Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

German American Chamber of Commerce to open Florida office in Tampa

TAMPA — Germany invests $4.13 billion in Florida annually, making it the state's second-largest foreign investor. German companies employ 22,000 in Florida. The country has the third-largest number of foreign-owned businesses (66) in Tampa Bay, behind the United Kingdom (77) and Canada (67).

But Bauer Foundations Inc. CEO Charles Puccini thinks that the bay area can do more than just profit from Germany — it can learn a lot, too.

"We produce graduates," he said. "The German system produces employees and entrepreneurs."

The German American Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that it will have its Florida headquarters in Tampa. The GACC is a nonprofit that represents German industries across the country, and Puccini, whose company is a local subsidiary of a German corporation, will serve as the Florida chapter's first director.

The Florida chapter doesn't have a physical location and for now will be stocked with volunteers like Puccini.

One of his first goals will be to bridge Germany's "dual system" with Tampa Bay's educational system, Puccini said. In Germany, companies train their workers from the start with apprenticeships as they go through school. When they're done, the company has a ready-made employee.

But are German companies finding ready-made employees locally?

"No, not really," he said. "That is entirely the problem."

In the United States, Puccini complained, employees need to be trained after graduation. He acknowledged that cuts to local educational systems and the state university system aren't helping. Part of the solution, he said, lies in local businesses adopting the kind of mentoring programs that are common in Germany, like the program his company offers to high school juniors and seniors. Bauer is based in Odessa and specializes in underground construction, such as pilings, underground walls and basements.

But education will be just one of the jobs of the local GACC chapter. The other will be introducing the Tampa Bay area to German companies looking to expand and hire in this country.

Foreign business is crucial to Florida. The state is sixth in the nation in direct foreign investment and No. 1 in the southeastern United States. More than 1.3 million jobs in Florida are dependent on international trade.

That's why Thursday's announcement was made at Tampa International Airport, which is aiming to increase its share of foreign flights. Last year Edelweiss Air announced that it would offer nonstop flights from Tampa to Zurich, Switzerland. Germany is also key to Tampa International's future, said airport CEO Joe Lopano. Tampa is trying to attract nonstop flights to Germany, and Edelweiss Air is owned by German airline Luft­hansa.

"This sends a very strong message that Tampa Bay is an international hub," said Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. president Rick Homans. "I think it speaks to the great potential of our economic base."

"We all view Germany as a priority for us, for visitors, for direct flights, for foreign investment."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Thursday's announcement is another sign — along with August's Republican National Convention — that Florida no longer has two destination cities. It has three.

"When people think of Florida, they don't just think of Miami and Orlando," Buckhorn said. "They think of Tampa."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3404.

Comments
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

Tampa boy, 14, shot on bike, police asking for help

TAMPA — Police want to know who shot 14-year-old De’Nico Thomas after a night of playing video games.Thomas was at a friend’s home Wednesday night and walking home when Tampa police said he was shot, resulting in life-threatening injuries.As he faces...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

At first I thought it was a snake.Because wouldn’t it be typically Florida to come home and find a snake poking its nose out from under your stove? Which wouldn’t be a problem or anything. I would just have to move out is all.But no, the creature tha...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

Man, 78, proposes to newfound love at ‘senior’ prom in Riverview

RIVERVIEWJaime Rodriguez, 78, popped the question Friday morning but skipped the "getting down on one knee" part."If I get on my knee, you’d have to help me," he told the emcee a moment before asking Luz Rivera to marry him.Rivera, 69, smiled and sai...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

Tampa Bay workforce development initiative looks to Houston for lessons

The biggest hospitals in Houston had a problem.To earn a prized institutional certification, they needed more nurses with bachelor of science degrees in nursing.But local colleges were more focused on turning out nurses with two-year degrees who, to ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

Lightning re-signs backup goalie Louis Domingue to 2-year deal

The Lightning has re-signed one of its restricted free agents in backup goalie Louis Domingue, who will be back with Tampa Bay on a two-year deal worth $2.3 million.Domingue, 26, was acquired from Arizona in November after he had posted a 4.33 goals-...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, the future of health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Romano: You better hope I’m wrong about flood insurance

Romano: You better hope I’m wrong about flood insurance

Chances are, I’ll go down as the Boy Who Cried Flood.You might have noticed, I’ve been shouting about the imminent calamity of flood waters for quite a few years now. If I wasn’t trying to frighten you into buying flood insurance, I was worrying you ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Delta bans pit bulls as service dogs, sparks backlash

Delta bans pit bulls as service dogs, sparks backlash

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines says it’s no longer allowing passengers to fly with "pit bull type" dogs as service or support animals, a policy that’s being met with criticism by groups that train service dogs and the people who use them.The Atlanta-based...
Updated: 5 hours ago