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.