8:30 a.m. August 25. Located at 8125 Highwoods Palm Way, Tampa, Syniverse has as customers more than 1,500 cellphone carriers, enterprises and ISPs from nearly 200 different countries.

• Kunal Jain, Founder and President of Practiceforces, is the featured speaker at USF Connect’s Innovation Frame of Healthcare Ventures program from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. August 31 at the Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. The talk, which is free to attend, will focus on six things that affect new healthcare ventures: structure, financing, public policy, technology, consumers and accountability.

Tampa Bay WaVE accepted 10 new companies in its latest cohort, for a total of 50 companies. The companies included Kaginger, Metasense Analytics, LLC, The SuperMom Box, Monikl, Script, MyCourtCase, Finly Tech, Farady Inc., Mahatma Technologies, and WhooshFly.

Tampa Bay Innovation Center has announced its fiscal year results: 59 clients with 207 employees, and client revenues of nearly $10.5 million. Five trademarks and three patents were filed. Of the clients, 33 were involved with the incubator; the remaining 26 were co-working clients.


Tampa tech company automates LED light sales proposals

Though LED lighting uses less energy -- and can reduce carbon emissions, convincing people to invest in it can be a tough sell. But Devon Papandrew is making the task easier.

Papandrew’s South Tampa company, SiteLite, automates the sales proposal preparation process, cutting the time needed from two days to 20 minutes. “It’s a software that does most of the work for the LED sales company,” he points out.

Currently about 96 percent of lighting is what Papandrew calls “legacy,” mostly metal halide or high pressure sodium lighting. Declining prices on LED or light-emitting diode lights have made it more affordable to convert.  

With a 10- to 15-year guarantee, LED can pay for itself in two to three years of energy savings. Still, talking people into spending money upfront requires solid numbers that usually takes time to compile. And it’s prone to error.

With SiteLite, the salesperson visits prospective companies with an iPad, iPhone, tablet or computer connected to the Internet. Using Google Maps, a digital photo or digitized floor plan, the salesperson can digitally alter the existing lighting in the software, substituting it with LED lighting. This allows users to quickly visualize the changes.

“They can do it all in one site visit,” he says.

Founded in February, SiteLite is a privately funded company that works primarily with small- to medium-size businesses in Florida and in the Southeast U.S. “There are a couple of quite large ones that we sell to,” he says.

Sales firms pay a monthly fee of $599 for a base package for up to 10 sales personnel.

LED bulbs can last at least 25,000 hours, than more than 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If everyone switched to LED lights in a 20-year span, the United States could slash electricity consumption by almost 50 percent while avoiding 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

Papandrew, who holds a bachelor’s in science in Physics and Economics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., came up with the idea of the company after seeing how much work was required to develop LED sales proposals. Although there are some other systems, what sets SiteLite apart is its visual component, quality and value. A patent is pending.

Raised in Largo, Papandrew formerly was employed as a bank business analyst who wrote up software requirements for software developers. He started out doing the same thing with SiteLite, then taught himself how to write the software code.

“I’m not writing requirements anymore. I’m just writing the software,” he says.


Digital marketplace can cut surgical supply expenses

A Largo-based startup has opened a digital marketplace for the surgical supplies resale industry. Think eBay. Or Amazon. For single-use surgical supplies like staples, needles, shears, forceps, mesh and patches.

The company, called The Index, wants to combine both E-bay and Amazon online sales strategies for the niche market where waste adds up to billions annually.

“The manufacturers, they typically sell in boxes of six, 10 or 100. That’s the only way a facility can buy a product,” explains Founder Jon Bird. “Once they open a box, the manufacturer won’t take it back.”

These medical/surgical supplies only have a limited shelf life, so items used infrequently can easily expire. Additionally, a change in physicians and/or contracts may mean certain supplies are not used, or not used as much.

“They come from the manufacturer with a finite shelf life, typically about five years,” Bird says. “We have an opportunity to sort of rescue those products before they expire.”

The first online marketplace designed to bring together hospitals, surgical centers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and resellers, The Index requires users to sign up and be vetted. Sellers can list their own products for sale, much like vendors do on Ebay, or let The Index handle the sales and shipping, much like Amazon does.

Membership is free. The Index makes money by keeping 10 or 20 percent of the sales, depending on the sales model.

Bird noticed the need for more advanced technology when he was employed in the medical supply industry. He realized how inefficient it was for buyers to request multiple quotes on one or two items by email, then wait for replies.

“I just felt that there had to be a more efficient way, without having all the overhead of brick and mortar,” he says. “I felt we could accomplish this if we had the right tool, the right technology.”

The Index, started in late 2015, has 50 buyers and sellers primarily in the southeastern United States, plus more than 10,000 unique product listings.

“The back-end technology, which is proprietary, is relatively revolutionary,” Bird says. “What it can accomplish can be revolutionary.”

It will save money, reduce waste and allow hospitals to do what they do best: save lives, adds spokesman Franco Ripple.

Although the medical/surgical resale market is huge, with some hospitals potentially spending $5 to $10 million annually on these products, the company doesn’t plan to stop there. Its goal is to expand into medical equipment and medical power tools.

The privately-funded company has a staff of six and plans to grow its sales staff in the next year. “Our goal is to add between four and eight sales people,” he says. “Some would be inside, and some would be out.”

 It also plans to double its 3500 square foot offices at the end of the year.

The Index is entering the scene at a time when the industry’s group purchasing organizations are coming into disfavor. Some facilities are choosing to do their own purchase negotiations -- and avoid the fees.

I think we’ve come in at a great time,” Bird notes.


Meet employers face-to-face at Tampa Bay Area job fairs

With digital job applications the rage, many jobseekers submit their resumes or applications online and wait, in hope of a reply.  But job fairs offer an opportunity to meet employers face-to-face.

“Nothing beats meeting an employer face to face. In this day and age almost all job search is done online,” asserts Mark Walker, National Sales Manager for National Career Fairs, which schedules more than 300 events in 80 cities annually. “You hope somebody reads your resume and application and gives you a call.”

Its St. Petersburg Job Fair, a live hiring event, is planned from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. August 15 at Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, 333 1st Street South.

Preparing ahead of time can help jobseekers make the most of the opportunity. By visiting the National Career Fairs website, they can view the Event Calendar and see the logos for companies signed up for the fair.

 “None of our events are industry specific,” he adds. “We are open to all employers.”

Submitting a resume online, in addition to carrying several hard copies to the fair, is a good idea. “We compile a resume database for the event,” he says. “The employers that are at the event get the resume database.”

The website also has a job board, where employers participating in events can list openings.

The most important thing a jobseeker can do is “dress for success,” he advises.

“You cannot believe the number of people ... that show up in shorts and T-shirt instead of being dressed in nice business attire,” he says.

It’s also important to realize employers are actively recruiting -- and be prepared to answer interview questions, he adds.

Below you’ll find some other job fairs scheduled in the Tampa Bay area in August.

The Tampa Career Fair by Career Intro is slated from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. August 9 at Hilton Tampa Airport, 2225 N Lois Ave. Jobseekers can register online and submit a resume for the free event.

• A JobNewsUSA Lakeland Job Fair is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. August 23 at The Lakeland Center, 701 W. Lime St. Jobseekers should be prepared for on-the-spot interviews and job offers. Online registration is available; admission and parking are free.

• Best Hire Career Fairs is holding its Tampa Job Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. August 24 at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd. The fair attracts employers from a variety of industries, including accounting, advertising, biotechnology, green technology, health, pharmaceutical, publishing, telecommunications and video gaming. Hiring is done on the spot. The event is free; online registration is available.


Looking for work? Florida, Tampa Bay Area good place to be

Florida is experiencing major job growth, and the Tampa Bay Area is playing a significant role.

Florida is the best state in the nation to get a job, grow your business or start a company,” says Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Our state continues to beat the nation’s job growth rate, and we consistently lead other large states as well.”

According to May data released by DOE, the state had positive over-the-year growth in 10 major industries, with the highest gains logged in professional and business services, education and health services, and construction. Figures show the category professional and business services gained 52,900 jobs with a $56,930 average annual wage, followed by education and health services with an increase of 34,400 jobs averaging $48,616 annually, and construction with 31,000 jobs at an average of $47,342 pay annually.

In 2016, the real Gross Domestic Product in Florida was the fastest growing among the 10 most populated states and was the fourth largest in the nation.

In June, Gov. Rick Scott announced the Sunshine State has been adding jobs at a faster rate than the country’s 10 largest states during the last year – and had experienced the second-highest private-sector job growth rate, behind Utah.

Tampa Bay logged the second highest number of new private-sector jobs among the state’s metro areas in a June report, with 41,600 new jobs in the last year. Orlando led the state with 47,800 new private-sector jobs in that time period.

Keep reading to learn more about opportunities at some Tampa Bay companies.

Corin

The global orthopedic device manufacturer Corin is expanding its U.S. headquarters in Tampa and is planning to create up to 100, new high-wage jobs by 2022. The jobs will be in marketing, operations, sales and administration.

It is expected to invest some $500,000 in the new offices.

Corin USA, a division of the British medical device company Corin Group LLC, supports business operations for the innovative orthopedics leader offering high-tech solutions to improve surgical procedures. It has relocated to 12750 Citrus Park Lane, Suite 120, Tampa.

Check for career opportunities here.

Vendita

The global technology and software company Vendita is relocating its headquarters from Toledo, OH to Tampa, and will create up to 15 new jobs by 2019. The jobs will be high-tech, high-income positions including database administrators and developers, sales professionals and administrative staff.

Vendita, which will be leasing up to 3,500 square feet, has moved into executive office space at 2503 W. Swann Ave. It is making an investment of $500,000 in the new facility.

The company offers custom solutions for Oracle and IBM products and services. Its goal is to simplify purchasing, deploying and managing clients’ IT environments.

Best in Class

Dr. Nirjhar Shah and his wife Swarna Pujari opened their Best in Class franchise in January and are planning to expand by three or four teachers for the new school year. Teachers will work in either Math, English or Chess and earn some $11-$13 an hour part-time for about six to 12 hours a week. They augment the curricula of students, the bulk of them in elementary or middle school.

Our goal is to basically build foundational skills in math and English, both reading and writing. We provide supplemental education to build foundational skills and further their learning on key concepts,” Shah says

Best in Class stresses critical thinking, problem solving and multiple choice problems not generally taught in school. Its staff of seven teaches from its New Tampa location, with fees usually ranging from $85 a month for Chess to some $120 a month for English or Math.

High schoolers have a blended curriculum that includes both onsite and online instruction.

Applicants can apply online by following this link.

Tribridge

DXC Technology has acquired the Tampa-based Tribridge, an independent integrator of Microsoft Dynamics 365, and its affiliate company, Concerto Cloud Services, solidifying its role as a leading global systems integrator for Microsoft Dynamics. Tribridge is now using the name Tribridge, a DXC Technology Company.

Terms weren’t disclosed.

“We anticipate job growth as planned. We will continue to hire across a number of high-demand positions, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 consultants, cloud infrastructure and business development positions,” says Tribridge Spokeswoman Jennie Treby.

“By being part of a larger, global organization such as DXC Technology, we will have access to greater resources and growth opportunities for our team here in Tampa Bay and across the country,” she says.

Tribridge and Concerto Cloud Services had previously expanded their presence at One Urban Centre at Westshore, which was unrelated to the acquisition, she says.

DXC Technology, an end-to-end IT services firm, has nearly 6,000 private clients in 70 countries.


Tampa Bay startup: Washlava debuts app-enabled laundry in Tampa

The nation’s laundry industry is largely coin operated, but that may change soon thanks to a new app. The app, pioneered at a Carrollwood neighborhood laundromat in Tampa, enables laundries to ditch the quarters and rely exclusively on digital payments.

“Tampa is our first laundromat conversion,” says Washlava Founder and CEO Todd Belveal. “We do not take coins. We do not take a credit card swipe. You cannot access the store unless you download the app.”

Belveal converted the family’s Carrollwood laundry, Washlava Carrollwood, to the app this month, making it the first entirely app-enabled laundromat. It previously beta-tested the app on dorm machines at the Gainesville-based University of Florida, with students preferring the Washlava app 12 to 1 over quarters and 7 to 1 over credit cards.

It is now looking to expand into 20 markets, cities like Austin, Washington D.C., New York City, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco and Chicago. “We’re looking for urban, dense communities where there’s a heavy rental population,” he says.

Younger people also are more likely to rent and rely upon the app, which finds Washlava locations, checks for machine availability, reserves washers, accepts payment and notifies users when the laundry is done.

Belveal entered the laundry business as part of a family venture more than three years ago, when they bought a laundromat at 11819 N. Armenia Ave. for $60,000. He quickly learned laundries weren’t that easy to run. There were buckets and buckets of quarters to weigh.

He didn’t set out to make an app though, until after a burglar pried their coin machine off the wall. He decided there had to be a better way to run the business. “There has to be an app,” he thought.

Except he couldn’t find one. “I really expected to find something like Parkmobile that took a coin-based business and turned it into something digital,” he says.

Instead, he found an industry “completely untouched by modern technology,” he says.

Fortunately, Belveal was no stranger to how apps could automate a business. He’d already started Silvercar, a car rental company where customers book with a smartphone, which he later sold to Audi.

So he founded Washlava, naming it lava both for the Spanish word lava, which means wash, and the English word lava associated with heat from volcanoes.

Converting to the Washlava platform involves installing hardware into the machines for $149 each. “We simply drop our technology into their fleet of equipment, and brand it or not,” Belveal says.

Washlava keeps a percentage of gross receipts on each cycle completed. “We get paid when they get paid,” he says.

With the Carrollwood conversion behind them, the Washlava staff of 12 is making plans to convert its second and possibly third laundromat in early fall.

“After here, New York is likely second,” he says.

Plans call for hiring another 10 to 20 in the fall as the business expands into new territory, with those positions being split between Tampa and the new location. A lot of support will be provided remotely. “They don’t need to be there. They’ll be here,” he says.

Founded in 2015, Washlava has already raised some $4 million in two rounds of funding. “Our intent is to create a network of convenient locations,” he says.

Users must have a smartphone and a credit card or debit card, or alternatively a pre-paid card. “Ultimately, we’ll probably expand the number of options, but we’ll never move towards cash,” he says.

It may be a welcome change for laundromat customers who spend on average 200 quarters every month to wash and dry clothes. “There are several million vended machines that live in dorms, hotels and military bases. They’re hidden from public view, but there’s a lot of them,” he says.


New app, Script, enhances communications between educators, parents

A Tampa-based company is gaining traction in the education field with an innovative app that uses technology to ease the administrative burden on teachers. Called Script, the firm has secured funding from local partners Ark Applications and PAR Inc.

“Schools are absolutely loving it. Parents are loving it too,” says Aaron White, Co-Founder and CEO. “They don’t have to rely on little Johnny to bring home the paperwork.”

White, who worked in the tech education field in the Tampa Bay area for eight years, found Script in 2016 after recognizing the mounds of paperwork teachers were managing.

“They can’t focus on what they’re best at, which is teaching. There’s no other solution out there,” he explains. “I decided that I was going to build one.”

Along with Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Patrick Cahill, White has been working in beta mode to fine-tune their service with feedback from educators.

Now part of the Tampa Bay WaVE Launch program, Script will have its “first big rollout” this year, he says. Script charges a transaction fee; payment arrangements are worked out with each school.

Their immediate goal is to help with forms for field trips, parental permission slips and monetary payments.

Parents can access the program with an app through iOS, Android and the web while educators use an online dashboard. Payments can be made quickly with credit or debit cards.

“We handle all the heavy lifting technology wise,” White says.

An undisclosed amount of investor dollars will be used to develop the Tampa team and expand the company, first In Florida and then nationally. “We want to do this product really well and then look on other things,” he says.

Ark Applications is a privately held equity and consulting firm and PAR is the publisher of assessment instruments, software and related materials.

Script currently employs three, but will be adding another customer service representative, a developer and one or two sales people within the next two months.

They eventually want to manage the transfer of any document to the parent. “Right now when we hand a little paper to Johnny we don’t know if the parent sees it,” he says.


British group taps Tampa man for playable city program

Tampa’s Ryan Swanson, Founder and CEO of The Urban Conga design firm, will be representing the United States in England as part of a program aimed at making cities fun places to live and work.

Swanson was one of 15 chosen from a field of 544 candidates across the globe for Creative Producers International’s 2 1/2-year empowerment program starting in October in Bristol, England. The goal is to enable creative producers to learn from each other what makes cities “more playable, more activated at that street level,” Swanson explains.

“I’m excited to go and learn ... and see how we can integrate our work,” he says.

Swanson originally became connected to CPI through social media, and actually was a finalist in the competition for the last two years. “The reason I got selected is because of what I’m doing with The Urban Conga,” he says.

Swanson, who holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of South Florida in Tampa, initially founded the firm three years ago with a couple of colleagues. Funding for projects usually comes through the cities, private organizations or a grant.

As one of the 15 creative chosen after Skype interviews, Swanson will participate in a three-week lab, participate in the Making The City Playable Conference in October in Bristol, produce a project, and meet for another conference in Japan. The group includes several from the United Kingdom, as well as representatives from Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Denmark.

“They fund me going out there,” Swanson says. “We get paid a small stipend to come back and implement a project.”

Creative Producers International is a talent development program led by Watershed, a Bristol-based organization enabling artistic vision and creative collaboration worldwide.

On the home front, Swanson built ping pong tables in Lykes Gaslight Park and a musical bench, which can be played similar to a marimba or xylophone, near the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Another project was a dominos/chess table for Ybor City. Additionally, he has worked in areas such as New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale.

His innovation has captured a lot of media attention from news outlets like PBS, The Atlantic and Fast Company.

A 29-year-old, he strives to help people engage with one another in the simpler ways they did as children, instead of spending their time eyeing their cellphones.

“No one really talks to people. No one really physically engages with people in pubic spaces,” he says.

The young and the seniors seem the most receptive to playing, the middle agers more hesitant. But when the middle-aged decide to play, they linger the longest, he says.


Online storytelling platform moves home base to Tampa

A Oviedo startup company, TSOLife, has relocated to downtown Tampa for support from Tampa Bay Wave and the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Tampa almost is unrivaled in Florida,” says Founder and CEO David Sawyer. “Everyone just seems to embrace the startups.”

Located at the Wave, Sawyer says it was a “driving force” in his decision to move the company here. He says he looks forward to participate in events are helpful.

Tampa Bay Wave gets it, and they offer the best of the best,” he says.

Started in 2014, TSOLife won the University Stage business competition in June at eMerge America’s Startup Competition in Miami, which drew some 13,000 people from across the world to network, compete and learn about the latest technology.

“We beat out 24 other university teams that were there for exhibiting. It was a pretty cool event,” he says.

Sawyer got the idea for the business after his grandmother, Muriel Sawyer, died. She lived in Gloucester, MA, and visited for four months in the winter, which never gave them much time to talk about how she met his grandfather, how she raised his dad, or what college was like.

“We never got to have those conversations,” he explains.

So he founded a business with Stella Parris, COO, to share family legacies online. “We really wanted to create a way to better personalize and pass down these stories,” Sawyer says, “so that no grandchild should ever wonder what their grandparent was like.”

He had help from an entrepreneurial club at Stetson University in Deland, where he was studying finance.

While many people like to write a book, or track down family genealogy on Ancestry.com, TSOLife offers people an opportunity to share their stories online and in a documentary. In a way young people can relate to them.

When was the last time you saw a 13 year read an actual book?” he asks. “When was the last time you saw them pick up an iPad? Literally two seconds ago.”

Trial memberships are free for 30 days, allowing people to post their stories. “We like to run the company with a conscience and a heart. We keep everything and do not delete,” he adds.

After that, if they want to continue adding stories, it’s $14.99 monthly or $275 for life. Documentaries start at $1500.

Each story has its own privacy setting, so the contributor can make it public or allow only his or her descendants access.

TSOLife, which serves North America, already has done a documentary on former U.S. Senator and Stetson University alumnus Max Cleland, which is in the Library of Congress.

The company is in the midst of its second round of $200,000 funding. It’s already raised $95,000 of that, which will be used for future development.

What’s next? They’ll be hiring two or three people for high-tech development within the next four months and following up with another $200,000 capital campaign.


Get on board: Tampa StartupBus rolls toward New Orleans July 31

Led by Conductors Kevin Mircovich and Brent Henderson, a busload of techies and innovators will leave Tampa July 31 to travel more than 650 miles to New Orleans on the StartupBus.

Described as an entrepreneurial boot camp and hackathon on wheels, the StartupBus brings together marketers, developers and designers to launch startups in 72 hours.

“StartupBus offers a platform to launch your idea. It’s an opportunity to build a team around your concept and take it from idea to reality,” Mircovich explains. “You’ll validate your idea, build an MVP [minimum viable product] and get traction all in a week.”

What riders usually have in common is an interest in entrepreneurship, plus a desire to sharpen their skills and develop a network. “We get people from all kinds of careers and backgrounds. We get everything from successful business owners, to aspiring entrepreneurs, students, and retirees,” he says. “Generally participants have some kind of experience or background in tech, but we’ve of course had non tech-savvy riders that excel.”

The StartupBus offers prospective entrepreneurs an opportunity to build a business team -- or work on someone else’s. “This is a chance for people with a business idea to recruit a team, and the people without an idea to find a team or idea they are interested in working on,” he says.

Riders face a number of challenges, such as working in the limited space onboard the bus with sporadic wifi service. “Some of the best work you’ll get done is in hotel lobbies along the way. Most teams take advantage of that and will work all night in the lobby,” he advises.

Participants pay a $299 registration fee, plus reduced rates on lodging. They also must pay for food and transportation home.

The journey ends for the approximately 30 riders August 4 at StartupBus Finals in New Orleans, where they have a chance to pitch their new business projects to investors and industry experts -- along with teams from six other regions in North America.

Although there aren’t any cash prizes, Mircovich says the rewards are greater than cash. “You’ll learn a ton about starting a company (through experience), you’ll find that you’ve become a no-excuses / get things done kind of person, and you’ll build great relationships with people you may work with in the future,” he explains.

Mircovich, now a software engineer, knows firsthand. In 2014, he rode the bus to Austin, TX, as a rookie. “I jumped on the bus, not knowing what to expect, and in the 72 hours my team and I came up with an idea, developed a solution, created a brand, closed some sales, and pitched what we built on stage in front of hundreds of other entrepreneurs. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and into entrepreneurship,” he recalls.

The experience led him to learn software development.

More than 2,000 have participated in StartupBus since it began in San Francisco in 2010. Hundreds of companies have formed on the bus or through the alumni network.

The first Tampa bus rolled in 2012 after a number of residents participated in the 2011 trek from Miami. If you'd like to apply for the 2017 ride, visit North America Startup Bus and use the invite code 83degreesmedia.


Digital wellness company raises $2.3M in latest funding effort

The Tampa-based Peerfit, a digital wellness company that encourages people to exercise, has raised $2.3 million capital in its latest round of funding. Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team owner Jeff Vinik and Founder of Outback Steakhouse Chris Sullivan were among the investors, which included some from the healthcare and digital health sectors.

“The biggest thing we’re doing is opening up some major cities and areas of the country that we hadn’t touched before,” says Peerfit President Scott Peeples.

Peerfit has more than 30,000 in its network spanning more than 30 cities. It recently expanded into New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Portland OR and Charlotte NC.

