BUSINESS COMPETITION RETURNS: Applications are being accepted for the Pasco Economic Development Council's 2nd Annual SMARTstart Challenge business pitch. During the competition, to be held Feb. 25 in conjunction with Saint Leo University's student business plan competition, local entrepreneurs will compete for a share of $10,000 in prize money. The first-place winner also will receive a six-month, on-site membership in one of the SMARTstart Pasco Business Incubators.
Applications will be evaluated on measures regarding the economics of the business and the ability of the applicant to be successful. Other important elements include: market potential and research; unique dynamics of the business/idea; evaluation of potential partners, financial considerations and attractiveness of business/idea.
Applications are due Jan. 8 and there are reviews and oral presentations in advance of the Feb. 25 SMARTstart Challenge finals. Applications are available at smartstartpasco.com.
For information, call (352) 437-4861 or email HCarapella@pascoedc.com.
NETFEST SPONSORS WANTED: Sponsors are being sought for the Pasco Economic Development Council's 14th annual Networking Festival, 5 to 8 p.m. April 7 at Starkey Ranch, 12959 State Road 54, Odessa.
The networking event will have a Western theme and will be outdoors. Casual attire is suggested. Tickets are $35 for Pasco EDC investors and guests; $45 for others.
Sponsorships levels include: Cowboy for $500, Trail Boss for $1,000 and Cattle Baron for $2,000. Sponsors are encouraged to assemble a team to participate in the "sponsor-only" chili cook-off. For information, contact Suzanne at (813) 926-0829 or Suzanne@pascoedc.com.
GULFSIDE HOSPICE WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBER: John "Skip" Skairus, senior vice president and commercial banking manager for CenterState Bank, has joined the board of directors of Gulfside Hospice & Pasco Palliative Care. As the brother of a hospice nurse for many years, Skairus has grown a passion and respect for the services and care provided to the community by hospice organizations and is looking forward to utilizing his experience for the advancement of Gulfside Hospice and Pasco Palliative Care. He and his wife, Lynn, and two teenage daughters live in Wesley Chapel.
HOSPITAL NAMES EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: Registered nurse Diana Henry was named Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point's Employee of the Month for October. Henry, a house supervisor, receives an EOM pin, a selected blanket gift, a reception with refreshments for her colleagues, a front row parking spot for a month, and a $50 gift card.
TRINITY MARKETPLACE: Local small businesses will gather to showcase and sell their products from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 2 at the Trinity Marketplace at the Trinity Meeting Center, 7813 Mitchell Blvd., Suite 106, in the Trinity Commons Plaza, New Port Richey.
The event will take place on the first Saturday of the month through March. Admission is free and open to the public. For information, call (727) 375-9700 or send email to events@TrinityMeetingCenter.com.
BBQ & BLUES FESTIVAL: The sixth annual Pigz in Z'Hills BBQ & Blues Festival will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 16 at Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, 39450 South Ave., Zephyrhills. The event features a barbecue competition, along with blues music. Visitors will be able to sample culinary creations by both professional and backyard competitors. There will be concessions, vendors, kids' rides, classic cars and plenty of barbecue. Admission is free; parking is $10. The music will start at 11 a.m., with a lineup including Coldiron, Wendy Rich & the Soulshakers, the RJ Howson Band and Damon Fowler.
For sponsorships and vendor information, visit zephyrhillschamber.org.
SMALL BUSINESS SEMINAR: Pasco Hernando SCORE is presenting a series of free small business seminars.
• Marketing to Grow Your Business, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Jan. 13, New Port Richey Library, 5939 Main St., New Port Richey.
• How to Apply for a Business Loan, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13, Hugh Embry Branch Library, 14215 Fourth St., Dade City.
• Understanding a Franchise Business, 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 14, Spring Hill Branch Library, 9220 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill.
• Using the Internet in Your Business, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14, New River Branch Library, 34043 State Road 54, Zephyrhills.
• Internet Marketing, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14, Regency Park Branch Library, 9701 Little Road, New Port Richey.
To register and for information, visit pascohernando.score.org and click on the Local Workshops tab or call the SCORE office at (727) 842-4638.
If you have business announcements you would like to share, mail the details to Jean Hamilton, Business Digest, Pasco Times, 11321 U.S. 19, Port Richey, FL 34668. You may also email items to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax them to (352) 754-6133. Submitted items may be edited for length and clarity. Photos are published as space permits; they will not be returned.