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SRQ DAILY Dec 17, 2016

"The decision to give can be a very easy one, but sometimes it's hard to know how to make a gift go its farthest. That�s what a community foundation is here for."

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[The Way I See It]  Stay Serious When Seeking Greater Good
Ian Black

While enjoying a sabbatical last May in the “Ould Sod,” my ire was elevated when I learned that the County Commission folded to the “fierce backlash” not of the business community, as referred to in Zach Murdoch’s recent column in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, but to the demands of one or two roofing contractors backed by the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange to shut the door to efforts to bring the corporate headquarters of the North American Roofing Company to our community. My ire was further elevated upon reading Mary Dougherty-Slapp’s recent column in SRQ Daily, which stated: "Let's make Sarasota a place that businesses want to come to grow and hire workers with good paying and quality jobs.” So, are we now to believe that the GCBE, after advocating the very opposite in opposing Project Mulligan, now want us to believe that the board have had an epiphany? Hopefully so. The GCBE has always been a proponent of economic growth and vitality even though on this occasion they appeared to be in cahoots with those who would not be in favor of efforts to attract meaningful jobs to our community.

Diversification of our economy is a serious topic and I am heartened that the County Commission, encouraged by our newly elected Commissioners, have prioritized this subject for the BCC over the next year. As a community, we are asking for trouble if we do not take advantage of the incentives that are available for economic diversity. We need to balance the three-legged stool. It is not sufficient that we rest on our superior “quality of life” reputation to attract qualified targeted industries and corporate headquarters. These targeted industries are well documented by the State and are revised every three years. These industries have been identified as those that can help diversify local economies to make them more robust and resilient during an economic downturn or an economic recession. 

I am all for working together to create a strong future as suggested by Mary’s column. The tools necessary to do this are readily available for use in the right circumstances. However, we as a community need to seriously get behind these efforts and not simply put the interests of a few before the greater good when an opportunity such as Project Mulligan comes before us in the future.

There is a time honored maxim in my industry: “Dear God please give me one more real estate boom and I promise I won’t fritter it away.”

Ian Black is founder of Ian Black Real Estate. 

[Gulf Coast]  People Who Need People
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Stretching a budget and other tough financial choices occupy many minds this time of year. For families coming out of homelessness, those decisions can be heartbreaking. The Financial Sustainability Initiative that Gulf Coast launched with United Way Suncoast this year is starting to offer some insights into how our community has helped. It even suggests a tip or two for philanthropists looking to make the most of their own charitable gifts.

Families who started out in our financial literacy program last spring have gained knowledge and built assets that can aid them in decision-making this holiday season. Many of these parents now have new financial skills, which brings hope for them and their children’s future. The dedicated Salvation Army case workers and United Way volunteers who work closely with these folks have been remarkable teachers.

One young participant, a single mom named Megan, is a wonderful example of success. She gets incredible help from her (new) friends, or her “people,” as she likes to call the team of advisors that now surrounds her.

Megan used to take eight buses a day to get to work, daycare for her son, and home again. Errands to run? Two more buses for each one. But with guidance from Sharon, her volunteer coach, Megan quickly made progress on improving her situation. Sharon saw that Megan had left money on the table in tax credits. So, with help from United Way, Megan filed two years of taxes—for free—and got back thousands of dollars. Some went straight into a matched savings account provided through our initiative. The rest is in a college savings plan for her son.

Megan is still working and she’s also halfway through an accounting program at Suncoast Technical College. She meets regularly with Sharon, too. They go over her finances and her plan; they also just talk. They’re friends.

Megan heads one of 16 families that helped launched our financial sustainability initiative. Since then, another 16 have entered the program. That takes a lot “people” to provide the network of support we wrap around these families. Philanthropy also makes an initiative like this possible. Donors are among those “people” rallying around vulnerable families like Megan’s, even if she never meets them. Which brings me to year-end giving… 

You’re probably receiving appeals every day from nonprofits whose work you believe in. It is the season of giving, even in a community where giving is a year-round pursuit. Yet many of us who take for granted the lessons being taught in those financial-literacy workshops might actually be leaving money on the table when it comes to our own charitable giving. For example, simply using an appreciated asset for a gift instead of writing a check could produce significant tax savings. Perhaps enough to make a much bigger gift—and help even more Megans—than you imagined.

