Member News 10/19/17 – 10/26/17

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Chamber Applauds Tampa Bay Rays Stadium Announcement

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce applauds Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan’s announcement of the Ybor City site as the next step in the stadium selection process to keep the Rays in Tampa Bay.

“After many years of thoughtful discussion, this is an important step forward for Rays fans and our community,” said Chair Mike Griffin.  “The Chamber looks forward to continuing its leadership on this issue as we work together to mobilize the business community’s support of Rays baseball.”

In addition to the Rays’ faithful throughout Tampa Bay and beyond, the proposed site between Channelside and Ybor City could draw an energetic fan base who works and lives in the greater downtown Tampa area and increase the economic engine in the historic Ybor City district.

Recognizing there is much more planning ahead, the Chamber thanks Hillsborough County Commissioner Hagan and Rays leadership for working tirelessly to get to this stage in negotiations.

“Historic Ybor City is a central location for the new stadium,” said Chair Elect Steven Bernstein.  “Thank you to Commissioner Hagan and the Rays for their well-deserved progress.”

LT’18 Law Enforcement Day

By: Ginny Veit, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch tells his daughter, led-1.jpgScout, in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Leadership Tampa Class of 2018 spent Law Enforcement Day climbing into and walking around in the skin of local law enforcement.

The day started at the Orient Road Jail, which is run by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Richard Grammatica, President & CEO of Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, Law Enforcement Day sponsor, addressed the class emphasizing the importance of law enforcement in our community.

Colonel Michael Perotti, who leads the Department of Detention Services then gave an overview of the department’s responsibilities and led a question and answer session with the class. His department is responsible for the housing, custody, and care of people incarcerated in Hillsborough County. The Orient Road Jail is the primary receiving facility for law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County.

Col. Perotti explained that people in his department’s custody, (i.e. “in jail”) are there for one of two reasons:

  1. The person has been arrested, but not yet convicted of a crime. The person is either not being allowed bond or is not able to afford to bond out, or
  2. The person has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to one year or less. Conversely, people in prison have been convicted of a crime and have been sentenced to more than one year.

Because the ratio inmates to officers is 1:72 in the housing pods, the mix of inmates is carefully considered for each pod. Each pod has a mix of people with various backgrounds. People arrested for white collar crime will be mixed with those accused of violent crime.

According to Col. Perotti, the majority of the people taken into custody suffer from some type of mental health issue. Additionally, the inmates must receive medical care. The budget for these services in the detention system is staggering.

LT’18 divided into 4 groups led by jail staff for tours of the facility, which included central booking, the command center, a typical pod, and an isolation unit. A person taken into custody is received in central booking, where they are searched. Each person must be evaluated for medical and mental health issues. The command center is a room full of video screens where the jail is monitored. Should any issue arise for a deputy in any part of the jail, the command center can get help there almost immediately. A typical pod at the Orient Road Jail has up to 72 inmates and one deputy with them. Isolation units are used for those inmates that are a danger to others or who would be in danger among the other inmates.

LT’18 gained an understanding from top brass down that the humane treatment of inmates with dignity and respect is the duty of the staff at the Orient Road Jail. The philosophy has changed from the past when jail inmates were kept in cage-like cells and treated like animals. “When people are treated like animals, they act like animals,” Col. Perotti explained. The goal here is to treat them as people.

Sgt. Wanda Johnson explained that they have care and custody for people who have not yet been convicted of a crime. Therefore, they must be considered innocent until proven guilty. Her attitude reiterated the overriding theme at Orient Road Jail that people are to be treated with dignity and respect.

LT’18 was treated to lunch in the staff cafeteria at the Orient Road Jail. Each table had a local law enforcement leader with 3 or 4 members of the LT’18 class. The food was (surprisingly) good, but getting to know these leaders on a personal level was a highlight of the day.

LED 2After lunch the class went to the Tampa Police Department Training Facility. Interim Chief Brian Dugan welcomed the group. He shared that he was treated for prostate cancer last year. He said that if someone told him he would be serving as Interim Chief then, he would never have believed it.

Major Lee Bercaw (LT Class of 2017) followed with TPD statistics and strategies. Starting with Stephen Hogue’s appointment as Chief in 2003, TPD has taken a proactive business mentality to policing to ensure that Tampa is a great place to live and work. TPD implemented a “Focus on 4” strategy to aggressively target burglary, robbery, auto burglary, and theft. This strategy paid off. The statistics show that Tampa had 25,000 fewer crimes reported in 2016 than it did in 1996.

