The Bay and the 'Burg Archives - SaintPetersBlog

Donald Trump’s unknown policy on dealing with Cuba worries Tampa advocates

There is no region in the country that has been more involved in engaging with Cuba over the past five years than Tampa, but where that relationship goes in the future is now at the whims of President-elect Donald Trump.

“Until a month ago, I thought that the biggest obstacle to trade between Tampa and Cuba was Mayor (Bob) Buckhorn, and now we have a new player and that’s Donald Trump,” said Tucker/Hall head Bill Carlson at Friday’s “Cafe Con Tampa” meeting in South Tampa.

Carlson and La Gaceta editor/publisher Patrick Manteiga spoke on what the change of power in Washington and the death last week of Cuban leader Fidel Castro portends regarding the momentum of relations between Tampa and the Communist nation. Almost exactly two years ago, President Obama announced a diplomatic breakthrough with the Raul Castro-led government, and he’s followed by a series of executive actions to ease the sanctions which still exist.

The president ended the 180-day ban on ships docking at U.S. ports after sailing from Cuba, paved the way for doctors to work with Cuban researchers on medical investigations and allowed Americans to travel to Cuba in cultural exchange programs.

Manteiga said that Castro’s death doesn’t play into the equation at all. “To many people, this changes everything,” he said. “In reality, it doesn’t change anything at all.”

Carlson referred to the surge of activity between Tampa and a contingent from the Tampa Bay History Center is currently visiting the Communist island. Officials with the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce visited Cuba last year, and officials with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce have made three separate trips.

Since 2011, hundreds of thousands of passengers have made the hour-long flight from Tampa to Cuba aboard charter flights. Commercial flights through Southwest Airlines from Tampa International have just begun, as have commercial flights from nine other airports thanks to President Obama.

Several members of the City Council have also made trips to the island, and both that board and the Chamber of Commerce have backed the idea of having a Cuban consulate located in Tampa, something that Buckhorn has not become involved. The mayor has always sided with the Cuban exile community in Tampa that to this day supports the more than fifty decade-long sanctions, believing that any recognition of the Cuban government is unacceptable until they stop detaining dissidents and allow for a more open society.

Carlson accused the mayor of hypocrisy, noting his recent business trip to China, which in a congressional report listed 2015 as its worst year on record for human rights violations.

Critics of the outreach to Cuba have dismissed the discussions about improving commercial relations, saying that Cuba is a relatively poor country with little to offer the U.S. Carlson says in fact that the nation of 11.5 million have a desperate need for all types of services and products, and it is one of the great business opportunities for U.S. companies anywhere, but especially in Florida with its proximity. “There is an unprecedented investment in infrastructure,” he said.

“The governor and the Republicans don’t want the port to reach out to Cuba, and the Port keeps using the excuse that perhaps there might be funding that might get cut off,” said Manteiga, adding, “They’re not going to cut off the funding for the Port. Our legislative delegation wouldn’t let it.”

Perhaps the single biggest local advocate for improved relations between Tampa and Cuba, Al Fox, is in Cuba this week, but both men noted his current legal situation. Fox faces civil penalties from an agency of the U.S. Treasury Department called the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The agency accuses Fox of arranging two trips to Cuba in 2010 and 2011 without obtaining proper licenses.

“Al is going to fight in federal court to prove that these laws are unconstitutional. If he wins it will benefit all of us and the Cuban people,” said Carlson.

“It’s amazing that they’re still punishing people who want to make a change in U.S. policy,” Manteiga said.

Carlson has frequented Cuba five times in the past two years, and says he sees more and more stores opening up each he visits. “Entrepreneurship is just flourishing there, and my fear is that it will roll everything back.”

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By-law change adds controversy to Monday night’s Hillsborough DEC election

Viewed from a certain angle, the Democratic Party resembles a smoking pile of rubble in the wake of last month’s general election. Not only will Donald Trump become president in less than two months, but the Senate and House (and soon the Supreme Court) are in Republican control.

Instead of giving up, however, there appears to be a grassroots revival in certain quarters of the party, such as in Hillsborough County.

At their first meeting after last month’s election debacle, several hundred people showed up at the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee’s November meeting — a crowd so large that an auxiliary room needed to be opened to provide seating for them at the party’s regular meeting quarters in Ybor City.

