Mobiquity seeks to leverage the engineering talent at UF and throughout Alachua County. Pictured, left to right: Bill Seibel, CEO/founder of Mobiquity, and Andy Norman, Mobiquity’s senior vice president of service delivery.
Mobiquity Selects Gainesville
Innovation Square, the live/work/play research community being developed near the University of Florida campus and downtown Gainesville, is about to get a bit busier.
That’s where Mobiquity, a leading professional services firm, will locate its new office. In April, driven by significant company growth and industry demand for its mobile app development expertise, Mobiquity selected Gainesville as the site for expansion, a move that will add 260 jobs during the next three years, according to officials.
The Council for Economic Outreach, the designated economic entity for Alachua County, had been working to recruit Mobiquity since last December, when the company first decided to expand from its Boston headquarters. Mobiquity joins others like SumTotal Systems, Silver Airways, Mindtree Ltd. and Sears Holdings as companies that have either relocated or expanded to Gainesville in recent years. Aside from the Council for Economic Outreach, Mobiquity worked with local and state partners, including representatives from UF, Santa Fe College, Innovation Square, FloridaWorks, the City of Gainesville, Alachua County and Enterprise Florida Inc.
Mobiquity plans to replicate the successful model already implemented in Boston, leveraging proven agile processes to keep efficiency and quality high and costs competitively low. In turn, Mobiquity hopes to benefit from its new location.
“The unique combination of highly educated students, graduates and professionals, and an ideal location brought us to Gainesville,” comments Bill Seibel, founder and CEO of Mobiquity, which specializes in enterprise-class mobile solutions and apps.
Sweet Deal for Florida Citrus Growers
Coca-Cola Co. is providing a big boost to the Sunshine State’s citrus
industry—in the form of $2 billion to support the planting of 25,000 acres of new orange groves in Polk, DeSoto and Hendry counties.
Roughly 5 million new trees will be planted, reportedly Florida’s largest citrus addition in nearly two decades; the new groves and resulting juice production could add as many as 4,100 jobs to the state’s economy. Many of the new trees will be planted on land that once held citrus groves or on lands that are currently idle.
According to Florida Citrus Mutual, an information clearinghouse for citrus growers and packers, the additions help to slow a steady decline in acreage that’s devoted to citrus production. Since 1997, total citrus acreage has fallen by 25 percent, from 600,000 acres to 450,000 acres. Preliminary data from the Florida Citrus Commission shows that the expansion will add more than $10.5 billion—or $422 million per year—over the next 25 years to Florida’s economy. The citrus industry directly and indirectly contributes about 76,000 jobs statewide, cites the Florida Citrus Manual. About 90 percent of Florida’s oranges are used for juice. Call it a sweet deal for both.
More Healthy Activity Emerges at Lake Nona
Lake Nona’s unofficial moniker is “medical city.” Apparently, though, the retail and residential markets haven’t been neglected, either.
In April, officials announced leases on a dozen new businesses at their Lake Nona Village and Lake Nona Plaza shopping centers in south Orlando. The additions bring the total to 16 new businesses that will arrive by year-end. In addition, Lake Nona turned out to be one of the best-selling new-home communities in Orlando in 2012 and also was recognized as the 14th best-selling community in the country, with more than 450 homes sold last year.
Meanwhile, the medical city continues to rise. Most recently, plans were announced to construct the Lake Nona Gateway Building, a 100,000-square-foot medical office building. Florida Hospital and UCF’s Pegasus Health will become anchor tenants in the building. Florida Hospital expects to establish a combination of services that will include a CentraCare urgent care center, an outpatient surgery center, imaging and diagnostics and certain specialist services. UCF’s College of Medicine will expand Pegasus Health, the College’s primary and multispecialty practice.
Speedy HiPerGator Scores Big
Meet the “state’s most powerful supercomputer”: HiPerGator.
While HiPerGator can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, it can help researchers find life-saving drugs, make decades-long weather forecasts and improve armor for troops. And, in doing so, the HiPerGator supercomputer, along with the recent tenfold increase in the size of the university’s data pipeline, makes UF one of the nation’s leading public universities in research computing, officials contend.
The Dell machine has a peak speed of 150 trillion calculations per second. Put another way, if each calculation were a word in a book, HiPerGator could read the millions of volumes in UF libraries several hundred times per second. HiPerGator’s computing power spreads over multiple simultaneous jobs instead of focusing on a single task at warp speed.
