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Tampa Bay receives Military Spouse Community of the Year Award

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Tampa Bay has received the Hiring Our Heroes 2021 Military Spouse Community of the Year Award during the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Employment Summit May 13, 2021.

The award recognizes a community and its leaders for their efforts in creating a strong, inclusive community that allows military spouses to thrive both inside and outside of the gates.

“Hiring Our Heroes created Military Spouse Empowerment Zones to bring together local and national employers, local Chambers, installations and other community partners to build robust employment networks for military spouses,” said Elizabeth Larsen, director of community event and programs at Hiring Our Heroes. “As one of the first zones to be designated, the Tampa MSEEZ is a perfect example of what we had in mind and the military spouses who live in the Tampa community are benefiting from their efforts to provide them with professional development training and connections to employers as well as advocating on their behalf.”

In 2018, Tampa was one of the first communities to be designated as a Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone because of its commitment to military spouse employment.

Since then, the working group has grown to include 45 local employers with the unwavering support of the local installation, local Chambers of Commerce and the business community.

In 2020, they set clear goals aligned to the MSEEZ’s hire, train and advocate pillars resulting in the creation of a local military spouse employer directory. This directory creates a direct line of communication from Military Spouse Professional Network members to local hiring managers at military spouse ready companies—with the goal of reducing the time to hire after a PCS to this area.

“We’ve always known that the community in Tampa Bay is strong and that our business community is equally robust, but to see the work that has been done to support our military families, and more specifically military spouses is incredible,” said Bob Rohrlack, Tampa Bay Chamber President and CEO. “We are proud to be one of the Tampa Bay companies who have pledged to hire military spouses and have hired both military spouses and veterans who are currently working on our chamber team. We’re proud to live, work, and play in a community that not only says they support military families, but that actively puts words into action to support our nation’s heroes.”

The MSEEZ has also hosted industry events with some of the largest employers in the area, building camaraderie and sharing best practices among employers while also educating spouses about what makes this local economy unique. Additionally, the MSEEZ worked with the Tampa Bay Chamber to advocate for statewide tracking of military spouse unemployment during the 2021 legislative session.

“We are incredibly proud for Tampa to receive the Military Spouse Impact Award for Community of the Year,” said Kelly Flannery, South Tampa Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “We have an underutilized, educated, and highly skilled pool of talent right here in our own backyard. We look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. Chamber, Hiring Our Heroes, and local partners to bridge the gap between military families and the business community.”