But an intra-party squabble regarding their by-laws has the potential of turning off many of those newcomers to the process.

This coming Monday, the local party will hold its reorganization meeting, where DEC members will vote for local party officers, including chair, vice chair, treasurer and state committeeman and state committeewoman. However, a dispute about who is eligible to vote is causing some members to criticize Hillsborough County DEC Chair Ione Townsend, after she sought an interpretation regarding the by-laws regarding whether locally elected Democrats can vote in the election.

Townsend said that her review of the Hillsborough DEC by-laws were not clearly stated about whether Democrats who won nonpartisan elections are eligible to vote in these elections. That would include people like Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and the entire City Council, currently all Democrats, but who don’t run as Democrats because the Tampa municipal election is considered nonpartisan.

Because of that uncertainty, Townsend asked for a clarification from the the Florida Democratic Party Rules Committee. Townsend says that the two-co chairs of the Rules Committee and the Vice Chair of the Rules Committee sent her an opinion – sent directly to her by Rules Co-Chair Rick Boylan – “that the by-laws do not clearly define or even imply that nonpartisans are included in that definition.” (Boylan did not return our request for comment).

That’s raised the ire of some local Democrats who were involved in writing those actual by-laws in 2012, such as former Hillsborough County DEC Chair Chris Mitchell.

Mitchell chaired the Hillsborough County DEC from 2011 to 2013 before departing to run the House Victory office of the FDP. He says that along with recently-elected state Representative Sean Shaw, they wrote the by-law revisions in 2012 “to make elected officials more part of the party, more accountable, which was why we took some steps to include them in the leadership of the party.”

“Ione is obviously interpreting it the way she sees fit politically, but it was not the intent of the authors – which were us – and it was not the intent of the committee that amended the bylaws back then with a more than two-thirds vote,” says Mitchell. “We realized that the success or failure of the party would rely on making sure that those elected officials that Democrats had worked so hard to raise money for were part of the solution to move our party.”

Alma Gonzalez, who is running against Donna Fore for State Committeewoman, agrees with Mitchell and says “it’s difficult to to understand her interpretation of this by-law to exclude and in fact disenfranchise (local Democrats) in selecting party leadership.”

Townsend counters that the Florida Democratic Party, in its December of 2012 reorganization meeting, also found “that people who held nonpartisan office were not included in the definition.”

“There’s something awry here with people’s recollections of what went down and what the intent was,” responds Townsend. “We have to go with what is written, and my interpretation is that it does not specifically include office holders of nonpartisan races.”

Townsend says that in fact there haven’t been any of these nonpartisan office holders at any meetings over the past year, with the exception of Councilman Guido Maniscalco, who applied for membership and was elected and sworn in and signed a loyalty oath. She also says she understands there is a perception that she is trying to limit participation in next week’s election, but adds that others have said that she shouldn’t loosen the rules. “I am caught right square in the middle,” she says, adding that she’s had “angst over this for three weeks.”

Perhaps no one is more affected by Townsend’s interpretation than Alan Clendenin, who is running for State Committeeman against Russ Patterson. Clendenin is seriously considering running for the Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party next month, a race that he fell just short of winning four years ago. In order to run for state party chair, candidates must be local party chairs or a committeeman or committeewoman.

After being informed about Townsend’s decision to review the by-laws, he said in an email last week that, “I am quite perturbed about it. They have always been allowed to vote. How on earth can we not allow Mike Suarez, State President of the Democratic Municipal Officers, Harry Cohen,Yolie Capin or Bob Buckhorn? It is crazy what people will do to try to win a party power struggle.”

Townsend insists she’s not trying to exclude anyone from participating in the election. “I want to run a fair and open election and one that will stand up against scrutiny of state statues, FDP by-laws and our own by-laws.” She’s invited all of those Democrats elected in nonpartisan races to attend Monday’s meeting, where she will pet them to vote on a provisional ballot, in case her ruling of the by-laws is overturned if appealed.

Townsend herself is on the ballot as chair, but is not being opposed.

Gonzalez says she’s disappointed about the in-party fighting, and worries it could be a turnoff to Hillsborough DEC newcomers.

“It’s unfortunate that we have this kind of distraction  going on at at time when there are many folks who are interested and who are coming and who are putting  forward their time and their effort and raising their  hand and saying we want to be a part of a solution,”she says.