As for the details (if you can understand them), HiPerGator features the latest in high-performance computing technology from Dell and AMD, with 16,384 processing cores; a Dell|Terascala HPC Storage Solution (DT-HSS 4.5), with the industry’s fastest open-source parallel file system; and Mellanox’s FDR 56Gb/s InfiniBand interconnects that provide the highest bandwidth and lowest latency.
In terms of applications, consider that UF immunologist David Ostrov will be able to slash a months-long test to identify safe drugs to a single eight-hour work day, essentially helping drugs get from the computer to the clinic more quickly.
USF Facilitates Global Urban Initiative
The University of South Florida is helping to identify sustainable solutions to issues that are crippling growing cities in the developing world. In May, USF’s Patel College of Global Sustainability hosted 40 delegates from 23 countries, as they collaborated on challenges facing developing countries in the wake of rapid urbanization.
The UN-Habitat Partner University Initiative, established in 2011, seeks to bring together top urban research universities. Its vision is to grow the next generation of urban leaders and researchers, while also promoting the global exchange of information. The initiative currently has 136 institutional members and more than 1,200 individual members.
UN-Habitat focuses on urban issues such as informal housing, urban planning, transport and the provision of basic services like food, water, energy and waste management. The initiative is establishing global research hubs to serve as collaborations of academia joined together under a specific theme. The themed hubs provide opportunities for both institutional and individual partners to share knowledge.
The meeting at USF served as a platform from which to finalize and launch key pieces of the program. At the end of the meeting, five hubs were officially established: Urban Futures, Urban Governance, Informal Urbanism, Food Security and Climate Change.
In the next 12 months, UN-Habitat participants hope to have concrete projects on the ground, combining university knowledge with UN-Habitat experience to solve real-world problems.
Cruise (Cargo) Control at Port Canaveral
One can easily use the words “robust” and “economic engine” to describe business activity at Port Canaveral. The impact tally for 2012: $2 billion and 17,000 jobs for the local community—up 73 percent in business revenues since the last analysis three years ago.
Industry consulting firm Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pa., was commissioned to analyze cruise, cargo, real estate and marina activity at Port Canaveral, which is the world’s second busiest cruise port. The survey of 294 tenants and service providers found that Port Canaveral business activities generated a 30 percent increase in job growth, personal income of $808 million and $248 million in local purchases. State and local taxes paid totaled $74.3 million.
Also, the study found that 40 percent of cruise passengers stay in local hotels at least one night before their cruise, and each passenger spends at least $100 while in Brevard County. Crew members were found to spend $385 per visit in the area, mostly on retail purchases.
Warning: Hurricane Danger Ahead
With hurricane season here, “be prepared.”
Those are the words of Karen Hagan, new regional CEO of the American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region. Hagan, who has been with the Red Cross 28 years and most recently served as State Disaster Officer, sees communication as key to keeping Central Floridians safe. In turn, Red Cross now offers five free apps to aid in preparation before, during and after a hurricane or other disaster.
Simply call **REDCROSS from a smartphone to receive a link to download the apps.
Hagan’s personal message: “People everywhere are reminded, especially with hurricane season here in Florida, to get prepared now to build a disaster kit; make a plan for themselves, their families and their places of business; and be able to survive for three to five days with the necessary supplies and plans.”
Since 1917 the American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region has been serving 13 counties, from Flagler south to Highlands and from Citrus east to Brevard.
Goodwill Makes All-American Effort
In May, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida officially opened its first “American-made” retail store and Job Connection Center, located in Clermont.
From the doorframes to the plumbing to the roof, 98 percent of the materials used were sourced from American vendors and manufacturers—a total of 43 products from 20 different states, including 11 from Florida.
Media reports cite that today more than 60 percent of building products are from foreign imports; by contrast, 8 percent of goods were purchased overseas in 1960. At the same time, if every builder used 5 percent more American-made products, 220,000 jobs would be created. Thus, the effort was made by Goodwill to go American, even if it cost more. According to Chris Rollins, COO of the Winter Park-based construction firm Williams Co., which partnered with Goodwill on the project, using American-made products costs about 1 percent more than using products made overseas.
“Our mission is to help those with barriers to employment find meaningful work,” comments Goodwill CEO Bill Oakley. “This ‘Made in America’ partnership with Williams Company gives us a chance to further that mission and to support homegrown businesses at the same time.”
Goodwill’s Job Connection Center offers a variety of job training and placement services, such as résumé building, networking and mentoring to people with barriers to employment. The programs are offered at no cost to the community and are funded by proceeds from sales of donated items at the nonprofit’s 26 area retail stores. Since the beginning of 2013, Goodwill has served 11,251 people at its Job Connection Centers, with 2,684 of them finding jobs. With 27 retail locations in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake and Volusia counties, Goodwill directly channels more than 90 percent of its annual revenue into programs that enable individuals to secure long-term employment and become self-sufficient.