The class split into four groups for tours of the facility. They had explored equipment and led-3.jpgmet with members of the bomb squad, the TPD and HSCO SWAT teams, and the TPD marine unit. On the driving course, LT’18 had the opportunity to ride along with Cpl. Jared Douds to experience a J turn, which is used when an officer needs to quickly evade a situation in his car (Google it  – it was a thrill!). They also experienced a car chase on the driving track where Cpl. Douds used his car to execute a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver to cause the car expertly driven by Range Master Steve Smith to abruptly turn the evading car sideways to stop it.

Using a projected simulation and various simulation weapons, LT’18 sampled the training that officers receive in handling realistic situations in the field. Trainees interact with subjects by talking to them on the screen while the training officer selects the subjects’ reactions. Volunteers from the class had to make decision about whether and when to use a Taser when faced with a belligerent bar patron, a school shooter, and a homeless person sleeping in a doorway. This provided the class members with perspective about the use of deadly force against suspects and how quickly those decisions must be made.

led-4.jpgTPD officers are required to be trained in Taser use. They are required to experience being tased only if they choose to carry a Taser in the field. LT’18 members were given the option to experience what it is like to be tased. Surprisingly, several members of the class took Training Specialist Russell Marcotrigiano up on his offer to tase them. Tased class members described the feeling as a “paralyzing muscle cramp in my back” and “the longest 5 seconds of my life.”

Together with police ride-alongs prior to Law Enforcement Day, the class had the led-5.jpgopportunity to get as close as possible to walking in the skin of a police officer. A classmate noted how officers not only risk their lives, they actually give up something intangible. They see the worst of humanity and it takes something from them changing way they see people and the world. However, they must maintain an impartiality that allows them to not rush to judgement in a situation. Rachel Feinman pointed out the officers’ knowledge and respect for the law. LT’18 members noted the compassion and respect the officers show to victims and suspects alike. Every member of LT’18 came away with a new level of understanding for the issues law enforcement in our community face each day. Truly it was an outstanding day. Thanks again to Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union for sponsoring it.LED 6

Member News 10/12/17 – 10/19/17

Member News

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Chamber Names Winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony on Wednesday, October 18, at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay’s small business community and toasted the evening’s big winners.

This year’s event was presented by BB&T and Frazier & Deeter and represents the 37th year the Chamber has recognized this key segment of the region’s economy. Small business awards were presented in three categories based on the number of employees and a fourth business category honoring a startup company. Companies are evaluated on financial success, community involvement and ethical business practices. An award was also presented to the Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year.

The 2017 Small Business of the Year Award winners are:

Outstanding Leader: Vincent J. Cassidy, President & CEO, Majesty Title Services, LLC

Over the last decade, Vince Cassidy has built Majesty Title Services, LLC from the ground up. He is unwavering in his determination to execute his vision and grow the firm. Vincent is the backbone of the organization and selflessly gives of himself to his team and community. Majesty Title Services, LLC is a full-service Title & Settlement Agency, headquartered in Tampa. Their mission is to provide the finest, most innovative title solutions in the industry.

Startup: VetCor LLC

VetCor LLC is a restoration company that solves water and mold damage challenges in commercial and residential properties. They differentiate themselves by primarily deploying former members of the U.S. military as service technicians. Their mission is to provide exceptional service to customers and provide great value to their corporate partners, while creating meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for our Nation’s Heroes – Sustaining a Legacy of Service!

5–20 Employees: Sessums Black Caballero Ficarrotta, PA

For over 34 years, Sessums Black Caballero Ficarrotta, PA has provided first class, client-centered legal services in every area of complex family law. With a team of fourteen, they provide concierge-type legal services specializing in complex family law issues, including divorce litigation and collaborative processes, premarital and post-marital agreements, cohabitation agreements, paternity, custody and parental responsibility, alimony, child support, and post-judgment modifications.

21–50 Employees: Davis Industrial

Davis Industrial, formerly BMG Conveyor Services of Florida, is an industrial services company that specializes in conveyor maintenance, metal fabrication, and power transmission. Acquired in 2008 with three employees, they now have two facilities located in the Palm River area that house their operations with 32 full time employees. On February 2, 2017, they re-branded as Davis Industrial to fully encompass their ever-growing product offering and service capabilities.

51–250 Employees: NewSouth Window Solutions

NewSouth Window Solutions custom manufactures, sells and installs high performance, energy efficient windows and doors with hurricane impact options.  NewSouth has grown to be a force in the Florida window and door market. There are two divisions in which their factory brings products to the consumer. The retail division is factory direct to homeowners for replacement projects. The commercial division, Doers Window, manufactures and installs windows and doors to the multi-family market: apartments, hotels, assisted living facilities and student housing.