Monday’s meeting will take place at the Letter Carriers Hall, 3003 W. Cypress Street at 6 p.m.

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Alex Sink, Neil Brickfield endorse Joe Ayoub for Safety Harbor Mayor

In a show of bipartisan support, former elected officials Alex Sink, a Democrat, and Neil Brickfield, a Republican, have endorsed Joe Ayoub for Mayor of Safety Harbor.

Ayoub launched his campaign just a few weeks ago and is gaining strong momentum. Ayoub says he brings a record of balancing the city’s budget, working with fellow community leaders to solve issues and a commonsense plan for managing progress while maintaining Safety Harbor’s small town charm.

“I support Joe because he has a public servant’s heart for serving the people of his community. He is a fiscal conservative who has the background and experience to keep taxes low and the budget balanced while also providing an exciting vision to energize the downtown and preserve the small town charm that Safety Harbor families cherish,” former Florida CFO Sink said.

“I have known Joe a long time and partisan politics stop at the mayoral level. Joe is qualified, committed and capable. I know he will lead Safety Harbor in the right direction. I proudly support Joe and look forward to working with him as our Safety Harbor mayor,” former Pinellas County Commissioner Brickfield said.

“As the mayor and as a licensed CPA I’m proud to have passed the first balanced budget in 2013 that didn’t dip into reserves for the first time in seven years. Going forward I’ll continue being laser focused on keeping taxes low and spending in check,” Ayoub said.

Ayoub graduated Countryside High School and earned an accounting degree from the University of Florida and a masters degree from the University of South Florida. He is the chief financial officer (CFO) at Data Blue. Joe lives in Safety Harbor and enjoys biking and running.

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Pinellas Legislative Delegation to consider changes to construction licensing board

Responding to a request from Charlie Justice, the Pinellas Legislative Delegation will consider changing the way members of the Construction Licensing Board are chosen.

State Sen. Jack Latvala, the delegation chair, called on state Rep. Larry Ahern to come up with a plan by the delegation’s Jan. 31 meeting. State Sen. Jeff Brandes said he wanted Ahern to consider dissolving the board so it would come under control of the Pinellas County Commission.

The licensing board, created in 1973, regulates some construction and home improvement contractors practicing in Pinellas County. It also provides countywide certification and registration of contractors.

It has come under fire in recent weeks because of the way the board members are chosen. Certain organizations and others, named in the statute, suggest members and the chair — currently Justice — of the Pinellas County Commission is responsible for appointing them.

Justice explained the problems in a Nov. 16 letter to Latvala and the delegation:

“When the request to appoint various positions of the PCCLB came before me this fall, I noticed some discrepancies as to the number of appointees provided by the various appointing organizations … In addition, some of the appointing organizations no longer exist or have been adopted under the umbrella of another, similar organization.”

Justice concluded, “I would ask that the Pinellas Legislative Delegation review the laws that pertain to the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and consider amending them to reflect the makeup of the appointing organizations as well as the process by which the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners chair would go about appointing/reappointing board members to the PCCLB.”

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Pinellas Legislative Delegation hears from frustrated beach mayor, homeowners

Redington Beach Mayor Nick Simons and four of his constituents came to ask members of Pinellas’ Legislative Delegation to help municipalities that want to regulate short-term, vacation rentals.

Delegations members heard their pain and frustration and made a move toward helping Redington Beach and a similar problem in Indian Rocks Beach. But they showed no interest in working to loosen restrictions on municipalities and counties that want the power to regulate those type rentals.

“I want to see this problem solved this year,” state Sen. Jack Latvala said. Latvala, Republican, is the chair of the delegation. “We are committed to try to solve this problem this year.”

State Sen. Jeff Brandes pointed out the money that short-term rentals bring into the county — about $63,000 a month in bed taxes. He added that the “vast, vast majority” of short-term rentals are working out but that there are isolated problems. He cautioned that any tinkering with the statute should be done delicately.

Latvala appointed Reps. Kathleen Peters and Ben Diamond as a “committee of two” to come up with a proposed solution for Redington and Indian Rock beaches in time for the delegation’s Jan. 31 meeting. Democrat Diamond, a lawyer from St. Petersburg, is new to the delegation. Peters, a Republican, represents many of the beach communities.

The Redington Beach council passed an ordinance in 2008 that restricted short-term vacation rentals. In 2011, the Legislature passed a statute saying that local governments could not restrict them. If, however, a city already had a rule in place, those would be honored.

