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Millennial Balance Sheet

Practical Financial Advice for Young Professionals

Playoff Intrigue

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The NBA playoff are still in the first rounds of basketball but already fans have witnessed some spectacular games and amazing talent. The usual all-stars leading their teams into the final seconds of games and young inexperienced players stepping up to hit big shots when called upon.

The first team, you want to count out of the playoffs is the Utah Jazz. To say that they are a good team with heart that deserves to be in the playoffs is an understatement. They have stood face to face with the flashy and high profile L.A. Clippers throughout their first-round matchup. Yes, one of the three Clippers stars went out with an injury but let me reiterated they have two other huge stars to lead the team. The Jazz meanwhile have been led by their low key all-star Gordon Hayward who recently went out of the last game with food poisoning. The Jazz stayed tough and powered past the Clippers.

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When you hear Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge, you normally already want to count out the team they are playing minus a few exceptions. The Memphis Grizzlies however, have been playing with the grit they have for years but now also with a renewed focus. Seeing Randolf go to the bench and out of the starting lineup seemed crazy but the plan has worked out for the team. Mike Conley has lead the team with his clutch shooting and Marc Gasol seems to have polished both his inside and outside games into another dimension. With this series also tied 2-2, it will be a fight to the finish with amazing basketball yet to be seen.

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There have been other story-lines and amazing plays that have grabbed the NBA fan’s attention. The two finalist MVP candidates going full throttle to push their teams into the next round. Westbrook still managing triple doubles as his team slowly has fallen to 3-1 in the series. Atlanta could make an interesting match-up in the second round of the playoffs if they can push aside the Washington Wizards led by John Wall.

Leaving out the top seeds from the east and west isn’t a slight to them. They are expected to sweep their first-round opponents with all the money they spend to bring in the players that should push them to a championship. As the playoffs progress we will witness some very hard fought battles indeed.

Stock Market Rife with Opportunities

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With the mountains of news stories piling up about President Donald Trump in our media, young people are missing out on huge opportunities to make some extra cash. The President just recently touted the enormous rise in the stock market that has reached all-time highs since he took office. One might see this and think that the easy money has already been made. The truth is however, that there are always different industry sectors making money at various points of time, both good and bad.

A little common sense and homework can propel even the most in-debt college student into a relaxed individual with extra cash in his or her pocket. The problem is getting their focus past their social media infatuation and excuses for not taking the time to invest. Reliance on social media is not always a negative however, if one stops to think about the future of the company they spend so much with and money on, they may have a company to consider investing in.

Many social media companies right now are going public and this sets the public up with an opportunity to buy a company’s shares as it starts its journey as a publicly traded stock. The issue is taking time to research the companies that are set up to conquer their industry and competitors. Take Facebook for example, early investors made a lot of money buying in early because they were sure that it would grow into a powerful tech company. Go Pro on the other hand was a hot commodity for one Christmas season and has seemed to slow down because they have no other direction to go but selling fast action cameras.

Being knowledgeable in national and world news only helps you make more decisive buys in the stock market. With the President and congress ready to push over 1 trillion dollars into infrastructure, a smart move would be considering cement and steel companies poised to get large government contracts to rebuild our roads and bridges.

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The Federal Reserve is also pushing interest rates up little by little. When this happens, a smart investor looks for who stands to benefit from these moves… THE BANKS!!! Put a little of your savings in a large bank that will profit from rising interest rates.

The main takeaway is to always be aware of what is going on so you can make your move and make money off it. No one likes to pay more money per gallon of gas at the pump, but investors in oil smile as prices go up because the companies become more profitable and the stick price rises!

HCC’s “Bridge” Project Informs and Unifies Students

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Hillsborough Community College held an Immigration event called The Bridge Project, that started with an interactive workshop and concluded with a professional panel of local and national experts talking openly about immigration. The event was put together by the Community Based Activism group at HCC, and it focused on the national discussion surrounding our immigration system. An emphasis on education was also stressed by the panelists at the event on the Dale Mabry Campus.