The decision to give can be a very easy one, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to make a gift go its farthest. That’s what a community foundation is here for: to help donors, and their professional advisors, by listening to what you want to accomplish, and then assisting you in structuring the right gift to achieve it. Maybe even exceed it. Think of us as your “people” when it comes to charitable planning—in December, and all year long. 

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  Putnam to Make His Pitch
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

As many of you read this today, I am quite sure you are anticipating a weekend full of last minute holiday gift shopping and are looking forward to festive holiday activities. As a self-proclaimed policy nerd, I am looking forward to a New Year filled with important discussions about community collaboration, economic development initiatives, quality of life and innovative speakers featured at The Argus Foundation’s lineup of 2017 events.

This January, The Argus Foundation will kick off the year with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam at our Annual Meeting. Rumored to be considering a run for Governor in the Sunshine State, we could not be more pleased to welcome Commissioner Putnam to Sarasota for the foundation’s annual meeting on January 12.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam will address attendees on a number of topics, including education, agriculture, business and economics. Commissioner Putnam oversees the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and serves as a member of Florida’s Cabinet. We last heard from Commissioner Putnam at our Argus Annual Meeting three years ago; it will be good to hear his perspective as Florida has experienced growth and the political landscape has changed since then.

The fifth-generation Floridian’s priorities include fostering the growth and diversification of Florida agriculture; expanding access to Florida’s abundance of fresh produce, seafood and other products; securing a stable, reliable and diverse supply of energy; protecting the quantity and quality of the state’s water supply; and safeguarding consumers from deceptive business practices.

Commissioner Putnam is also focused on creating opportunities for our nation’s wounded veterans to hunt, fish and participate in other outdoor activities on Florida’s public lands. More than 300 veterans have enjoyed recreational opportunities on Florida state forests through Operation Outdoor Freedom, a program of the Florida Forest Service he established in 2011.

The Argus Foundation will appreciate our out-going president Rod Hershberger and also welcome its new leadership at this meeting. The 2017 officers will be installed, including new president Jeff Charlotte, in-coming president and first vice-president Jack Cox, and second vice-president Keith Mercier.

In the New Year, the Argus Foundation will continue its dedication to joining business leaders from diverse industries and leveraging their talents and experience to benefit this community. As a business leadership think tank, we will continuously strive to educate and stimulate with informative guest speakers who discuss the important issues impacting the community, state and world. 

Christine Robinson is exeuctive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  Transfers Take A Step Forward
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

The holidays bring family reunions—college-age students returning from their university to spend time with family and friends during their winter break. For many students, winter break is a welcome respite from classes, a time to relax and enjoy some time off. For others, however, winter break brings a realization—that maybe a university is not the right place for them.

This can happen for any number of reasons—academics, finances and maturity are just a few. Some students struggle academically in large lecture classes, missing the engagement they had with their teachers in high school. Others lose the financial support they had initially at the four-year institution or their family’s financial situation changes. Some students are just not ready to be away from home and miss that steadying influence.

The traditional four-year university is not the right fit for every high school graduate, something many realize after the first semester or two away from home. These students don’t need to give up on higher education, however, and transferring to a state or community college is not a step back. I look at it as a step forward.

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that 37.2 percent of all college students transfer at least once. Community colleges were the top destination in that study, with 53.7 percent of students who transferred from a four-year institution moving to a two-year community college. These students are considered reverse transfer students, and at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, we welcome them with open arms. Typical for our spring semester, we are seeing a strong increase in transfer students for Spring 2017.

At a state or community college in Florida, students can return to smaller class sizes and direct engagement with a professor. Students can get the academic assistance they need in our Academic Resource Centers and find less competition for resources on our campuses. After reverse transfer students get back on their feet academically and earn an associate degree, they can return to a university better prepared academically and with a much clearer vision of what they want from that experience.

Tuition and fees at a state or community college are about one-half of that at a state university and our foundation may be able to assist with scholarships. There are no expenses for residence halls or meals, so students can live at home and save that money as well.