Redington Beach thought it was protected. Recently, however, a Canadian couple bought a beach house and began renting it out. That was apparently successful because the couple bought another, larger house to rent out. Neighbors soon began complaining about noise, trash and rats, among other things.

They complained to the city, which tried to shut them down under the 2008 ordinance that prohibited such rentals. But the Canadians’ attorney argued that the ordinance was null because it had not gone to referendum before being passed as required by the Redington Beach charter.

That left the city’s hands tied and residents suffering.

“You’re looking at the poster child of what’s wrong with vacation rentals,” Redington Beach homeowner Steve Fields said. “Our life is holy hell. … It stinks. Rats are running around all over the place.”

Claudia McCorkle, a Redington Beach homeowner who lives between the two rentals, said, “It is a veritable nightmare.”

Neighbors, she said, must put up with “shrieking, screaming, undisciplined, unsupervised children.”

“The piercing shrieks are obnoxious,” McCorkle said.

Delegation members suggested the city cite the landlords or renters under other ordinances and to call the sheriff when the noise became too loud.

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Vern Buchanan co-sponsoring legislation to toughen screening of overseas shipments of synthetic drugs into coming to U.S.

GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan announced Friday he is co-sponsoring legislation to toughen screening of overseas shipments of deadly synthetic drugs coming into the United States.

The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act will help stem the flow of dangerous drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil by requiring more intensive screening at U.S. Postal Service facilities. Fentanyl and carfentanil are synthetic drugs similar to heroin but more than 50 times more powerful. These drugs are often manufactured in foreign countries like China and mailed into the United States.

“While our community is making progress addressing the heroin crisis, we are now confronting a new threat – fentanyl,” said Buchanan, who represents Sarasota and Manatee Counties in Congress.“If we want to save lives and reduce overdose deaths we must stop these new killer drugs from crossing the border.”

Fentanyl is up to 50 times as potent as heroin but easier and cheaper to produce, made from chemicals instead of fields of poppies. Legal versions of fentanyl have been sold as painkillers or anesthetics since the 1960s.  In April, Prince died of a fentanyl overdose.

Manatee County ranks highest in the state for the number of fentanyl-related deaths, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Medical Examiners Commission. And synthetic fentanyl variations have been found in 41 fatal overdoses so far this year, according to the medical examiner for Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. In Florida, fentanyl-related deaths increased by 77.6 percent last year when compared to 2014, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Medical Examiners Commission.

“This is an important bill that will help reduce the amount of fentanyl and carfentanil entering the United States,” says Manatee County Sheriff-elect Rick Wells. “It’s critical that we cut the head off of the snake and put an end to the destruction these synthetic drugs are causing in our communities.”

These substances can come in several forms, including powder, tablets, and spray and can be absorbed through the skin or by accidental inhalation.

The STOP Act was introduced by Ohio House Republican Pat Tiberi. It would require shipments from foreign countries through the U.S. postal system to provide electronic advance data stating information such as where and who the package is coming from, where and who it’s going to, and what’s inside. Currently the USPS does not adequately screen all “non-letter” packages entering our country from abroad for dangerous or illegal contents.

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Mitch Perry Report for 12.2.16 – The Rock in 2024?

Rick Kriseman’s appointment of former WTFS weatherman Bill Logan to serve in the newly created position of communications director for the public works department is getting (predictably) negative reviews in the Pinellas County GOP world, who think it is more “big government” from the Democratic-leaning administration. It naturally fuels speculation about who will the Pinellas County Republican prop up to challenge the mayor next year, if Rick Baker opts not to not to get into the race. As is usually the case with the former St. Pete Mayor, no one on the outside is clear where he is on such a big decision, and he’s likely to play the Hamlet card with those of us in the media before making that decision. If not Baker, is there anyone else viable?

While the world waits to figure out how far Donald Trump will go on some of the (few) specific policies that he enunciated during his successful campaign, immigration always rises to the top. Trump has promised to deport the two-million plus undocumented immigrants who have criminal records, but that’s going to be a problem. According to the NY Times, there is a backlog of more than 520,000 in the 56 nationwide immigration courts around the nation. The paper reports that at least hundreds of thousands of those deportations would have to be approved by immigration judges, which means the most efficient way to clear the backlog would be to hire more immigration judges. Except that there was another promise made on the trail – that he intends to freeze federal hiring new resources.