A digital platform that enables insurance carriers, brokers and employers to offer boutique fitness classes to clients and employees, Peerfit surpassed its initial target of $1.5 million for the bridge round of funding.

“As we got close to our original target of 1.5, we extended the offering. That’s where we ended up having some new people come in and join in,” Peeples says.

The bridge round was “a way for us to raise some capital more quickly,” he adds.

Long-time technology investor Lee Arnold, Colliers International Florida Executive Chairman, led the round and was joined by investors from Florida Funders’ online investing platform and PAR/ARK Applications.

Peerfit has raised nearly $5 million since 2011, some $1.5 million last summer.

Through Peerfit, companies can offer fitness credits that its clients or customers can use at a variety of fitness centers.

CEO Ed Buckley came up with the idea for a fitness company when he was studying group fitness at the University of Florida. He pitched it to Peeples, another student, in 2010.

Among the industry powerweights that invested in the round were representatives of the New York City-based Frenkel Benefits, a large independent employee benefit brokerage and benefit administration firm. They were President Craig Hasday and Executive VP Adam Okun. Rich Gallun, Co-founder of the Chicago-based bswift, acquired by Aetna in 2014, also participated in the round, along with digital health innovator Joseph Hodges, President of Tampa-based INETICO and Care Valet.

Bswift is a leading provider of employee health benefits services.

Peerfit has added industry veterans Todd Slawter and Adam Lowe to its leadership team. Slawter, the Chief Growth Officer, will develop the sales team while Lowe, the Chief Technology Officer, will build infrastructure to support national expansion efforts.

It expects to double the size of its development team, including coders and programmers, and its sales team, including those working on studio sales and enterprise health teams, by the end of year. That should boost the staff from 30 to 40.

Peerfit also is partnering with MINDBODY, which provides cloud-based business management software to the wellness services industry. The partnership makes it easier for fitness studios to find corporate wellness programs in their area, while expanding the network of providers for employers.

Peeples says the industry is realizing there is a demand for a modern fitness product. “Our single biggest goal with this is to be the industry standard,” he says. “We’re looking to raise series B in the fall.”

You can read our previous article about Peerfit here.


Tampa tech firm, Hivelocity, expanding data services

Hivelocity opened for business as a shared web hosting company in 2002. Its founders, Steve Eschweiler, Mike Architetto and Ben Linton, were looking to run a tech business on a budget.

Their philosophy? To help customers succeed.

“We have a vested interest in all of our customers being wildly successful,” explains Eschweiler, COO.

It has paid off.

Today Hivelocity has an international customer base and is expanding its footprint with its third data center, its second in Tampa. The data centers house servers clients essentially rent to store their data to customers here and in faraway places like Africa, Brazil, the Middle East and Japan.

“We have customers from about 134 different countries," says Rick Nicholas, VP of Colocation and Managed Services. “These people just go on our website, click and buy the use of our server.”

Hivelocity held a grand opening at its data center June 22 at Hampton Oaks Business Park on U.S. Highway 301 near Interstate 4. “We rebuilt and retrofitted it for our purposes,” Nicholas explains. “It’s got great bones, fiber connectivity to it.”

It invested in the “eight figures,” he says, but would not provide a specific number. 

Hivelocity is occupying 30,000 of the 90,000 square feet in the center and plans to open up the rest as the company grows. The center, that doubles the company’s capacity, opened in March. Construction took a year to complete.

The company, which employs 60, offers a broad range of services including backup, management, performance and security services. Some nine employees were added for the new data center and more will be hired as the company grows.

One of its more recent endeavors is offering colocation services, or the ability to place clients’ servers in Hivelocity’s facilities. “We’re the only large and locally owned colocation option in the [Tampa] market,” Nicholas says. “Customers value knowing who's running the company they’re trusting with their critical data and equipment.”

Hivelocity knows firsthand how important colocation services can be. “We’re a very large consumer of colocation space ourselves,” he explains. “We needed to expand our footprint due to growth, regardless of whether or not we offered colocation to other customers, and it's a business we like very much.”

What lies ahead? More organic growth, Eschweiler says.

We are actively seeking acquisition opportunities,” he says. “We are currently looking at several that will either give us a new service or fill an area of service where we may have a gap.”

With offices already in Tampa, Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles, it hopes to open offices in the Midwest and in Europe.


Shiftgig hiring for hourly, Tampa Bay jobs

A Chicago-based company is acting like a matchmaker for Tampa Bay employers and employees looking for shift-based, or hourly, gigs. Called Shiftgig, the company uses apps to sign up individuals for work in a variety of career fields.

“There’s a lot of hospitality, a lot of sports and entertainment [jobs]. Those work very well in the app because there are a lot of one-off shifts,” explains Laura Turner, Managing Director of Shiftgig’s Tampa office.

The 6-year-old company operates in 15 cities nationwide, and is growing. An Orlando office is expected to open within two months.

It developed from of a Chicago job board for the hospitality sector, as the need to fill shifts grew.

Tampa’s office, which opened in February 2016, typically fills some 100 to 200 gigs from about 200 employers a day.  Some 1500 have signed up as “specialists,” or employees, Turner says.

“Typically they work as much as they want to work. We have some specialists that piece together a 40- hour work week,” she says.

About 65 percent of its employees have full-time jobs and are looking to supplement their income. “The other 35 percent are people that are looking for full-time jobs but don’t necessarily want to work at the same place all the time,” Turner says.

About half of the workforce in Tampa are millennials. “The technology is attractive to them,” she says.

Shift jobs are available in warehousing and logistics, hotels, food and beverage, and general labor.

Jobseekers can apply online in about two minutes, Turner says. They receive an email in 48 hours inviting them to a group interview session. “Everyone goes through a criminal background screen,” she says.

Applicants can opt into a drug screen, which is required by some employers.

Shiftgig’s employees have varying education and experience levels. Sometimes they’re recruited on their college campuses when the colleges partner with Shiftgig. E-learning is available to enhance their skills.

Workers usually are paid weekly by direct deposit or a pay card functioning like a debit card. “We’ve actually just implemented an option that, if they want to be paid after each shift they work, they are able to opt into that,” she adds.

Employers can get the word out about openings quickly to a pool of qualified individuals. “Those shifts are picked up really quickly,” she says.

The company's Tampa office serves the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee, Pasco and Polk counties.

Shiftgig was recognized in May by the Spend Matters website as one of 50 Providers to Watch, for the Contingent Workforce category.


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.


Tampa tech company helping brewery sales reps do their jobs

Much like a lily pad offers strategic help to frogs leaping across a pond, the Tampa company Lilypad is assisting brewery sales reps on their daily routes.

And it’s growing in leaps and bounds.

“We’re all about keeping these reps moving and executing in the field,” explains Eric Rabinovitz, CEO, who co-founded the company with Peter Ladis about five years ago.

Lilypad has grown more than 1,200 percent since January, 2016, and now logs 107 clients, all in the alcoholic beverage industry.

Rabinovitz was working as Executive Vice President for Actsoft, a Tampa company providing mobile solutions for field workers, when he came up with the idea.

Actsoft is serving the blue-collar worker; he saw a need for help with sales. So Actsoft CEO and Founder, Tom Mitchell, helped them get started with a “strategic investment,” Rabinovitz  says.

Although they initially served sales people in different industries, Lilypad settled into the alcoholic beverage industry about three years ago. There they allow brewery sales reps, who work through distributors to sell their products, to sidestep more time-consuming sales methods involving spreadsheets, text messages and email.

“Lilypad enables the supplier sales team to execute more efficiently in the field and communicate more efficiently with their distributors,” he says.

The mobile- and web-based platform costs $50 per user per month; volume discounts are available.

Lilypad makes it fun for sales reps by enabling them to score points for performing sales activities. Much like a Fitbit makes users more conscious of the steps they log every day, Lilypad makes sales reps more conscious of their efforts.

A majority of distillery reps are millennials, and it works well, he says.

“Technology made you more aware, which made you change your behavior,” he says. “We’ve added that element to the business world.”

Being in the niche beverage market allows Lilypad to address needs specific to the industry, some through ancillary services, he says.

Lilypad currently employs 10 at its location at Waters Avenue and Anderson Road. It likely will hire five more staffers within the next six months, three in customer service/implementation and two in product development.

It is serving customers in more than 35 states, including Florida, California, Texas, Georgia, and in the northeastern United States. It recently signed up its first international customer, from Australia.

Lilypad is part of the Tampa Bay WaVE Launch program. “We love what they’re doing,” Rabinovitz  says.  “It really does open up a lot of doors.”


Interactive career tool helps job seekers research market

If you’re tired of competing against the masses applying for advertised jobs, meet FREIDA, the Florida Research and Economic Information Database Application.

FREIDA can help you research employers in your career field, in all 67 counties of Florida. And a whole lot more.

“FREIDA can serve as a data-rich resource for jobseekers to use in exploring career opportunities,” says Morgan McCord, Press Secretary for Florida’s Dept. of Economic Opportunity. “It can help students, veterans and jobseekers refine their career options and find the best match given their education, training or experience.”

Visitors to FREIDA’s website homepage can get a variety of customized career data on request. For jobseekers that have honed in on a specific career, “Job Seeker Services” under “Services for Individuals” is a good place to start researching employers.

After clicking “Employers,” users choose the geographic area and type in a keyword for their career. Users can choose a single county, metropolitan area, zipcode or the entire state as their area.  They also can choose a “Quick Employer Search,” an “Advanced Employer Search” with more options, or an “Employer Search by Occupation.”

“Much of the data in FREIDA is updated constantly by the Florida Bureau of Labor Market Statistics to provide timely local information about Florida’s labor market,” McCord says.

By clicking on “Labor Market Services” from the menu, then “Labor Market Facts,” visitors also can choose from a general assortment of career questions including:

• What jobs are currently listed for an area?,
• What are the highest paying jobs in an area?,
• What occupations are predicted to have the most future job openings in an area?,
• What occupations have the highest employment in an area?, and
• What are the largest employers in an area?

“FREIDA has a ‘Services for Individuals’ selection at the top of the page and can help job seekers looking to change or explore careers. This part of the system links to various functions; including ‘Career Tips’ under 'Career Services,' ” McCord says.

Some of the website’s buttons, like “Finding a Job,” will connect visitors to the Employ Florida website for more information.


Tampa tech company speeds up business site selection process

The stakes are high when a company decides to invest in a brick-and-mortar storefront. A business can spend millions, only to fail because of the wrong location.

But the Tampa-based SiteZeus® is working to boost their clients’ odds of success.

“Our software helps you determine what are the best sites,” says Chuck Cooper, Executive VP of Product Development for SiteZeus.

The company is attracting quite a bit of attention lately. On May 2, it won two bronze Stevie® Awards at the 15th Annual American Business Awards for “Best Software Product of the Year,” Data Visualization Technology, and “Tech Startup of the Year,” Software. Then it claimed the $75,000 Gold Award at the 10th Annual Florida Early Stage Capital Conference May 19.

It also was featured in Microsoft’s BizSpark Startup Stories May 23.

Last year, it racked up two awards, claiming both BIG Awards, as Startup of the Year and CIO Review’s Top 100 Big Data Solutions.

What makes SiteZeus unique is its transparency -- and its ability to do in seconds or minutes what normally could take months, explains Jorge Hermez, Director of Marketing.

There’s no curtain where all this stuff is happening behind the scenes,” he says.

It is able to process data that humans can’t.

“We’ve created a data agnostic pipeline,” Hermez says. “The more data we inject into SiteZeus, the larger variety of users we’ll get.”

“It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in, if you’re in business to make money,” asserts Cooper.

SiteZeus’ partnerships with data set add-ons, UberMedia, Black Box Intelligence, and INRIX, have helped to fuel its success.

The cloud-based software, offered on subscription, lets users securely input data and receive predictive models without sharing it with anyone. “Once you’ve imported your data you can play around with the models. You can adjust the variables to see what kind of impact that it has on sales,” Cooper says.

SiteZeus was founded in 2013 by brothers Keenan and Hannibal Baldwin. Business climbed an average 51 percent each quarter during the last year. The number of employees rose from seven to 13 in the last year as well, and it continues its search for talent in sales, software engineering, quality assurance engineering, graphic design, web development and content creation.

The company currently serves the United States, but is planning to go global by next year. Among its clients are the Pincho Factory, a fast-casual burger and kebab chain popular in South Florida; Fitness Premier, a midwest fitness company now available for franchising in 40 states; Campers Inn RV, one of the largest U.S. RV outlets, located in 10 states; and SafeSplash Swim School, the leading swim school franchise in North America.


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.


St. Pete investor, USFSP create forum for OPEN learning, sharing ideas

Much like open source software transformed the software industry, a St. Petersburg-based thought cooperative is poised to change people's lives through intellectual exchanges and collaborations in the greater Tampa Bay Area.

The cooperative is aptly called OPEN, the Open Partnership Education Network. It will be encouraging open sharing and innovation, while providing the tools that make it possible.

“In our current paradigm, the philosophy is closed and you work within your silos,” explains Walter Fernando Balser, OPEN’s Founding Director.

Similar to the collaboration spawned in the software industry by open collaboration on software like Wordpress, an open source publishing platform, OPEN looks to bring together people to share ideas. Some themes they are working with include seeds, future cities and radical schools.

“It’s revolutionary for the city of St. Petersburg, but it’s not revolutionary for other cities like Austin, Texas,” Balser asserts.

Themed events are more than interesting meetings where people can network, talk about interesting ideas and then go home and forget about it. “You have a framework in place that allows those thought leaders to continue to collaborate on the next experiences,” he explains.

The open framework for St. Petersburg could be shared very easily with any community, he adds.

OPEN evolved from an idea by Jim Aresty, a St. Petersburg transplant, who enjoyed the intellectual stimulation offered by the nonpartisan forum, the Aspen Institute in Colorado. A retired women’s clothing manufacturer, Aresty was a long-time resident there and frequent summertime visitor of the institute.

After he began spending the winter’s in St. Petersburg about three years ago, he became captivated. “I absolutely just fell in love with the city. First and foremost, I just love the people,” Aresty says. “It feels really Midwest to me, very uncompetitive, friendly.”

But he missed the institute while here.

“I want the community to be invigorated and enlivened and educated, in the hopes that it will improve people lives,” Aresty says.

He now splits his time between St. Petersburg and Aspen, spending seven months in St. Pete. And OPEN is off and running, expected to officially start themed discussions in November in connection with the city’s Et Cultura Festival featuring music, film and interactive culture. All thanks to contributions from Aresty.

Initially, he provided enough funds for a staff director for one year, expected to expire in July, with office space and administration provided by USFSP. Now he’s providing significant funding that can continue the endeavor for five years, after which it’s intended to be self-supporting.

OPEN is partnering with the USF College of Marine Science, St. Petersburg College’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Et CulturaIt plans to continue to grow its network.

Ultimately, Aresty believes St. Pete will be attracting more people like him: middle-aged and older folks with part-time residences here who want “to be inspired and to be invigorated intellectually, to be involved and to have ways to learn and to grow,” he says.

“I just thought it was a great way to give to my new city that I love,” he says.


Tampa staffing startup chosen for global tech showcase

A Tampa Bay staffing startup company, patterned after online matchmaking services, has been chosen to participate in Emerge Americas Startup Showcase in Miami, a major global business-to-business tech event featuring entrepreneurs from Latin America, North America and Europe.

Monikl was one of 125 companies selected in three categories for the June 12-13 business-to-business tech conference. It will have a booth at the event and the opportunity to participate in a pitch competition for up to $100,000.

The company, launched in January, is intended to save users time and money by matching job candidates and employers. What makes it different is its ability to perform like a full-time staff company from an Internet platform. It uses a quiz, that can be filled out in five to 10 minutes, to match applicants with companies that are suited to them.

“Instead of looking through thousands of resumes, you’re basically getting five to 10 high quality matches,” says Monikl CEO and Co-Founder Zachary Senz Kamler. “Our aim is to produce quality not quantity.”

Using an app for Android and Apple phones or the web, users sign up for free. The employer pays 7.5 percent of a direct hire’s salary, for the first year. It also works with temporaries and contract hires.

Monikl is generally targeting the tech and healthcare fields in the Tampa Bay area, or basically 50 miles from Tampa’s downtown. It already has some 1,000 job seekers and several companies -- and is growing steadily.

“In general our goal is to reach 10,000 users in the Tampa Bay area by the end of the year. Once we reach that, we’ll be able to acquire more capital and expand out to other cities,” he says.

Senz-Kamler, who has a background in staffing and a bachelor’s degree in Business and Entrepreneurship from the University of South Florida, is partnering with CTO Jonathan Antoneli.

“We’re clearing up the path to finding a job,” Senz-Kamler explains.

In Tampa Bay WaVE’s Build program, Monikl uses WaVE co-working space. “We have been setting them up with mentors, goals and connections. Monikl has some great leadership and hunger to grow and we love having them in our program,” says Daniel McDonald, Accelerator Manager.


Tampa firm trains, mentors IT sales development reps

Sales development is part of any business. Sometimes, it is the hardest. It's even harder in the tech field when there's not enough IT-trained sales representatives. So Matt Wheeler is trying to meet the need.

Wheeler is CEO of Qualified Meetings, a new Tampa company dedicated to helping tech businesses grow their customer base.

“I just saw there was a massive need,” he says.

Wheeler founded Qualified Meetings with Eric Byrd and Whitney Marshall in 2016. He is projecting about $2 million in sales and 20 employees in about three months.

The company’s sales developer program essentially white-labels Qualified Meetings' employees so they appear to be part of their clients’ sales team. Eventually, they may be.

Qualified Meetings trains and mentors, then its employee may be hired away by the client for a higher salary, with Qualified Meeting collecting a 20 percent fee. The newly trained staff can work remotely from Tampa, helping to build the tech community here while helping to keep labor costs in check for the employer.

“We work with sales. We work with marketing. We become a seamless additional team to those companies,” Wheeler explains. “We become experts in every product that we manage.”

Trained employees also may eventually work in Qualified Meetings software sales.

Qualified Meetings works with Optimizer, a web-based software that automates the sales operation and avoids cold calling. Currently in beta testing, Optimizer is expected to launch in 90 days.

The company currently employs 17 full-time employees and six summer interns. Within the next 60 days, it plans to hire nine marketing and/or sales development staffers for annual salaries between $45,000 and $65,000 each, with benefits.

The staff will grow as the company adds accounts, so Wheeler projects a staff of 30 by year’s end.

Part of the Tampa Bay WaVE program, which helps entrepreneurs launch and grow tech businesses, Qualified Meetings operates out of Channel District office space.

Wheeler, who bought his domain name more than five years ago, was living in Annapolis, MD, and visited other cities like Austin and Atlanta before deciding to move his family to Tampa about two years ago.

“I’m practically a poster child for Tampa now,” he says. “We fell in love with it.”

He describes Tampa as “big, but small,” enabling people to earn a reputation when they “maintain integrity.”


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.

Florida Funders moves into new offices in Westshore, positions for growth

Florida Funders, a company that connects early-stage Florida businesses with accredited investors, has moved into newly renovated office space in Tampa’s Westshore district, expanding its collaborative workspace.

“Our own staff is growing, our investment base is growing, the number of collaborative meetings, early stage companies are growing,” says Marc Blumenthal, CEO.

Now located on the first floor of the Austin Center in some 5,000 square feet, it is better prepared to work with companies that come to make their pitches to investors.

“They specifically built this for us not only to have a better bigger space ... but to have lots of open work space,” Blumenthal says.

The new space was “completely gutted from the floor to the deck of the ceiling” under the direction from Jonathan Levy, managing partner for Redstone Investments, the center’s owner.

It outgrew space it shared with Quantum Capital Partners at nearby Tower Place.

“We already have about 15 companies in our portfolio,” he says. “That grows by 10-20 a year.”

Florida Funders has six on its staff full-time and another two part-time. It will be creating an Ambassadors’ program to broaden its networking in other communities throughout Florida this year, he says.

The Ambassadors will be volunteers well connected in their community. “We’re going to do all the heavy lifting. They’re the eyes and ears on the ground for us,” he explains.

Additionally, Florida Funders is planning a partner’s program, which may involve a Funders’ liaison to sit on the board of a portfolio company. “Most of those opportunities will have some form of remuneration from the portfolio company,” he says.

The funding company has invested some $4 million in 17 deals in the last two years and is expecting to pump an additional $5 to $7.5 million into start-ups in the next year.

“Our business model is really associated with the success of our investment. It’s a long-term view,” he explains. “Every year we’ll be investing more capital.”

Ultimately, Florida Funders wants “to see our best and our brightest stay here,” he says, and encourage other bright people to choose to live here for the climate, ease of doing business, and accessible business capital.

“Florida Funders is priming that pump. We think we’re taking the lead on that with some other great people across the state,” he says.


QDI to move to Channel District, downtown Tampa

Fifteen years ago it was only a vision. Today, there is a truly walkable retail neighborhood in Tampa’s Channel District, with restaurants, a hair salon, dry cleaners, pub and Grand Central at Kennedy condominiums.

Now Quality Distribution Inc. has signed a new 10-year lease at the $145 million mixed used development at Kennedy Boulevard and Meridian Avenue. It is expected to move in Sept. 1 and relocate about 250 employees to the location.

“It’s certainly the largest office deal in the market this year,” says Ken Stoltenberg, co-director of Mercury Advisors, developer of the project.

QDI, a global supplier of liquid bulk transportation, logistics and depot services, signed a lease for 45,000 square foot on the ground floor of the development that includes condominiums and retail. A 38,000-square-foot Publix Super Market, now under construction adjacent to Grand Central, is slated to open in the last quarter of 2018.

“Our hope is to be a catalyst for other companies to consider relocating here,” Stoltenberg says.

He called the new lease for 1208 E. Kennedy Blvd. a “stamp of validation” for the area. “We only have 11 condos units left to sell,” he adds.

QDI, which will relocate from 4041 Park Oaks Blvd. near Brandon, provides services to many Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical Company and PPG Industries.

The buildout for its new headquarters is being financed by Bank of the Ozarks.

There remains just under 40,000 square feet to lease at Grand Central and “several tenants interested,” says Stoltenberg, who is partnering with Frank Bombeeck.

Grand Central’s East and West buildings were constructed in 2007, but the west unit didn’t sell out before the 2008 recession. The property received approval last year for 3- to 5-percent financing rates through the Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, as long as buyers would make units their primary residence.

Mercury Advisors is developing Channel Club with a 22-story residential highrise at 1105 E. Twiggs St.


Tampa Bay job news: Vology, World Wide Technology, Connectwise growing, hiring

The Largo-based Vology, a managed IT service provider, has announced it will be adding up to 200 jobs within the next two to four years. The company relocated from Oldsmar to Largo last fall, investing $3.75 million.

“We’re still adjusting to our new buildings,” says spokesman Trent Brock. “We finally have everything up and running.”

Vology renovated and upped its space from 50,000 to 60,000 square feet when it moved from Tampa Road to the Bay Vista Office Park with a Clearwater mailing address.  It opted for the Largo location to be more centrally located within the Tampa Bay area.

“It gives an opportunity to take in a new market for IT talent,” he says.

Additional details on the new jobs weren’t immediately available, but job seekers are advised to check the company’s website for the latest details.

Meanwhile World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based innovative technology and supply chain solutions provider, has revamped its Tampa offices.

“We decided to build a virtual or remote executive briefing facility,” explains Scot Gagnon, Director of Army and Special Operations. “It kind of looks like we’re all sitting in the same room because the technology has come so far.”

