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Techies descend on downtown Clearwater
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Nick Sampson of Clearwater, left, and Greg Hauenstein of Belleair are winning a game of corn toss. They represent their company Idatix in Clearwater’s Tech Olympics.
CLEARWATER – The nerds were out in force, they took over a block of Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater, and they played games. The self-proclaimed nerds and geeks wanted to show the city how many of them there were and what they could do. They managed to score on all fronts.

The event was the first-ever Tech Olympics on May 23. Dozens of employees from the various high-tech companies located in Clearwater showed up for an afternoon and evening of fun and competition.

A block of Cleveland Street was closed to traffic and lined with food trucks for the event. It was all designed to educate the city on how important the presence of the high-tech industry really is.

Jason Stanard was one of the organizers of the event. His company is Great Circle Studios. Organizing the event was done in his capacity as part of the Clearwater Technology Alliance, an organization designed to bring together the owners and executive of the high tech companies to entice businesses to move downtown.

“We have 23 tech companies with more than 800 employees,” he said. “Tech companies like to be around one another, so we want to bring awareness and to woo other companies.”

Stanard said the Olympics also are designed to bring employees together.

“We tend to be a pretty creative group in general, and we do a lot internally in our own businesses,” he said. “We want this event to be tech-specific; we just want to have an event for tech guys and girls. There are people who work in the same building and don’t know one another; this will bring them together.”

Among the “sports” in the Olympics were a foosball competition, a twitter competition, a chair race and video games.

The participants loved it.

Don Delsol of Autoloop was dressed up as a knight for the costume contest.

“This is fun; it gets you out to meet people,” he said. “It is a good idea and a great way to celebrate my company.”

Nearby Greg Hauenstein was playing corn-toss with his colleagues from Idatix. He, too, was impressed with the event.

“Any time you can bring local businesses together it is a good thing,” he said. “We need to show how many of us there are. It is a great thing, and it has been fun. I’ll definitely be back next year.

Raneshia Lawrence, with her co-workers from Great Circle Studios, was just as excited about the Olympics, no matter, she said, what it is called.

“You can call it nerdy or geeky but it is still fun,” she said. “This is a great turnout and a great way to bring us all together. This whole thing has been a great idea.”

Jason Bennick of Autoloop and a board member of the Clearwater Technology Alliance said it is important that the various people involved in their industry get together.

“We work alongside a number of technology companies in downtown Clearwater,” he said. “We never really have a chance to mingle and meet other technology professionals and just have fun. The Tech Olympics is a great way to showcase our team spirit.”

Stanard said the idea of meeting people can be beneficial both to the employees and the companies. He said that was one big reason why the idea of having the Tech Olympics was conceived.

“Collaboration tends to work really well in the tech world,” he said. “If somebody is leaving one job and going to another, it is important for our community to know that. The network is wide open if people get to know one another. Shared resources and the ability to work in multiple tech companies are important and we can do it right here in downtown Clearwater.”
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