Beginning in a classroom, the event had tables set up with a different topic written on large pieces of paper. Colored pencils were also available to illustrated the discussions undertaken while speaking about each subject. At each table was a person available to discuss the issue based on their own personal experiences and knowledge. Students and faculty spent 30 minutes asking questions and discussing the issues that command a large majority of the news on television. The issues discussed throughout the room ranged from the labeling of an immigrant that’s legal versus one that is illegal. Data, statistics, criminal activity and deportation were all popular discussion topics being addressed as well.

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HCC student Bryan Lopez sat at a table and explained the process immigrants go through to become American citizens. “The first step is to get a work permit which is renewed every year,” he explained. “There isn’t much that comes with that status besides being able to get a driver’s license and you receive very little government assistance.” The next step is to apply for a green card and then the work permit becomes void. At this point the immigrant is considered a resident of the U.S. and can receive some assistance. After 5 years of having the green card and living and working, the resident can then file to become an American citizen.

After, the attendees numbering at over 40 people, filtered into the auditorium to listen to a panel discussing these issues in a more in depth discussion. The experts consisted of New York lawyer Cesar Vargas, political strategist/activist Yesenia Mata, UT Immigration professor Michael Coon, local School Board Chair Susan Valdez, bipartisan immigration activist Samuel Aguilar, and USF Graduate Director Heide Castaneda.

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Misconceptions about immigration were a focal point during the question and answer session with the panelists. Professor Coon addressed the delusion of undocumented immigrants are a burden to the economy. He addressed it by sharing how these workers that pay taxes will never see a social security check but they have contributed 7-12 billion into that pool. Also, when they spend it generates more jobs and they also contribute by paying sales tax. The more living here, the more electricity and household goods are bought he added.

Valdez stressed some important points to the audience of young students. She said that, “To break cycles you need to have courageous leaders in power.” “Know who you are voting for and where they stand.” She explained that to implement change students need to reach out to their elected officials to make change happen.

With misinformation abound in our society, it is important to study the facts and have an open mind when discussion divisive issues. The event ended with all attendees having a broader view of just how complex and outdated our current immigration system is.

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Tampa Food-worker Protest Huge Success

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“Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Exploitation’s got to go!” was chanted by protesters on the sidewalk in front of Publix supermarket on Azeele St. in Tampa Florida. Over 250 demonstrators showed up to voice their anger towards the two large corporations of Publix and Wendy’s on Wednesday March 29th. The “Return to Human Rights Tour” event was the culmination of a 12-city expedition which began in Ohio and generated a great amount of support and awareness to the living conditions of our farm workers.

The sun was still beaming down at 5:00 p.m. as activists showed up and began an hour of marching in front of the Publix. After an hour, the group walked to the nearest Wendy’s on Kennedy Ave. to protest the organization that claims it doesn’t make financial sense to spend an extra penny on workers but instead buys multi-billion dollar ads during the super bowl.

Publix and Wendy’s are the last two major companies remaining that haven’t signed the fair food pledge to pay more for their produce. The pledge pushes for equality and demands that workers who pick our food in fields should be treated with dignity and paid fairly for their sweat and labor. In the past, workers would get paid way below to poverty line for the long hours and labor they put forth to pick our produce. These workers have lived in unfathomable conditions where no running water was present and over 10 people stayed in smaller trailers.

The drums, loudspeakers and voices of the hundreds drew the attention of commuters on their way home from work. Many honked in support and rolled down their windows to express their agreement for the actions being taken. The large, colorful, and visible signs held by most of the protesters showed just how much equality meant to them. Some signs read “stop farm-worker exploitation” while others read, “fair food now, respect, we want justice, and 1 penny more.”

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“There has always been a place for students to act in solidarity with these farm-workers,” explained Alex Schelle, a student of New College in Florida located in Sarasota Florida. “Students are so important to these causes because they help to apply the pressure to these companies.” Besides a multitude of farm-workers and students, there was also a large presence of religious communities that also came to lend a helping hand and support.