LT’18 Community Outreach Day

Goodwill Bookworks

Dr. Alberto Vázquez, HCPS

What an inspiring visit to see Goodwill be able to promote literacy in early childhood through their Bookworks program.  It was impressive to see that this program is now impacting eight counties in Florida and nearly 20,000 children annually.  Additionally, this program depends on volunteers who will visit Head Start centers and read to children.  Ideally, this creates a partnership and an investment from the community to support the efforts of Bookworks.

The opportunity to visit a Head Start center where the majority of its student population is at or below poverty level and interacting with the children by reading to them was both inspiring and rewarding.  The appreciation the students demonstrated was humbling as they enjoyed all four books read aloud to them. Most importantly, the children went home with a book donated by individuals who believe in this program and believe that early childhood literacy starts the road to student success.


Junior Achievement BizTown

Ginny Veit, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Members of LT’18 visited Junior Achievement’s BizTown on Community Outreach day. BizTown is a simulated city that gives Hillsborough county’s 5th grade students an opportunity to experience the business world. BizTown is sponsored by local businesses that each have storefronts in the city. The students spend time prior to their visit preparing for the visit, interviewing  for their jobs which include salespeople, CEOs, CFOs, medical professionals, DJs, reporters, government workers and even a chance to work at McDonalds’s.

On the day of the visit, each student learns about his or her job responsibilities from a guide for that role. CFO’s cut paychecks, pay bills and receive payments for goods and services. The students experience receiving and depositing a paycheck and making decisions about how to spend and save their money. They also get insight into how businesses operate and make money. Each business begins by taking a loan and the goal of the business is to be able to make enough money to repay it at the end.

Five LT’18 members served as volunteers in various businesses as well as in the town hall helping guide the students through their roles. Most questions were easily answered by referring back to the guides for each student’s role. The volunteers were impressed with the level of depth and detail and by how organized the JA team is. The kids have fun doing their jobs while they learn so much about how the business world works. This organization is a great teaching tool and asset to our community.


Dress for Success Tampa Bay

Jessica Burns Fugate, the Crisis Center

Dress for Success has been serving the Tampa Bay community since 1998 and was the first affiliate in the state. More than 1 million women have received assistance since its inception across the entire organization.  We learned that “the suit is actually just the beginning” in the life-changing services provided as Dress for Success works with a variety of agencies throughout the county that make referrals to connect unemployed women for assistance with the interview process. Services are not income eligible and clients include women who are homeless to PhDs.

Upon arriving, women meet with a volunteer to select a professional outfit and accessories for the interview in a boutique-like setting. Once they are hired, clients select six pieces to jumpstart their work wardrobe. Other services include First Impressions (an assessment of resume writing and job search strategies), Moving Forward (a six-week course preparing for interview essentials) and Professional Women’s Group (a networking group once hired).

Dress for Success is able to do what they do through generous community support including a computer lab equipped with computers, printers and ink supplied by Macy’s and Tech Data, a part-time employee sponsored by AARP, 107 volunteers that do everything from meeting with clients to organizing donations and stocking the floor, and so many others. When asked how we could help the most, Katie McGill, Executive Director, said to let others know that they do more than just give out suits. They are truly changing women’s lives!


Meals on Wheels

Kiana Wilson, A Sharper U

Meals on Wheels (M.O.W.) currently has over 600 volunteers in the Tampa Bay area. These volunteers deliver to approximately 750 homes per day (5 days a week) primarily to individuals who are home-bound due to some type of mobility issue. Fresh and nutritionally balanced meals are prepared daily at the Tampa facility between 5:30 – 6:30am by Chef Antonio. With an average recipient age of late 70s, Meals on Wheels may be the only meal and/or interaction these individuals receive. For many, this gives them a reason to get up and get going each day in anticipation of the volunteer’s arrival.

The primary goals of the Meals on Wheels program are to (1) Nourish the body; (2) Enrich the spirit and; (3) Strengthen the community. Keeping in mind that recipients comprise of former bankers, teachers, musicians and others whom have helped to build our community and now need some assistance with maintaining their independence, volunteers are proud to be of service and give back. Monroe E., a paid driver for M.O.W., says the most rewarding part of his job is to see the smiles on recipient faces!

Lastly, Meals on Wheels has approximately 66 partner corporations, small businesses, groups and clubs through their Adopt-a-Route program. Partners provide delivery of meals along a designated route, depending on their availability. This program serves as a great team-building experience while also increasing public awareness and emphasizing social responsibility.

  • Every year on the recipient’s birthday, they receive a homemade birthday cake.
  • Every year during the holidays, recipients receive a holiday bag packed with goodies.
  • Youngest recipient is 20 years old.