The upgrade accommodates remote testing and helps clients access the newest technology, without the travel. The offices at 5426 Bay Center Drive include new collaborative work spaces.

“We’re still unpacking, We literally just moved back in,” Gagnon says.

He has plans to hire two sales engineers this year to work with customers on product design.

WWT has been in Tampa since 2007.

Here are some other job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area.

  • The software company Connectwise, which beat is first Quarter goal in 2017, is posting a 22 percent growth rate. The Tampa-based company, which employs 900 workers globally, lists on its website openings for a benefits specialist, traffic manager, system administrator, illustrator, junior developer and more.
  • Kelly Career Network is looking for two web content professionals in St. Petersburg for two-month contracts, with pay set at $20 to $24 an hour. It is looking for a high school diploma or its equivalent and at least four years of related experience; an associate’s degree and at least one year of formal education in web design, development, or computer/internet sciences is preferred.
  • Syniverse, a global leader in mobile communications, is looking for a career success specialist for its New Tampa office. The position requires an undergraduate degree in business or marketing and strong interpersonal, communication, analytical and problem-solving skills. Other openings include a customer operations specialist, level I position.


If you are hiring skilled workers with five or less years of experience, drop us a line.


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.”


Gourmet flavoring company claims marketing award

The Clearwater-based Monin Americas has claimed a Marketing of the Year Award for its research process directing the marketing of its flavorings for coffee, tea, lemonade and cocktails.

Its eight-step, Flavor Forward Process involves online surveys and actual taste tests to determine which flavors are most worthy, says Cassie Kane, Brand Marketing Director in Clearwater.

“We develop a ton of flavors, that’s really what we are,” Kane says. “Years ago we didn’t have an organized way of really collecting our research and determining what we were going to produce.”

The Flavor Forward Process includes taking inventory, global insights, online databases that track menu offerings, demographics, other research sources, and input from its global Beverage Innovation Directors, she says.

“We ... take all of these trends, all of those things we see in the market,” she says.

The hand-blown glass award was given by Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Marketing Association for Market Research in March.

Monin Americas is a division of Monin Gourmet Flavorings, which opened in 1912 in Bourges, France. It offers more than 200 gourmet flavors in more than 145 countries.

Monin also ranked in the top 30 in the Tampa Bay Times’ 2017 Top Work Places.

Monin Americas, which oversees operations in North America, South America and the Caribbean, is located near Hercules Avenue and Drew Street in Clearwater. It employs more than 100.

In addition to their offices, there is a production facility that makes syrups for the Americas and an innovation center with a commercial kitchen, bar and cafe. Monin also has a new 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Largo, which is double the size of the warehouse it replaces, she says.

Monin offers a mix of flavors from the more traditional to innovative, including vanilla, caramel and hazelnut for coffee, and mango, raspberry and peach flavorings for tea and other beverages. Its Hawaiian island blend features yellow passion fruit, orange and guava.


Tampa Bay Area Job News: DAS Health, CONMED, McKinsey hiring

A national healthcare services firm, DAS Health, is expanding its headquarters in downtown Tampa, and plans to add 30 new employees here in 2018.

“Tampa’s talent pool combined with the resources and support of the city made expanding our headquarters here the perfect choice,” says David Schlaifer, CEO of DAS Health.

The company is making a $145,000 capital investment and will be hiring for a variety of jobs with an average annual salary of $55,130. It already has hired four new employees in the last two weeks, Schlaifer says.

DAS Health provides health IT, management solutions and consulting services. The expansion follows the acquisitions of ConXit Technology Group and three other companies in 2016, which doubled DAS Health's size and solidified its role in the health IT and management sector.

Here are some other job opportunities in the Tampa Bay area.

• The global medical technology company CONMED is hiring at its Largo facility. Among the openings posted on its website are: corporate recruiter, which requires a bachelor’s degree and more than two years of experience; marketing associate, which requires a bachelor’s and 0 to two years of related experience; and a buyer, which requires a bachelor’s and two years of relevant purchasing experience.

•  McKinsey and Company, a global consultant firm, has multiple positions at its St. Petersburg location. Openings posted at its website include a Spanish-speaking accountant, human resources generalist, junior graphic designer, and learning event planner.

• The high traffic website covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The Pewter Report is looking for an advertising representative, either full-time or part-time. Applicants must live in the area and have solid business contacts; a background in advertising sales is preferred. 

• The multimedia digital company YouConnex, based in Tampa and New York City, is hiring for its creative team. Applicants need to be living in the Tampa Bay area. The company is looking for people with a portfolio highlighting web and video editing skills. Duties include graphics design and video editing.

If your company is hiring skilled workers with five or less years of experience, drop us a line.


Fringe festival comes to Ybor; outdoor art events abound during the month of May

The spring festival season continues in May throughout the Tampa Bay Area, with a number of outdoor art-related activities scheduled for Mother’s Day weekend.

Tampa’s first International Fringe Festival, described by Festival Producer Trish Parry as a “big crazy party,” comes to Ybor City May 11-14. Curiosity seekers can get a sneak peek at the Fringe Preview, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 10 at CL Space.

The festival, which features 90 events at six Ybor locations, was started by David Jenkins, co-founder of Jobsite Theater; along with William Glenn and Parry, all University of South Florida alumni. Ticket prices range from $5 to $13 for performances in stand-up, dance, theatre, improvisation, storytelling, and other genres.

“It’s really hard core on Saturday. You could see nine shows,” says Parry, a storyteller. “There’s definitely like a party atmosphere that we hope to cultivate.”

At Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa, Mother’s Day Jazz in the Park is planned from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 14. The event by Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival also includes arts and crafts, a children’s tent and more.

In Sarasota, the fourth annual Arts in the Park, featuring the Sarasota Orchestra, is slated at 8 p.m. May 12 and 13 at Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th Street. 

On Lake Morton in downtown Lakeland, MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake 2017 will feature some 160 artists from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 13 and 14. The Polk Museum of Art is calling for volunteers for the event to include local musicians and dance companies, a children’s art tent, and food and beverage vendors.  

In St. Petersburg, the Broadway musical Hairspray is being performed at Demens Landing Park. In May shows are at 8 p.m. May 3 through 7 and May 10 to 14 at Demens Landing Park; the park opens at 6 p.m. American Stage in the Park, which features musicals and comedies under the stars, began in 1986.

Here are some other events.

  • Artwalk Weekend kicks off at 6 p.m. May 5 and ends at 4 p.m. May 6 at Village of the Arts, 1113 12th St. W., Bradenton.
  • Streetcar Live, a concert on the Tampa streetcar, is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 6. It features Dean Johanesen and The 24 Hour Men, an Americana Swing group.
  • The Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin is hosting Phil Provenzano and the Jazz Xperience from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. May 6. Clean Comedy is slated May 19, followed by TBone Hamilton and the Blues All Stars May 20.
  • Sunsets at Pier 60 on the beach at Clearwater, which includes arts and crafts around sunset, runs daily. Learn more.
  • A Pop-up Art Market is planned from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 27 in conjunction with Fourth Saturday of the Month Art Walk at the Pinellas Arts Village in Pinellas Park. "We’re growing it. We’ve got some great vendors who have been very popular," says Debra Rose, Pinellas Park's Library and Cultural Affairs Administrator.

     


USF ranks 19th in Milken study, seen as tech leader

The University of South Florida ranked 19th, among more than 225 universities nationwide, in a Milken Institute study about how well universities convert basic research into new technologies, products and companies.

“Concept to Commercialization: The Best Universities for Technology Transfer” notes USF jumped up from 74th place in 2006 after ramping up research and commercialization efforts.

“We really worked hard in the past 10 years in changing our culture,” acknowledges Paul Sanberg, USF’s Senior VP for Research, Innovation and Economic Development. “We want to be Tampa Bay’s corporate partner.”

USF efforts have gone beyond “great basic research which we’ve been known for,” he says, to patenting licenses, commercialization, business incubators and training programs.

“This has involved a real concerted effort to make these activities part of tenure and promotion,” Sanberg says.

Vickie Chachere, Director of Strategic Communications for USF Research and Innovation, says major companies look to be near major universities that are good at commercializing research and growing a talent pipeline. “Tampa is an emerging place if you want to have potential partners,” she says.

The rank is based on a University Technology Transfer and Commercialization Index that is derived from the four-year averages of patents and licenses issued, plus licensing income and the number of start-ups.

USF has a “diverse portfolio” spanning life sciences, engineering and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM and the arts, Sanberg adds.

The study by Ross DeVol, Joe Lee ad Minoli Ratnatunga found all of the top 25 universities were in metropolitan areas. “Universities are a source of competitive advantage; they create a skilled workforce and through R&D and tech-transfer help create new technologies and new industries,” it asserts.

The University of Florida in Gainesville ranked third, following the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and Columbia University in New York City, in first and second place, respectively. Central Florida in Orlando ranked 22 while Florida State University in Tallahassee earned 88th place and Tampa’s H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute placed 95th.

“Research universities are one of the strongest assets America can use to compete in the age of innovation,” the report concludes. “Research funding should be a top priority for enhancing American economic growth.”

The Milken Institute, with offices in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit organization working to boost global prosperity through collaboration. Its Center for Jobs and Human Capital seeks to develop innovative, doable economic solutions that facilitate job creation and enhance funding opportunities.

USF’s own study shows it ranked 10 among state universities nationwide, Sanberg notes. It ranks 9th among public universities nationally and 21st globally for the number of U.S. patents granted, according to Intellectual Property Owners Association/National Academy of Inventors (2015).


Tampa as a smart city: Local roundtable focuses on how technology will shape our future

It’s no secret automation is making some jobs obsolete. As the digital revolution evolves, we’re working differently -- and some of us will need new skills to stay in the workforce and succeed.

“The roles are changing very very very quickly,” asserts Chelsea Collier, an Austin-based consultant holding a Tampa Roundtable April 28 at the University of Tampa’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center.

Collier is the founder of Digi.City, a web platform where she shares what she has learned as a 2016 Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship recipient.

The roundtable will look at Tampa as a “smart city,” which by Collier’s definition is a municipality that takes an “integrated approach” to delivering services more effectively through technology.

“Smart cities are the ones that apply the right technologies that increase the effectiveness of their cities,” she says.

The roundtable is aimed at technology enthusiasts, elected officials, public policy advocates and those interested in how policies are crafted to foster innovation and smart growth. It will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Participants include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, state Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa; Lucas Lindsey, Co-Founder of Launch Florida; Linda Olson, President of Tampa Bay WaVE; Ned Pope, Former President of Florida NEXT Foundation; and Dr. Rebecca White, Director of UT’s Entrepreneurship Center.

The discussion about Tampa’s smart city efforts is part of a multi-city series, Digi.City Connects. Meetings already have been held in Phoenix, San Diego, Boston and Austin.

“In three to four years, things will connect to things and humans won’t even need to be involved. It seems like the Jetsons,” Collier says, referring to the 1960s television cartoon show about a futuristic family.

In the end, services are provided more efficiently. For example, when 5G wireless technology is available, a refrigerator can connect with a delivery service to notify it that it needs eggs. It can be programmed to skip the order when the calendar shows the owner will be away.

The discussion is expected to touch on policy changes needed to prepare for the new technology, she says.

“You really have to start doing the work now to get the policies in place,” she says. “There’s a lot in play. Different cities handle this in different ways.”

The way cities and educators prepare for these changes will affect the workforce’s skillset – and ultimately the area’s economy.

Although the fellowship expires in mid-May, Collier says her work has just begun. “I’m going to ramp it up actually,” she says. “I think there’s a real need.


USF to offer new personal financial planning degree

The University of South Florida will be offering a new bachelor’s degree program next fall to meet a growing demand for personal financial planners, who help people manage their retirement accounts.

“The average person now is retiring with a defined contribution program. They don’t know what to do with it themselves,” says Dr. Laura Mattia, Program Director of Personal Financial Planning, who was hired to start the degree program. “They’re looking for somebody that can provide them with good advice.”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook shows there is “much faster than average” growth expected in the personal financial advisors’ field, with jobs projected to increase 30 percent between 2014 and 2024.

Florida, known for its retirement communities, is one of the states with the most opportunities, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annual mean wages were $123,690, or $59.47 an hour in Florida in 2016.

Baby boomers are hitting retirement age at a time when people are living longer. Some retirees may live without regular income for 35 years, Mattia points out.

A 30-year veteran of the finance industry, she notes the need to ensure vulnerable people are not deceived by unethical -- or uneducated -- advisers. As an example, she describes a 70-year-old woman, too old to go back to work, whose “nest egg is gone,” because she was too trusting.

Industry leaders are recognizing that their advisers are aging and they need to beef up the employee pipeline for the future, she explains.

“The financial service industry is waiting for these students,” she asserts.

Students in the degree program should have a desire to work with people. They will need problem solving and analytical skills.

“This is not heavy math. It’s kind of basic, maybe algebra,” she explains. “I don’t want to scare certain people that might be very good at this,” she says.

The program will meet educational requirements for the Certified Financial Planner exam, including courses on planning for insurance, income tax, investment, retirement and estates. It also is expected to include internship opportunities.

A kickoff event is scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 20 at the USF Muma College of Business on the Tampa campus. The program includes networking and a discussion panel, including representatives of Raymond James, Charles Schwab, SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. and Financial Planning and Advice.

The new USF program will be second such program in the state, Dr. Mattia says.

The University of North Florida in Jacksonville already offers a Certified Financial Planner certification program.

For additional information, contact Mattia or USF Admissions.


Natural gas-powered buses ready to roll in Pasco County

Pasco County Schools will soon be the first in Florida to build and run their own fast-fill compressed natural gas station. The first of its natural-gas buses will arrive in mid-May, when they will be completing the new gas station just south of State Road 54 along Interlaken Road north of Tampa.

“We are about a month away from taking ownership,” says Tad Kledzik, Manager of Transportation Services. “We will begin operations with start of the fiscal year [July 1].”

Thirty 2017 Bluebird Vision CNG buses will begin arriving, three at time, in mid-May, and be phased into the existing fleet of more than 400 buses. Some 48 of them are propane, which use the same motor but a different fuel.

Each bus costs about $130,000, about $30,000 more than a diesel bus.

Pasco County Schools are investing $3 million each in their fast-fill station and a maintenance, operations and parking facility for the new natural gas-powered buses. The district is expecting to pay an additional $3.9 million for the first 30 buses and potentially a total of $11.7 million for 90 natural gas buses at the facility. It also would use some 10 to 12 diesel buses already in the fleet.

There are a number of advantages of the buses fueled by gas from Louisiana and Texas, which is piped into Florida at Jacksonville.

“The big thing ... is cleaner emission,” Kledzik says.

It’s also less noisy, a plus when hauling a bus-load full of talking children. “That allows our drivers to hear a little bit better on the bus as to what is going on,” he says.

As a domestic source of fuel, CNG is less volatile in price. The ability to essentially lock-in the price gives the district a greater ability to manage finance costs. “What happens elsewhere is less likely to impact the cost of CNG here,” he explains. “There’s enough CNG here in the U.S. to meet certainly our needs and many more needs.”

The district has tapped into the system in the Odessa area. The CNG will be provided by Clearwater Gas.

A grand opening is scheduled at 9 am. May 16, says spokeswoman Linda Cobbe. The new buses will roll for the 2017-18 school year.

The district began looking into alternative fuel sources in 2012, before buses like these existed, Kledzik says. The vision for CNG came from Deputy Superintendent Ray Gadd.

Though the Pasco district will be the first to build and operate its own station, others are already going green with CNG buses using third-party fuel providers. “Leon [County’s school district] has a similar facility to what we’re producing right now. Leon entered into contract with a 3rd party provider,” he says.

In the Tampa Bay area, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority became the first public transit authority in Florida to begin converting from diesel to CNG in 2014, according to Sandra Morrison, Public Information Officer.

HART currently runs 34 CNG buses in its fleet of nearly 200 buses, plus an additional 39 of its 61 HARTPlus vans and all eight HARTFlex vans. Some 25 additional CNG buses are arriving this fiscal year, Morrison says.

Hillsborough County public schools are running 50 propane buses and another 40 are on order. “We just didn’t have an interest in it [CNG], simply because of the cost,” says Jim Beekman, General Manager of Transportation.

The propane buses cost only $4400 more than diesel.

Pinellas County’s school district began running 58 new propane-powered buses this school year. The buses save the district money on fuel and maintenance, in addition to being more environmentally friendly, a spokeswoman says.

As the Pasco district's personnel are trained on the new buses, Kledzik says they plan to let surrounding districts in on the education process, which will include information on propane buses as well. “We’re looking to open it up and make it more a multi-county effort,” he says.

Kledzik says the new CNG buses are a way to “diversify the composition” of the fleet. He expects the school district will continue to invest in propane – and diesel. Diesel still is preferred for long trips outside of the county, and even longer trips within the county, he says.

“I don’t believe we’d get away completely from diesel buses,” he says.

Tampa Bay Alternative Fuel Vehicle Expo is slated from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 20 at 11780 Tampa Gateway Blvd, Seffner.

More information on alternative fuels is available at the Alternative Fuels Data Center or the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Clean Cities Program at 1-800-CCITIES.


Local job fairs offer wide variety of career opportunities

Job seekers can connect to area employers at job fairs in the coming weeks, including two fairs at Hillsborough Community College April 18 and 19.

“Usually if a company is here, they have positions available,” says Lorraine Canalejo, Career Resource Center Manager at HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus. “I have a gym. It fills up.”

The fair at HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus is from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. April 18 in the Dale Mabry Gym. A variety of companies are expected for computer-related and law enforcement careers and jobs at animal clinics, radio/TV stations, restaurants and hotels, childcare centers, malls and Busch Gardens.

She advises job seekers to check out potential employers they’d like to talk with. Interested persons can call her at 813-253-7310 for more information on the companies. “Dress appropriately. Bring your resume,” she suggests.

“Typically we have it [the fair] in the spring term because it’s graduation time, but the job fair is open to all of our students as well as the public,” she says. “They don’t need to register.”

The HCC Ybor Campus event is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 19 in the Ybor Room.

On April 19, Talent Career Fairs is holding a Tampa Government, Financial, Sales and Education Career Fair to connect job seekers with leading local and Fortune 500 companies. The free event is planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Courtyard Marriott, 3805 West Cypress in Tampa.

Attendees can meet employers in financial services, management, IT, healthcare, government, education, accounting, sales, customer service, dispatch, retail, and other fields.

Here are some other job fairs scheduled in the area.

• Echo’s Spring Job Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 13 at Boys and Girls Club Brandon. The free event features part-time and full-time opportunities.

• Every Wednesday in April there will be a job fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants at Kindred Hospital St Petersburg, 3030 6th Street S. Come ready for an interview on the spot.

• Sales, business development and marketing are the focus of the Tampa Job Fair April 24 by United Career Fairs. The free event is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport.

• A Job News Tampa Job Fair, by JobNewsUSA, is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26 at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa.


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.


Tampa Bay Area cities, counties offer summer jobs for teens

The city of Tampa is looking to hire 36 teens to spruce up East Tampa neighborhoods. The Grounds Maintenance Interns will mow, edge, trim and pick up trash. Safety training is included.

We have had many applications with a great response. All applicants must be enrolled in the Hillsborough County School System and reside within the boundaries of East Tampa: Hillsborough Avenue to the north, I-4 to the south, 56th Street to the east and I-275 to west,” says Jerry Williams, the city’s District Supervisor.

Applicants also must be 16- to 18-years-old and be able to pass background tests and drug screens.

Applications are being accepted online through April 7. The jobs through the Summer Youth Program run from June 5 through July 28, with pay at $8.10 an hour.

According to the city’s online solicitation, youths will be trained on how to use hand tools and motorized line trimmers, edgers, blowers and lawn mowers.

Other government agencies in the Tampa Bay also have summer-related jobs openings posted online, often related to recreation. They include Temple TerracePlant City, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Bradenton and Lakeland

More opportunities for students exist beyond the traditional fast-food jobs.

“Malls, small- to medium-sized retail businesses, family-owned restaurants, Recreation Centers, Summer Camps, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island -- all offer very flexible, part-time opportunities into the summer and beyond,” says Jason Druding, Special Projects Coordinator with CareerSource Tampa Bay and Pinellas. 

As the summer approaches, students may want to attend a job fair, network and build up their resumes.

“Each [work] experience adds value to your resume, can enhance your skills, and also add new perspective as you grow within your career,” Druding explains. “With each job you take on, whether it be flipping burgers, mopping floors, or stocking shelves, make sure you always put your best foot forward, and excel in every aspect of your work-it will always carry forward.”

When a young person is short on experience, they need to “showcase their personality” and “can-do attitude,” he advises.

“Any references related to character, letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, or other influential community members will be very beneficial,” Druding adds.


SunView Software of Tampa wins innovation award

A Tampa software company has won a coveted Gold Award for its IT platform enabling the use of artificial intelligence.

SunView Software, a leading provider of IT Service Management software, claimed the Innovation Of The Year Award at the annual IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition, Pink 17, in Las Vegas.

Its ChangeGear 7 Service Manager with Service Smart Technology beat out Silver Award winner CA Technologies’ CA Service Management – xFlow User Experience at the industry’s No. 1 event in February.

SunView’s flagship platform, ChangeGear is an enterprise-grade IT Service Management platform with a full suite of services including Help Desk, Change Management, Incident Management, Problem Management, Configuration Management and more.

The latest release, ChangeGear 7, is a first-to-market platform delivering artificial intelligence to the service desk.

The conference, organized by global training, consulting and conference service provider Pink Elephant, was the 21st annual international event. Pink Elephant also gave top Project Of The Year and Practitioner Of The Year awards.

Sunview Software helps companies deliver, manage and monitor IT services. It has invested $1 million into expanding its headquarters – and added more than 45 employees since early 2016.

Growth is ongoing.

SunView Software is part of a growing Tampa Bay tech community that is gaining traction. “Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increasing number of new venture-funded technology startups form in and around the Bay area, making Tampa a competitive hub for software development jobs in the marketplace,” says Seng Sun, SunView’s CEO. “Being a Tampa-based company ourselves, we recognize the tremendous potential in the community we have here. That’s why we’ve teamed up with the USF Computer Science Department and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation to help us to discover, recruit and retain local talent. Last month’s award win is indicative our initiative’s success.”

Now the privately-held company is gearing up for HDI 2017 Conference & Expo on May 9-12 in Washington D.C. At the showcase, it will be giving people a look at ChangeGear’s new mobile experience, plus enhancements to its AI technology and self-service capabilities, including a chatbot virtual support agent.


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.”

Jobs Roundup: Who is hiring? Home Depot, Vistra Communications, CWU Inc., City of Clearwater

The Atlanta-based Home Depot is in a spring hiring spree, with plans to hire some 1,350 in the greater Tampa area during March, or by early April. Its goal is to hire more than 80,000 associates in all of its stores and distribution centers for the season.

“Some of those have already been hired,” says Matt Harrigan, a Home Depot spokesman. “Spring is always our busiest time of year. ... It’s kind of like Christmas in our stores. Its really our holiday season.”

Home Depot is hiring for a “mix” of positions, depending on the individual store’s needs, he says. It will fill positions for cashiers, lot associates, garden and freight personnel. Full, part-time and temporary positions may be available.

About half of the typical, 90-day-seasonal workers stay on after the rush, and can apply their hours toward company benefits, Harrigan says.

