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SRQ DAILY May 21, 2016

"The brave men and women of the military make tremendous sacrifices—as do their families—for a greater cause and sense of responsibility to their country."

- Bob Rosinsky, Goodwill Manasota

[Argus]  Cultivating Opportunities
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

“A skilled and productive workforce is critical to Florida’s growing economy, serving as a primary reason businesses expand in or locate to our great state.” 

That is a statement from Chris Hart, president and CEO of CareerSource Florida, the state’s public-private workforce policy and investment board. CareerSource Florida partners include the Department of Economic Opportunity, 24 local workforce development boards and 100 career centers throughout Florida. Together, they help connect businesses with the talented workforce and training needed to succeed and grow. In his role, Hart’s effort to strengthen the global competitiveness of Florida businesses is also helping Floridians enhance skills necessary for a thriving workforce.

In a special Argus Foundation and South County Tiger Bay event, Hart will speak at the Meet the Minds luncheon on June 7 in South County. The partnership with South County Tiger Bay is intentional. We have some of our largest private employers in the county located in Venice and North Port with companies like PGT Industries, Tervis Tumbler and King Plastics. We also have innovative companies like bio-life company Enzymedica and, of course, our traditional sectors of tourism in Englewood and Venice, and construction in all areas of South County. South County is truly an economic jewel.

We hope this South County Tiger Bay joint meeting will highlight our biggest regional workforce asset—those living, working or soon to be moving to South County and especially North Port. The median age in the southern Sarasota County city is 41.2, and since 2000, it’s had a population growth of more than 140 percent. This area is a workforce asset, which if cultivated correctly, can be a shining light in the state for workforce training and development.

In a state that is driven now more than ever to create new and improved economic opportunities, our region is perfectly poised to set a statewide example of job growth and workforce training like never before. We must seize the opportunity to help job seekers, workers and businesses succeed. We are beginning to see this in educational and economic investments.

With the Suncoast Technical College unveiling its newest campus in North Port next summer and the University of Florida opening its innovation center in South County, our opportunities are vast in south Sarasota County. These two huge steps forward could have an immeasurable statewide impact on the job market. But we need to do so much more.

Locally, we have an opportunity to cultivate new and innovative employment and training strategies that can propel our region forward for the future.

I hope you’ll join us for this important community conversation.

Christine Robinson the executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Gulf Coast]  Orange and Blue with Envy
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Okay, I have to admit it. Yes, I received my Ph.D. from Florida State University (#GoNoles). But I may have just found the residence hall where I’d want to live if I could do it all over again—in Gainesville.

Blasphemy, I know! But for those of you still reading (Gators mostly, I bet), let me elaborate. Two weeks ago, I joined a group led by the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County to visit the University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. As partners in the new University of Florida Innovation Station coming to Sarasota County, we went to see firsthand the infrastructure and know-how behind the engineering program that picked our community for its first physical extension.

Back in March, when Gulf Coast joined the EDC and other investors like Sarasota County and the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation to announce the Innovation Station, I was highly impressed with UF’s knowledge of and commitment to our region. But I was blown away by what I saw in Gainesville this month.

An Innovation Hub for promising start-ups, complete with mentors in residence, pro-bono service providers, modern labs and other shared facilities—along with a wall covered in the names of alumni start-ups that have successfully outgrown it. A residence hall and living community dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs—think dorm rooms on top of shared workspace, collaboration pods and even a Fab Lab on the ground floor. We also saw UF’s Office of Technology Licensing and learned about its institutes of Engineering Innovation and Engineering Leadership. 

So, what’s all that have to do with our community? We are now an extension of that world-class College of Engineering, with all of its academic power, innovative technology and R&D. As local innovator (and Gator grad) Trey Lauderdale of Voalte said at the March announcement, a lack of engineering resources and talent was “a missing building block” in creating a true innovation economy in this region. No longer.

The Innovation Station will bring top engineering talent from UF here to intern and eventually work for employers like Voalte. It also will provide our own community’s students with streamlined entry into UF’s prestigious engineering program. And it will connect local companies and start-ups with UF researchers too. 

The Station plans to partner with our region’s higher-education institutions as well, like State College of Florida, where students can begin coursework before automatically enrolling in UF’s engineering school. It is another key piece of the regional “multiversity” concept being advanced by SCF, USF Sarasota-Manatee and our other local colleges in the C4 consortium.

