Pasco County Blog

2012

February 8, 2012
Wells Fargo Donates $10,000 to Microloan Fund to Help Pasco County Small Businesses

Pasco County, Florida — Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. is pleased to announce that Wells Fargo Bank has donated $10,000 to Pasco EDC’s new microloan fund to help local entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Wells Fargo donates $10,000 to Pasco EDC's new microloan fund

Wells Fargo, a long-time investor in the Pasco Economic Development Council, is excited about this new opportunity to help local small businesses succeed. The microloan program will lend money to small businesses located in Pasco County, and offer entrepreneurs free technical assistance to help work through challenges they may face in starting or growing a new business. “In keeping with Wells Fargo’s long-standing commitment to the community, we are pleased to partner with Pasco Economic Development Council in support of its microloan fund,” said Angel Buchanan, Community Bank President for West Central Florida. “Our investment will help provide the assistance needed for local entrepreneurs to succeed and help promote economic development in Pasco County.” The goal of Pasco EDC’s Growth Task Force is to raise $250,000 to help Pasco County’s new and emerging small businesses expand and create jobs. In addition to helping finance business ideas, the program will include training to help small business owners increase their prospects for success. “Two big reasons for small business failures are lack of money and limited business experience.  Our program addresses both these challenges,” said John Hagen, Pasco EDC President/CEO. “We are very appreciative that Wells Fargo has stepped forward to support the program.  He added that the Pasco EDC is actively looking for community leaders and businesses who want to pitch in to build the fund, but “we are very confident that the rest of the money needed to capitalize the program will be forthcoming shortly.” Pasco EDC has committed $50,000 and the Pasco County Board of County Commissioners has allocated $100,000.  Pasco EDC anticipates receiving Commissioners’ approval on the fund’s lending policies in February.  “We expect to be funding projects no later than March 1,” Hagen said.  Loans will be capped at $35,000 with most being in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, he noted. Loan applicants must be for-profit companies located in Pasco County, and borrowers must show they have the experience and resources to be successful business operators. Proceeds may be used for working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment, but not to purchase real estate or to refinance existing debt. Please call the Pasco EDC at 813-926-0827 for more information or to consider a donation to the fund.

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February 7, 2012
Rethinking Leadership in Schools to Build a Better Workforce

Ran across a really interesting article in the Washington Post the other day entitled, "Rethinking leadership in America’s schools".  The article was written by James H. Quigley, the former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and currently a senior partner in its U.S. firm. According to Quigley, schools have three key leadership development opportunities: formal learning, mentoring and knowledge sharing.  The article says mentoring should be used to complement formal learning:

"To complement formal learning, principals and superintendents could benefit from connections with those outside of their field, including members of the business community. Business leaders are an important stakeholder in our education system, and their active involvement in leadership mentoring could constructively bring another significant player in the “As One” pursuit for excellence in education."

This article reaffirms what John Hagen, Pasco Economic Development Council President/CEO, has been talking about for a while now, which is the need for businesses to get involved in schools and mentor their future workforce.  Why would a business owner want to get involved with mentoring high school students?  "Isn't that a waste of time, when I have better things to do?" Absolutely not!  Mentoring graduating high school students gives business owners a chance to essentially cherry pick the best of our future workforce. When you consider that $800 is the average cost of recruiting and training a new manufacturing employee, it's worth your time to meet future workforce candidates now and develop relationships with them so that you can begin building a stronger, more passionate workforce for the future of your business. John Hagen, Pasco EDC President/CEO chairs the steering committee for Pasco County Schools Career Academies, a group of local stakeholders and business leaders who are working with school officials to improve Pasco County Schools Career Academies. The goal is to bring business and community leaders together to create more hands-on learning through enrichment opportunities such as job shadowing, mentoring, and internships for students. And the good news is, it's working! Rewind to 2009, when not a single Pasco County high school received an A grade, and in 2010 only two earned an A.  Fast forward to 2011, and 6 out of 13 high schools earned an A, with five following close behind with a B. In addition, Pasco’s 2011 high school graduation rate tipped the charts at 88.5%, a record 8.4% higher than the state average. "I have to think Career Academies have had a positive impact on these numbers," says Hagen. "We are seeing it work, but we need more involvement from the business community," says Hagen. The Career Academies Steering Committee is looking for local business leaders who will adopt academies and work side-by-side with teachers and students to vault Pasco County Schools Career Academies to the first ranks of educational achievement. Want to cherry pick your future employees from the best of the best? Here's the link to find out more:  http://www.pasco.k12.fl.us/academies/  

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February 2, 2012
Career Academies And Better Education Are Key To A Strong Workforce

The State of Florida recently revealed that 85% of Pasco county high schools earned an A or B in its latest statewide public school appraisal.

“This is terrific news and shows real improvement,” says John Hagen, President/CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. "We’re headed in the right direction, and I have to think Career Academies have had a positive impact on these numbers.”

Rewind to 2009, when not a single high school received an A grade, and in 2010 only two earned an A.  Fast forward to 2011, and 6 out of 13 high schools earned an A, with five following close behind with a B. In addition, Pasco’s 2011 high school graduation rate tipped the charts at 88.5%, a record 8.4% higher than the state average. Career and Professional Academy students had a slightly higher GPA and were less likely to be chronically absent then non academy high school students.

Hagen is the new chair of the steering committee for Career Academies, a group of local stakeholders and business leaders who are working with school officials to improve Pasco County Schools Career Academies. The goal is to bring business and community leaders together to create more hands-on learning through enrichment opportunities such as job shadowing, mentoring, and internships for students. Pasco county’s Career Academies range from Business Management and Information Technology to Culinary Arts and Medical Professions.  These academies give students a real-world approach to learning and preparation for future careers.  Students earn industry recognized certifications that provide an edge in applying for jobs.  The academies have local business leaders excited.

“The implementation of Career Academies in Pasco county is one of the best things to happen to industry and workforce in our area,” says Bryan Kamm, Director of Business Development for the Bauer Foundation. “In our company, we operate very sophisticated equipment and need highly trained engineers and technicians.  We currently employ students from River Ridge High School Engineering and East Lake Engineering Career Academies. All businesses should take advantage of this great talent pool and resource pipeline and get involved.” 

Kamm went on to note that there is also a huge payoff in the academies for STEM education.  Improving STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is a critical concern of the State Department of Education, as well as national business and education thought leaders. Tuesday, January 24, Hagen will be hosting a workshop on Career Academies and Business Partnerships in Pasco County, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Sun Toyota's upstairs training room, with Rob Aguis Director of Career and Technical Education, Pasco County Schools and Jerome Salatino, President/CEO of the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board.  They hope to recruit and train a large cadre of business leaders who will adopt academies and work side-by-side with teachers and students to vault Pasco County Schools Career Academies to the first ranks of educational achievement.

Pasco EDC is a non-profit organization that promotes economic development in Pasco County, Florida.  Pasco EDC continues to be a strong partnership funded by corporate and public investors focused on the economic vitality of Pasco County.

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