Two organizations devoted to the Florida tomato worker’s human rights and freedoms are the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s and the Fair Food Program. The coalition has been in place for over 2 decades and has made huge strides in combating human rights abuses right here in Florida.

Local supporter and Tampa native Sydney Eastman joined this cause after already being involved in women’s march rallies. She said, “The message really spoke to her and I was happy to show support to a group that liberated 1,200 farmworkers from actual slavery. This movement and women’s rights are both looking for the same things,” she added.

The protest brought to light the hypocrisy of large corporations who call every move business sense but then turn around and waste millions of dollars. The gathering of a diverse group of people showed that equality is still a subject that needs much attention in our society but also shows the power humans have when they stand together for just causes.

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Laughs and Diversity key to HCC Tennis Team

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The HCC tennis team is an enjoyable and diverse group of women who know how to practice hard, play hard, and have fun. College tennis teams usually fall under the radar when students think about what campus events to attend and the teams support. A bright sunny day filled with a few hours of watching young students hustling across the court to beat their opponent is truly a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

The first thing fans will notice when attending a Hawks tennis match is the diversity of the HCC team. It is made up of seven girls who’s ages range from around 18-21 years old. There is no Tampa or Florida natives on the team and only two of the women were raised in the United States. The other five hail from many other parts of the world, including Argentina, Israel, Hong Kong, Venezuela, and the United Kingdom.

Head Coach Jennifer Gelhaus leads a talented roster of seven students who make her job entertaining and enjoyable. She comes from Cincinnati and this is her first year leading the Hawks and she says next year the recruits will be all international. Gelhaus relayed that it is a pleasure to work with students worldwide because, “I get to see the different styles of play and different forms of work ethic.” “HCC tennis has a great international program and the players come in with a hunger to win and a drive to succeed.”

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The cohesiveness of the team is noticed right away and the chemistry seems to have bonded the students into lifelong friends. When asked about the different players on the team, Jamie Young from Colorado relayed, “I love this team because everyone brings a different style of tennis to learn and we all have different senses of humor.” Ceire Mullins, from the UK, chimed in smiling and said, “We all get along and go shopping and play beach tennis together.” “Our team loves High School Musical,” she added. Studying together and assisting each other with homework is also something great that they all focus on.

Samantha, an HCC student raised in Hong Kong and tennis teammate said that she began to play at the age of four and that her mother was her first coach. “Our team is big on cheering each other on,” Samantha said referring to the comradery of the team. “It is a good experience because you learn about other cultures and make friends from all corners of the world that you will have for life.”

The competitions are selected by the coaches before the match and the day begins with doubles matches and then the teams breaking down for one on one match-ups. It is apparent that the players must regulate themselves on the court as there is only one umpire. Samantha explained, “Florida has great weather so all the pros come here to play and it gets very competitive.”

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The takeaway from attending an HCC tennis match is that these young players do not have many of their peers coming out to their matches to support them. They do a great job of motivating each other on the court but they lack a group of fans cheering on their serves and backhands.

A Rich History in our Backyard

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Over 5 thousand HCC students tread the streets of Ybor City each year as they walk to their college classes. Most with no knowledge that the roads were just as they were in the late 1800’s. Historical landmarks including Tampa’s first cigar factory and the Cuban club make up the old Tampa neighborhood.  Ybor was founded by a wealthy industrialist looking to leave his mark. Vicente Martinez Ybor was 65 years old when he stumbled into this area on his way to transform the city of Galveston Texas.

The city of Tampa was little more than a fishing village with a population of a meager 700 citizens. At the behest of local investors, Ybor dropped his plans to move to Texas and set up shop in what would become his city. He was going to make his dream of having his own town a reality.

At the young age of 14, Ybor left Spain for Cuba to avoid serving a mandatory tour in the Spanish Armada. He quickly learned the ins and outs of the cigar business. Although in Cuba, he found himself speaking out against its Spanish colonization. He was forced out of the country and landed in Key West. There he began his first Cuban cigar business because he had the Cuban contacts and close proximity to the tobacco needed. Problems began to arise with his Cuban workforce his laborers were always leaving for home or going on strike.

