Pasco County Blog


September 7, 2012
Small businesses find financing through the Pasco EDC Microloan Fund

Help is out there for small businesses in Pasco County, just ask Nicole Denzik, owner of United Underwriters of Tampa, an independent property and casualty agency located in Lutz. Denzik is the sixth person to receive a microloan from Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc.

While working in phonebook sales for AT&T, Denzik noticed the industry declining. Ready for a change she searched for an industry that was thriving and would provide a good income for years to come. A friend recommended getting into insurance, so she spent 6 months learning the industry and opened her own office in 2009. United Underwriters of Tampa has been steadily growing since day one and with the help of a microloan from Pasco EDC, they will be able to hire a part time employee to help manage the office. “Thanks to the microloan from Pasco EDC, I have ordered new computers, the website is being rebuilt, brochures are in, additional phone line is being connected, and a payroll company has been hired,” said Denzik. “I'm ready to start the hiring process!” There are 26 million small businesses in America today which are responsible for creating the majority of our nation's new jobs. Unfortunately, the current economy is making it difficult for America’s small businesses to obtain credit. That’s where Pasco EDC decided to step in and help. The Pasco EDC is getting the word out that help is available to small businesses through its microloan fund. “This is what it’s all about,” said John Hagen, Pasco EDC President/CEO.  “Helping passionate small business owners with solid ideas, good management skills and a valid business plan, who simply can’t get traditional financing.  We want these businesses to hire more people and continue expanding here in Pasco County.” The loan program lends money to small businesses located in Pasco County in amounts up to $35,000. Applicants must be a for-profit company 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. In addition to financing, entrepreneurs also receive free technical assistance to help work through challenges and capture opportunities.  Please call the Pasco EDC at 813-926-0827 for more information or visit

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August 31, 2012
Slashing Transportation Impact Fees is a Game Changer for Developers

Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC was thrilled to break ground this week at the site of its future home in the Trinity Corporate Center on SR 54. The project began as a 12,000 square foot building but once the developer got wind there were no impact fees, he chose to expand the project to over 21,000 square feet to bring additional businesses to the area and help create jobs. “We are thrilled about the decision to expand the project upfront and ready to help find tenants for the new building,” said Michael Cox, Associate Vice President of Wells Fargo Advisors, and on the Board of Directors for the Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. Pasco County became one of Florida’s first counties to adopt the mobility fee as a replacement of transportation impact fees. The new fee schedule dramatically lowers the cost of office and industrial development in Pasco County, and in some places it’s free.  The Pasco EDC partnered with the County to craft the program and gain support from the development community to help adopt the fee. The intent of the Commissioners’ action was to stimulate construction and job creation, and thus far it looks like it is working. “It made financial sense to increase the project size,” said real estate developer, Joel Traub. He added that while on the site one of the construction workers approached him to thank him for creating the job opportunity for him, as he had not had a job in two years. Traub said, “We should all feel great about that.” Pasco’s mobility fee for office, industrial and transit-oriented development along US-19 and S.R. 54/56 corridors is $0. If a company is looking to expand, there is no better time than the present in Pasco County. The County has created an environment that is open for business with fast permitting, job creation incentives, and lower mobility fees, on top of the already low taxes. “The future of Tampa Bay is here in Pasco County,” said John Hagen, President/CEO of Pasco EDC. “The 54/56 corridor and Wesley Chapel are the logical expansion areas for the Tampa Bay region with companies like Wells Fargo Advisors beginning to breaking ground and Raymond James coming soon.”

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August 2, 2012
Tampa Bay’s Newest Micro-Brewery Storms into Pasco

Pasco County’s first micro-brewer, Big Storm Brewery, received a green light from Pasco County Commissioners on July 24 for its tasting room at the West Pasco Industrial Park. Started by longtime friends, Clay Yarn and Mike Bishop, Big Storm Brewery is the story of two entrepreneurs taking their passion and hobby and turning it into their dream job. Founded in 2011 in Pasco County, Big Storm Brewery opened its new production facility in Odessa, and on Friday, July 13, celebrated its grand opening at The Brass Tap at Duck Slough and SR 54, while awaiting final approval to open its tasting room. “It’s been crazy since we opened,” said Mike Bishop, co-founder and head brewer at Big Storm Brewery. “Restaurants can’t seem to keep it in stock, and we’re brewing as fast as we can, hoping we don’t run out!” Big Storm Brewery hand-crafts three different products:  WaveMaker Amber Ale, PalmBender Pale Ale, and FireStorm, a Black IPA. The Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. has been providing general business guidance and assisting the brewing company over the last year to secure a location.  John Hagen, President/CEO of Pasco EDC, also teamed up with Prof. John Lax at Saint Leo University to help Big Storm Brewery with its marketing plans. Their mantra, according to Clay Yarn, CEO/President of Big Storm Brewery, is “Blood, Sweat and Beers,” and Yarn holds to the belief that “anything great and worth doing requires hard work.” Big Storm Brewery is located at 2438 Merchant Avenue #103, Odessa, FL 33556. For more information on tasting hours, you may contact Big Storm Brewery directly at (727) 807-7998.