A state or community college can also be a place for academic recalibration. Schools like SCF provide a short, direct path to employment through a certification or associate of science degree for students who don’t want to wait four to five years to get into the workforce. And we will be here in the future if they chose to return to enhance their employment or promotion opportunities.

Transferring is a common occurrence for many students. SCF has a lot to offer anyone looking for a new opportunity. The only step back is not continuing to pursue educational goals. We are here to help students take their next step forward.

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

[SCOOP]  Super Strings

Join the Perlman Music Program on December 30 for Super Strings, featuring young Florida violinists, ages 9-16, who auditioned for the opportunity to perform with Itzhak Perlman and the PMP String Orchestra. This performance is part of the Perlman Music Program’s Winter Residency with more than 20 musical events, including orchestra and chorus rehearsals, master classes and works-in-progress student recitals. Tickets to Super Strings are $10.  

Perlman Music Program

[SCOOP]  Create Jobs this Holiday Season

This season, Goodwill Manasota encourages you to give the gift of employment. Whether it’s an individual with a disability, a veteran having trouble reintegrating into her community, or a senior who needs to re-enter the workforce but doesn’t know where to start, Goodwill works to lower their barriers to securing a job. Donations are used to help fund Goodwill’s free job placement services, onsite and virtual skills training, employment training and other community–based services, such as career counseling, English language training, financial literacy and other programs to offer community members a hand up, rather than a handout. By donating to Goodwill, you help open up opportunities for hardworking people who are determined to overcome her past challenges and enjoy a better future.  

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  Forty Carrots Expands Child & Family Therapy Program

Forty Carrots Family Center will expand its child and family therapy services with the help of a generous three-year grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. The grant of $196,200 will support the growing program, including the addition of a new clinical supervisor to ensure that families have access to the best quality of care. Forty Carrots child and family therapy services grew 61 percent in the last year and began offering mental health services to address unmet needs encountered in its free community outreach program.   

Forty Carrots Family Center

[SCOOP ]  8th Annual Gingerbread Festival

The eighth annual Gingerbread Festival returns December 9–11 under the new leadership of the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. This family friendly, three­-day event will transform store space at Westfield Sarasota Square into a holiday wonderland featuring more than 170 gingerbread houses crafted by local schools, youth groups, businesses and nonprofit organizations. The event will be open during mall hours and is located near the Costco entrance.  

Girl Scouts of Gulf Coast

[SCOOP ]  The Gift of the Sea

New members joining the Barton & Gray Mariners Club by the end of 2016 will receive two Gift of the Sea Cards allowing you to gift a complimentary cruise aboard a Barton & Gray Hinckley Yacht in any of its 16 harbors. Send friends whale watching in Nantucket, put a colleague on the water for a cruise around Manhattan or even send your cousins to visit Stiltsville in Miami. For Christmas delivery, new members must join before December 22.  

Barton & Gray Mariners Club

[SCOOP ]  FST's Final Extension of "Million Dollar Quartet"

Florida Studio Theatre is pleased to announce the final extension of Million Dollar Quartet through January 15 in the Gompertz Theatre. “It's amazing to have an audience that really appreciates this music. During certain songs I look out and see people of every age dancing around like they're all teenagers,” says Joe Boover who plays the role of the one and only Elvis Presley. This explosive and energetic production brings audiences up close to some of music’s biggest icons, before they were stars. Subscriptions are still available to see four shows for as little as $59. Single tickets range from $56-$59.  

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP ]  Sarasota Opera Seeks Child Performer for "Madama Butterfly"

Sarasota Opera is looking to cast three children (boy or girl) to portray Butterfly’s son in the 2017 winter production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Interviews for this role will be scheduled for early January. This is a volunteer position and the period of commitment will be from January 17 through March 25. Children must be available days, evenings and weekends, however, rehearsals and performances are not daily. Sarasota Opera is seeking children who are four to seven years old but look younger, light in weight (approximately 45 pounds), are willing to have adult performers sing loudly near them and are well behaved and can quickly follow directions.  

Sarasota Opera

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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