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He spoke with travelers, wrote letters, and researched the best areas of the county to set up shop and make a name for himself. Tampa was just a stop on the way to the state of Texas but fate seemed to have other plans for the visionary. At the time Tampa was a vast swamp with standing water, where alligators, bears, and panthers were perfectly normal wildlife.

Ybor recruited childhood friend Gavino Gutierrez to organize and build the first roadways in the newly bought acreage. Gutierrez had sat in on many classes at Columbia University to try and gain a great new skillset. “He was not actually a student,” local Tampa tour guide Lonnie Herman explains. “If you know Seinfeld, it’s like George wanting to be an architect.” Explaining that Gutierrez cut corners to get what he needed and wanted.

When Lonnie spoke about Ybor being 68 years old and how amazing what he was doing was for his age, a customer joking replied, “I’m 68 years old and I probably won’t make it down the block.” Even at his age, Ybor contacted everyone he knew from Cuba and Key West and enticed them to come to his city, rival companies and all. He offered land and already built factories for anyone willing to come settle in his city. After a major fire in Key West all the workers and immigrants from Cuba, Italy, Sicily, Germany, and Romania made their way to the Tampa area.

The curbs were made of granite and kept out the mud and the muck. Free range chickens and roosters that descended from chickens living back then are still roaming the streets to this day. They are protected by law from being messed with.

From the casitas to the buildings that are still standing to this day, Ybor city has something to offer the students of HCC. Go walk the streets or take a tour and relive the history of the “Cigar Capitol of the World.”

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All Joking Inside

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The comedic quartet, The Tenderloins, left Tampa citizens laughing long after their performance ended on Friday, February 3rd at Amalie Arena. The pranksters rose to stardom with their hit show, Impractical Jokers, which airs on Tru t.v. Most of the time the show features simple and lighthearted prank that involve playing games on unassuming citizens of New York City.  Known for their simple humor, the group took to the stage at Amalie Arena to ensure there was a smile on every face as their fans departed the venue.

Most fans are used to seeing the group of Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto, James “Murr” Murray and Brian “Q” Quinn spend time in public places daring each other to conduct hilarious pranks in public. It was refreshing to see the jokesters on stage in an impromptu style of roasting each other in front of the Tampa audience. The surprise of the night wasn’t the jokes but the language thrown around that isn’t seen on filmed episodes of their show. The crowd was warned as it was only for people 16 years of age and older.

The “Santiago Sent Us Tour,” began with the four friends coming onto the stage and delivering the audience a first time viewing of next season’s first episode. It began with a shot of Murray’s face, which happened to be with no eyebrows. The skit set up to where the other three jokers could draw any expression on Murray’s face and then they wrote lines that he had to say to ordinary people walking in the park. The comic then began to ask people to take his picture while wearing angry eyebrows that were drawn on him. Laughing ensued from pedestrians that found it funny as Murray said, “Could you take another picture, I look angry in this one!”

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The roasting then turned to Joe, as a picture of his 13-year-old dog was placed on the big screen. The others laughed and yelled one liners like, “buy one disease and get one free,” referring the dogs looks because it was so old. Quinn then pointed out, “We live in the age of digital photography and that was the best picture we could find of your dog!”

Sal was the next one to take his licks on stage. The guys blasted him for his lack of courage and feminine qualities. He also shared the story of when his neighbor, an NYPD detective, came knocking on his door in the middle of the night. He was asking for backup because someone had broken into his apartment and he thought they may still be in there. Sal explained how he then followed his neighbor to his apartment still half asleep in and Corona pajamas.

There was also the ability for the audience to see four behind the scenes episodes that haven’t been put onto television. These included a dare where each prankster had to be creepier than the others, which Murray won hands down. He strolled through a children’s park in white khakis, a pastel colored polo shirt, a mustache, and glasses.

The night closed with the disgusting dare that Murray received that he would receive a decent amount of money to eat dog poop. The star did not disappoint as he downed it with a soda and then grabbed his winnings.