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August 1, 2012
CenterState Bank Gives Another $5,000 to Support Small Business Growth

CenterState Bank has made an additional donation of $5,000 through its Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) program to support the Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc.’s microloan fund to help small business growth in Pasco County.

John Walsh, Skip Skairus, Jimmy Adcock, Skip Miller

“This is a great way of making possible short-term, fixed-rate, fixed-payment loans to start-ups and newly established small businesses in Pasco County,” says Skip Skairus, Senior Vice President, CenterState Bank. “Pasco EDC expressed a need for its microloan fund, and we believe it is important to support small business growth in our community.” “CenterState’s donation to the fund is perfect timing,” said John Hagen, Pasco EDC President/CEO. “The microloan fund has really taken off, and we have been concerned that we might run out of money.” Thus far, Pasco EDC has awarded five microloans to a variety of companies, including a local pediatrician (Personal Pediatric Care), a minority-owned insurance company (Good Faith Insurance Services), a “mompreneur” who invented the The GoCaddy™ (BVT Products, LLC), a mobile medical testing business (Tampa Bay Urodynamics), and a company that sells fire safety equipment (Suncoast Fire Safety). Hagen is asking banks and business professionals to refer people to Pasco EDC who may be turned down for a loan because their borrowing needs are too small or they have limited credit history, but have a great business idea. “We may be able to help them,” said Hagen, “Once they launch or grow their business, the bank can continue its relationship with them and make the next loan when they are commercially viable. It’s a win-win-win.” The microloan program lends money to small businesses located in Pasco County, and offers entrepreneurs free technical assistance and training to help work through challenges they may face in starting or growing a new business. “The entrepreneurial spirit is growing in Tampa Bay, and it is important that we support our local entrepreneurs. We want them to succeed,” said Hagen. Hagen added that there are future plans to take the microloan program to the next level. Pasco EDC is working with the SBA office to apply for a $750,000 grant in 2013 to become an official SBA Microloan Intermediary in an effort to spur even more small business growth in Pasco County.

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July 2, 2012
Pasco EDC Wins 2012 Social Media Award
Pasco Economic Development Council is proud to announce it has just been awarded the 2012 Social Media Marketing Award from the Florida Economic Development Council.  This is the second award recognizing Pasco EDC’s use of social media in the past six months. Since January, Pasco EDC has dramatically increased its use of social media and integrated its public relations and marketing campaigns into a branded social media strategy. The message to businesses is that there is “Room to Grow in Tampa Bay”, and according to the irrepressible spokeskids featured in Pasco EDC’s new ad campaign, the place to grow is in Pasco County.


In May, Pasco EDC was also awarded “Best Use of Social Media” from Business Facilities: The Location Advisor, a premier trade publication source of national and international corporate real estate and site selection news. Coincidentally in May, Tampa Bay also ranked #10 in the nation for social media savvy small businesses by Radius, a small business analytics company. Pasco EDC recognized the social media buzz in the region and created an action plan to connect with these businesses and their extended networks online. “Our goal with social media is to tell Pasco County’s story locally and to an unlimited audience around the world,” said Summer Martin, Pasco EDC Marketing Coordinator and social media strategist behind Pasco EDC’s campaign.  “Business leaders, site selectors, entrepreneurs, and the general public need to know the amazing things happening right here in Pasco County and Tampa Bay.” Social media savvy is alive and growing in Pasco County where two of the region’s most highly acclaimed social media companies are headquartered, including Head of Lettuce Media in New Port Richey and Ballywho Social in Wesley Chapel. To keep informed on what Pasco EDC is doing you can visit its website at and connect with the social sites below: (Read More)