“Now in Denver, the court with the longest wait times in the country, most cases drag on more than five years, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group studying federal data, has found,” the Times reports.

The Democratic National Committee won’t choose their chairman for two more months, but the early front-runner, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, says he’s getting smeared about some of his comments going back to the early 1990’s.  The Anti-Defamation League says that his 2010 comments about about whether Israel controls U.S. foreign policy are “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.”

You’re hearing from a lot of blowhard baseball purists today, hailing the decision by Major League Baseball to award home field advantage in the World Series to the pennant winner with the best regular-season record, and not the representative from the League that won the All-Star game. Sure, it makes sense, but do you know what the rule was before 2002, when Bud Selig made the change? It alternated between the leagues, with zero consideration about who had the best record in the game. So there.

And forget about Kanye West in 2020, what about The Rock? The man just declared the Sexiest Man Alive by People and the highest paid actor by Forbes tells Sports Illustrated that he’s thinking of running for office. “I’m something I’m very serious about in the future,” says the 44-year-old registered Republican.

In other news..

Davison’s loose talk about using secession of New Tampa from the rest of the city has prompted Bob Buckhorn to come off the sidelines and endorse Viera, a fellow Democrat.

The state of Florida was behind the majority of states when it finally passed a texting while driving law thee years ago, so a South Florida House Democrat would like to make it tougher, changing from a secondary to a primary offense.

For those who want to petition their state government, your best shot at speaking before a state lawmaker may take place in two weeks, when the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meets up in Tampa.

And the White House has named the Tampa Bay area and three other Florida regions as “tech-hire” communities. 

 

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St. Pete City Council delays vote on funds for Tall Ship Lynx

St. Petersburg council members decided Thursday to send to committee a proposal to spend BP settlement money to build a docking area for the Tall Ship Lynx.

If the proposal passes the council’s budget committee, it would come back for a final decision.

Under the proposal, the council would spend up to $65,000 on infrastructure so the Lynx can winter at the Vinoy Basin/North Yacht Basin. The ship is currently berthed at the Harborage Marina.

The Tall Ship Lynx is an interpretation of an American privateer that was used in the War of 1812. The modern-day Lynx, owned by the Lynx Education Foundation, is used for educational purposes. The Lynx, which costs about $30,000 a month in basic costs to maintain, is financed by rentals and other activities open to tourists and others.

“They are really relying on walk-up traffic,” said Greg Holden, chair of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

That’s why the ship needs to be at the North Basin, he said. The ship would be more visible there than at Harborage so it could attract more visitors. But it can’t simply move there because it requires special accommodations.

Some of those, such as a floating dock, have been pledged by private donors. Council member Ed Montanari. Holden and others suggest that the city should pay the remaining from BP settlement money.

They estimate the cost to the city at $65,000. That would include a gangway, sidewalks, permits, fencing and other site work.

Other council members said they might support the idea of contributing money to keep the Lynx in St. Pete. But, they said they were blindsided by having the item put on the agenda at the last minute. The usual procedure, said Jim Kennedy, would be for the item to go before the council’s budget committee for vetting before it came before the council as a whole.

“It feels very rushed,” Kennedy said. “That makes me uncomfortable.”

Council members were also concerned by a lack of backup contracts. Although they were told the Lynx had committed to remain in St. Pete for the next couple of winters, there was no written agreement. Nor were there written agreements with private benefactors who had agreed to provide a floating dock and other items so the Lynx could be berthed at the North Basin.

Council members were also concerned about the impact the Lynx might have on the design to the Pier approach and a larger marina overhaul that’s in the works. Another concern was whether the money should come from BP funds or another source.

Council member Charlie Gerdes said, “This project is completely attractive to me.”

However, he said, the information that was lacking is why there is a procedure for having items come before the council.

“Right now, it’s a hodgepodge-stick-it-in-there because it’s a nice thing,” Gerdes said.

Gerdes said he agreed that the proposal should go to committee: “Sausage making is ugly and takes time. [Take it to committee and] do it swiftly, but do it right.”

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Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meeting set for December 16

With Tallahassee a four-hour drive away, the annual meeting of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation to be held in two weeks in Tampa could very possibly be the only time local residents can address their state representative(s).

