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German accent: Apprenticeship program modeled after one in Germany

In 2011, Siemens consolidated its North American operations for making gas turbines at a $350-million factory in Charlotte, N.C. It was a win for North Carolina, but a loss for Florida: The German company moved about 50 jobs tied to gas turbine manufacturing out of Orlando.

Among other things, Charlotte offered a German-style apprenticeship program that combines classroom education and on-the-job training to ensure workers are appropriately skilled for jobs at Siemens and other participating firms.

Last November, Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey introduced the Tampa Bay Advanced Manufacturing Skills Initiative, an effort to replicate Germany's — and Charlotte's — success in pairing young, qualified workers with local industries. Supported by $2.35 million in state and local funding, the program will begin this summer with about 50 high school students in Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Starkey helped organize trips to Germany in 2008 and 2013 with local business, government and school leaders to see how the apprenticeships work. "We know through our German partners that many companies looking to move manufacturing to the U.S. have not been looking at Florida because we're not known as a manufacturing state," she says. "We think this type of training will be a great economic development tool."

Student apprentices will start as high school juniors and receive four years of hands-on manufacturing education at training centers throughout the region. Participating firms will sponsor the apprentices and pay them hourly wages. At the end, they'll have a postsecondary degree from a state college and industry-recognized certifications.

"As a manufacturer, one of our biggest problems is talent. Our growth is limited by the talent we can find," says Peter Buczynsky, president of Pharmaworks, which produces automated equipment in Pasco County for the pharmaceutical packaging industry and is participating in the program.

"A lot of what's missing today is practical, hands-on skills," says Buczynsky, "and that's what this program is all about."

Players

Hertz named John Tague president and CEO. Tague, most recently CEO of Greatwide Logistics Services, had been president and COO of United Airlines. He replaces Mark Frissora, who stepped down after accounting errors were discovered and under pressure from investor Carl Icahn.

Roger Berdusco became CEO at St. Petersburg's Triad Retail Media after founder, Greg Murtagh, stepped down. Berdusco was Triad's president and COO.

Tampa Bay Partnership CEO Stuart Rogel resigned in November. COO John Schueler is managing day-to-day activities during the search for Rogel's replacement. The organziation is a partnership between economic developers and businesses.

BRADENTON — State regulators cleared the way for Bradentonbased Anchor Property & Casualty Insurance, which formed last summer, to write homeowners insurance in Florida.

CLEARWATER — Discount apparel chain Nordstrom Rack will open its first Pinellas County store this fall in space previously occupied by Sears Auto Center at West field Countryside mall. Clearwater Beach hosted the RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships after organizers decided against holding it in Israel because of violence in the Gaza Strip.

HENDRY COUNTY — The state Department of Economic Opportunity declined to approve a plan by U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Bros. Of Florida to develop a large Residential and commercial project called Sugar Hill in rural eastern Hendry.

LAKELAND — Publix Super Markets will pay $6.8 million to settle a class-action lawsuit fled in Tennessee federal court over background checks for job applicants during a two-year period ending last May.

SARASOTA — New College of Florida will offer a master's degree in data science, its frst post-graduate program, starting in the fall.

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA — Voters in three southwest counties defeated measures aimed at funding local transportation initiatives. Greenlight Pinellas, a referendum for a penny sales tax increase to pay for a revamped bus system and a light rail line, lost overwhelmingly. Similar initiatives in Hernando and Polk counties also were defeated.

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman proposed a $12.50-an-hour minimum wage for city workers. > Jabil Circuit, a St. Petersburg-based contract electronics manufacturer, moved from the S&P 500 index to the S&P MidCap 400. > Raymond James Financial Executive Chair Man Tom James committed $75 million of his own money to build a museum for his art collection.

TAMPA — Lufthansa will offer non-stop air service from Tampa International Airport to Frankfurt starting in September. It will have four weekly fights through the winter and add a fifth in summer 2016. The airport and local tourism agencies pledged more than $1.5 million in economic incentives to the carrier. > Publix executive committee Chairman Howard Jenkins and his wife, Patricia, donated $10 million to the University of Tampa for construction of a new residence hall. > Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik offered to give the University of South Florida an acre near Amalie Arena to build a downtown medical school. > Fort Lauderdale developer BTI Partners bought 51 acres of water front property where a large marina and condo project called New Port Tampa Bay was to be built before the recession. BTI is expected to begin work on a revamped project by the summer. > One Tampa City Center, a 38-story office tower, sold to Alliance Partners for $128 million, well above its prior price tag of $88 million in 2006. > An investor group tied to UBS Realty bought a new, 367- unit apartment complex near Hyde Park for $111.5 million from developer Crescent Communities of Charlotte, N. C. > Columbia Restaurant President Richard Gonzmart plans to revive homegrown hamburger eatery Goody Goody after buying its name and other assets from longtime owner Mike Wheeler. United Ohana bought Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands' Roy's restaurant chain. United Ohana's founder owns 69 Applebee's in Texas.

Profile Mike's Pies

Mike Martin was homesick for his mom's fruit pies when he began tinkering with her recipes in his spare time as a young wine and liquor salesman. "At first, I wasn't learning to make pies to sell them. I was learning to make them so I could eat them," says Martin, a former University of Kentucky linebacker who briefly played in the NFL. In 1992, Martin opened Mike's Pies bakery in Tampa. It now sells its desserts nationwide at restaurants and grocery stores, including Winn- Dixie and Margaritaville, as well as in the Middle East and South America. The company bakes more than 600,000 pies and cakes annually at a 30,000-sq.-ft. facility in Tampa. It employs about 50 people, with sales projected to rise nearly 20% to more than $6 million in 2014.