June 22, 2012
Microloan Helps Company Put Out Fires In Tampa Bay
The Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. is helping put out fires in Tampa Bay, literally, by awarding its fifth microloan to Suncoast Fire Safety.  Suncoast Fire Safety is located in New Port Richey. “This microloan will help grow our inventory supply and upgrade our equipment,” said Richard Norwood, CEO of Suncoast Fire Safety. “Additionally, it will enable us to expand into the first aid and emergency light field to a greater extent than what we are doing at this time.” In business since 1971, Suncoast Fire Safety provides assistance to the State of Florida Fire Marshalls by helping businesses keep in compliance with state and local fire safety laws. One way they do this is by supplying fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems to Tampa Bay area businesses from Ocala to Sarasota, and Tampa to Orlando. “It’s great to be able to help a local business that is helping other area businesses,” said John Hagen, President/CEO of Pasco EDC. “Ironically, We are trying to use our microloan program to set the entrepreneurial world on fire; Suncoast Fire Safety is trying to help these same businesses put fires out.” The Pasco EDC microloan fund is creating an enormous amount of energy in the small business community of Pasco County. “We’ve received hundreds of calls inquiring about the microloan program and several applications are in the works,” said Krista Hakes, Pasco EDC’s Economic Development Manager. The large number of inquiries shows the depth of entrepreneurial activity in Pasco County, and Pasco EDC is urging banks and other companies to consider donating to the fund. The Pasco EDC microloan fund was established to help local entrepreneurs who cannot obtain traditional financing to grow their business and create jobs. Companies who need help obtaining non-traditional financing and are headquartered in Pasco County, or planning to locate in Pasco County, should consider applying for a microloan. 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 visit or call 813-926-0827 for more information. (Read More)

June 13, 2012
Krista Hakes Earns Economic Gardening Certification

Krista Hakes is one of six people in Florida who have completed the Economic Gardening Certification through the Florida Economic Gardening Institute (GrowFL).

Hakes, Economic Development Manager for Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc., is now a certified “Economic Gardening Program Director” and working to implement the job creation program within the community.

“The courses took a significant amount of training, reading, and online web classes,” said Hakes. “I learned Economic Gardening concepts, history and how the program can greatly benefit our businesses and community.” Economic gardening is a program started in Littleton, Colorado, which emphasizes helping local growth companies with 10-50 employees.  These companies have been shown to be the best prospects in general for job creation.  The Economic Gardening certification serves to encourage the Economic Gardening movement-- an entrepreneurial approach to economic development. It also was created to encourage communities to use Economic Gardening tools, concepts, and practices proven to produce jobs and wealth. Pasco EDC has already begun to implement Economic Gardening initiatives through its CEO Roundtables, technical assistance programs through GrowFL and Pasco Enterprise Network (PEN), and recent microloan funding program. “We are working hard to foster an environment of entrepreneurship and innovation here in Pasco County,” said John Hagen, President/CEO of Pasco EDC. “Economic Gardening gives us even more tools to support local businesses and entrepreneurs.  This will lead to more jobs in the near future.”

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June 8, 2012
Dog Leads Entrepreneur to Microloan

Chad Carter, owner of Tampa Bay Urodynamics, a mobile medical testing company, is proud to be the next recipient of a microloan from the Pasco Economic Development Council. Carter found out about the microloan program from an unlikely source, his Golden Retriever named Jackson. “I took my dog for a walk,” Carter said, “and next thing you know he is tearing into a neighbor’s newspaper. When I bent down to get it away from him, I saw the headline about a microloan to help small businesses.” The microloan enabled Carter to purchase upgraded equipment to expand his company’s services. Carter is an enthusiastic, charismatic entrepreneur who has worked in medical sales since 1996. During that time he noticed a strong need for urodynamics testing in the Bay area. In 2006, he opened Tampa Bay Urodynamics (TBU). TBU offers testing and pelvic floor rehab therapy for patients with common medical issues like frequency and urgency, and offers patients an option other than medicine or surgery for incontinence. TBU provides physicians with cost-effective and efficient in-office urodynamic studies for patients, without incurring the expenditures normally associated with providing these services, and relieves physicians from having to refer their patients to a hospital or surgery center. The Pasco EDC microloan fund was established to help local entrepreneurs who cannot obtain traditional financing to grow their business and create jobs. Pasco EDC is urging companies who need help obtaining non-traditional financing and are headquartered in Pasco County, or planning to locate in Pasco County, to consider applying for a microloan. 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 visit for more information on how to apply, or call Pasco EDC at 813-926-0827 to consider donating to the fund.