Those benefits include profit sharing, tuition assistance, discounted stock purchases, and 401Ks. Employees also have access to the company's associate discount site, where they can purchase cell phones, electronics, gym memberships and other items.

Salaries vary by store location and employee qualifications, Harrigan says.

Home Depot announced its streamlined online application process earlier this month. It optimized the process for mobile use, reducing estimated application time from 90 to 15 minutes, he explains.

It offers job-related training on product lines, computers and other skills associated with their assignment.

“Primarily we look for just someone who is passionate about customer service,” Harrigan adds. “Our focus is always to find associates that will fit our orange-blooded culture.”

Employees typically wear an orange apron saying “I put customers first.” The company’s core values include taking care of customers and each other, the entrepreneurial spirit, giving back to the community, veterans' housing and other home improvement projects, he says.

With 30 stores in the greater Tampa area, it’s one of Home Depot’s larger markets, he says.

The company’s website advertises jobs are “in bloom” and people can “put down roots where they really can grow.” It indicates 16- and 17-year-olds in Florida are welcome to apply for store support/lot associate, customer service/sales associate (garden) and cashier jobs.

Home Depot, which has a total of 2,278 retail stores, racked up $94.6 billion in sales during the 2016 fiscal year, earning $8 billion.

Here are some other job opportunities in Tampa Bay.

• Vistra Communications has moved its headquarters to Lutz and is planning to hire 50 new employees by 2022, doubling its size and pumping $1.3 million into the economy. Vistra was founded in 2007 and serves corporate, government and nonprofit clients. It is a nationally recognized, full-service communications and professional solutions agency. Submit your resume or learn more about current opportunities here.

• CWU Inc. recently announced plans to move from Clearwater to Tampa and add 20 new jobs by 2018. The company, founded in 2004, also is moving 30 existing positions to Tampa. It provides direct operational and training support services to more than 90 federal agencies. Learn more.

• The city of Clearwater is advertising ongoing employment opportunities on its website for a library volunteer coordinator, library intern, seasonal marine operator, social events staff, beach lifeguards, wastewater plant operators, and school crossing guards. Applicants should print out an application here, fill it out and submit it to Municipal Services Building at 100 South Myrtle Avenue, Clearwater, FL, or fax it to (727) 562-4877. No online applications are being accepted for these positions.


Pinellas artists sought for new grant program

Creative Pinellas is looking for up-and-coming artists for a new grant program that encourages them to create new work. Its Emerging Artists Grant program will award $2,000 each to 10 working in the creative arts, who will be mentored by someone in their field.

“I’ve never seen a mentoring program, outside of a school program, for emerging artists,” says Barbara St. Clair, Executive Director of Creative Pinellas. “We heard that people needed help taking their work and professional careers to the next level.”

The grant was developed specifically to recognize -- and support -- artists early in their careers, as they are building their followings. It is open to older adults early in an arts career.

The program provides financial and mentoring support and the opportunity to showcase their work. A panel of professional and academic artists will do the judging.

“We’re open to artists in pretty much every discipline,” she adds.

Creative Pinellas is looking for artists in: literature, choreography, interdisciplinary, media arts, music composition, theatre/musical theatre, and visual arts. They must be at least 18 and a legal resident of Pinellas County for at least one year; they also must agree to maintain legal residency during the grant period ending in October.

Artists must have a track record of success, a strong portfolio, a plan for the future, and a commitment to participate in the exhibition planned Oct. 26. Grant participants are expected to work with mentors and make regular reports on the progress of their work between July 1st and October 26.

Two workshops are scheduled for potential applicants. The first one is scheduled from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, at Morean Arts Center for Clay, 420 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg. The second one is planned from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, March 30. The location has not been announced.

Applications are being accepted online through 5 p.m. April 12. Artists are advised to begin uploading before or by 4:30 p.m. to ensure their work is successfully received by the deadline. More information is available at Creative Pinellas. Awards will be announced in June.

Creative Pinellas also has been working with artists “more at the pinnacle” of their careers, St. Clair says.

The county’s local art agency, Creative Pinellas is supported by the Pinellas County Commission, Visit St Petersburg/Clearwater, the State of Florida, and by sales of the State of the Arts specialty license plate in Pinellas County.


Mobile app helps property owners find repair services

Imagine your toilet is overflowing and you call a repair service only to learn no one can come out for a couple of days. Or temperatures are 90+ degrees and your air conditioner quits running. You have to pay extra if you want someone the same day, if anyone is available at all.

A Tampa-based fix-it company, Homee on Demand, was created to help out in times like these. It maps subcontractors in your area who can arrive quickly, usually within 30 minutes around the clock.

“Pricing is usually 30 percent better than you’ll get going direct to the individual company,” says Doug Schaedler, Co-founder and CEO.  “You can select who you would like to come.”

Homee does repairs and remodeling on homes, condominiums, apartments and commercial establishments.

Homee Founders Schaedler and business colleague Dave Theus, Chief Technology Officer, have discovered people like to use the service even for non-emergency situations. About 60 percent are looking for a handyman primarily for “non-urgent work,” Schaedler says.

Homee’s app lets property owners and managers connect with repair workers on demand through their Smartphones or tablets. “It’s meant to be a mobile platform,” Schaedler says. “It automatically identifies your location.”

Users download the app at the Apple or Google Play stores, connecting with 350 repair services in the Tampa Bay region. They can find plumbers, electricians, handymen, and heating/venting/air conditioning repair service providers.

Nearly 20,000 people already have installed the app and can access more than 1,000 total subcontractors in the Homee network.

Homee serves the Tampa Bay region, in the north up to Inverness, in the south to Sarasota, in the east to Lakeland and the west to the Gulf of Mexico. It also services Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Jacksonville. In January, it began serving Cincinnati as well.

“Our plan is begin the national rollout here in the next few months, and do an additional 12 to 15 cities by the end of this year,” Schaedler says.

The company has raised $1.35 million in capital.

Theus and Schaedler got the idea for the app after experiencing problems getting home repairs themselves. Homee launched the app last summer and, as the licensed general contractor, screens and signs up subcontractors.

Homee, which offers work to subcontractors during idle time, is able to set discount pricing, Schaedler says.

“Every month we’ve been doubling both the number of transactions and the number of users,” he says.

Homee on Demand currently is hiring for a variety of positions. “We’re doing a lot of hiring especially here in Tampa which is our headquarters,” Schaedler adds.

He expects to double the staff of 15, adding tech savvy individuals for positions like VP of marketing and marketing managers. Other jobs are in software development or involve staff interaction with subcontractors.

“We just brought on an additional three people,” he says.

Wages are negotiated but, in general, will be “above local Tampa wages,” he says.

“We think it [Homee] is a unique thing for Tampa. We’re really pleased with the progress so far,” he says.


USFSP adding master's program in conservation biology

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is launching a master’s degree program in Conservation Biology in the fall 2017, in an attempt to fill a void in the state university system for the thesis-based biology degree.

“We looked at our faculty research base and realized this was ... a degree that was really missing from this area,” says Dr. Melanie Riedinger-Whitmore, who prepared the proposal for the program.

The degree program is being developed in connection with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The university also reached out to representatives of city and state government, as well as environmental consulting firms.

“It is important ... especially for coastal populations to address those issues that are affected by climate change and the environment,” says Dr. Martin Tadlock, USFSP’s Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.

He adds that society likely will be looking for leadership on conservation issues such as reducing waste, improving living conditions, and having a positive or at least neutral impact on the environment.

“The goal really is to meet the demand in the region and in the state for individuals in the field to assume leadership roles,” he says.

The Master of Science degree would prepare students to be conservation biologists, conservation specialists, wildlife biologists as well as to fill other positions requiring a strong biology background to deal with wildlife.

“Students who have a degree in this program hopefully will be broadly trained,” Riedinger-Whitmore says. “They’re going to be learning the latest techniques.”

The average mean wage in 2015 for conservation scientists in Florida was $70,000-$90,220, among the highest in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dr. Riedinger-Whitmore, who will teach a core course in conservation biology theory, says the university already has had students express an interest in the program. “We had a lot of students participate in undergraduate research,” she explains. “A lot are excited they can continue on progress they’ve started as undergraduates.”

Initially the graduate program is expected to have 15, a figure determined by funding. “We wanted to make sure we had a small cohort we all could work with,” she says.

More information will be available at the Graduate Program’s Open House from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 15 at USFSP’s downtown St. Petersburg campus. Interested persons can apply to the program here.

The popular biology undergraduate program has more than 750 students. Since the university opened the undergraduate program in the College of Arts and Science in 2012, it has become the largest major in that department.

Students are expected to have access to newly renovated labs as well as being involved in the community and workplace, Tadlock says.

Spending time in nature is part of the program. “Being out in nature is going to be a big part of this degree. I think our focus initially is going to be the aquatic and terrestrial and coastal communities of west Central Florida,” Riedinger-Whitmore says.

USFSP will be looking to provide internship opportunities at local agencies that deal with conservation, as well as state, regional and private consulting firms.

It also will be soliciting instructors from the professional community. “We like doing this. It really introduces students to potential employers,” she says. “They get to interact with someone that is in the workforce.”


CO.STARTERS program targets creatives, health professionals, techies

TEC Garage will be offering a nine-week program to help aspiring entrepreneurs in the creative arts, healthcare and technology industries beginning March 28. Called CO.STARTERS, the program will help prospective entrepreneurs test their ideas and potentially launch their businesses.

“This program is being sponsored in part by Creative Pinellas. We are asking the other tech companies to pay their portion of the fees,” says Tonya Elmore, CEO of Tampa Bay Innovation Center.

TEC Garage was developed by the TBIC to support entrepreneurs. It typically works with tech businesses, not artists. But they started receiving inquiries from local artists interested in starting businesses, so the TEC Garage pilot tested the program with creative types last year. 

“We wanted to see if they played well in the sandbox together and they did,” she says.

CO.STARTERS will be held on Tuesdays from 6-9 p.m. at TEC Garage, 244 2nd Ave. North, St. Petersburg. During the series, J.J. Roberts, director of TEC Garage, and other business professionals from the Tampa Bay area will be featured as guest speakers.

More information is available on the classes here.

The CO.STARTERS program normally costs $275. The fee includes two months of co-working space at the TEC Garage upon graduation, which is usually priced at $150. More information is available at 727-547-7340.

Scholarships are available through Creative Pinellas, an organization dedicated to fostering the Pinellas County arts community. They are offered to artists, those who are part of artists’ organizations, and entrepreneurs in creative industries, says Barbara St. Clair, Executive Director of Creative Pinellas.

“If you’re a professional artist, you are a business,” she explains. “All of those things that a business knows ...  are really relevant to you.”

Attendees may have more in common than the obvious tie-ins between art and technology in careers such as graphic arts. The separation has become “very porous,” St. Clair says.

There are more subtle connections between art in healing and though collaborations between the technological and the creative. “There are some exciting ways in which the two cross over and meet with each other,” St. Clair says.

The pilot program apparently had a big impact. “We sold out the first one in like 48 hours, which is why we are doing it again. People are very excited.”

Some said the course changed their lives. “It really did seem to have a significant impact on the individuals who participated,” she adds.

The Company Lab, a Chattanooga, TN organization, developed CO.STARTERS, which is available to startups nationwide.


Local Boys and Girls Clubs hiring childcare workers

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay are hiring at locations in Hillsborough and Pasco counties. The organization is looking for helpers for its Summer Day Camp as well as its year-round after-school programs.
 
“We’ve starting the process, coordinating the number of hires we’ll actually need [for the summer],” says Sandra Kay-Weaver, VP of Talent. “Ideally we’d like to have everyone on board by the end of May, and in our training.”
 
The organization usually brings on 50-70 staffers to oversee camp programs; experience in childcare is not mandatory. “It’s very helpful if they have experience working with children in groups,” she says.
 
Applicants must be at least 18 years of age. The camp positions’ pay averages $8.75 to $15 an hour depending on job experience, Kay-Weaver says. Some positions are fulltime and some are part-time, depending on the club’s need. “Hopefully they [the applicants] are engaging, fun,” she says.
 
Part-time positions are available year-round for the after-school program. “We are always recruiting for a pipeline of part-time positions,” Kay-Weaver says.
 
Cassandra Thomas, Director of Marketing and Communications, says there usually are more part-time positions than full. “One of the biggest areas we seem to have trouble filling is bus drivers,” she adds.
 
Because staff interacts with children, screening is rigorous. “We do very meticulous drug screening, background checks,” says Thomas, “and it does include people working on the administrative side as well. We tend to go into the clubs too.”
 
At Bethune Park in Wimauma, Club Director Ronneka Peacock says the need for after-school program specialists is immediate. “My club absolutely needs people right now,” she says.
 
She prefers people with some kind of childcare experience, even if it’s babysitting. “I’m looking for staff and are able to have fun and still have the kids respect them and listen to them,” she says.
 
Those who are interested in applying for jobs at Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay can begin the process online. Information is available on internships and volunteer opportunities as well. Candidates also can check the club locations and pick up an application on-site.
 
The organization has a full-time staff of about 40 to 50, who work at the administrative offices or the clubs. These positions do open up periodically. “It’s always a great idea if they have Boys and Girls Clubs in their background,” Kay-Weaver says. “We want people who are dedicated to our mission.”

Tampa Bay Area job fairs connect jobseekers, employers

Jobseekers can connect with potential employers at several job fairs in the Tampa Bay region in coming weeks.

CareerSource is gearing up for three job fair events, including its Tampa Bay internship hiring event for students and recent graduates on April 4.
 
Jason Druding, Special Projects Coordinator for CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas, says the event for interns is expected to include 20 employers, among them the insurance provider Amerilife, one of the event’s sponsors, and Brookdale Senior Living, an assisted living, long-term care provider in the Tampa Bay area.
 
All positions -- including internships, entry level and full-time -- are paid.
 
Opportunities will be in science, technology, engineering and math-related careers, including graphic design, registered and licensed practical nurses, as well as business sales, marketing and development, Druding says.
 
The event, expected to attract some 200 jobseekers, is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at DoubleTree Tampa Airport-Westshore. There is no charge for jobseekers or employers. Pre-register at Eventbrite.
 
On April 12, CareerSource Tampa Bay's Veterans/General Career Fair will focus on entry level through mid-level management. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and will be open exclusively to veterans for the first hour. It then opens to the general public through 1 p.m.

“We feature up to 50 employers. Last year we had over 1,200 candidates who attended,” Druding says.
 
The career fair is expected to include a wide variety of career opportunities including call center, hospitality, healthcare and construction.
 
It will be held at T. Pepin Hospitality Center on 50th Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tampa. Pre-registration is available at the Career Source website.
 
A Youth Virtual Job Fair with more than 150 employers is scheduled May 14 through 20. The event focuses on youths 14 through 24, who are encouraged to set up profiles, upload resumes and interact with employers online.
 
“The profile allows them to showcase who they are and what kind of experience they bring to the table,” Druding explains.
 
The virtual fair is expected to draw some 2,000 candidates. Registration begins in mid-April.
 
“Candidates are welcome to utilize resources available through CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas offices to ... help prepare for these events,” he adds.
 
Here are some other hiring opportunities:
 
• The Tampa Job Fair by Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 20 at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Airport - Westshore. Jobseekers can attend free and interview with multiple employers.
 
* The Career Job Fair and Resource Expo is slated March 27 at the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County in Ybor City. The event by Red Carpet USA Entertainment and Events Inc. will feature 25 or more employers from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Admission is free.
 
Resume help is available.
 
* National Career Fairs is holding a free, Live Hiring Job Fair for jobseekers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 11 at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, Tampa.

• Keiser University TAMPA CAREER FAIR 2017 is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 11 at 5002 W. Waters Ave., Tampa. The event is open to students, graduates and jobseekers in the community. 

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.”

Tampa company develops new software for scan-to-print

Computer-aided design software can be used in the creation a number of things, like cars and bridges. The CAD model is important when the bridge is built -- and even when it needs repair. But what happens when there is no computer model? When the original is an arm or a part for a car no longer being made? What happens when the object is scanned into a computer?
 
It used to take an engineer to figure things out. But, thanks to Dr. Dan Simkins Jr., an associate professor at Tampa’s University of South Florida, that’s no longer the case. Simkins has developed a software suite that resolves the problem. And it’s expected to become available in eight weeks.
 
“We have the software. It works. We can demonstrate it,” he says.
 
Simkins, of USF’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and serial entrepreneur Art Slowe co-founded Formerics in 2011. With help from four of Simkins’ doctoral students over the years, they are bringing the software to market.
 
The idea came from Simkins’ research before he earned his PhD. “What’s new for us is that now people want to start to do engineering on things they didn’t create from scratch, like a heart,” explains Simkins, the company’s Chief Technical Officer.
 
Computers come up with mathematical descriptions that are used in computerized models. When computers are used in the design process, it’s easier to test the strength of that bridge, for example. Creating a design for use in surgical planning was “a new kind of problem,” he says.
 
Additionally, the use of new materials brought new challenges. So Simkins found a way to work with these laminate materials. “What our technology does is it enables manufacturers to maximize the capability of those materials,” Slowe says.
 
The software can be used in a variety of industries, including medicine, entertainment, aerospace, defense and automotive.
 
“It will take a generation to fully implement this technology,” Slowe asserts.
 
The software does automatically what it used to take an engineer to accomplish, significantly reducing the cost of scan-to-print services. “We can convert a laser scan of an object into a 3-D printable version of that object without human intervention. That sounds silly but it’s a big deal,” Slowe explains.
 
Formerics got its name from the Latin words for model and number. It received a $50,000 seed loan from the USF Research Foundation, which was matched by the Florida High Tech Corridor. It also is a member of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps, designed to help professors learn how to commercialize research.
 
Part of USF’s Tampa Bay Technology Incubator, Formerics is targeting the North and South American markets. “We’re resident in the USF Connect building. We’re closely tied with the USF community,” Slowe says. “We did not do this on our own. We had support and it’s made a material difference.”

Networking events: Upcoming local tech meetings offer education, opportunities

Marketing guru Ron Stein will be speaking March 14 about a very important business topic: How to get customers. “I think a company’s message is the single most import selling and marketing tool that they have. It cuts across everything,” Stein says.
 
Stein is featured at TECH Talk at 8:30 a.m. March 14 at Microsoft offices at 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, in Tampa. The event is being held by Tampa Bay Innovation Center.
 
A columnist on selling and marketing for Florida Trend magazine, Stein is founder of More Customers Academy and FastPath Marketing. He also offers mentoring at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center and other tech incubators.
 
The program, “How to Get People to Buy from You Instead of Your Competition,” will target small- and medium-sized tech business and those interested in the local tech industry. He will speak about why customers should choose your business, offering practical tips and examples about to empower a sales team.
 
A Miami native, Stein holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida. He’s gained practical business experience by doing it. He’s worked as CEO of an Israeli tech startup, lectured at UF’s business school, and honed his experience for more than 25 years in selling, marketing and business development. Most of it has been in the tech sector.
 
The event is free, but reservations are advised through Eventbrite.
 
Through TEC Garage, the innovation center offers programs for entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and others interested in the growth of the local tech community.
 
Here are some more tech-related meetings in the area:
 
  • Local entrepreneur Pat Bhava, whose startup technology platform – PikMyKid obtained $1 million in funding, will be sharing his experiences at 8 a.m. March 3 at BIZCONNECT@PLATT. The event will be held at Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library at 3910 S. Manhattan Ave., Tampa.
  • Florida GovCon Summit 2017 is focusing on teaming together for larger federal contracts. It is aimed at small businesses looking for federal tech contracts in Florida. The event begins at 8 a.m. March 29 and ends at 5 p.m. March 30 at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tampa Airport-Westshore. To register, visit the summit website.
  • Gulf Coast MakerCon 2017 will be showcasing hometown innovation and invention starting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 8 at Florida State Fairgrounds. In its sixth year, the event with a manufacturing and tech focus allows people to share resources, learn a craft, perfect their skills, find educational and career opportunities, try new tools and more.

Metrohm USA building new Riverview headquarters

Metrohm USA, the North American subsidiary of a major Swiss manufacturer, is expanding its operations in the Tampa Bay region. The company broke ground on a new state-of-the-art facility in Riverview Feb. 24 that will cost nearly $20 million.
 
 “We’ve just outgrown our current space. When we moved in here we were a much smaller operation,” explains Dr. Michael Allen, the company’s VP of Marketing.
 
Metrohm, founded in 1943 in Herisau, Switzerland, makes high-precision instruments used in chemical analysis.
 
Metrohm USA, which opened to Riverview in 2009, currently employs about 90 in sales support roles in 55,000 square feet at 6555 Pelican Creek Circle. The staff count rises to 250 including those in the field serving the United States, Canada, and parts of Mexico.
 
The new facility, at 9250 Camden Field Parkway in Riverview, will contain 90,000 square feet. The new headquarters is expected to be ready for move in next January.
 
Plans call for laboratories designed for innovation and collaboration, training facilities, engineering and machining facilities, and distribution. The layout is intended to enhance creativity and teamwork and includes meeting rooms to support up to 200.
 
Allen says company will probably bring in a dozen new employees during the first two or three years after the move. “The jobs that we’ll be adding are going to be mixed,” he says.
 
Some are expected to be more lucrative technical jobs. The new positions are likely to include finance, marketing, and warehousing.
 
Allen says they always have jobs. “Right now we have 17 open positions,” he adds.

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.

Local software developers to hack cars in GM event

General Motors has chosen Tampa Bay for the first stop in its Makers Hustle Harder Hackathon tour, enabling software developers to put their apps into GM cars here for testing.
 
“My team will help them load their app in the car and drive it around and test it,” says Daphne L. Zargar, GM’s Global Manager – Partner Relations, Application Ecosystem and Development. “For any developer, of any age, or background, or company, that’s unprecedented.”
 
Zargar’s team developed the software that developers can download to make apps, potentially for GM’s app store. Apps may be able to do things like turn your car into a moving weather station, map the locations of potholes in the road, or even select your preferred music before you enter the car. A user, for example, also might be able to choose a preferred Global Positioning System.
 
The event kicks off Feb. 27 at Tampa Hackerspace at 4931 W. Nassau St. in the Westshore area. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., a live webinar will introduce participants to the hackathon.
 
“We’re expecting 60 to 80 developers to participate,” says Bill Shaw, President and Founder of Hackerspace. “It’s going to be a pretty packed event. We’re actually expecting it to reach capacity.”
 
When the kickoff webinar is completed, hackers can get to work. The GM team will be available for support throughout the week that culminates in Hackathon Day March 4. That’s the day developers will be able to see their apps in action; presentations start at 4 p.m. with prizes following.
 
“This is a brand new thing for GM. They’ve never really opened up their software like this before,” Shaw says.
 
The Detroit automaker, which employs 215,000, released a software development kit in late January that lets developers interact with its cars. With its kit, developers can test in-vehicle applications for GM’s infotainment systems without traveling to Detroit.
 
GM approached the 4-year-old Tampa Hackerspace, described as the largest facility of its kind in Florida, about putting together the event. “I really am wanting to get out into the new grass roots cities that are helping to support these kinds of technology,” Zargar says.
 
Rather than hold the event in New York or the West Coast, they opted for “non-obvious cities,” Zargar says.
 
A former Clearwater resident, she’s familiar with the Tampa Bay area. Much like Detroit, she says, St. Petersburg has “come full circle with restaurants.” And tech sector has grown. “I’m very passionate about supporting them,” she says.
 