The survey says: Things are looking up, a little at least, for Florida municipalities.
Cities have experienced a “slight improvement” in their overall financial state, and, as a result, more than half of them are now able to implement written policies to budget reserves for emergencies. Also, most Florida cities now say they offer some type of economic development incentive—most often, expedited permitting—in a bid to attract even greater economic growth.
Those are among the findings of the inaugural “State of the Cities” report issued by the Florida League of Cities Center for Municipal Research and Innovation, based on statewide data from the League’s 2012 CityStats Survey. The report focuses on trends and key issues related to municipal governments in Florida.
Among the trends highlighted in the report is an increase in economic development incentives to attract new employers. The most common incentives were expedited permitting (35 percent), followed by favorable land development regulations (24 percent) and tax breaks (20 percent).
Citrus Park Crossings, one of Tampa’s first speculative developments in five years, is on the rise. A three-story, 75,000-square-foot, $16 million office complex is being built to serve as the headquarters for Invest Financial Corp., a financial advisory firm, and parent company Jackson National Life, an insurance agency. Roughly 300,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial space is available at the development, which had been delayed. The project is under development by Ryan Companies US.
More craft brewing is on the way to Lakeland, thanks to St. Louis-based Brew Hub LLC, which allows brewers to partner with the company and brew their beer onsite. The beer then is packaged and distributed using the Brew Hub distribution system. In effect, craft brewers can expand their distribution networks without related overhead costs. The company also offers craft brewers business services in sales, marketing and logistics, among others. The Lakeland site will have an initial brewing capacity of one million cases annually.
Good news for the state’s tourism industry. Bolstered by metro Orlando and complemented throughout the Super Region, Florida tourism enjoyed its highest single-quarter visitation ever during January through March. And, not surprisingly, tourism-related employment led the state in job growth for the 36th consecutive month. According to preliminary estimates by Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, 26 million visitors came to Florida in first quarter 2013, the most ever and an increase of 4.7 percent over the same period in 2012. Direct travel-related employment in Q1 2013 was also a record high, with 1,087,700 Floridians employed in the tourism industry—35,700 more jobs than one year ago.
In an effort to help women and babies, Florida Hospital has opened the first Milk Depot in Central Florida. The Florida Hospital Milk Depot serves as a convenient drop-off location to mothers who are looking to donate breast milk to help other babies receive crucial nutrition, especially at-risk preemies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The opening of the Milk Depot is part of Florida Hospital’s continued commitment to providing women and babies with the most comprehensive medical resources. In 2012, Florida Hospital required the use of nearly 10,000 ounces of donor milk. Since there are only 11 Milk Banks in the United States and none in Florida, Florida Hospital is affiliated with the Mother’s Milk Bank in Denver.
Dicapta Corp., a provider of high-tech services for people with hearing and/or visual limitations, and Seminole County Habitat for Humanity were both named Seminole County’s 2013 Small Business of the Year. The vote was a tie. A chamber committee selected the winners after ranking 35 nominations independently. Dicapta, a client company of the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program, also earned the Small Business Award in the Minority Business category. Dicapta was the first company to provide Spanish-language video description in the U.S.
Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida have collaborated with researchers in China, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany to devise a new computational method for assessing lung cancer tumors using CT, PET or MRI diagnostic technologies. The method, called single-click ensemble segmentation, uses a new computer algorithm developed by the researchers to help segment and extract features of a tumor. The new approach not only improves diagnosis and prognosis assessments, but also saves time and health-care dollars. Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in men and women. According to the National Institutes of Health, the five-year survival rate (16.3 percent) is worse than many other cancers, such as colon (65.2 percent), breast (90 percent) and prostate (99.9 percent). More accurate tumor imaging, in terms of tumor feature extraction, could improve diagnostic and predictive accuracy.
Rollins College Assistant Professor of International Business Tonia Warnecke was awarded a Fulbright grant to research economic and global development. This fall, she will study at McGill University in Montreal, where she’ll hold the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in International Development Studies. Warnecke has spent years researching female entrepreneurship in Asia—specifically, women who work for survival, such as street vendors or artisan craftspeople. Warnecke hopes to bridge the gap between this informal type of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial programs geared toward wealthier and educated women. Earlier this year, Rollins College was named one of the top producers of Fulbright Scholars among master’s institutions across the nation. Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright program is the largest international exchange program in the country.