For any Seminoles still reading (with narrowed eyes and gritted teeth, I imagine), let me also tout FSU’s new medical residency program here in Sarasota. That partnership with Sarasota Memorial Hospital will provide the only internal medicine residency program of its kind between St. Pete and Fort Myers. It aims to help fill the talent pipeline in another key industry for our region—healthcare.

So, I’m not trading my chop for the chomp just yet. Instead, I suggest we continue looking outward—at all possible partners—to fill niches and leverage the amazing resources we already have here, like diverse higher education, enviable quality of life, exceptional arts and culture and active, educated retirees. That’s how we’ll provide more opportunity for all residents, enhance our region’s unique places, build a competitive workforce and realize our potential for a 21st-century, innovation-based economy.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. He received his Ph.D. from Florida State University, where his research focused on strategic planning best practices in higher education. 

[Higher Education]  Grads Serve as Legacy
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Graduation ceremonies are among the greatest pleasures of being a college president. Twice a year, I am honored to celebrate this signature accomplishment with hundreds of students and their families and friends. In the midst of the day-to-day life of a college’s budget and administrative challenges, graduation ceremonies are a dose of perspective on why I love working in higher education. 

The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, held its largest graduation ceremony in its 59-year history on May 6, with more than 400 of our almost 1,000 graduates choosing to walk across the stage to receive their diploma at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. In the morning of the same day, 98 SCF Collegiate School students graduated high school—with a college graduation to follow that evening. 

It was thrilling to start my day by announcing to our collegiate school graduates that the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee had just agreed to offer free tuition to these students who were being awarded their high school diploma and associate’s degree in the same day. To see the emotion on the faces of the students who had just learned that their final two years of college were paid for was incredible. This scholarship opportunity is a great gesture by our partners at USF-SM and it helps to ensure that our very talented collegiate school graduates do not have to leave our community to complete their bachelor’s degree. 

At our college graduation in the evening, I was honored to present our Outstanding Graduate award to Ella Star. Ella truly exemplifies the kind of student we have at SCF. As a teenager, she chose to leave her native Kazakhstan and come to the United States for an opportunity to get an education and achieve the American dream. At SCF, she not only maintained a 4.0 grade point average and received the Outstanding Physics Student award, but she was also active in student government and many other college organizations. Ella plans to go to engineering school in the fall and has been accepted by several universities. We will see great things from her in the future.

Students like Ella are our mission. As an open-access institution, our college is focused on where you are going as a student, not on where you have been. As we prepare to celebrate SCF’s 60th anniversary in the fall, the more than 45,000 graduates this college has produced are its greatest legacy. I am very fortunate to play a role in building that legacy, and I treasure what our faculty and staff are able to do for our community.

Many students get their start at SCF, some come here to get back on the educational track and others start later to set a new professional course. Graduation means a different thing for each student and leads each to a unique destination. At SCF, you can get anywhere from here.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[From Bob Rosinsky]  Goodwill Honors Those Who Serve
Bob Rosinsky

Every year on the third Saturday of May, Americans pause to recognize the heroics of those who are serving in the US Armed Forces. The brave men and women of the military make tremendous sacrifices, as do their families, for a greater cause and sense of responsibility to their country.

On this Armed Forces Day and throughout the year, Goodwill Manasota affirms its gratitude to those who risk their lives in service to our country. We not only appreciate their many sacrifices but also stand at the ready to help them re-integrate into their families, communities and jobs after their discharge.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates some 250,000 service men and women return to civilian life each year. Currently, there are nearly 80,000 veterans who live in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Many return from deployment with debilitating physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other challenges that impede their smooth transition to civilian life. Goodwill is proud to provide support for them.

Many veterans approach Goodwill for career services and are surprised to find that our support extends beyond assistance for job searches. Goodwill also can link them to resources that help with a variety of needs—from health care and child care to housing and transportation. We are also now providing targeted assistance for the homeless veterans in our region. 

Since its inception three years ago, our Veterans Services Program has served more than 1,000 veterans, placed 118 in jobs, raised over $15,000 through our SERV Fund to assist more than 20 veterans and their families with emergency needs, provided free specialized yoga classes and offered holiday and entertainment options that program participants might not otherwise have been able to enjoy.