Plans are being made for separate events in Boston and Chicago. “We want to get our platform out to developers and hackers’ hands without a lot of constraint,” she explains.
 
Learn more or sign up to participate. Developers can download what they need here.
 
Hackers, tinkerers and builders have lots of options with the new GM data. In addition to all the practical apps, there’s also potential for fun and games, literally. The car can be a simulator for video games.
 
While it may seem like a far out idea now, things will change when cars are able to run driverless. “There are all of these things you can suddenly do,” Shaw observes.

3.0 Leaders innovation, investment conference returns to Bradenton

The fourth annual 3.0 Leaders Innovation and Investment Convergence Conference is slated Feb. 22 and 23 in Bradenton. The event by the consultancy firm, Spark Growth, endeavors to connect people to innovators, bringing focus and enhancing their skills.
 
“What one thing that makes our conference different… is the focus on takeaways,” says Sarah Hand, conference Founder. “Our big takeaway this year is the 2018 food innovation event.”
 
Action sessions at the end of the conference give speakers, panelists and others in attendance an opportunity to break into work groups. “With seed funding already in place, one group will begin laying the foundation for the inaugural 2018 International Food Innovators Conference in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. Another will be identifying assets and resources to move forward with an Impact Investment education initiative for deploying capital more effectively,” she says.
 
Sessions also revolve around Startup Florida Rocks, which is launching a multi-city tour for entrepreneurial pitch events across Florida, and global entrepreneurial networks. The global group assists international companies expanding into the U.S. market, as well as Florida businesses expanding globally.
 
The conference’s itinerary includes a keynote address from Sandy Carter, former Fortune 25 Business Executive Leader, who will talk about “Innovation Revisited” Feb. 22. Her presentation will focus on how technology is changing how we live, how we conduct business and how we connect with one another.
 
Also that morning Carlos Garcia, a leader in digital marketing, driving traffic and sales conversions, will talk about companies growing their businesses online through the use of social media.
 
An afternoon session by Bonny Moellenbrock, Executive Director for Investors’ Circle, is “It’s All About the Money – or Is it?” Moellenbrock, leader of the largest impact investor organization in the world, will talk about how impact investing is affecting communities and businesses. Ashwin Sanzgiri, VP of Scaale Group Global Operations: Capital, Sales and Advisory, will talk about how cross border investment is empowering entrepreneurs and diversifying investor portfolios.
 
The program continues Feb. 23 with “Innovation Knows No Borders” featuring Kaushal Chokshi, President of Scaale Group and Founder Cross Border Angels, talking about how technology is transforming business growth. Celena Aponte, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, speaks on “Entrepreneurs and Investment in a Global Market.”
 
To sign up for the conference at Manatee Performing Arts Center, visit the 3.0 Leaders website.
 
3.0 Leaders is working to cultivate a network of thought leaders globally, with the goal of sharing and learning best practices.
 
3.0, a term associated with web development, reflects today’s dynamic Internet environment that has evolved beyond the first, static read-only experience and the second-stage interactive experience. At the third level, information is collected and delivered to us.

Artificial intelligence for business, ERIN greets you at the door

ERIN, an artificial intelligence system that can think, reason and problem solve with humans, is poised to revolutionize the business world. The brainchild of Tampa’s Nitro Solutions, ERIN brings to business what Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa assistants have brought to consumers.
 
 “Unlike Siri, you can see her and she can see you,” says Nitro’s CEO Pete Slade.
 
ERIN, short for Enterprise Ready Intelligent NitroAI, looks like a human and can act as receptionist, greeting customers to your waiting area from a computer screen. “She can read emotion on your face,” Slade explains. “Her responses are based on what she’s observed you doing.”
 
Available by subscription, ERIN is designed for both small and large businesses. She can announce a client’s arrival, even offer a bottle of water to be delivered by an employee. She’s also a watchdog that keeps track of who is in the waiting area and whether they are employees, ex-employees, repeat visitors or strangers. You can ask her what she saw at 3 p.m., for example.
 
 “You can work with it and train it. You can chat with her,” Slade says. “She can respond to you as you have that information. You can also text her and instant message her.”
 
Smaller business can be part of beta testing, provide feedback and receive preferred pricing. Fees have not yet been set.
 
Out of the box, ERIN can be male or female. Larger businesses can have ERIN customized to take on the appearance of a particular ethnicity, and even wear a polo with the company logo.
 
“She is incredibly smart for where technology stands today. She is not as smart as you and I,” Slade says. “What she has is the ability to listen and understand intent.”
 
ERIN can connect businesses to databases, facilitating research jobs that are cumbersome for employees because of the sheer volume of information. She can free employees to do other tasks, perhaps more complex, higher-paying tasks. Essentially, she can fill in labor gaps, thinking and talking with people. In some cases, as other technologies do, she may replace human labor.
 
“It’s not like you install her and everybody’s gone. You install her and she augments your business,” Slade says.
 
Because of ERIN’s versatility, she can be used in a variety of industries. She can be used to handle simple triage for patients, manage security initiatives, and help businesses make better decisions by mining historical data and forecasted outcomes.
 
Her core platform has been in development for a number of years.
 
Visitors to Nitro’s downtown Tampa office respond favorably when ERIN greets them in the reception area. Relating to her as a person stimulates ideas about how to utilize her in the business world. “The visual layer that is ERIN has been a really great success. People are asking for her,” Slade says.
 
“We’re very excited to get her out, and to get the beta started, and to get her onboard,” adds COO Molly Slade.
 
ERIN is unique, beyond Siri, Alexa or even AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s champion board game player. She's is a potential game changer. “Their (Google’s) focus was to learn and understand [the game] Go and become the best at it,” he says. “We’ve got our engine and our focus is on business.”
 
So what’s next for ERIN? “We’re constantly innovating. We’re already working on the next piece of her,” he says. “We’ve got great ideas, things we want to teach her to do.”

Job News: Tampa Bay Area companies creating new jobs in tech, logistics, finance

Looking for a your first job or considering a new job? Businesses expanding or relocating to the Tampa Bay Area are good prospects, and they may open the door to a variety of job opportunities.
 
A good example is Suncoast Credit Union. The company broke ground Feb. 2 on a three-story, 107,176-square-foot building at 6536 East Hillsborough Avenue, according to a company announcement. That means more jobs, about 450 new jobs during the next five years, and an economic boost for the area. With the additional jobs, the credit union’s main location will employ a total of some 1,100 employees in 12 buildings.
 
"We do expect to continue to grow and will need qualified and enthusiastic team members," says Gary Vien, the credit union’s Chief Administrative Officer.
 
Suncoast is Florida’s largest credit union. It runs 62,000 full-service branches in 21 counties, servicing approximately 700,000. “If interested today, job seekers can apply to the numerous openings we have by clicking on the career link at the bottom of our website,” Vien says.

Another company that is expanding is ReliaQuest, a Tampa-based IT security firm planning to add 150 jobs this year. It announced expansion plans earlier this month to meet cybersecurity challenges for its customers. The expansion will allow the company to build a new Research and Development arm of the firm called RQ Innovation Team, as well as introduce advanced monitoring solutions.
 
The company, which added nearly 110 jobs last year, operates from a state-of-the-art headquarters on Harbour Island and Security Office Centers in Tampa and Las Vegas. ReliaQuest is looking to recruit and retain high-quality IT professionals. It is applying for the Veterans Florida Business Training Grant Program aimed at providing talent from trained and skilled military veterans in the state. Learn more.
 
Here are some other potential opportunities:
 
• Sourcetoad Development Studio, which develops custom enterprise applications, has just moved into new digs on W. Busch Boulevard in Tampa, and is looking for a product/project manager and a frontend engineer with experience in either Angular, the Google-backed JavaScript, or React, the Facebook-backed JavaScript. “We have a growing need for good engineers with a strong JavaScript background,” says CEO Greg Ross-Munro. Learn more. 
 
• BlueLine Associates announced plans in January to relocate its global headquarters from Cary, N.C., to Tampa. It is expecting to create 150 new jobs and invest $2 million in the local economy. The company is moving its financial, legal, and human resources services here into its already existing Tampa office, according to a company announcement. Its average annual wage is $71,909. Learn more.
 
* Cott Corporation, a beverage producer and distributor headquartered in Tampa, is expanding its operations in Hillsborough County, creating 60 new jobs and investing $800,000, according to an announcement last month. Learn more

Startup Week returns to Tampa, St. Pete in mid-February

 Wondering how to raise $1 million for a startup in Tampa Bay? And why it’s different here than other places? You can get answers at Tampa Bay Startup Week Feb. 13 through 17.
 
The annual event is being held on both sides of the bay this year in Tampa and St. Petersburg.
 
“The event is designed to showcase all the resources that are available in Tampa Bay for entrepreneurs of all sizes,” says Gracie Leigh Stemmer, President of Startup Tampa Bay Inc., the nonprofit organization that runs the event.
 
The week kicks off with the first three days on the Tampa side, featuring an opening event at the Rialto Theatre at 1617 N. Franklin St. with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. The week winds to a close on the St. Petersburg side for the last two days at the Station House at 260 First Ave. S., with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. It includes tracks for special interests such as coding and development, public relations and marketing, fashion and veterans’ entrepreneurship.
 
Highlights of the week include “How to Raise $1 Million in Tampa Bay” featuring local founders who have raised more than that for their companies: Pat Bhava, CEO of PikMyKid, which helps streamline car lines at school dismissal time; Ed Buckley, CEO of Peerfit, a fitness company; Reuben Pressman, CEO of Check I’m Here, a software platform for colleges; and David Osterweil, CEO of Fitlife Foods, a retail chain offering prepared meals with all-natural ingredients.The session is slated from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 16 in St. Petersburg.
 
Also planned are “Uncovering the Future with Tampa Bay Leaders” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 15 in Tampa, featuring Danielle Vona, Founder and Chief Thinker, The Marketing Posse; and Ryan Ross, Executive VP of Marketing and Digital Commerce for HSN.

“How to Impact Your Startup Community with Brad Feld” is a Skype session from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 15 in Tampa with Feld, an early-stage investor and entrepreneur for more than 20 years. The author of the Startup Revolution Series, Feld is co-founder of the venture capital firm, Foundry Group in Boulder, CO, and co-founder of Techstars, a global partner of Startup Week sponsored by Chase for Business.

“We know there’s a lot of entrepreneurs and business leaders. We’re hoping to use these events to connect them together,” says Michael Laplante, one of the event organizers.

To register for the free event, visit the Tampa Bay Startup Week website includes a slate of events and you can indicate which ones you want to attend, which will help them with planning. “We want people to be able to come in anytime they want,” Laplante says.

TechHire meeting slated to talk about employment needs

Tampa business leaders are meeting to talk about employment needs Feb. 9 as part of the nationwide TechHire initiative focused on jobseekers 17 to 29.
 
Among them is Mike Burnett, Regional Account Executive for Northern Technologies Group Inc., an IT solutions company in Lutz. NTG began operating a second facility in late January at Bears Avenue and Interstate 275, enabling it to better serve its client base.
 
NTG is looking to hire four to six employees and is expecting to continue to expand. NTG employs 60 and is “top-heavy with engineers,” Burnett says.
 
“We are currently the end-to-end IT department for organizations as small as 20 users and up to 1,500 total users,” he explains.
 
Burnett says he hopes NTG will be one of those places employees look to for opportunities through the TechHire program. They are looking for people with the “right attitude” who are “willing to learn” and be “part of our growing team,” he adds.
 
The Feb. 9 meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Ybor Room at Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor Campus, according to the event’s organizer, The Tampa Bay Innovation Alliance. Contact the alliance to reserve a seat.
 
The meeting also features Travis Bond, CEO and Founder of Caresync, a leading provider of software and services for chronic care management. Caresync has located its headquarters at Hidden River Corporate Park at Interstate 75 and Fletcher Avenue in Tampa -- and committed to expanding its staff to 500 this year.
 
The company recently brought 150 existing jobs to its Hidden River facility. It is looking to hire employees to work as clinical care coordinators and product developers, as well as in human resources, information technology and administration.
 
The meeting is for tech businesses and those who want to start a business. It follows a Dec. 15 meeting.
 
The alliance’s job is to provide feedback about the gap in talent in the area, says Kelley Sims, the alliance’s Senior Vice President. It would like employers to agree to give preference to graduates through the TechHire program.
 
“Our goal is to engage 150 businesses in the area to basically support and be prepared to look at these graduates,” Sims says.
 
The alliance wants to deepen its understanding of the area’s employment needs. “We want to mine the data on the specifics of who they’ve hired and where there have been gaps,” she says.
 
Tampa Bay was awarded $3.8 million last summer to pay for technical training and connect people with jobs. In December, Tampa Bay was officially recognized as a TechHire community.
 
The initiative was started by then-President Barack Obama in March 2015, with goal of creating a tech talent pipeline across the nation.

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.”

Innovation summit relocates to Tampa from Austin

Organizers of an innovation summit in Austin, TX, are moving the event to Tampa to better serve the military’s growing technology needs. “Tampa is the ideal epicenter to link the DOD’s [U.S. Department of Defense’s] massive innovation needs with global private sector solution providers,” says Dr. Matthew Laudon, CEO of the Austin-based TechConnect planning the summit.
 
The Defense Innovation Summit and Showcase prospects for businesses that can deliver private sector, early-stage technologies to the DOD. Its goal is supporting the warfighter with easy-to-use products that are rugged and will survive extreme heat, sand, or other harsh environmental conditions.
 
“You can think of this as a shark-tank [the popular TV show] for the military; prospecting for break- through technologies from outside of the traditional defense industry, yet aligned with national security needs,” Laudon says.
 
The event, scheduled Oct. 3 through 5 at the Tampa Bay Convention Center, is being held jointly with the Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges (DITAC 2017), and the National Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Innovation Summit. Together they are expected to draw more than one thousand innovations from across the country. The programs are expected to draw from 1200 to 1500, and include a high “concentration of defense innovation and early-stage federal funding leadership,” Laudon says.
 
Technologies will include Defense Energy, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing, Space Technologies, Cyber Security, Defense Medical, Advanced Electronics, Communications and Sensors. 
 
“The event consists of DOD populated panels and workshops on DOD initiatives and a series of ‘Shark Tank’ innovation pitch programs, with the DOD filling the role as the on-site reviewers,” Laudon says. “In addition, all innovators exhibit or demo their technologies during the evening Defense Innovation Showcase programs.”
 
The event’s organizer, TechConnect, has made a two-year commitment to Tampa. “We are looking for a long-term home for the event that is supported by a local and engaged Innovation Community, along with engagement from the Defense Innovation community,” Laudon says. “Our hope is that the Tampa Innovation Community will be that strong support partner so that we are able to keep the event permanently in Tampa.”
 
The decision to relocate was made by the TechConnect Innovation Advisory Committee with input from DOD leadership, including U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command. As home to both SOCOM and CENTCOM, and the site of growing innovation community, the Tampa area was a natural draw.
 
“When you’ve got one of the largest … science and technology budgets really in the country, right at your backdoor, you as a community have a great opportunity,” says Bernice Glenn, Senior VP of Strategic Partnerships for National Security Technology Accelerator, of Arlington, VA, which is partnering with TechConnect.
 
NSTA, which will be helping to recruit keynote speakers, is involved with review panels. “We try to work ahead of the schedule of the summit to help identify, from the defense side exactly what they need, and get that information out to the tech side so the techs can respond meaningfully,” Glenn explains.
 
The Tampa event is one of three TechConnect events. The others are in Washington DC and Hawaii.
 
Marc Blumenthal, CEO of Florida Funders, which is actively interested in funding innovative companies, says moving the summit to Tampa is a “big deal.”
 
“The region is ... really beginning to become more recognized as a fantastic place to do business and notably, a great place for innovation to be fostered,” he says. “Austin is world renowned as a city that defines innovation and creativity and Tampa is well on its way to having many of the same attributes, with all of the other things that make Tampa, and Florida by extension, very special.” 
 
SBIR/STTR is a potential funding opportunity for the right innovative businesses. “Simply put, the SBIR program represents the nation’s largest angel capital fund available to early-stage innovators,” Laudon says. “The co-located National SBIR/STTR Innovation Summit represents over $2.5 billion in annual early-stage commercialization funding coming out of U.S. federal agencies.  Attendees and innovators have access to one-on-one meeting opportunities with SBIR Program Directors from over 20 federal agencies...”
 
DITAC prospects for “break-through technologies from outside of the traditional defense industry,” Laudon adds.
 
“Vetted and sub-selected innovations pitch their technologies to panels of DOD innovation leadership,” he says. 
 
To register, follow this link.
 
The summits are “high points” for year-round prospecting that helps both the defense and private sectors, Glenn says.

Tampa Bay leading in STEM jobs, online job ads

The Tampa Bay metropolitan area is experiencing robust job growth. The number of jobs climbed by 16.7 percent since 2010, with the addition of 186,000 jobs, says Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. 
 
In 2016, Tampa businesses created 29,100 new private-sector jobs, according to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in a written announcement about year-end employment data. Tampa led the state in job openings advertised online, the bulk of all openings, and in jobs in higher-paid fields including science, technology, engineering and math, he notes.
 
“We’re not surprised,” Proctor says of the Tampa numbers. “Tampa is part of the I-4 corridor, and we know that whole area is a STEM hub of the state.”
 
A lot of factors are behind the area’s job growth record, including the investment made by area universities and businesses, Proctor says.
 
Double-digit growth is expected during the next eight years in professional business services, leisure/hospitality and construction, she adds.
 
The number of jobs in the Sunshine State grew by 251,400 between December 2016 and 2015, an increase of 3.1 percent, state figures indicate. Leisure and hospitality made the strongest showing, with a 4.6 percent increase in jobs. Education and health services, professional and business services, construction, and trade, transportation and utilities also gained jobs.
 
Twenty-three of the 24 metropolitan areas statewide saw gains in non-agricultural jobs during the year. The largest gains were in Orlando-Kissimmee-Stanford, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, and Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach.
 
Job growth statewide has been steady, but was especially strong for the last three years. “We have a very strong economy right now,” Proctor says. “Not only is our job growth rate stronger than the nation, our gross national product is stronger than the nation and our labor force is stronger than the nation.”
 
Florida’s unemployment rate dipped .2 percent since December 2015, to 4.9 percent, the figures show. Nationally, unemployment was 4.7 percent.
 
The Tampa Bay region fared slightly better in December, with a 4.5 percent seasonally non-adjusted unemployment rate in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area, figures show. It remained unchanged from December 2015.

Connect to local employers through Tampa Bay Area job fairs

Great skills and training are necessary to compete well in the job market. Even with both, you might be at a disadvantage without the right connections. That’s where job fairs can help.
 
“It really is about getting in there and meeting those recruiters, and starting to build that network,” says Peter Thorsett, Communications and Marketing Officer for Career Services at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “Then you have a connection. That’s what pays the dividend.”
 
Jobseekers may be tempted to write off a job fair not perfectly aligned with their career objectives. That can be a mistake. A job fair connection you cultivate now may, at the least, be able to put you in touch with someone who will hire you.
 
“Now you can look that person up on Linkedin,” Thorsett says. “It’s those little bitty steps that people sometimes miss.”
 
Plan to bring your resume, rehearse your pitch ahead of time, and dress appropriately to get the most out of jobs fairs. Here’s a list of some job fairs in the Tampa Bay area.
 
• Tampa Bay Job Fair - Career Bowl 2017 is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday [Jan. 31, 2017] at Tampa Marriott Westshore. The event is free to jobseekers, who may be hired at the event by FloridaJobLink.
 
• The Galen College of Nursing Career Fair is between 10 a.m. and noon Tuesday [Jan.31] at 11101 Roosevelt Blvd. N. in St. Petersburg. Visit to explore job opportunities with Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. The 819-bed regional medical center is one of the largest employers in Sarasota County.
 
• USF is holding its Spring 2017 Career and Internship Fair Week Wednesday [Feb 1], an all majors day; Thursday [Feb. 2], for science, technology, engineering and math careers; and Friday [Feb.3], for accounting careers.
 
• Greater Tampa Career Fair by Jobertising.com is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 6 at DoubleTree by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore. General admission is free.
 
• A number of nursing job fairs are scheduled by Kindred Health Care. Registered Nurse RN Job Fairs are planned at 10 a.m. Feb. 15 at Kindred Hospital-Central Tampa, 10 a.m. Feb. 20 at Kindred Hospital Bay Area-St. Petersburg, and 4 p.m. Feb. 22 at Kindred Hospital Bay Area-Tampa.
 
Additionally, the 2017 College of Nursing Career Expo is slated from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Feb. 15 in the College of Nursing Atrium at USF in Tampa.
 
• Those seeking jobs in sales, business development, marketing, customer service and retail and sales management jobs can connect with potential employers at the Tampa Job fair by UnitedCareerFairs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport. Jobseekers are greeted with a formal presentation by each company, followed by an opportunity to meet employers and other job candidates. Organizers suggest you arrive on time (early is OK too) with 10 to 15 resumes in hand. Admission is free to jobseekers.
 
• Tampa Career Fair is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Hilton at 2225 N. Lois Ave. This is a chance to meet local, regional and Fortune 500 employers. Organizers suggest you bring at least eight to 10 resumes, and plan to be interviewed. The event is free to jobseekers.
 
• If you looking for internships, consider the Internship Hiring Event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 4 at Doubletree Westshore. Visit CareerSource Tampa Bay.
 
• A Job News Lakeland Job Fair is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 7 at The Lakeland Center, 701 W. Lime St. Jobseekers have free admission and free parking.

Shark Tank-style contest coming to Punta Gorda, SW Florida

Southwest Florida investors are making plans for a Shark Tank-style event in Punta Gorda on March 30th, when up to five businesses will make their pitch for funding before an audience.
 
“Really the purpose of the event is to shine a spotlight on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and raise the awareness in the community that you can start, fund and grow a business here in Southwest Florida,” says Timothy Cartwright, Chairman of Tamiami Angel Funds, a Naples-based group of high-net-worth individuals who invest in early-stage businesses. “You don’t have to go to Silicon Valley. If you really study it, there are great reasons to stay in Florida.”
 
Companies from Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto and Lee counties will be competing for some $50,000 in funding, Cartwright says. An additional $10,000 in grant money may be awarded, through the city, to a North Port business.
 
Interested businesses from the four counties can submit startup plans to Venture Pitch SWFL. Plans must be entered by Feb. 15. The businesses must be less than two years old and in the pre-revenue stage, or very early stages of producing revenue. Their plans must be scalable. Additionally, businesses should not have raised more than $1 million in capital.
 
The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Isles Yacht Club in Punta Gorda. “It’s almost fundraising and friendraising and customer raising,” he explains. “That’s what special about putting together the ecosystem at these events.”
 
The events, usually held three times a year, began in 2015. Sponsors include Sun Newspapers, The Hatchery at Babcock Ranch, North Port Economic Development Corporation, Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, a nonprofit association of volunteer business counselors; Tamiami Angel Funds; and Adrenaline Venture Fund.
 
This is the first time the event is being held in Charlotte County.
 
While it’s early in the application process, Cartwright says the response has been good, with ticket sales, sponsorships and companies.
 
The event was organized after business leaders recognized there wasn’t such an event in Southwest Florida. People had begun expressing interest in attending what were then private funding events.
 