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State Fair’s Fried Food Invasion

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The Florida State Fair celebrated its annual celebration this last February. Above all else, the bizarre foods offered at the festival seem to be the mind blowing attraction that enlightens the taste pallets of kids and adults alike. Whether its deep fried or served on a stick, the food vendors tirelessly test new recipes to serve each year at the Florida State Fair.

Anything even remotely possible to be fried, is stuck in the grease in order to appease the growing appetite of Florida natives that attend the fair. Fried Oreos often lead the sales of fan favorites as they get a boost in satisfaction, taste, and calories. Joining the deep fried Oreos are peanut butter cups, cookie dough, Klondike bars, and Twinkie’s.

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One delicious and appealing fair treat that has risen in popularity over the past few years is funnel cake. The snack has long been fried dough with powdered sugar sprinkled on top of it. It has now turned the fair food sales into a creative competition with vendors attempting to make more an even more delectable treat. Across the fairgrounds the varieties included maple bacon, birthday cake, red velvet, Reese’s peanut butter fudge, and turtle funnel cakes.

As you enter the fair, the foot traffic takes event goers right by “The Best Around’s,” concession stand. Janes Harris, known as “Mama Jane,” was been in the industry for over 30 years and has been serving Floridians at the fair for over 15. “Red Velvet was the game changer,” Mama Jane said, referring to the industry spark in creating new types of funnel cakes.

When asked what her most popular selling food was, Harris replied with a grin, “Cheesy Fried Enchilada.” It is made with fried tortilla cake, white queso, and chorizo so it is not as much of a desert as other funnel cakes and more of an entree. “Sometimes we sell four to five at a time,” she went on to say as she explained the large amount of food her company sells.

While working the fairs and other large event circuits, Mama Jane has fed many stars. Her favorites include country singers Craig Morgan, Sarah Evans, and Cole Swindell. Swindell actually requested that she notify him if she was selling food at any of the venues he was playing at. She also said Craig Morgan normally doesn’t like fair food, but loved her bacon maple funnel cake. Although she was very warm, inviting, and open, Mama Jane made it clear there would be no leaks on what she has planned for next year’s state fair. “People will try to copy it!” she exclaimed.

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Franchises Sell Business Models to Tampa Residents

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 Over 50 black booths were set up at the convention center on February 18 and 19, as national franchises looked for potential franchisees to open potential businesses. The event gave interested investors a chance to meet with top executives from expanding companies that are looking for continued growth.

Throughout the day there were seminars given from top small business experts, some who have bestselling books on the market. Carl Gould, the author of “The 7 Stages of Small-Business Success: From Startup to Seven Figures in Three Years or Less,” led a seminar about the key strategies that can take your business to the next level. He began by asking if anyone had seen the movie March of the Penguins. Gould went on to explain how a person’s business has to stand out and not be blended in with all other businesses in the industry, comparing it to the thousands of penguins that all looked alike in the movie.

Gould stressed the importance of starting on social media to build your brand. He said, “You are either helping your brand or your rivals brand.” “If you do not have subject matter expertise then you are building someone else’s brand.” He elaborated by explaining inactivity or a bad image pushes potential customers to businesses that are making the right moves.

Franchising is a way for established companies to sell their brand to investors. The potential business men and business women can purchase a certain amount of stores to open from the company. That person pays the company a franchise fee and many other costs in order to open a location. The investor is then in charge of the business but has help and assistance from the corporate office of the franchise. The business owner usually has a business consultant from the corporate office that assists in opening the store and ensuring policies are followed.

Most notable franchises in attendance were Seven Eleven convenience stores, the UPS Store, Captain D’s Seafood, Java Brewing Stations, and a lot of other fun concepts. Many franchises are also veteran friendly and give huge discounts on franchise fees in order for prior soldiers to open their own businesses.

There are over 3,000 franchising brands in the United States. The total number of franchise stores in this country is over 740,000. The direct economic output from franchise brands is averaged out to be $710,000,000,000. The total number people employed by franchises adds up to more than 7 million workers. These businesses are categorized into ten industries and the most recognized are restaurant and food service, auto industry jobs, and fitness services.

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