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Florida Armenians Launch Armenian Professional Network with Tampa Bay Mixer

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TAMPA, FL – Last year, Florida Armenians (FLArmenians) launched a statewide professional network with an inaugural event at Malio’s Prime Steakhouse in downtown Tampa Bay, reported FLArmenians. Over 30 young professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners and students from a variety of industries and professions were in attendance.

“FLArmenians has ignited a new era among the Tampa Bay Armenians both in community and business interaction,” stated Melik Keuroghlian, FLArmenians Tampa Officer. “It’s amazing how this launch has started a ripple that continues in motion,” Keuroghlian said.

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The Florida Armenians Professional Network (FLAPN) is currently in the process of building a statewide database of Armenian professionals and business owners in order to facilitate opportunities for Florida Armenian youth and Armenian owned businesses. The FLAPN Business Directory will be published in the coming months.

Guests enjoyed complimentary food and beverages to the tune of Armenian and Middle Eastern music all while taking in the view of downtown Tampa Bay. “We’re pleased to see such a diverse group of young and professional Armenians come together and build the personal and business relationships that will carry our community forward,” stated Arsine Kaloustian, FLArmenians Communications Director.

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Photographs from the event are available on the FLArmenians Facebook Page and on Instagram.

To have your business listed in the FLAPN Business Directory please send your company information to flarmenians@gmail.com. Please include any positions currently available with complete job descriptions and application requirements.

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NR#: 2014-01

Armenia Avenue Anyone? The Story of Armenia Avenue in Tampa Bay, Florida

Tampa Bay I-275 Exit 42 Armenia Ave. and Howard Ave. Sign

Tampa Bay I-275 Exit 42 Armenia Ave. and Howard Ave. Sign. Photo Courtesy of Yeretzgin Anna Demerjian.

A Series of Fortunate Circumstances

By Dr. George Kamajian
FLArmenians Guest Contributor 

Tampa Bay, FL – Florida, our 3rd largest state, has long been underrepresented when it comes to organized Armenians.  Sure, there have been Hye’s basking in the Sunshine State for decades.  The traditional Interstate-95 corridor from Boston to Miami sprouted numerous colonies of Armenians from Jacksonville to Ft. Lauderdale. Churches soon followed in Miami and Boca Raton with a smattering of a few mission parishes when the Armenian populations were deemed too small to support a church. Although Armenians have made their presence known in Florida business and sports (think Garo Yepremian from the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins) for years, their numbers are still anemic when compared to Philadelphia, Boston or Detroit.

(Also on FLArmenians: Armenian Genocide Billboards on Display in South Florida, Massachusetts)

When the western part of the state opened up with Interstate-75 a funny thing happened. There was an Armenian imprint in Tampa that went beyond anything their brothers and sisters could brag about up north. There, in the middle of downtown Tampa was the landmark Armenia Avenue with a sign as big as any on Interstate-75. A familiar name welcomed weary tourist from up north. How? Who was this powerful, rich or politically connected Armenian that made this happen?

Unfortunately, according to the local historical society Armenia has nothing to do with the name of a road in Tampa.

(WATCH: WTSP News Channel 10 Reporter Grayson Kamm’s coverage of “Why do they call it that? How Armenia Avenue get its name and history of Avon Park, Florida)

“Armenia Avenue was actually originally called Armina Avenue,” said Rodney Kite-Powell, Curator of History at the Tampa Bay History Center. Kite-Powell says cigar factories used to line this avenue. There are a lot of streets named after the cigar factories that they were near,” Kite-Powell explained. “And so, the Armina cigar factory was right along Armenia — or Armina — Avenue.”

So how’d we get from A-r-m-i-n-a to A-r-m-e-n-i-a?

“Somewhere along the line, either a sign painter messed up, or somebody just kept consistently messing up the pronunciation, and Armina became Armenia,” Kite-Powell said.

Now for the good news….it’s going to stay Armenia avenue forever.

Dr. George Kamajian is a member of the St. Hagop Armenian Church Parish Council and resides in Indian Shores, Florida.