So, they decided to follow the adage: “if you build it, they will come.”

“They have [come] and they’ve gone on to do some pretty great things,” he says.
 
A panel from SCORE will judge the applicants. Unlike the business tycoons on the popular TV show Shark Tank, the SCORE volunteers will do the judging privately.
 
“We are really looking for businesses from Sarasota. Historically ... we’ve already seen very interesting deal flow from Sarasota city and county,” Cartwright adds. “I think it’s a very rich area for entrepreneurship because the creative class is thriving.”

CareerSource trains, educates jobseekers, youth and adults

Meet Omar Velazquez. As Outreach Youth Counselor for CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s an ambassador of sorts, and he has very good news for jobseekers searching for a new career.
 
Velazquez, raised in a single-parent home with eight siblings, shares an important message with youth: There’s help. Even if you missed out on college or other post-secondary training.
 
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Velazquez spends much of his time on the road visiting churches, sheriff’s offices and community meeting places. He can relate to many of the problems people are facing. Problems like poverty, layoffs, and education and language barriers.
 
While dealing with his own challenges, he learned many good programs -- like ones offered through CareerSource -- are virtually “hidden,” says Velazquez, the single parent of a 19-year-old.
 
“You’d be surprised how many people have no clue. I give them a little bit, in bits and pieces. They’re flabbergasted,” he explains. “That’s the reason why I said goodbye to corporate America, and said this is where I belong,”
 
Funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, CareerSource offers free training that can help youths 18 and up become certified and/or ready to work in career fields like construction, welding and fabrication, soldering and cabling, hospitality and more. Some training might otherwise cost “thousands of dollars,” Velazquez points out.
 
A Microsoft Office certification, earned in three to four weeks, can qualify students 18 to 24 for a number of office jobs. Older persons qualify if they receive welfare assistance or food stamps.
 
Training is at CareerSource’s Career Prep Center at North 43rd Street and East Columbus Drive. Applicants must be allowed to work legally in the United States.
 
“After they train you, they have partnership with other companies that are willing to hire you on the spot,” the New Port Richey resident adds.
 
CareerSource also can connect job candidates with an employer who may want to engage recruits on a trial basis for two or more weeks first. CareerSource pays the salary for that trial through an agreement with the employer, he says.
 
Additionally, CareerSource offers technical education in connection with the federal TechHire program, which has trained more than 4000 people and connected them to higher-paying job opportunities.
 
TechHire was launched by then-President Barack Obama in 2015, with the goals of building a pipeline of tech talent to communities nationwide, creating jobs and spurring business growth. Training covers IT jobs and phlebotomy.
 
Candidates must be U.S. residents between 17 and 29.
 
Velazquez’s main focus is youth, but older workers also can benefit from job search, counseling and other CareerSource services. “We spread the word to everybody,” he says.
 
Although he’s often on the road, counselors are on hand at the CareerSource offices in Tampa, Brandon, Plant City, Ruskin and Pinellas County, to help walk-ins. “They can say Omar sent me,” he says.

Brandon pain remedy firm joins USF incubator

Over a century ago, a Trinidadian named Arabella Skinner, dubbed Mother Skinner by her family, prepared a home remedy that helped them recover quickly from sprains.
 
“Back in the islands, they didn’t have access to modern medicine [then],” explains her grandson, W. Caleb Williams. “She spent her life developing remedies for curing different ailments.”
 
Today Williams has reformulated the remedy as an over-the-counter treatment. He is marketing it as RelieveIt, a brand by his Brandon-based company, SprainGo.
 
The University of South Florida has accepted the company into its Tampa Bay Technology Incubator. “While this particular remedy has been used for over a century, it’s important that we have clinical and empirical data to support our claims,” Williams says. “We’re seeking to run a clinical study to provide evidence.”
 
SprainGo currently sells: SprainGo, a gel packaged with an adhesive bandage; RelieveIt, for soreness; and RelieveIt Patch, a gel patch. A more potent version, SprainGo Med, is being developed for urgent care centers, chiropractors, physical and massage therapists and others. It is expected to be available in March. Feet Sore No More Foot Spray is slated for release in April.
 
In addition to help with product testing, Williams is looking to USF to provide mentoring, a marketing intern, and contacts to raise capital as the company grows.
 
“One of the things that we do with our affiliate companies is to help them make connections at USF departments and with faculty that have common interests with them,” says Laurie Sullivan, Program Coordinator for USF Connect, which governs USF’s incubators.
 
Skinners’ original formula has been augmented with an extract of Arnica Montana, a medicinal plant recognized as an inflammatory for some 2,000 years, Williams says.
 
“Our formula is natural and was registered with the FDA as a natural homeopathic product,” he says.
 
Although it was originally used on sprains and strains to reduce swelling overnight, Williams has found the product also provides relief for minor burns, muscle aches, fatigue, soreness, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
 
He believes his treatment can halve the number of sick days required after an injury. “We think we have the product that can get those people back to work much faster,” he says.
 
The formula has a mild scent compared to other products containing camphor, menthol or caprisin, which distract pain suffers for a short while with a sensation of hot or cold. “There’s no sensation with our RelieveIt,” he says.

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.

Sarasota County launches solar energy co-op program for homeowners

The sun began to peek through the clouds on an overcast morning at the Florida House Institute, where solar advocates gathered in early January to launch a new solar energy co-op program in Sarasota County. 

Representatives from the Sarasota League of Women Voters, Florida Solar United Neighborhoods (FL SUN), and the Florida House Institute met with Sarasota County homeowners to explore ways to add solar energy to their homes at a discount by sharing solar panel purchasing power -- and knowledge -- in bulk. 

Solar co-ops is a competitive bidding process to select a single company to install solar panels in participating homes, providing a discount of up to 20 percent for homeowners who participate in the program. Each person signs his or her own contract with the installer, and the entire group not only receives the discount, but also benefits from sharing knowledge about the process of transitioning to a solar-powered lifestyle. 

Jon Thaxton, Senior VP for Community Investment with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, a FL SUN Sarasota partner, cites a report the GCCF issued on affordable housing in 2015. The housing report states that over 43,000 households in Sarasota County pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing--forcing them to make difficult decisions as to how they will afford food, transportation and childcare, Thaxton notes. 

"This initiative has promised to reduce the energy cost in these households, and thus reduce the financial strain on the budget on these service workers," Thaxton says, citing low income neighborhoods in Sarasota Springs, south Venice, Englewood and North Port.

"We are talking about, in terms of affordable housing, bringing not only hundreds, but thousands of these 43,000 cash-strapped households into a more sustainable situation with this initiative," Thaxton says. 

Phyllis Vogel, President of the Sarasota League of Women Voters, says that Florida currently lags behind other states in utilizing solar energy, and that programs like the FL SUN Sarasota co-op are critical to the Sunshine State's future. 

"Consider this: Florida, the Sunshine State, currently gets less than one-tenth of 1 percent of its energy from solar power," Vogel says. 

But recent public interest in solar energy is a catalyst for change.

"The defeat of Amendment One in the recent election is an indication that Floridians are ready to increase the use of solar power in our communities. We know it's cost effective, it's good for our local economy, and it's necessary for our future resilience as a coastal community," Vogel says.

Of the solar co-op initiative, Vogel states, "not only will it save homeowners and businesses money, but it will infuse our economy with a growth industry of well-paying green jobs. The League believes that solar energy takes a free market approach to putting power, literally and figuratively, into the hands of the people."

FL SUN Sarasota partners include The League of Women Voters, the Sarasota Classified Teachers Association, Sierra Club of Manatee-Sarasota, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, the Florida House Institute, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, and FL SUN. 

To learn more about the co-op, Join FL Sun Sarasota for one of three upcoming information sessions:

Jan. 18, 1 p.m.
Venice Community Center
326 South Nokomis Avenue, Venice
RSVP here

Jan. 19, 5 p.m.
Selby Library
1331 1st Street, Sarasota
RSVP here

Feb. 24, 11 a.m.
Twin Lakes Park
6700 Clark Road, Sarasota
RSVP here

Wifi Waiter makes debut in Downtown Tampa

It’s lunch break and you’re on a tight schedule. You don’t want to spend your time waiting in line to order. No problem. Wifi Waiter has you covered.

Without an app, you can take a seat and order.

“What we’ve done is basically brought in tableside ordering,” explains Anup Balagopal, Founder and CEO of Tampa-based Torchfi.
 
Using the restaurant’s Internet service, Wifi Waiter levels the playing field for brick-and-mortar businesses that, ordinarily, don’t have the ability to recognize repeat customers when they walk in the door. “They faced a significant challenge when competing with online services. The one thing we wanted to do was bring in technology for offline business, and help them do the same things that online does.”
 
Wifi Waiter is live in two locations in downtown Tampa: The Attic and Moxies Cafe and Caterer. “We are always looking to improve the customer experience, and saw this as a unique opportunity for our customers to be able to 'skip the line' in our fast casual restaurant,” says Moxies’ co-owner Bob Carr. “It’s a great fit since we already deliver the food to the table, so the impact to operations is minimal to gain a near full-service experience.” 
 
Torchfi is targeting fast casual restaurants that, by definition, don’t have servers to take your order. Restaurants pay for a monthly subscription with little, upfront cost. “Once we have proven this product here in the Tampa Bay region, I believe we will be able to scale this across the country with the same chains,” Balagopal says.
 
Starting this week, Torchfi is expected to facilitate the ordering process for those who typically order the same, or similar, menu items. “We make it easier for the customer to actually place an order by recording their ordering history,” Balagopal says.
 
Torchfi’s engineering and backup operations are in India, but its headquarters moved to Tampa four months ago after being chosen to participate in Tampa Bay Wave, a non-profit to help entrepreneurs grow tech businesses. 
 
“They have been our angel in Tampa,” Balagopal says. “What Wave brings is an amazing network of mentors and industry experts who help identify what the market actually requires.”
 
Allen Clary, a Tampa Bay Wave Mentor and Entrepreneur in Residence, calls Torchfi “one of our shooting stars.” “It’s absolutely one of the most innovative company products we have in the Wave right now,” he says.
 
He notes Torchfi has made the cut for the Investor Pitch Day Jan. 27, meaning it has passed rigorous review and will be able to pitch to qualified investors in Tampa Bay.
 
Balagopal has his eyes fixed on even greater opportunities beyond the restaurant industry. He’s thinking about malls, stadiums and airports.

With a small Torchfi device connecting customers to an Internet router and  enabling free access, it doesn’t matter if you’re working on a laptop, or using a tablet or phone. “It’s simple and quick,” he says.

Job Roundup: State's job portal revs up services

The state of Florida is updating its job search portal, Employ Florida, making it even easier to hunt for the job of your dreams from the comfort of your couch. Starting Jan. 16, the website at www.employflorida.com, which offers free services, will have a new look. 

“Employ Florida will be a one-stop location either on your computer or on your mobile phone,” says Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.  

Several changes will greet visitors to the website, including a new logo and a name change from Employ Florida Marketplace to just Employ Florida. More importantly, it will be easier for job seekers to register “so you can start looking or a job easier and more quickly,” Proctor says.

“We are also including more enhanced filters that basically allow an individual person to tailor their job search for their particular needs,” she says. “The results you get are even more specific for what you’re looking for.”

Employ Florida will allow users to get specific information on the Tampa Bay region or another region in the state and compare salaries. “You can see what that market out there looks like for your profession. That’s really an exciting feature,” she explains.

Additionally, Employ Florida will be pulling job data from more sources, including CareerBuilder, Indeed and Monster. “You don’t have to go to individual websites,” she says. “You have one account and one location [Employ Florida] to find a job here in Florida.”

“We’ve very excited to be debuting the new website and the new mobile app,” she adds. “We’re already one of the nation’s largest job banks. We’re making it easier than ever … to find a job through Employ Florida.”

The website will go offline at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, and remain offline until 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16. During that time, Tampa Bay job seekers should visit the area’s CareerSource Center websites including careersourcetampabay.com, careersourcepinellas.com, careersourcesuncoast.com, careersourcepolk.com and careersourcepascohernando.com.

Employ Florida lists more than 43,000 job openings in the Tampa Bay area and nearly 250,000 statewide. Among the top jobs advertised online in the Tampa Bay region include registered nurses, network and computer systems administrators, customer service representatives, computer user support specialists, and software developers, according to state labor market data.

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.

Online fitness company helps people get off the couch

Ed Buckley has found an innovative way to make money by encouraging people to exercise. Through Peerfit, a company he founded with Scott Peeples, he is working with insurers and employers to provide exercise credits at fitness centers across the nation.
 
“The idea is that we should give you an array of options, whatever is going to motivate you to get out of the couch,” says Buckley, Peerfit’s CEO. “You have the availability to do it, and you have no barriers to stop you.”
 
Buckley was studying group fitness at the University of Florida when he had an idea to start a fitness company. In 2010, when he met Peeples, another student, he pitched him the idea. By 2011, Peerfit was a reality.
 
“We’re pretty satisfied with the diversity of high-quality options we've put inside the [fitness] network, says Buckley, who holds a PhD from UF in Health Behavior, with a focus on Digital Health and Wellness.
 
A digital company based in Tampa, Peerfit works directly with insurance carriers and employers with wellness budgets. The companies buy credits that clients or employees can use at a variety of fitness studios such as CAMP, Soho Cycling and Epic Boxing in Tampa, or the national Lifetime Fitness.
 
The companies fund a certain number of credits every month. “It’s all about personalization and flexibility. That’s what we built the model for,” he explains.
 
The company was developed with capital from friends and family. In the summer of 2016, Peerfit raised $1.5 million, including some $400,000 through Florida Funders, a company developed in 2014 to help investors fund Florida businesses.
 
“Some of my friends like to call us the 20th century entrepreneurs,” quips Marc Blumenthal, Florida Funders’ CEO.
 
Florida Funders ferrets through 70 to 100 companies a month to find those one, two or three they will try to help financially. “We’re actually focused on tech-enabled companies,” he explains.
 
Florida Funders’ website serves as a platform to connect businesses with investors. In addition to making a profit through shares in the companies, its goal is to help make Florida a place where investors’ children and grandchildren can find good jobs.
 
“Peerfit is a very exciting company,” Blumenthal says. “We ... want to make sure they don’t leave to go somewhere else.”
 
Peerfit is already making its mark. During 2016, it helped 10,000 people.
 
After you find your footing, things move and they move fast,” Buckley says.

Restaurateur encourages patrons to skip the straw

Drinking straws are standard fare at most restaurants. Whenever we order a cold beverage, it usually comes with a straw, and we use it to slurp our water, teas or sodas in a matter of minutes. Afterwards, the straws end up littering our beaches and landfills.
 
“We see those [straws] out on the beach everywhere, those and cracker wrappers,” says Ed Chiles, owner of Chiles Restaurant Group.
 
So Chiles decided to do something about it. He has quit serving “old-style,” non-biodegradable plastic beverage straws.
 
“If they want a straw they’re going to get a straw. We’ve got a good [biodegradable] backup,” says Chiles, who owns Ana Maria’s Sandbar, Bradenton Beach’s Beach House and Longboat Key’s Mar Vista Dockside restaurants.
 
Chiles is partnering with the Washington, D.C.-based Ocean Conservancy to educate the public about the single-use plastic straws and protect our oceans. According to the Conservancy, straws are one of the top 10 items collected during cleanups.
 
Chiles’ campaign includes green messages encouraging customers to “Skip the Straw.”  So far, it has been working.
 
“I think it has gone very well overall. I think people understand. At first, there’s that little pause. They think about it and they get it,” Chiles says.
 
His servers are on board. “Our people have embraced it. If your servers aren’t behind it, you’ve got a problem,” he explains.
 
Chiles calls removing the plastic beverage straw “one small step.” He’s already ditched plastic cups and individually wrapped crackers, opting for glasses and sleeves of crackers. Plans include a complete line of eco-friendly “to go” containers and reusable packing crates.
 
He has gardens to grow their own herbs and spices. “The kitchen guys go out and work it,” says Chiles, an honorary faculty member of the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability. “We are all about local sustainable.”
 
Although his menus feature seafood, you also may find wild boar, considered an invasive species. “We take lemons and make limoncello,” he quips. “People think they [wild boars] are not any good, but they’re wrong. It’s fabulous. It’s one of my favorite meats.”
 
Even his parking lots are environmentally friendly. For the last decade, he has been a leader in pervious or porous parking lots, setting an example about how to deal with stormwater on commercial properties.
 
Chiles isn’t stopping with the beverage straw. Now he’s looking for a bio-degradable cocktail straw.

USF students, alumni offered free training in software coding

University of South Florida students and alumni can begin training now for lucrative software development jobs through an online training program by Reston, VA-based Revature, a technology talent development company.
 
The program paves the way for a free on-the-ground bootcamp and contract jobs in the field.
 
“We’re addressing the technology skills gap, as well as just the struggle of corporations to really find tech and software engineers for specific types of skillsets,” says Joe Vacca, Revature’s Chief Marketing Officer.
 
RevaturePro online training is ideal for those who are seeking a career in software development, whether they have liberal arts, business or computer backgrounds. It helps build the skills necessary for the Revature Coding Bootcamp, an intense 10- to 12-week program that builds skills needed to launch their careers.
 
Students must apply for the bootcamp, which requires a bachelor’s degree. When accepted into the bootcamp, housing and a weekly living allowance are provided.
 
“The companies in the Tampa area, Florida as well as the rest of the United States, are struggling to find software developers to fill the openings they have,” Vacca explains.
 
The bootcamp gives participants the equivalent of one to two years of experience, fast-tracking their career. “Many of these individuals within four years will be making six figure salaries given the demand,” he continues.
 
USF students and alumni can access the RevaturePro online program at revature.com/usf. The self-paced learning program can take from a month to a year to complete. Mentors are available to work with students.
 
“We’re very excited about our partnership with USF. We want to provide the pathway to their graduates. We feel like we’re going to get some of the top talent in the country,” Vacca says.
 
Joe Mitchell, Senior VP of University Partnerships with Revature, says they are in contact with area businesses about providing tech talent. “We’re looking forward to stimulating economic growth,” he says.
 
Revature is offering training in Java, .NET and SDET. Careers in software development involve backend codes that make company systems work, whether they involve a customer service program, managing a database, developing a website, or creating a mobile application.
 
Peter Thorsett, Communications and Marketing Officer for USF’s Department of Career Services, says the online program is ideal for sophomore, junior or even senior students who want to explore coding and software development. The exposure is good for students even if they don’t decide to pursue a software career. “We’re living in an era where technology permeates everything we do,” he says.
 
The bootcamp is an opportunity to pursue a software career, change careers or meld current experience with coding experience to qualify for tech-related jobs. “That leveraging of past experience is huge,” he says. “It’s a great way to get into a pipeline very quickly.”

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.

White House recognizes Tampa Bay as TechHire Community

Tampa Bay is now officially a TechHire community, which is pretty good news for jobseekers here between 17 and 29. That is if they’re willing to learn new computer skills like java programming, mobile applications or web development.
 
White House officials and community leaders announced Tampa Bay’s TechHire designation last Thursday in separate events. Tampa Bay is now one of more than 70 such areas nationwide.
 
The designation indicates Tampa’s Innovation District, which includes the University of South Florida, Busch Gardens and Moffitt Cancer Center, has met White House TechHire standards. It bolsters the area’s opportunities to achieve job-training goals.
 
Mark Sharpe, CEO of Tampa Innovation Alliance, says the designation “cements you in the [TechHire] club.”
 
“The whole point of bringing the public and private institutions together is to create opportunities for everyone,” Sharpe adds. “There is a sense that not everyone has benefited from trade and from the emerging tech economy. When people don’t have that opportunity, it creates frustration and, in many instances, struggle.”
 
“It [the designation] identifies us as a community that is working towards improving our IT industry sector, that we’re looking for ways to make opportunities available -- for people, for companies,” adds Edward Peachey, President and CEO of CareerSource Tampa Bay, which is partnering in the initiative.
 
Tampa Bay received a $3.8 million federal grant last summer to fund technical training in the community and connect people with jobs. Some $150 million in grants were awarded to 39 TechHire communities, with the communities kicking in nearly $50 million in additional philanthropic, private and other funding.
 
Nationwide, more than 4,000 people have been trained and connected to higher-paying job opportunities.
 
Peachey notes the TechHire designation is distinct from the funding, which lasts for three years. “Being a TechHire community has a longer life to it,” he explains. “What really stands out is the partnership that it creates between employers and community-based organizations and government. And the recognition that we’re all working together to improve our community for the tech companies and tech employees.”
 
The designation also facilitates information sharing about developing a tech workforce, he adds.
 
The TechHire initiative, launched by President Barack Obama in March, 2015, is building a pipeline of tech talent to local communities across the nation, creating jobs and facilitating business growth.
 
Tampa Bay was one of 20 communities added to the initiative Thursday. Three others were in Florida: Central Florida, including Sumter, Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties; Alachua and Bradford counties; and Pensacola.
 
CareerSource Tampa Bay is fast-tracking IT training and employment opportunities for more than 1,000 out-of-school youth and young adults through 2020. Some jobs are in health care. Employers such as BayCare Health Systems and Cognizant Technology Solutions are working to advance the community’s economic health and technology industry.
 
The training program is short, and can take about four months, Sharpe says.
 
Those who are interested in free training can apply online at http://www.careersourcetampabay.com or visit one of the CareerSource Tampa Bay offices.
 
The alliance and other initiative leaders will be meeting with the business community Dec. 15 as part of its effort to develop its employment base – which already numbers more than 200.
 
Unemployment rates for IT jobs in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area were greater than one percent in August, 2015, compared to 5.2 percent overall, according to a CareerSource workforce analysis.

Study shows USF has $400M impact through innovation efforts

University of South Florida’s efforts to encourage innovation and economic development are paying off. A Washington Economics Group study shows USF’s innovation and economic development efforts have a statewide economic impact of more than $400 million annually.
 
The bulk of the money, $395 million, stays in the Tampa Bay region, where some 1,550 people are directly employed, the study reveals. An additional 1,467 people work for partner organizations and businesses that serve USF innovation operations, resulting in a combined household income of $149 million.
 
The study was commissioned by USF and the Florida High Tech Corridor, a partnership of more than 25 local and regional Economic Development Organizations and 14 state and community colleges. It focused on the impact of USF Research Park, Tampa Bay Technology Incubator, which hatches new businesses; and Technology Transfer Office, which handles patents, copyrights and other intellectual property rights issues.
 
“This helps us understand ourselves and how we can contribute to the rest of the community and business in the area,” says Paul Sanberg, USF’s Senior VP for Research, Innovation and Economic Development. “I thought it was important to do. ... We work so hard on the invention part and the education part that we don’t really see the bigger picture.”
 
About 80 percent of the jobs are in Knowledge-Based Services, including life sciences, information technology, financial services, professional and administrative services. This sector also effects tourism, real estate, transportation and other key areas of the economy, the report says.
 
The report asserts USF support efforts are “critical” to the economy in Florida and the Tampa region. “USF’s Innovation Enterprise’s commercialization activities add significantly to the high-wage job creation in targeted State industries such as life sciences,” it says.
 
The USF System has a $4.4 billion annual economic impact on the Tampa Bay Region, with 15,243 employees in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, says Vickie Chachere, Director of Strategic Communications for USF Research and Innovation.
 
