Category Archives: Business News

21May/10

Poly Supporters Turn to Twitter

When Shannon Lanier wanted to spread the word about Gov. Charlie Crist’s possible veto of funds for the University of South Florida Polytechnic she turned to the most immediate source of publicity, Twitter.

Lanier, executive director of Lakeland Vision, says using Twitter has captured the attention of people who may not pay attention to local politics and, in particular, what’s at stake in Tallahassee.

“Lakeland Vision has over 700 people who follow our Twitter feed to get updates on local matters,” she says. “We have recently dedicated most of our updates to the possible budget cuts that would negatively impact our community’s Vision.”

The community-created Vision has a specific strategy to “Partner with USF Polytechnic to leverage the new campus for economic development and high-wage job creation.”

“Lakeland Vision is acting on the community’s behalf to ensure the state funding remains in place to make that part of the Vision a reality,” she says.

“We have used Twitter to distribute information about the issue, how people can encourage Governor Crist to keep the funding in place, and to gather information about what others may be saying about the potential veto.”

The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce has also joined the campaign. According to Amy Wiggins, vice president of communications, Twitter offers an ideal format for reaching hundreds of people instantly

“We are active in using Twitter to communicate with our members and with the community around us,” she says. “We also use the Chamber’s Facebook page to relay tweets to our Facebook fans who might not participate in the Twittersphere. Twitter allows us to tie the force behind the issue with our brand, giving both a positive boost on the Web. While many see Twitter as ‘broadcast social media,’ we have learned that with issues like the USFP funding and “No on 4,” it creates a genuine conversation in the community–especially engaging the up-and-coming generations.”

According to social-media consultant Chuck Welch, who edits Lakeland Local and Metro I-4 News, “Twitter is an excellent tool for the fast dissemination of calls to action. They’re using the 21st Century version of the telephone tree — with the added advantage of an almost instantaneous spread of their message.”

Lanier says various followers have “re-tweeted” the posts, spreading the word to people who may not be plugged in to updates from the Chamber or Lakeland Vision.

“We are also re-tweeting updates from others trying to get the same message out to their constituents – or followers. Honestly, it’s pretty exciting to see people rally behind such a critical issue. We are delighted that Governor Crist is receiving emails, letters, phone calls and faxes from members of the Central Florida region encouraging him to sign the legislation as presented. We’re just doing our part by rallying together our social media troops to make the same impact.”

To follow Twitter feeds related to this story, check out @LakelandVision, @LakelandChamber, @ChuckWelch, @USFP and @CharlieCristFL.

[Editor’s Note: To contact Governor Charlie Crist and let him know that you support the funding of  USF Poly & Polk State College, visit our blog “Tell Governor Crist NO VETO on USFP Funding”. There you”ll find links to form letters that you can e-mail as well as Governor Crist’s phone number (850-488-4441)]

15May/10

SBDC Seminars for June

The Small Business Development Center, at Central Florida Development Council, is offering a several business seminars in June.  These are held at SBDC-USF Polytechnic, (Lakeland Campus), 3433 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland, Fl 33803-9807.

June:

  • Steps to Starting a Small Business, June 3, 9:30am– 12:00pm
  • How to Become a State of Florida Certified Business Enterprise, June 22, 10:00am – 12:00pm
  • Building the Ultimate Business Plan-I, June 22, 5:30pm–7:30pm
  • Building the Ultimate Business Plan – II, June 29, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

All classes are $35, unless otherwise noted

To register for a seminar, please visit the website at:  www.polksbdc.org or for more information, please contact the Small Business Development Center at (863) 667.7913.

10May/10

USFP’s Blue Sky Incubators are Officially “Cookin'”

University of South Florida Polytechnic celebrated with community members, staff, incubated businesses and, well, just about everyone, the recent grand opening of the Blue Sky Incubators in Polk County. Information about Blue Sky and the incubation system can be found at Poly.USF.edu/BlueSky.

Blue Sky West is a 6,428 square-foot location at 116 S. Kentucky Ave. in Lakeland. Blue Sky East opened at 199 Ave. B NW in Winter Haven with 3,000 square feet.

The Blue Sky facilities are the first public business technology incubators in Polk County. They focus on attracting and nurturing entrepreneurial businesses by creating a place where USF Poly faculty, staff and students can work with businesses to develop innovative technology. Incubated companies will benefit from the proximity to and resources of a national research university as well as the assets of economic development networks.

“This is an important step for our region, as we cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation,” says Dr. Marshall Goodman, VP and CEO of USFP.

“These facilities will provide opportunities for a wide range of enterprises. Some will be raw start-ups, and some will be more advanced. Regardless of the stage, Blue Sky represents an opportunity to thrive.”

According to Goodman, “The story of innovation is the story of entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship is all about calculated risk. That is the principle upon which [we based] Blue Sky. We will provide a climate to nurture innovation.”

“This is a huge opportunity, not only for entrepreneurs but also for investors. We hope it will bring to this area more technology-oriented businesses with the potential for growth and new jobs.”