YMCA Reads!

Adrienne Morgan, Sparxoo

The YMCA is integrated two-fold with Sulphur Springs Elementary School for youth development—first through the YMCA Community Learning Center and the YMCA Reads! program. Both are focused on working with the students of Sulphur Springs Elementary School to close the gap between low-income students and middle/high-income students.

The Sulphur Springs YMCA Community Learning Center has both an after-school program and a summer camp. This after-school program is focused on providing year-round support to students enrolled in grades K-5th grade. The program includes self-guided academic curriculum, and group and individual tutoring. The YMCA employees work with teachers to identify areas for development and opportunities for improvement for the students. They also work together to relay that information to the parents. The summer camp is focused on avoiding the summer learning loss.

The second YMCA integration is YMCA Reads!, a program focused on enhancing literacy with 1st through 3rd graders. Through this program, the Y strives to ensure the children are ready to read by kindergarten, and ready to learn by 3rd grade.

Ms. Megan runs the Community Learning Center and Mr. Brown runs the YMCA Reads! program. Through interaction with the energetic students, it is apparent there are various levels of ability and understanding. The students work on their letters and words through a variety of books, card exercises, word games and so forth.  By visiting Sulphur Springs YMCA, one thing is apparent—it isn’t individuals running the program, its students’ success.


Quantum Leap Farms

Stacey Pittman, BT Wealth Advisors

On the morning of Community Outreach Day, one of the LT ‘18 groups traveled to Quantum Leap Farms, located on the outskirts of Tampa in Odessa, Florida. Founded by Edie Dopking, PhD, Quantum Leap Farm provides equine-assisted therapy for children and adults with special needs, military service members and veterans. Using horses as therapy partners, Quantum’s staff provides a variety of equine activities to promote physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Upon rounding the gravel road that leads to Quantum Leap Farm, it’s clear why this special place serves as a place of healing and calm for those who visit. The facility is located on a serene 20-acre pasture surrounded by a 1,700-acre environmentally sensitive land preserve owned by Hillsborough County. The farm is home to not only 14 horses, but also donkeys, goats, and chickens.

After spending time with Edie Dopkin and Sarah Page, Donor Relations and Community Manager, learning about the history and mission of Quantum Leap Farms, the group was given the opportunity to “side walk” with some of the participants and their therapists. Some of the therapists focused on daily activities such as dressing while others focused on speech therapy – all while sitting atop the horses!  The therapists explained that equine therapy helps to relax participants, which makes therapy even more effective. Additionally, the horse’s natural gait is very similar to the natural sway of the pelvis during walking. Horse riding serves as a training activity for the body of the individual to move in the right way. The horse gait and rocking motion also help in developing muscle tone and coordination to effectively help the patient in standing and walking.

One of Quantum Leap’s newest programs is called Warrior Mission: At Ease, a five-day retreat for veterans and family members.  It is designed to help those suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, mild traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma.  Participants come from across the country, with the farm covering the cost of air travel, hotel and other expenses.  Edie’s dream is to secure enough funding to build a dormitory on site so that participants can enjoy the serenity of the farm during the entire stay, rather than traveling to local hotels.

Our group was so grateful for the opportunity to travel to the magical place that is Quantum Leap Farm to participate in the amazing work that is done and the many lives that are changed every day.


Frameworks Tampa Bay

Sarah Ham, AACSB International

Can emotional intelligence be taught with an ice cream cone? If you visit Broward Elementary School, you will find an educator who is teaching kids how to give (and receive) complements through the creative methodologies of the Frameworks program. Each scoop of ice cream represented a complement the class paid to the student of the day, while the cone represented a trait the student admired about himself- a visual example that demonstrated a foundation of self-worth (the cone) with the appreciation of their traits by others (the ice cream.)

While seated in a circle on a brightly colored rug, students complemented the young boy in a way many adults find difficult to do. How would you react if someone recognized you as “a great scholar?” Would you be able to see that trait in someone else? The young boy’s smile stretched ear-to-ear as his teacher drew an ice cream cone on construction paper, and wrote ‘great scholar’ in the scoop at the top – a powerful moment that might not have happened without Frameworks, which provides social and emotional learning (SEL) programs for youth in grades preK-12. SEL encompasses everything from self-awareness to relationship skills and responsible decision-making – skills you won’t find spelled out in textbooks, but are critical to navigating every stage of life. Don’t be afraid to give yourself some ice cream – and share a scoop with a colleague as well.