Saint Leo University and SYKES Enterprises have signed an agreement that paves the way for the private, regionally accredited Catholic university to open an education center with classroom space at the SYKES contact center in Lakeland. The arrangement makes college degree programs available to the SYKES workforce onsite, as well as to local residents who can pursue associate or bachelor’s degrees. Saint Leo, founded in Pasco County, operates teaching locations in seven states, including military bases and community colleges. Also, its Center for Online Learning permits students to earn part or all of their degrees online. SYKES executives cited a desire to offer employees and their neighbors educational opportunities. They also sought a way to invest in the workforce and assist the local economy.
Chief Executive Magazine has announced that Florida is the No. 2 state in the nation “to do business,” edging closer to Texas for the top spot. More than 730 CEOs nationwide voted in the survey, which asked them to rank the best states for business based on a wide range of criteria, from taxation and regulation to workforce quality and living environment. The survey gave Florida high marks in all areas important for business creation and highlighted the state’s living environment, as well as taxation and regulation. According to CEOs, Florida now beats Texas in living environment and is closing the gap in taxation and regulation. For good measure, Fast Company named Florida the No. 1 state for innovation in its May 2013 magazine.
The Tampa Bay Innovation Center, an innovation and entrepreneurship center for technology businesses, has launched StartUp Studio 2.0, featuring the Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac program. FastTrac TechVenture takes an analytical look at the business concept to help aspiring and existing entrepreneurs discover what they need to consider in starting, operating, funding, or growing a technology or life sciences-based business, according to Tonya Elmore, president of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center.
Leslie Eckert, owner of the Simply Decadent Dessert Catering Co. in Clearwater and culinary instructor at The Art Institute of Tampa, was awarded the American Culinary Federation’s Southeast Region Chef Educator of the Year. The award, established in 1998, honors an active culinary educator who also provides guidance and direction to students seeking careers in the culinary arts. Eckert will now vie for the national title against her three regional counterparts at the 2013 ACF National Convention in late July.
H2 IT Solutions Inc., an eight-year-old technology firm in Orlando, earned a coveted first-place award in the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s international 2013 Federal Virtual Challenge competition. The honor came in the Critical Thinking/Adaptability category for H2 IT’s virtual team-building game, called Compound. H2 IT Solutions provides innovative business and technology solutions designed to manage, interpret and distribute an organization’s valuable information to decision makers. It’s a client company of the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program.
Affordable Colleges Online has ranked Pasco-Hernando Community College as one of the top 100 Most Affordable Large Community Colleges in 2013. Affordable Colleges Online, a provider of information to prospective college students, reviewed data sets from the National Center for Education Statistics, along with the center’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the Carnegie Foundation. Specific criteria for list inclusion were two-year, public nonprofit schools serving between 15,000 and 92,000 students, with tuition less than $3,000.
A National Science Foundation grant of $405,000 will fund Florida Institute of Technology Professor of Biological Sciences Mark Bush and Florida Tech graduate students on summer field research explorations to Brazil, Peru and Panama over the next three years. They will investigate the cause of the largest mass extinction of megafauna, or large mammals. The extinction event occurred between 15,000 and 9,000 years ago—a time of rapid warming at the end of the last Ice Age and the arrival of humans in the Americas. Rapid climate change and over-exploitation by hunters vie as competing explanations for the loss of more than 50 genera of large mammals, such as saber-toothed cats, mastodons and giant ground sloths. Understanding the vulnerability of large mammal populations to sudden warming has relevance to conserving modern mammal-rich areas such as the American West, Alaska and the Serengeti.
MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando has received a prestigious national certification from the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative Certification Program, an affiliate of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The program certifies oncology practices that meet the highest quality standards for cancer care. MD Anderson – Orlando joins an elite group of cancer hospitals around the nation. To become certified, MD Anderson – Orlando submitted to an evaluation of its entire clinical practice and documentation standards. Areas included treatment planning; staff training and education; chemotherapy orders and drug preparation; patient consent and education; safe chemotherapy administration; and monitoring and assessment of patient well being. The certification is valid for three years. The American Society of Clinical Oncology is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer.
The Orlando chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, a global organization focused on driving middle-market growth, garnered Chapter of the Year honors for its membership size. Two other winners were ACG New York and ACG Nebraska. According to GrowthEconomy.org, Orlando-based private capital-backed companies grew jobs by 1,965.1 percent from 1995 to 2010, compared to 57.7 percent by all other U.S. companies. ACG Orlando serves those entities with an array of programs and social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Excellent membership retention, solid finances and a strategic board working with a professional staff were also cited as reasons for the award.