Many of us know of a family member or friend, or someone in our community, who is currently serving in the Armed Forces. We at Goodwill encourage you to let them know that Goodwill stands ready to welcome them back to our community, and to the workforce, after their brave service is complete.

Bob Rosinsky is president and CEO for Goodwill Manasota. 

[SCOOP]  Sophie's Grownup Grilled Cheese

Sophie’s has upgraded the icon of childhood comfort foodthe grilled cheeseinto a decadent treat that sizzles with sophistication. Sophie's Decadent Adult Grilled Cheese features Applewood smoked bacon, layered with creamy cave aged cheddar, taleggio and fontina cheeses melted on country bread. It's grilled of course, and then baked to golden perfection with a sweet note of Dalmatia fig spread on the side. The fig and gooey cheese pairing is so delightfully unexpected, rich and luscious it has become a local favorite. In fact, since debuting the unique taste pairing, so many Sophie's clients have requested the fig jam that the restaurant now sells jars of the thick, luscious jam to take home. Stop by Sophie's soon for this yummy indulgence.   

[KUDOS]  Top Talent

Congratulations to Rugs As Art Owner and Partner Jesse Murse, who was recently named one of the “40 under 40” top talents by Home Furnishing News (HFN). HFN is the premiere source of information on everything that’s going on in home furnishing and housewares and provides detailed information on the key home classifications. In March, HFN put out a call for nominations for the top talent in the home industry under the age of 40 on both the retailer and supplier sides of the business. Jesse’s accomplishments set the stage for the great leadership and vision to come in the home industry. 

[SCOOP]  Cat Depot's Baker's Dozen Reunion

A baker’s dozen brings to mind donut delicacies, but in this case they are 13 cats rescued by Cat Depot from a horrific Charlotte County hoarding case in January 2015. These sweet cats were aptly named after donuts: Boston, Crème, Custard, Dunkin, Dutchie, Fritter, Frosting, Glaze, Jelly, Maple, Sprinkle, Sugar and Churro. Since their rescue and recovery from upper respiratory infections, skin infections and eye surgery, each cat now lives happily with their new loving adopters. After treating all the 58 cats removed from a home in Charlotte County, Cat Depot kept 13 of the worse cases, and the rest were distributed to other animal organizations. To celebrate their good fortune, a "donut family reunion" is scheduled on Friday, June 3 from 10am to noon, in Cat Depot’s Education Center. In attendance will be the donut cats and their adoptive families, rescuers, volunteers and friends of the donut kitties. Coffee and donuts will be served. 

[SCOOP]  Summer Circus Spectacular Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Since the first performance in 2007, the Summer Circus Spectacular has attracted almost 130,000 circus fans young and old to see fun, family-friendly performances that feature some of the circus world’s most impressive acts. Now, for the show’s special tenth anniversary, the Circus Arts Conservatory and the Ringling are ready to once again present a bit of circus fun inside the Historic Asolo Theater. Ringmistress Bailey Yelding-Sloan is back by popular demand, returning from her studies at Florida State University. The Sailor Circus alumna has over eight years of circus arts experience including trapeze, high wire, cradle and Spanish web alongside her ringmistress training. Under the spotlight, her natural charisma and quick wit are guaranteed to keep you engaged.  

[SOON]  Family Biggest Winner

The Sarasota YMCA has launched a new health program for the entire family at the Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Branch and Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch. The Family Biggest Winner program includes small group training two times a week, nutrition coaching and continuous support from the passionate team. There will be fun team challenges, a weekly weigh-in and workshop opportunities. Limited spaces available, sign up at the front desk at the branch to secure your family’s spot. 

[KUDOS]  Al Purmort Insurance Celebrates 30 Years

Al Purmort Insurance has been successfully insuring and protecting families since 1985. In honor of their 30th anniversary celebration they are highlighting their talented staff that has helped and served the Sarasota Community. Joahnna Neer has been an important asset to Al Purmort Insurance and supports the commercial lines team in their efforts to manage key accounts and drive new business sales. She provides a high level of customer service to the agency’s clients and also assists in the marketing and processing of new and renewal business. She holds her 6-20 Florida License for Claims Adjusting and is a Commercial Lines Account Manager. Johanna is a native of Colombia, South America and is their bilingual representative in the office.  

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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