RICH House

Rolfe Thompson, GTE Financial

The Resources In Community Hope (RICH) house works to enhance neighborhood safety through collaboration between police and residents in high-crime areas.  The program offers impoverished children a safe atmosphere in which to grow, learn, and play as an alternative to being idle on the streets after school and during the summer.  The recent donation of two passenger vans allows the RICH house kids to go on field trips in the area including recent visits to the Lowry Park Zoo, Busch Gardens, and the FWC fish hatchery.  The RICH house, which is funded by the Tampa Police Department and private donations, is truly enRICHing the lives of its kids.


Refugee Experience & Metro Wellness

Katie Malloy, Greenberg Traurig, P.A.

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

– Mother Teresa. 

The Leadership Tampa Community Outreach Day was an unforgettable experience, surrounded by the beautiful smiles of both those that give daily to our community and those that receive the benefit of their service. The morning started with a visit to the Lutheran Services Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists refugees entering the United States – from ensuring there are smiling faces welcoming the refugees at the airport, to locating housing and stocking their fridges with culturally appropriate items to make them feel more at home. The Foundation’s refugee services are available to individuals who are forced to flee their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. They are funded by the Department of Children and Family Services, but are in need of local connections to assist with housing.

The Foundation also partners with CARIBE, an adult education project that helps refugees and immigrants study and learn English. One of the most moving parts of the experience was meeting the students at CARIBE and seeing their smiling faces. Despite the horrific circumstances that caused the refugees to leave their countries, their smiles were bright.

The second half of the day was spent with another set of smiling faces at Metro Wellness, a non-profit organization in Ybor City that provides health and wellness services in an inclusive atmosphere for all individuals. Metro Wellness specializes in providing services to LGBTQ+ youth and adults, including primary care, medical testing, and counseling services. By sharing their stories – and their beautiful smiling faces – Metro Wellness helps educate and serve the community and bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ community. It was a gift to spend the day with each of these amazing groups.


Meals on Wheels

David Loos, Beaux Arts Group

For our Community Day, my team was blessed to experience Meals on Wheels Tampa. We arrived to a warm reception and the smell of something delicious in air. We had an opportunity to speak to Executive Director Steve King whose personality radiates love for life and giving back to those less fortunate. His passion for the organization gleamed as he told us the history of Meals on Wheels.

Established in 1975, the program feeds 750 homebound individuals daily Monday through Friday. That is homebound not homeless. The majority of the individuals in the program pay $4.25 per meal where few are subsidized. The meals are made fresh everyday by Chef Tony and his crew who have the practice down to a science. There are never leftovers and you know what? You can have it your way. Chef Tony does cater to special dietary needs for those that it’s necessary. On holidays or special circumstances, Chef will prepare and freeze a meal that can be heated over the weekend. For some this daily meal is the only thing they will have to eat all day.

The mission is to NOURISH – ENRICH – STRENGTHEN the lives of the homebound community, and that was a mission we were ready to accept. As we received our marching orders, Lauren Vance, Director of Community Relations, and Steve wanted to give us the dos and don’ts plus some insight on what to expect. They stressed how some of their patrons get little to no interaction with other human beings all day so when that doorbell rings, it’s a special and exciting moment for them.

With Kay whipping around corners, David Ferreira doing navigation, me on logistics and Marshall telling us more about the program (he’s a board member), we started making our drops. The majority of the houses were surprised to see 4 people dropping off one meal, but hey, that’s how we roll (pun intended)! As we approached one of our last stops we were asked to come in. Not wanting to overwhelm the owner we decided to have just two of us go in. We sat with Lilly for about 10 minutes talking about nothing in particular and then it was time to go. It was noticeable Lilly’s longing for conversation no matter the topic, as long as you don’t bring up her Italian accent!


MacDonald Training Center

Heather Brock, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

Over 50 years ago, the MacDonald Training Center was one of the first preschools for children with disabilities.  Its mission has grown and its goal is now full inclusion and endless possibility for individuals with disabilities. The Center helps with employment services, residential support, and vocational skills training. The Center is working to empower with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live their very highest and best lives.

As a group, we were impressed by how the Center has focused on equipping its constituency with marketable job skills.  We all enjoyed working with folks to assess affinities to identify good matches for employment, and then conducting mock job interviews.  How can LT ’18 help?  Spread the word that the Center has an amazing business within it called e-Quality Recycling.  The Center provides secure data destruction, equipment collection and pick up for qualified businesses, and responsible recycling of old electronics.  In addition to providing Center constituents with work to do, the donor gets tax credits for the donation.  Please donate old computers, servers, hard drives, circuit boards, cable boxes, satellite receivers, routers, cell phones, cable and wire, and gaming systems to the Center to help it fulfill its mission!