Initially, USF Poly will seek information technology companies interested in software, networking and developing specific IT projects.

There are 7,000 incubators and counting around the globe, and they create jobs, grow companies and help technology evolve. President Obama has pledged $250 million a year in federal funds to seed a regional network of such organizations–an effort aimed at growing jobs and innovation.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration says business incubators provide communities with significantly greater results at less cost than do any other type of public works infrastructure project.

A recent study conducted for the U.S. Economic Development Administration showed that business incubators provide communities with significantly greater results at less cost than do any other type of public works infrastructure project. In the study of the economic impacts and federal costs of EDA construction program investments, researchers found that business incubators are the most effective means of creating jobs; more effective than roads and bridges, industrial parks, commercial buildings, and sewer and water projects. In fact, incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure projects (for example, water and sewer projects) at a cost of $144 to $216 per job compared with $2,920 to $6,872 for the latter, the report notes.

Business incubation programs provide entrepreneurs with a guiding hand to help them turn their ideas into viable businesses.  Many thousands more jobs have been created by companies that have graduated from these programs and now operate self-sufficiently in their communities. For more information about business incubation and the EDA study, visit www.nbia.org/works.

06May/10

Local Businesses are “LEEDers” in Green Buiding Awards

The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is pleased to announce the winners for the 2010 LEEDership Awards.  LEED is the acronym for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.   Nominees were recognized during the opening ceremonies of the Smart Sustainable Conference on April 22, 2010 in Tampa, Florida at the Hilton Carillon.   The USGBC acknowledged those projects, businesses, and individuals who are LEEDing the way toward a more sustainable environment through green building and design initiatives, and their commitment to the advancement of USGBC in the marketplace and community.   This year’s LEEDers were:

Outstanding Community LEEDer (tie) – Karl Nurse, St. Petersburg Councilman, and Jason Taylor, Architect

Outstanding Project, New Construction – Magnify Credit Union

Outstanding Project, Core & Shell – MetWest One

Outstanding Project, Commercial Interiors – PBS&J

Outstanding Project, Schools – New Heights Elementary

Outstanding Project, Homes – Laurel Street

Outstanding Project, Existing Building – 100 N. Tampa

Outstanding Business of the Year – St. Petersburg College

Outstanding Chapter Member – Ken Buschle

[Editor’s note: The Magnify Credit Union building at 540$ & Scott Lake Road was designed by Straughn Trout Architects and is the only building in Polk County to achieve LEED Gold certification by the USGBC]

About the Florida West Coast Chapter of USGBC

The mission of the Florida Chapter is to lead the region toward sustainability by encouraging and advancing environmental friendly knowledge and values as they pertain to the built environment and its relationship and impact on nature and human kind.  For more information on the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the USGBC, please visit www.sustainabletampabay.org.

About U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a Washington, D.C. based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.  USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building certification program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual GreenBuild International Conference & Expo, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities.

29Apr/10

Residents and Officials Mark Rennovation of Lakewood Terrace Apartment Homes

Lakewood Terrace Apartment Homes | (863) 683-6428

1315 West 14th Street

Summit Housing Partners and officials from the City of Lakeland gathered with residents Wednesday April 28 to celebrate their partnership in the preservation of 132 units of federally-subsidized affordable housing at Lakewood Terrace Apartments. The festivities will mark the completion of the renovations at the 37 year old community as well as the formal introduction of Summit Housing Partners Management as the management agent for the community.

Local dignitaries including Mayor Gow Fields, Commissioner Philip Walker, Commissioner Don Selvage, and representatives from the City’s Community Development Department were in attendance. In addition, regional representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development along with management company officers  participated in the event.

The renovations include new energy efficient HVAC systems and water heaters, new energy efficient kitchen appliances; new cabinets, countertops, flooring and fixtures in the kitchens and baths; new ceiling fans in living rooms and all bedrooms: new window coverings; new roofs and gutter systems; repair and painting of all building exteriors,
repair and addition of perimeter fencing; upgrades to site landscaping and signage; resurfacing and striping of parking areas; addition of covered picnic areas; life safety and accessibility improvements including conversion of 5% of the units to be ADA accessible; and renovations to the community center including the addition of a computer learning center.

The acquisition and renovations to the community were funded in part by loans totaling $448,000 from the City of Lakeland and the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency, $6.5 million in private activity bonds issued by the Housing Finance Authority of Polk County, and the sale of $2.4 million in low income housing tax credits allocated
by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

The units at Lakewood Terrace are reserved for residents with incomes at or below 30% of the Area Medium Income, currently $15,650 for a family of four. The new affordability requirement for the community is 40 years.

About Summit Housing Partners: Summit Housing Partners, LLC is a privately-held company based in Montgomery,
Alabama. Since 1996, the Company has been focused on creating desirable affordable and workforce residential communities. Summit presently owns and operates 85 such communities in nine states comprising approximately 13,000 apartment units.