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May 31, 2012
Pasco Economic Development Council Hosts Forum for Tampa Bay CEOs
Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc., CEO Nexus and the Florida Economic Gardening Institute are co-hosting a CEO Forum on Thursday, June 14, from 6-8pm at Saint Leo University. To attend, CEOs must be leaders of established growth businesses with $1 million to $50 million in revenue and 10 to 99 employees. The event will feature keynote speaker Doug Tatum, the Founding Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tatum LLC, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Middle Tennessee State University, and author of No Man's Land.  Tatum offers a unique approach to diagnosing the patterns of failure that affect growing businesses and offers proven navigation principles. Tatum will answer pressing questions, such as how to realign with your market, how to hire your senior management, how to test your economic model, and how to approach the capital markets. Tatum has said, “I travel the country speaking about No Man’s Land to entrepreneurs and business leaders. Wherever I go, I get the same response. Listeners approach me with sadness in their eyes and say, ‘Doug, if only I had known about No Man’s Land when I was running my company, we might still be in business.’” The idea for the event stemmed from a CEO Nexus Roundtable that meets at Pasco EDC’s offices each month.  The group includes local CEOs who come together for collaborative problem-solving sessions that address business issues important to the respective participants. These ongoing discussion groups are structured to provide CEOs with timely advice to problems they are currently experiencing. The group meets in a “closed-door,” confidential setting and participants discuss ways to overcome their company’s obstacles of growth in areas such as finance, employee relations, legal compliance and marketing. “Unlike a traditional networking group, the CEOs in the roundtable don’t sell to each other,” said Krista Hakes, Economic Development Manager for Pasco EDC. “Instead, CEOs provide each other with insight and new perspectives on management techniques in a confidential peer-to-peer setting.” Limited seating is available at the CEO Forum and is reserved for presidents, CEOs, and business owners of growth companies. To register for the CEO Forum, visit or call Krista Hakes at 813-926-0827 ext. 227. (Read More)

May 23, 2012
Goin’ Postal Corporate Headquarters Expands in Zephyrhills

Goin’ Postal Franchise Corporation (GPFC) is expanding its corporate headquarters in Zephyrhills into a new 27,000 sq. ft. building which will also house workers involved with light manufacturing related to its Hut No. 8 franchise. The expansion is expected to generate 16 new jobs and contribute $4.3 million to the local economy. “We are now operating at 100% capacity, and we need the room to grow,” said Marcus Price, CEO of GPFC. “This new corporate headquarters will meet the needs we currently have and enable us to expand the rest of our brands to their fullest potential.” GPFC operates a multi service franchise company with 300 locations in 45 states and three countries encompassing several brands. Goin’ Postal is its main shipping franchise, which plans to open 20 stores in 2012. Its latest brand, Hut no. 8, buys and sells brand name clothes, shoes, and accessories for teens and young adults, and plans to open 50 new stores this year. Hut no. 8 stores, which are becoming very popular among young adults, feature a mix of high energy music in a rustic beach hut atmosphere. They carry clothing from stores like Buckle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Tillys and others.

Hut No. 8 Franchise Headquarters (a division of Goin' Postal) is based in Zephyrhills

“We’re proud to say Pasco County is the home to two of the fastest growing franchises in the United States,” said Pasco County Commissioner Ted Schrader. “The Goin’ Postal Franchise Corporation will be an important part of our community for many years to come.” In 2002, GPFC opened up in a small 400 sq. ft. retail location in Zephyrhills with a budget of $3,000 cash and a couple of small credit cards. Now GPFC has over 300 locations worldwide and was ranked as the # 2 Shipping Franchise in the U.S. by Entrepreneur Magazine in its 2010 Franchise 500 List. GPFC owners attribute much of their success to the City of Zephyrhills where they got their start. Heavily involved in the community, Goin’ Postal often hosts events regularly and participates in Zephyrhills Main Street and Chamber of Commerce activities. RJ Keetch, Assistant City Planner for Zephyrhills has been working with Goin’ Postal on its expansion. “Marcus and MJ Price are true leaders in the community,” said Keetch.  “In the new economy, innovation and entrepreneurship are key to economic development. The Prices have both qualities in spades.  Their rise over the last decade has been meteoric.” The Pasco Economic Development Council is actively seeking other franchise corporations who want to relocate to the Tampa Bay area. “We have low taxes, cash incentives and plenty of room to grow,” said John Walsh, Pasco EDC Vice President.

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