Universities have fostered innovation as corporate-funded research has declined. “At USF, leading edge research and entrepreneurship are ingrained in its culture. USF’s TBTI is currently home to over 60 resident and affiliate companies, with 58 percent of these companies directly coming from the USF’s TTO as spinouts,” the study notes. “The mentorship and resources from the TTO and the TBTI are key to the success of many of these startups.”
 
The report is “a pretty significant recruitment tool,” says Chachere. “This is everybody’s success story.”

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.

Want to make a partial payment on a loan? New app developed by Tampa brothers may help

A flexible payment plan app invented by two brothers may soon bring new jobs to the Tampa Bay Area. 

Partial.ly is an innovative software program that allows businesses of any size to offer flexible payment plans to its customers. Partial.ly, ranked as one of the 10 best Quickbooks apps by Intuit, integrates with third-party retail software such as ShopifyWooCommerce, FreshBooks, Harvest and Quickbooks Online

Andrew Schmid, who founded the company with his brother Ben in fall 2015, says Partial.ly has grown exponentially over the past year. 

“We started developing the app in in September 2015 and had the official launch in November 2015,” recalls Andrew. “We’ve processed $1.3 million in payments.” 

Companies from all over the English-speaking world are using the payment processing system, including those in Great Britain, Canada and Australia. 

Partial.ly offers several user-friendly features, including the ability for the business to control the payment plan fee, down payment, terms and payment frequency, and it also makes it easy for companies to choose automated or manual payments, and for customers to adjust down payment amount and tweak the terms. 

What’s the big benefit for businesses? “It helps businesses improve payment processing.” It can also help boost sales figures and overall revenue, since customers are more likely to buy a product they can pay for over the course of time. 

Partial.ly generates legally binding contracts, facilitates transactions through eCommerce retail tool Stripe and can charge customers in a variety of currencies, including U.S. dollars, British pounds, and European euros. Businesses are charged a 5 percent fee per transaction plus 30 cents. Payments are SSL protected.  

The Schmids’ software program has gained plenty of steam in the one year since its launch. Its first moments in the spotlight were in the heart of Silicon Valley at the QuickBooks Connect 2016 Conference in San Jose, California, where the brothers were invited to spend three days pitching their product to competition judges and convention goers. 

The Schmids, who knew the way to San Jose is paved with hard work and dedication, have to this point managed to build their startup brand with only their own funds. 

“We bootstrapped it all ourselves,” says Andrew. “Maybe it was a gamble, but we think the product can prove itself better if we show the faith we have in it.” 

A lot of folks have faith in Partial.ly. So much so the company is expanding by leaps and bounds with every passing day. 

Right now, Andrew, a 2004 Tulane University computer science graduate, handles the technical development side. His brother, Ben, is a University of Tampa MBA graduate who spends much of his time reaching out to potential customers and handling the business end of the operation. The self-reliant brothers know there will soon come a time when they can no longer manage the growing Partial.ly brand all on their own. 

“We want to hire people in customer support,” he says. “We are also going to want a software developer.” 

Hiring hasn’t begun quite yet at Partial.ly, but those who do become new employees for the growing brand may be on the ground floor of the next big thing in eCommerce. Meanwhile, those who want to learn more about the software or download it for their businesses can find it on apps portals such as Shopify.

BLUE Ocean Film Festival: Whales, oil spills & oceans at risk

“If the boat is sinking, we will all have to sink together,” Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, tells Actor Leonard DiCaprio in the movie, “Before the Flood.”   

The movie documents DiCaprio’s three-year journey around the planet exploring the impact of climate change and the potential consequences for the oceans -- and the world, without a dramatic course-correct.

A screening of that film will kick-off the international BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit, which takes place this year in St. Petersburg from November 11-13.

Over four days, in venues ranging from the Palladium Theatre to the Mahaffey Theater and Sundial Muvico, 90 award-winning environmental films from 24 countries will be shown to the public.

Some of the films are awe-inspiring and adventurous, like The Kiteboard Legacy. Others, like Killer Whales: The Mega Hunt might make you want to never swim in the ocean again, at least off the southern tip of Africa. 

But most of the films, like “Dispatches from the Gulf”, about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or Coral Reefs: Trouble in Paradise are both beautiful visually and deeply disturbing. They’re meant to be. 

BLUE is on a mission to use “film and visual media to raise awareness and inspire ocean stewardship around the globe.” It’s all about creating a dialogue, separate from politics, about what can be done to solve pressing worldwide environmental issues.  

It might be easy to overlook news stories about the health of the world’s oceans or the dangers of climate change, but nothing beats the power of the visual to convert the skeptic. 

For example, were you aware that “whales can’t turn the volume down?” Escalating levels of man-made sound in the oceans are harming marine life and damaging the oceans. Watch Sonic Sea to learn more.

Launched in 2009, BLUE Ocean supports a number of initiatives, including the film festival, which rotates each year between the small principality of Monaco on the French Riviera and St. Petersburg, Fl. In 2015, co-Founders Debbie and Charles Kinder, decided to make St. Petersburg BLUE Ocean’s home base. 

Marine-related issues and concerns are a natural fit for St. Petersburg. The city is home to what local leaders call the Ocean Team, a consortium for marine science, oceanographic and environmental research agencies and educational organizations that include the University of South Florida’s Center for Marine Science.  

According to the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, St. Petersburg is considered to be one of the top marine-affiliated industry clusters in the nation.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker will be among the keynote speakers for the BLUE Ocean film festival’s opening night at the Mahaffey Theater on Nov. 10. For a schedule of events and ticket prices, follow this link to the festival’s website.

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
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

USF celebrates record year for cultivating startups, new products

USF’s success with transferring ideas and patents into products results in a record year.
 
With nine startups and 113 license and option agreements executed this fiscal year, the university is celebrating a 12-percent increase over fiscal year 2015. This success brings USF in the top 10 nationally among public universities for generating new inventions, according to the annual ranking by the Intellectual Property Owners/National Academy of Inventors.
 
“We are one of the nation’s largest public research universities and we play a leading role in growing and elevating the Tampa Bay Region’s economy through our discoveries,” USF System President Judy Genshaft states in a news release. “Through innovation and invention, our talented faculty and students are at the forefront of projects that are producing new technologies, developing new cures, and making life better for others.”
 
There is a common thread of making life better for others that is woven among all of the startups coming out of USF this year. Moterum is one of those new companies. With its clinical grade MTip Crutch Tip, the startup hopes to improve walking assistance, gait and control of post-stroke patients. Another startup, Depression Army, is working to remove the stigma revolved around depression through its sale of T-shirts and other merchandise. Meanwhile, Culture Biosystems is an innovative concept that reduces the cost of harvesting algae with the use of technology to enable large-scale production for biofuels, aviation fuels, proteins and nutraceuticals.
 
“At the end of the day, we are passionate about helping create products and businesses that will help people,” says Valerie McDevitt, Associate VP for Technology Transfer and Business Principles at USF.
 
Many of the startups created at USF get help from the university’s Seed Capital Accelerator Program, which was founded in 2013. The program helps startups launch their businesses from the university to the marketplace. Earlier this year, USF created another program to help innovators and inventors earlier on in the start up phase. The Bull Ring Accelerator Grant Program (BRAG) provides $25,000 of grant funding to early stage companies, providing infrastructure, training and resources to entrepreneurial teams helping them translate their ideas into viable products and companies.
 
“We have had great success this year due to our focus and prioritization on cultivating startups,” McDevitt says. “With the increased amount of license and option agreements we had this year over last, I know if we continue that focus we will have an even better year ahead.”

Johnson & Johnson new Tampa operations center opens, actively recruits

Well known health care product company, Johnson & Johnson, opened the doors to its North American Global Services Center in the Hidden River Corporate Park in Tampa earlier this week.

The 88,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility will house 240 employees, to start, with plans to create over 500 jobs total by 2020.

“This new center expands our strong business presence within the state of Florida and we are excited to be a more active member of this vibrant Tampa community,” says Erin Champlin, VP of Johnson & Johnson Global Services in a prepared statement.

The Tampa office will house several departments including finance, operations, IT, procurement and human resources. Jobs related to these fields will be available in the coming months and years as the company works toward filling all of its positions.

The opening of the new center, comes a little over a year after the company announced its plans to expand its operations in Florida. With incentives from the state, Johnson & Johnson promised to create jobs averaging annual earnings of at least $75,000, as well as a capital investment of $23.5 million to the region.

Currently, the company has approximately 25 positions posted on its website for the new operations center in Tampa. Most of the jobs are in the fields of IT and HR.

To view the open positions at Johnson & Johnson's new operations center in Tampa, follow this link.

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

USF's mobile Alzheimer's unit brings trials, medications to community

An innovative service from USF Health will bring help to those suffering from memory loss in their own neighborhoods.

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Mobile Research Suite is a clinic on wheels that is able to bring clinical trials and medications to those showing signs of the deadly disease. The idea behind the concept came after researchers discovered the need for outreach to the community.

“The mobile unit idea stemmed from our knowledge that it can take years and millions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies to recruit subjects into clinical trials, and to get new drugs approved for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease," says Dr. Amanda Smith, Medical Director at USF Health. “Part of the reason is that many people do not live near centers that are conducting the trials. By bringing research trials to their communities and making it convenient for them to participate, we can fill studies faster with the ultimate goal of bringing new treatments to the market sooner.”

The mobile service, which started in August, goes into neighborhoods around the region.

“We have visited The Villages and St. Petersburg, with plans to bring it to New Port Richey, Sun City Center, Bradenton, Clearwater, Lakeland, and beyond.”

There is no charge to participants, and they do not need an appointment to be seen. If a patient does show signs of Alzheimer's Disease, they can enroll in trials for new medications.

“We are currently using the mobile unit to screen people in the community for memory problems, whom we can then refer for further evaluation,” Smith says. “More importantly, we are using it to recruit subjects for participation in clinical trials so ultimately we can bring new treatments to market sooner.”

For more information, visit USF Health.

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).

Tampa-based sound reduction company scores in Fenway Park

Innovative Tampa-based manufacturing company makes major league after closing deal with Fenway Park.

Acoustiblok is the inventor and manufacturer of noise attenuation products for the past 20 years. With its headquarters in Tampa, the company offers a full range of services to solve noise and vibration issues including infield problem identification, acoustical testing, design, engineering and installation support.

The company just celebrated a big win with the installation of its All Weather Sound Panels at Fenway Park. The panels were put in place to reduce noise coming from a chiller and other mechanical equipment. 

“Our patented panels are continuing to gain approval as an effective weapon against many types of industrial noise,” says Anne Knight of Acoustiblok, Inc. “All Weather Sound Panels were originally designed to withstand the harsh environments of offshore drilling rigs and considered to be the strongest sound panels anywhere.”

After the installation was completed at Fenway, sound meter results showed 81 decibals (dB) inside the enclosure and 64.4dB outside of the enclosure, a reduction of over 16dB.

“We’re not just a sound abatement products company; we are a noise solution company,” Founder and President of Acoustiblok, Lahnie Johnson stated in a press release. “We are very pleased with the success of the Fenway Park project.”

Johnson originally came to Tampa to work for Honeywell before starting Acoustiblok, which is a NASA spinoff company.

In addition to the installation of its sound panels at the famous ballpark, the local company has been involved in other major projects around the world. Other major projects include Cinema City in Beirut, Lebanon, MARTA in Atlanta, Georgia and ARTIS System in Brazil. For more information on the Fenway Park project, as well as the others, click here

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.

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? October job news roundup

Healthcare, banking and engineering are just a few of the professional fields that are seeking qualified candidates in this month's job news roundup from 83 Degrees.

Here's who's hiring in the Tampa Bay region:

Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T) is seeking a Mortgage Lending Underwriter III in Tampa. In this role, the chosen candidate will perform credit analysis and review mortgage loans to meet required guidelines. The ideal person for this role possesses a Bachelor's degree, and five years of mortgage lending experience.


The full-service logistics company, FreightCenter, in Palm Harbor is hiring a SEO/SEM Specialist. To qualify for this position, a high school degree is required, Bachelor's degree in marketing preferred. Two to three years of recently proven SEO experience in a corporate or agency environment


Northern Trust Corp. is currently recruiting an Investment/Trust Administration Associate in Sarasota. In this role, the associate will be responsible for account administration and investment management for the bank's clients. Three to five years of experience in financial services, including working with wealth management clients in a related role, is desired.


The pharmaceutical company, Arbor Pharmaceuticals, in Sarasota is seeking a qualified Neuro Health Specialist. To be considered for this position, a candidate must have a Bachelor's degree, and two to five years of pharmaceutical sales experience. 


The medical technology company Stryker in Lakeland is looking for a Supplier Quality Engineer. The Supplier Quality Engineer will complete audits of new and existing suppliers per Stryker requirements to ensure compliance, among several other responsibilities and duties. This position requires a Bachelor's degree in engineering, and three years working on-site with suppliers.


Saddle Creek Logistics Services in Lakeland is in search of a Digital Marketing Analyst. This specialist will be responsible for the development, maintenance and performance of all of Saddle Creek’s digital marketing vehicles including website, social media, digital advertising and email campaigns. To be considered for this position, a candidate must posses a Bachelor's degree in marketing or related field, and at least five years of proven work experience in website management, SEO/SEM and marketing automation.

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.

Tampa startup to market fitness wearable to professional athletes

A wearable fitness technology company in Tampa appears to be moving along the right track for success.

LiftSync, the brainchild of University of Tampa (UT) student and co-Founder Matt Phillips, has not even hit the market yet, however, its potential has shown to be quite mighty. After winning Startup Weekend Tampa Bay in the fall of 2015, the company was voted the global winner of the Disruptors and Big Ideas Track of the Global Startup Battle.

Phillips, created the product along with fellow UT students Patrick Schroeder and Mariner Cheney. Since winning their pre-market accolades the team engaged with UT's Entrepreneurship Center.

“The Entrepreneurship Center helped us get our offices, as well as connect us with key people to get us moving forward,” Phillips says.

He also credits the center for getting him connected with Ark Applications, a private equity and consultation firm, which has invested in the startup.

With so many wearable fitness devices on the market, what sets LiftSync apart is its purpose and consumer. Unlike other wearables that may track steps, miles or overall activity, this product is specifically designed for weight training programs and professional athletes.

“To put it simply, an athlete will put on two bands, one on each wrist, and it will connect to sensors on the weight, and then information and analytics can be tracked through our application,” Phillips says.

He goes on to say that while the device can track everything from volume to velocity to increase performance, it can also reduce the risk of injury. The idea of not overexerting oneself to the point of injury is especially important to Phillips, as the idea for the company came to him after losing a basketball scholarship himself due to injury from weight lifting.

The consumer will not be the mass market, but strictly targeted athletes within major athletic organizations such as the NCAA. While there are other products like LiftSync on the market, according to Justin Smith, Managing Director of Ark Applications, the competition does not measure up.

“Data analytics is very important, and we can bring that into the weight room,” Smith says. “There is no one out there that uses the Bluetooth technology with the weights. The others may be able to let you know about how much an athlete is lifting, and how many reps they are doing, but no one has as many features as what we do. We call it performance enhancement through data.”

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. 

Courier tech company moves into Tampa market

An innovative courier service is dropping into the Tampa market.

Dropoff, a company that has turned the on-demand same-day delivery service industry on its head, is now offering its services in the Tampa Bay region. The company, which got its start three years ago, has experienced steady growth, with operations located in major cities throughout the U.S.

“Dropoff is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and currently operates in major Texas cities such as Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston,” says Sean Spector, CEO of Dropoff. “The company launched it's East Coast operations in August with service in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and its West Coast operations in Los Angeles in July. Dropoff’s expansion to Florida brings its service to all three of the most populous states in the US, which are California, Texas and Florida.”

The company’s proprietary technology platform, which offers real-time tracking and confirmations, as well as web and mobile ordering capabilities are just a few of the keys to its success. Its dispatch automation system, known as ‘Intelligent Dispatch’ is a game changer in its industry.

“Dropoff is disrupting the courier market by leveraging its proprietary logistics technology and highly rated service to create a nationwide same-day delivery solution for businesses. Intelligent Dispatch automates an otherwise very manual courier process and provides Dropoff near infinite scale to customize and manage huge volumes of delivery requests as it expands across the country.”

Spector came up with the idea for the company in late 2013 after having a lackluster experience with a local courier. After having to call to confirm that his time-sensitive and confidential package was delivered, he found that very few couriers at the time provided delivery confirmations, and no one offered real-time package tracking. He knew there had to be a better way, so he gathered his former colleague and set out to create their new company.

Dropoff works with many well-known brands including Whole Foods, Neiman Marcus and JW Marriott. In the Tampa market, the company expects to be working with companies in several industries including healthcare, retail, food and grocery markets. 

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.

Tampa Bay Area tech companies are hiring, check out who is posting jobs

Looking for a career in technology in the Tampa Bay region? 83 Degrees can help. Read on to find which local technology companies are hiring in this months hiring roundup.

Safe Connect, a software company based out of Lakeland is looking to fill a Customer Support Engineer, as well as some sales positions. The Customer Support Engineer requires a Bachelor's degree, as well as four years of technical support work experience. The sales positions include a Business Development Representative, Inside Sales Representative and a Territory Sales Manager. These sales positions require a Bachelor's degree and software sales experience. 

Also out of Lakeland is Epic-Premier, a technology company that offers solutions to help the insurance industry. The company is currently recruiting a Business Analyst to research and analyze client's business requirements. The position requires an Associate's degree and two years of relevant work experience.

LabTech Software based in Tampa has several openings for qualified candidates. Positions include Software Engineer, Quality Assurance and a Business Development Manager. A Bachelor's Degree is preferred for all of the positions, however, relevant work experience is required.

A Sarasota-based software company that offers technology solutions to the insurance industry is seeking a Configuration Management Administrator. Tropics Software Technologies is a fast-growing company. The ideal candidate possess a computer science degree and relevant work experience in software support and configuration management.

EASA Software in St. Petersburg is in search of a Java Developer and a Technical Services Specialist. To qualify for the developer position, you must have a computer science degree and experience developing software. The other position requires an engineering or computer science degree, and experience building customer applications for in-house software. 

The IT giant, Tech Data, which is headquartered in Clearwater, has 20 job openings currently ranging from Product Managers to Project Managers, Sales Reps and Accounting positions. The Fortune 500 company is a one of the world's largest distributors of technology products, services and solutions, and works with companies like HP, Apple, Cisco and Microsoft.

How to design a street banner for Clearwater

As the city of Clearwater continues its redevelopment plans, it has put out a call to artists to design a banner that will run the length of Cleveland Street between North Lincoln Avenue and North Betty Lane, along the fence that borders a “thriving community garden.” The winning artist will be compensated with an honorarium of $500 for the design.  Artist proposals are due by Friday, Oct. 7, 2016. 

“Our mission is to revitalize the downtown area. So this particular project helps us fulfill our mission as it is beautifying a stretch of Cleveland Street that is right now lacking in any sort of visual interest,” says Seth Taylor, Director of the Community Redevelopment Agency. “We saw this as an opportunity to have a big impact on the streetscape.”

Public art is just one facet of the plans “to help lift up the community,” notes Taylor. 

“We are working with our engineering and planning department to improve the entire streetscape along Cleveland Street,” says Taylor. Among other things a “road diet” is planned -- reducing the current five lanes to three, incorporating bicycle lanes, pedestrian walkways, landscaping and horticulture as well as space for retail. Conceptual design is underway and Taylor hopes that after community presentations, construction will begin by late 2017.

“Bright and Beautiful • Bay to Beach” is the city of Clearwater’s new brand and tagline and thus the theme of the artwork. Artists are to submit designs that would be rendered to a scale of approximately 400 linear feet by about six feet tall (click here for specifics), connecting visually to the neighborhood and also to “what bright and beautiful means to them,” Taylor says. Artists are strongly encouraged to visit the site “to get a feel for the landscape of the neighborhood.” He says it is a terrific opportunity for artist’s work to be showcased in the public realm.

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.”

Engineering firm in Tampa adding 5 new positions

An engineering firm in Tampa is gearing up to create five new jobs in the next year. 

VHB, an engineering science planning design firm, with an active footprint on Florida's Gulf coast since the early 1960s is opening up an office in downtown Tampa. Based out of Watertown, MA, the company has 23 offices along the Eastern seaboard. This will be the third office to open in Florida, with two others in Orlando and Sarasota. 

The new office in Tampa will focus on creating urban living spaces, increasing mobility and developing more sustainable communities in the region. Due to the area's increased interest in improving communities through urban living, the company saw a fit for its presence in the conversation. 

"A lot of the type of work we are doing, especially in the areas of transportation and environmental work, we feel we can do here to make an important impact on what is going on in the Tampa Bay region," says  Margaret Kubilins, Traffic Engineering Manager and Southeast Region Pedestrian and Bicycle Leader for VHB. 

She cites the upbeat and active climate, as well as the enthusiasm in the community for urban living as reasons why the company is expanding in Tampa. 

"It’s exciting to be in an area that is experiencing so much growth," she says. Kubilins and her team look forward to working on public projects, and have an interest in becoming part of many projects including Tampa's downtown, design of the west bank of the Hillsborough River and downtown St. Petersburg. The firm has worked on creating healthy, sustainable communities throughout Florida, including Parramore in Orlando. 

"The whole public environment component is really important," Kubilins says. "Looking beyond just land uses, but evaluating how communities can be healthier with safe paths for walking and biking, and ensuring quality food is accessible. All of this is part of what we look at when we plan communities."

To help with this effort, the firm will be adding at least five to its Tampa office headcount. Kubilins says the company will be recruiting an Environmental Scientist, a Water Specialist, and engineers.  She hopes to have all five positions filled by summer of next year. 

For more information on the company and its career opportunities, click here

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. 

AT&T gives grant to offer business workshops in 2 St. Pete high schools

Young entrepreneurs in Pinellas County have a unique opportunity to bring their business and technology ideas to life.

With a $25,000 grant from AT&T, budding entrepreneurs at Gibbs and Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg will be able to take part in a series of workshops aimed at developing their entrepreneurial ideas. The financial contribution from the communication giant was made to the Pinellas Education Foundation's Next Generation Entrepreneurs and Next Generation Tech programs.

“The workshops will be crafted to help provide high school students with tools and skills they would need to take their innovative ideas and turn them into products and services that can be marketed in the real world,” says Karen McAllister of AT&T.

The grant is expected to reach as many as 200 students at the two high schools. The workshops teach high school juniors and seniors real world business skills for success including, everything from product and service development to software design.

McAllister says teaching the next generation these vital skills is a priority for her company.

“Since 2008, AT&T has committed $350 million toward helping at-risk students graduate from high school prepared for college or their career, and the Pinellas Education Foundation shares this passion with us,” she says. “Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, whether as entrepreneurs or employees.”

During the workshops, students will immerse themselves in enriching activities such as creating business models and developing business plans. Students will also have the opportunity to be mentored by business professionals during the process. At the conclusion of the workshop, business models and plans will be submitted to a panel of judges as students compete for money to develop their products and services.

McAllister explains that the Pinellas Education Foundation chose Gibbs and Lakewood high schools because they have innovative career academies that will provide fertile ground for these workshops.

“As part of the communities where our employees live and work, we want to ensure these students have every chance at success.”
 

Moffitt chosen to be site of cell therapy studies, latest treatment in cancer

Moffitt has been chosen by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as a research facility for cell therapy.