That meeting will take place on Friday, December 16 at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water Street, from 9 a.m. to 3.p.m.

The Delegation consists of 13 members of the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives that represent all or parts of Hillsborough County. Senators Dana Young, Bill Galvano, Darryl Rouson will join Brandon area state Senator Tom Lee , who serves this year as the current Chair of the Delegation.

House members include Jake Raburn, Dan Raulerson, Sean Shaw, Ross Spano, Jackie Toledo, Janet Cruz, Jamie Grant and Wengay Newton.

The annual meeting is an opportunity for the general public to interact with and voice any concerns or opinions to their elected officials prior to the start of the 2017 Legislative Session. It’s also when lawmakers will propose so-called “local bills”

Public testimony will be limited to three minutes per speaker. The deadline to submit a request to speak is 5 p.m. on Friday, December 9, which you can access from this page. Additional speaker request forms will be available at the meeting.

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Tampa and 3 other Florida areas selected by the White House as “Tech Hire” Communities

The White House announced on Thursday that the Tampa Bay area has become one of 20 of the latest communities (and four in Florida) named to participate in its “TechHire” initiative that aims to equip Americans with the skills they need to land jobs in the tech industry. The announcement was made via the White House at 11 a.m., and an hour later, a press conference was held at City Hall in Tampa, kicked off not by Mayor Bob Buckhorn but instead by Mark Sharpe, the head of the Tampa Innovation Alliance, who said that while universities like USF are providing plenty of training to get young people the opportunity to compete for the growing number of tech jobs in the country, there are a number of others who have missed out on what is considered the “tech revolution.”

“What’s exciting is the that the Tampa Innovation Alliance and our district has been recognized by the White House as an innovation district worthy of their support, and the city of Tampa is emerging as a tech leader in this nation,” Sharpe said, emphasizing that everybody has the opportunity to compete for these jobs.

These so-called “innovation districts” have been popping up all over the U.S. in recent years. They’ve been described as  geographic areas where “anchor” institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. Ideally they’re also physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically-wired and offer mixed-use housing, office, and retail.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance kicked off nearly two years, fueled by a $2 million injection from the Hillsborough County Commission. It literally scored big time back in June, when it secured a $3.8 million grant from the federal government to develop training in the University Area of North Tampa, providing education specifically for technology-related jobs. That grant was the result of a partnership between CareerSource Tampa Bay, the University Area Community Development Corp., Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay Technology Forum and the Tampa Bay Innovation Alliance.

Through CareerSource Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s workforce development board, the Tampa Innovation Alliance is going to be working over the next three years to get the message out to approximately 1,000 local out-of-school youth and young adults to get involved. Employers across industries, such as BayCare Health Systems and Cognizant Technology Solutions, are partnering with the initiative in order to advance the economic health and technology industry of the community.  The first meeting will be held at USF Research Park on Dec. 15.

“We will identify over 1,000 individuals who qualify for the program, but as the program evolves and we talk to our business partners,” said Sharpe. “There’s an understanding between the White House, CareerSource and the Department of Labor that they modify existing programs or add to existing programs to even train more workers.”

“Make no mistake, we have changed as a community our economic DNA,” said Buckhorn, referring to how the tech revolution has spread from places like San Francisco, Boston and Washington D.C. to areas like Tampa. “We are not dependent on selling real estate and selling Florida based on cheap land, cheap labor and cheap taxes. We are a different economy.”

Buckhorn said that there are as many as 40 percent of these tech jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree, so there are opportunities with those with the ability to learn coding skills. “This grant gives us the opportunity to touch those kids in that university area, and touch some of those kids who may not have that opportunity, or may not be able to afford to go to a four-year college, but yet with a little assistance and a little training could be productive matters for our society.”

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said he recently returned from St. Louis, where he observed their innovation district and came away with two takeaways. One was that everyone in the community had to prosper, and that the local governments play a crucial role in “kickstarting” the effort to ultimately attract private money to invest in the community. “This is huge, because without trained workers, the private sector will never invest, because they can go find well trained people anywhere,” he added.

Other Florida communities named at “TechHire” areas by the White House are Alachua and Bradford Counties, Pensacola, and the Central Florida area, where the University of Central Florida, Valencia College and the Florida Institute of Technology will play a role in developing trainings to train and place 100 people within the next year and 400 people by 2002 into tech jobs.

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