The world-renowned cancer center in Tampa, Moffitt, is one of five institutions selected and approved facilities to produce cell-baed therapies for scientific research by the National Institute of Health (NIH), and its National Hearth, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Cell-based therapies are treatment in which living cells are injected into a patient. This emerging science could be a game-changer when it comes to treating cancer.

"Until recently, cancer treatment options have been largely limited to radiation and chemotherapy,” says Linda L. Kelley, Ph.D., principal investigator and director of Moffitt’s Cell Therapy Facility. “Immunotherapy represents a paradigm shift in which the person’s own immune system is boosted to specifically target and kill tumor cells.”

The cancer center in Tampa will manufacture human cells, which will be used to help develop clinical trials to evaluate the new therapies safety and effectiveness.

Being one of the chosen centers for this innovative study is considered an honor, and includes infrastructure funding from NHLBI, with an opportunity to receive additional funds as the center completes therapy requests from other institutions across the country.

“The award was competitive,” Kelley states. “Interested centers had to go through a rigorous application process to demonstrate their expertise and capabilities. Moffitt has the appropriate cell therapy facilities, renown investigators performing cutting-edge research in immunotherapy and on-going clinical trials for patients using novel immunotherapies.”

She goes on to say that while up to eight facilities were considered, only five were ultimately chosen. The four other institutions selected are City of Hope, University of Miami, University of Minnesota and Baylor College of Medicine.

Solar co-op arrives in St. Petersburg, Sunshine City

Residents of St. Peterburg are serious about solar energy.

The city is the first in the area to develop a solar co-op committed to drive the city of St. Petersburg to 100-percent renewable energy. The idea for the co-op came about from a partnership between the Suncoast Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg.

“We discovered that the League of Women Voters had been looking at developing a program like the East Orange co-op in Orlando, so we worked with the League and Community Power Network to bring a solar co-op program to St. Pete,” says Emily Gorman, Sierra Club 100% St. Pete Campaign Manager. “The St. Pete Solar Co-op is the first of its kind in the state as it is open to both home and business owners.”

Gorman says the co-op makes going solar easier and more affordable, with a payback period seen within 10 years of the system's 25-plus year lifetime. She cites East Orange co-op members who are saving more than $200 per month on their electricity costs.

Aside from the savings residents can see in their bills, Gorman states there is a larger economic byproduct of going solar.

“Solar installers are small, local companies. So, in addition to saving money on their own energy costs, solar panel owners stimulate local economy by keeping their dollars close to home.”

Those interested in learning more about the co-op are invited to attend an information session. The first session was held on July 28th at the Sunshine Center. There were approximately 80 people in attendance, with over 50 homeowners who registered with the co-op. Gorman says residents will still be able to sign up and join until December 2016.

For more information, visit Florida Solar United Neighborhoods.

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. 

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? Check out this hiring roundup for August

It's a new day in a new month, and some of the region's biggest companies are looking to fill several positions. See who is hiring in this August job hiring roundup from 83 Degrees.

Home Shopping Network's headquarters is located in St. Petersburg, so it employs a large workforce in the Tampa Bay area. The company has several open positions including a Talent Acquisition Coordinator, a Bachelor's degree and previous HR experience is preferred. Other positions include an Assistant Buyer and Software Engineer. For those positions, job candidates need to have a Bachelor's degree and three year's of relevant work experience.

To see a complete list of open positions at HSN, click here.

Another one of the largest employers in the Bay area is Verizon. The telecommuications giant is recruiting Inside Sales Representatives. A Bachelor's degree and one year of sales experience is required. Several other positions are available at offices located throughout the region including Dispatch Clerk, Communications Technician and Customer Service Specialist.

To view all career opportunities with Verizon, click here.

Ceridian Benefits located in St. Petersburg is in search of a Technical Account Manager. This global human capital technology company serves over 25 million users in 50 countries. The ideal candidate possess a Bachelor's Degree and three to five years of experience.

Bic Graphic with offices in St. Petersburg and Clearwater has an opening for an HR Business Partner. This position requires a Bachelor's Degree and three to five years of experience.

One of the largest and most innovative multi-sport training and educational institutions, IMG Academy, located in Sarasota is hiring. One of the many positions that are currently open is a Communications Manager. In this role, the selected candidate will plan, coordinate and execute corporate communications activities for the academy, including brand messaging, internal communications, crisis communications and community relations The candidate will need to possess a Bachelor's degree and have five years working in corporate communications or public relations.

To see open positions at IMG, click here.

Bealls Department Store-Corporate located in Bradenton, is seeking individuals to fill many positions including Staff Accountant. To qualify for this role, you will need a Bachelor's degree and one to three years of experience. Another position open is Merchandise Planner; for this job the candidate will need a college degree and some planning experience is preferred.

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.

NY luxury fitness company expands to Tampa, estimates 400 new jobs

A new gym may be popping up on a block near you, which may mean good things for Tampa Bay's health. Blink Fitness, which promotes the emotional benefits of working out as opposed to just the physical, plans to open up to 20 gyms in the area.

The company currently has over 50 locations open or in development in the New York metro market, and President of Blink Fitness, Todd Magazine, now has his sights set on Tampa.

“There’s an opportunity in the market to fill a need for a luxury fitness experience at an affordable price starting at $15 per month for a membership," Magazine says. "Given our focus on the emotional benefits of working out versus strictly the physical benefits of exercise, we have an opportunity to distinguish our brand in Tampa.”

Magazine goes on to explain how his company is unique in its approach to fitness. He cites the use of certain colors that he says scientifically have been proven to improve one's mood, and the selection of music for motivation.

“We have created empowerment campaigns for our members, such as 'Monday without Mirrors,' in which we cover all the mirrors in the gym to stress the importance of mood above muscle," he says. 

He expects this approach to fitness to change the fitness landscape in the Tampa Bay region by negating the theory that gyms are only for fit, beautiful people.

“At Blink, we believe that exercise isn’t just about looking good; it’s also about how it makes you feel," he says. "We hope to spread that idea within the Tampa area and empower residents to exercise to both feel and look good.”

With up to 20 gyms opening, Magazine says he anticipates his company will create up to 400 local jobs in addition to more than $20 million in local new business investments.

“Our franchising initiative in Tampa is just underway, and we are looking to award the opportunity to qualified individuals and groups who can open one or multiple locations throughout the region,” he says. “The types of locations where Blink Fitness will perform well include corporate and residential high-rises, strip malls and standalone buildings in both urban and suburban markets.”

Lakeland web company incentivizes people to get moving

Yes.Fit, the brainchild of Scott Parker and Kevin Transue of Lakeland, enables users to participate in virtual races.

“The user pays an entry fee to an event; then we can map their progress using exotic or historic routes,” Parker says.  “Whether someone walks a mile a day or runs 10 miles a day, every time you record a workout. We figure out a street view from Google, and can show you this is how far you went, and this where you went and here is a picture of where you would be. It’s a unique, interactive experience.”

In addition to the novelty of virtually running areas such as the Redwood forest and the Pacific Coastline, Parker says there is strong motivation component that users love about the application.

“Once you complete a race, a medal is shipped to you with a congratulations letter, and people celebrate with you on social media,” he says.

It is this type of motivation that Parker says has led to some dramatic transformation by some of his users.

“On our Facebook page we have a large community of support between our users in that group, there is story after story of people who have said they’ve never won an award, or they’ve never been able to lose weight, but now they lost 40 pounds,” he says. “We are truly making an impact on people’s lives, which we didn’t even know we would have when we started.”

Yes.Fit integrates with most fitness devices including FitBit, Garnett, RunKeeper, MapmyFitness by UnderArmor, Misfit, Jawbone and others. Parker says that he has seen his product increase steps and movement in these devices. He also points out that it doesn’t matter whether you walk, run or cycle -- any movement can be tracked.

To help get their product launched, Parker and Transue sought out advice from the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. Parker credits the advisers there for helping him and his partner grow their company.

“The Tampa Bay Innovation Center helped by high-level view of our organization while me and my partner were in the trenches, they have provided us with insight to think three months, a year and two years ahead, to think look at the big picture and forecast.”

The insight given has helped, as the company has grown quite a bit since it began a year-and-a-half ago. Today Yes.Fit employs six full-time employees, and five part-time employees. There are 55,000 users of the product, up from 19,000 in January of this year. Parker says this is just the beginning.  

“We still have a lot of growth coming, and many new exciting features on the horizon,” he says. “We’re just getting started.”

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? July hiring roundup

The healthcare job market in the Tampa Bay area is as hot as the pavement in Florida summer, with plenty of opportunities for jobseekers. Read on to see who is hiring in this July job hiring roundup from 83 Degrees.

HP One is a health insurance agency with several openings in its Tampa office. Among the openings is a Sales Manager and Licensed Insurance Agent.

Both positions require relevant experience and a health insurance license, the Sales Manager position requires a Bachelor's degree as well.

To see all open positions, click here.

Due to a $12 million surgical services expansion, Memorial Hospital of Tampa is seeking to expand its surgical staff. Positions include a Laboratory Supervisor, RN-Surgery, Quality Management Coordinator, among others.

To view all of the career opportunities, click here.

Help children in need of medical care at home by working for PSA Healthcare. The company is currently in need of RNs and LPNs in Tampa, Sarasota and Lakeland.

To apply for one of these opportunities, click here.

Looking for an opportunity in the healthcare field that is not clinical? Consider this opportunity with Genex Services, a managed care provider based in Tampa. They are seeking a Field Case Nurse Manager. In this role, you will need to have a RN degree, however, you will be assessing patient's care while maximizing cost containment.

Find out more about this position here.

If you have a heart for helping those nearing their last days, consider a career with Chapters Health Systems. Previously known as Hospice, Chapters Health Systems, has plenty of opportunities throughout the Tampa Bay area. Some of these opportunities are clinical, others are administrative. Positions include Donor Relations Assistant, HR Business Partner, Medical Director, RN and Physician.

To see a full list of positions, click here.

Freedom Health, a medicare contract health insurance company, has several employment opportunities. Based in Tampa, Freedom was ranked 7th-fastest growing private company in America by Inc. 500 Magazine. Currently, the company is seeking a Quality Analyst, Technical Writer, Case Coordinator and Compliance Coordinator, among several other positions.

To view these opportunities and others, 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.

Tampa startup simplifies commercial videomaking

Tampa startup designed to make video production simple goes live.

Meet SurgeCurve, the brainchild of local innovator and University of Tampa graduate Matt Rutkovitz. The idea came to him after starting a digital media company, and seeing firsthand the growing popularity of video blogs.

“People are very responsive to videos, and I could see how this was positively influencing businesses I worked with,” Rutkovitz says.

He then set out to create an interactive platform which would allow companies to create personal videos, publish them and promote them seamlessly, without having to go through a designer or professional videographer.

The tool can be used for various purposes, according to Rutkovitz, from customer promotion and communication, recruiting and hiring, to project management.

“A brewery that has 10 different types of beer can use it to showcase a video of each type of beer explaining what makes it unique. Or an employer can send a private link to prospective job candidates where the applicant would make a video presentation, and the hiring managers could evaluate all the candidates using the platform.”

Exclaiming that SurgeCurve is a gamechanger, Rutkovitz points out the rise in peer-to-peer businesses, and the fact that at the end of the day people buy from people. He just makes the process easier.  

“It used to be so expensive to make a video,” he says. “Personal videos are becoming more popular, and we are helping companies make videos whenever they need easily. People who have never made a video or people who are experts at making videos are now the same playing field.”

Sound blocking company grows, plans to add 5 jobs in Tampa

When Walter Peek needed to reduce the level of noise exuding from the game room of his house, he searched the market for a product to help, but came up empty handed. Soon after, he set out to develop and patent a sound blocking curtain for windows and door openings reducing noise transfer up to 90 percent. Soon Residential Acoustics was formed.
 
The company quickly grew, and now has several products on the market.
 
“We have a manufacturing facility in downtown Tampa that creates custom AcousticCurtains™, AcoustiTracs™ and AcoustiDoors™, selling to over 50 countries, says Casey Hewins of Residential Accoustics. “Our sound blocking blackout AcoustiTracs™ have entered the hospitality market and can now be found within Residence Inn and Marriott locations. Our business has also expanded to commercial acoustics, specializing in unique soundproofing membranes and products for pre- and post-construction. With commercial acoustics we now work with architects and contractors on projects nationwide, and provide design-assist services and acoustical consultations.”
 
Recently the company teamed up with Baldwin Beach Capital (BBC), an investment firm, which will help take the company to the next level. BBC is known for investing in innovative, patented solutions, and has invested in several successful companies including Yogurtology, Fitlife Foods and SiteZeus.

Due to all of the business growth, Residential Acoustics plans for increasing headcount are in the works.
 
“With our growth rate and expansion plans, we’re looking to hire at least five employees in 2017,” says Hewins.
 
The company also plans on keeping its headquarters in Tampa long-term. Hewins attributes Tampa’s talented advisers and community of passionate entrepreneurs for helping Residential Acoustics get to where it is today.
 
“There are so many exceptional people in Tampa that want to give advice and mentorship to truly see you succeed, as well as educational programs and start-up initiatives to foster growth,” he says. “It’s a great feeling, and we are proud to be manufacturing in the USA, as well as hiring our valued team from the Tampa community.”

Citi seeks to fill 100+ new jobs at Tampa headquarters

Citi’s recent decision to move jobs from its offices in Hartford, CT to the Tampa Bay Area, means more than 100 local jobs for skilled workers. Positions vary from compliance analysts to various HR positions, management to IT.

The number of employees being recruited by Citi to work in the Bay Area will grow as the company creates over 1,100 jobs by 2018 in exchange for approximately $15 million in incentives from the state of Florida and Hillsborough County.

“Our commitment to Florida is underscored by our decision to locate more of our U.S. employees here than in any other state, after New York,” says Citi CEO Michael Corbat.

Several vital business operational units are run out of Citi’s Tampa offices, including HR and accounting, as well as the company’s anti-laundering department.

“4,500 employees provide client service and risk modeling at our center in Tampa, which is also a hub for our anti money laundering efforts,” Corbat says.

As part of the agreement Citi made with the state and Hillsborough, the jobs are expected to pay an average of $75,000.

Corbat says that he not only hopes to bring jobs to the area, but plans to help local residents as well.

“Last year we provided more than $400 million in loans for affordable housing just here in Florida, he says. “And we extended more than $200 million in credit and loans to thousands of small businesses across the state. We’re proud of all the things we’ve done and will continue to do for our customers, clients and communities across the U.S. and around the world.”

To view the open positions at Citi, click here.

Enhanced intern website designed to connect employers, interns

A new website aimed to help interns and employers alike has been enhanced.  
 
CareerSource Tampa Bay in conjunction with CareerSource Pinellas has created Tampa Bay Intern, a website that connects interns and employers. Originally launched in 2014, the site was recently upgraded with enhancements for a more user-friendly experience.
 
“CareeerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas analyzed the results from various sources including employer surveys related to workforce development, feedback from area partners and employers were work with on a regular bases, “ says  Jason Druding of CareerSource Tampa Bay. “As a result of the information gathered, it was determined there was a great interest from the business community with regards to internships. With that in mind, we moved forward with initial planning and eventual development of the site.”
 
There are two components of the Tampa Bay Intern site, the employer view and the candidate view. For employers, they can log on and create an employer profile, post open internships and search for candidates based on company needs. For interns, they can also log onto the site, create a profile, create a bio, upload their resume and search for internships that match their career interests.
 
“Candidates may also reach out to our staff directly for assistance,” says Druding “Students are also afforded the opportunity to join our professional talent of Tampa Bay networking group, which focuses on areas of professional development such as networking, resume development, interview skills training and more.”
 
According to Druding the internship experience is invaluable.
 
“For employers internships offer a unique opportunity for employers to identify talent and exposes students to the opportunities available within their organization,” he says. “For the intern, the learning outcomes and experience gained are invaluable. Interns are granted a chance to put their years of schooling into practical applications in real workplace environments. This often leads to gained insights into areas of professional communication, project management and other vital areas of the business world.”

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. 

Letting patients make choices for interventions may lower risk of diabetes, USF study finds

With more than 86 million people in the United States walking around with pre-diabetes, a professor along with her colleagues determined they needed to implement a study to help this group of people.

USF College of Public Health’s Dr. Janice Zgibor, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, led the study to determine which program would work best.

“Several studies show that diabetes can be prevented by making changes in lifestyle like healthy eating, and increasing the amount of time spent exercising,” Zgibor says. “Individuals living in rural areas are at higher risk than other populations for getting diabetes; therefore, we decided to implement a program that we knew would work in this high-risk group.”

Then participants were split into four groups. The first group would have face-to-face meetings for support on their lifestyle changes, the second would be given an instructional DVD, third an internet-based intervention and the fourth group would be able to choose which of these methods they preferred.

The intervention lasted 12 weeks, with a follow-up after 18 months.

With more than 550 participants involved from eight rural communities, what was the result? The group members who were able to choose the method of support for their lifestyle changes were most successful. Each participant was asked to lose at least five percent of their body weight, as well as decrease at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor following the intervention.

The fourth group, otherwise known as the ‘self-selection’ group, was more than twice as likely to maintain their weight loss after 18 months. Dr. Zgibor found that when people could make their own decisions about what they wanted to do it was the most effective.

“Once diabetes is diagnosed, it is progressive and may lead to complications of the eyes and kidneys,” she says.  “People with diabetes also have a higher chance of having a stroke or heart disease.  The earlier we can diagnose those at highest risk for diabetes, programs that work targeting lifestyle changes can be offered that lower their chance of getting diabetes.”

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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
 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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.

Who is hiring in Tampa Bay? June job news roundup

From jobs in healthcare to technology to the nonprofit sector, the Tampa Bay region has plenty of opportunities for jobseekers. Read on to see who is hiring in this June job hiring roundup from 83 Degrees.

Make a difference in a person’s life with your work at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute. They are seeking a Research Coordinator III as well as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Sarasota. Both positions require a bachelor’s degree in nursing as well as three years of experience.

Technology firm ConnectWise in Tampa has an opening for an Accounts Receivable Specialist. In this role, the specialist is responsible for new client billing set-up, adjustments, invoicing and collection. Ideally, candidates will have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field, and three years of related experience.

As a growing company, there are several other positions at ConnectWise  including a Customer Service Liaison, several sales positions and a System Engineer. 

Emcare located in Clearwater is recruiting a Scheduling Coordinator. As a scheduling coordinator, you are responsible for ensuring clinicians fill shifts needed at various locations. To meet the requirements for the position, a candidate must have a bachelor’s degree and one year of scheduling experience, recruiting experience is a plus.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota is seeking an Event Relations Coordinator. This position requires excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. A bachelor’s degree and two years of even and/or hospitality experience required. The candidate must also be proficient in MS office products, be able to move 40 lbs, and be capable of setting up tables and chairs for catering special events.

Want to work near Winter the infamous dolphin? Clearwater Marine Aquarium is in search of a Development Assistant. Responsibilities include monitoring development fundraising programs, assisting with promotions, organizing donor communications and coordinating recognition events among other duties.

Other positions open at the aquarium include Manager of Sea Turtles and Aquatic Biology, Grant Writer, Major Gift Officer and Retail Support & Vendor Specialist. 

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.

Recent UT grad creates successful business concept

A new business created by a recent grad from the University of Tampa is already a success weeks after launching.

The idea came to John Publicover when he was a student at the University of Tampa, not too long ago. He needed a place to store his belongings over summer break. Looking into the conventional method of a storage unit, Publicover did the math; his possessions were not worth what he would pay for a storage unit.

Soon Storedby would be born.

“I looked at what investors were investing in, peer-to-peer platforms, like Uber or AirBnB,” Publicover says. “I thought there needed to be a similar platform where people could list spaces to rent.”

From there, Publicover connected with the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa, and started building his startup company.

“If someone has a closet, an attic, a basement, garage, basically any extra space in their home, they can rent it out on Storedby,” Publicover says. “In turn, someone looking for a place to store their items can browse the site and find an appropriate size space to rent.”

Storedby also offers parking listings as well.

The company, which just launched its site in April has users who have signed up from all over the world, according to Publicover. With a desktop and mobile browser version currently, an application platform is in the works and expected to be available in the coming months.

Publicover, who graduated from the University of Tampa in May, says he will continue his relationship with his alma matter.

“The entrepreneurship center has an incubator for businesses like mine, and as an alumni I can continue to work out of the university,” he says. “Moving forward as the company grows, I plan to keep the company headquarters here in Tampa.”

Total Quality Logistics opens new office in Sarasota, adds 100 jobs

Ohio based freight-brokerage firm Total Quality Logistics (TQL) is expanding to open a Sarasota office, the company’s seventh location in Florida. The new Sarasota office joins TQL locations in Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. 

TQL’s new office in the BB&T Building at 1800 2nd Street in downtown Sarasota is scheduled to open in June, and will include a $600,000 capital investment. The expansion was made possible through partnerships between Enterprise Florida, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Sarasota County, The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Sarasota County, and the city of Sarasota. 

“This expansion will bring job opportunities to Sarasota, and we think it’s a great fit,” says TQL Communications Specialist Mark Motz. 

Total Quality Logistics plans to create 100 jobs in Sarasota by 2020 including sales, managerial positions and customer service agents to manage the processes and logistics of transportation between shippers and truck carriers. TQL opened its first offices in Florida in 2010, and currently employs 450 people in the state.

“Whenever we look for a new office, one of the first things we seek out is a good pool of professional talent. Sarasota is an excellent location, and we were fortunate to be able to work with the city, the county and the state of Florida to make that happen,” Motz says. 

Jennifer Taylor, EDC of Sarasota County VP of Business Development, says that Sarasota’s pool of talented professionals and its exceptional livability are two of the region’s greatest assets in attracting new companies like TQL to Sarasota. 

“TQL is expanding and growing very quickly all over the nation, but Florida is definitely a hotbed for them. Access to talent and quality of life are critical to their success. When analyzing a new location, they look for communities where talented people not only want to work but also want to live. It didn’t take them long to realize that Sarasota was a natural fit,” Taylor says.

Total Quality Logistics is headquartered in Cincinnati OH and employs over 3,800 people nationwide. In 2015, TQL’s sales topped $2.2 billion.

Tampa Bay WaVE offers more workshops with help from grant

Tampa Bay WaVE can now do more workshops with the help of a grant from Bank of America.
 
WaVE, a local nonprofit, that helps entrepreneurs with their start-ups, received $27,500 from the large bank to help them with their workshop series. The workshops will educate local entrepreneurs on a variety of subjects with the hope that the companies started here will stay and create high-wage tech jobs in the Tampa Bay region.
 
“The workshops are open to the public and are instructed by Tampa’s best industry experts,” says Gracie Stemmer of Tampa Bay WaVE. “They cover everything from marketing, CEO Leadership, design and development, accounting, legal and finance.”
 
To date, the nonprofit has supported over 70 startups and created over 300 jobs as a result of those new companies. Bank of America recognized the work Tampa Bay WaVE has done in a statement.
 
“Tampa Bay runs on the sweat and innovations of small business owners and entrepreneurs, and we're all lucky to have Tampa Bay WaVE growing this important part of our economy," Bill Goede, Tampa Bay president of Bank of America.stated in the news release "Supporting our future technology leaders and the economic health of our community is a no-brainer."
 
The Startup Workshop Series will have over 100 workshops over the next year. Each workshop is an hour long and are free to members, $25 for the public and $10 for students.
 
For more information, visit Tampa Bay WaVE’s website.

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 on