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SRQ DAILY Jan 21, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"I listened with pride as Commissioner Putnam implored our business community to keep up its important work of engaging in important discussions, solving problems and moving forward to ensure positive growth for our region. "

- Christine Robinson, The Argus Foundation

[Higher Education]  Higher Education Still Pays for Itself
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Much of the narrative recently is about student debt and the “cost” of higher education. So much so it is easy to forget the long-term financial benefit a college degree I read an interesting article two weeks ago about the increasing pay gap between college graduates and those who did not go to college. The Associated Press article, based on information from the Economic Policy Institute, demonstrates a stark contrast between college graduates and their peers without degrees.

The earnings gap between those with a college degree and those without has reached 56 percent, the largest gap in the Economic Policy Institute’s figures, which go back to 1973. College-educated workers have benefited most since the Great Recession ended, the AP article says, capturing most of the new jobs and pay gains. This economic disparity goes further than just income, however, impacting a higher likelihood of homeownership, marriage and comfortable retirement.

The EPI’s pay gap demonstrates that a college education has never been more important to an individual’s future. While we must keep education affordable and manage costs to ensure students are not weighed down by debt, we must also continue to create opportunities for as many as possible to attain a higher education. A pay gap this large shows that the return on investment for the cost of a college education is worth a reasonable level of sacrifice.

The AP article’s reference to a new middle-income job market and the acknowledgement that simply sending everyone for a traditional four-year education is not the answer also caught my attention. The new middle-class of employment features jobs that require many different higher education pathways, including shorter and less expensive ones. The article states that labor experts feel the U.S. educational system is failing to help our young people acquire the skills required for these jobs. Florida’s colleges are working very hard to prepare our students for this new job market, although we are always striving to secure more funding and put more effort behind this issue.

Associates degree graduates earn $10,600 more per year than their peers with high school diplomas, based on data compiled by the Florida College System in 2013. Those students receive a 16.8 percent return on the time and money they invest in their education. The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, is a member of the Florida College System and our workforce programs target the new middle job market described in the AP article. We work closely with area employers to ensure that our programs not only match up with local employment needs, but are in fields that give our graduates the kind of return referenced in the FCS study.

A pay gap of more than 50 percent between those with college degrees and those without demonstrates strong value in attaining a higher education. It is a return on investment that cannot be ignored. The key for our students is to create the educational programs that match the employment opportunities in our region. Higher education will retain its value when it creates opportunities and return on investment, not insurmountable debt.

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

[Argus]  Putnam's Positive Priorities
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

At the Argus Foundation’s annual meeting last week, keynote speaker Adam Putnam, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture, asked a sold-out crowd of more than 200: “How much would someone have to pay you to move to Flint, Michigan?” Commissioner Putnam referred to the water quality in the Midwestern city. His answer from the crowd resulted in chuckles as he remarked: "You would say, you couldn't pay me enough,” he answered for them. Maintaining the state's water quality and making it a top priority was one of the many topics the elected official, who is rumored to be announcing a gubernatorial run soon, addressed in a room full of Sarasota’s business leaders.

Water quality and sustainable seafood production is a topic the Argus Foundation scratched the surface on during a Meet the Minds luncheon last year, co-hosted with the Science and Environment Council. Commissioner Putnam pointed out that 90 percent of the seafood we consume in Florida is imported—a statistic we also heard echoed at last year's luncheon. It’s refreshing to see that our state leaders are tuned into issues surrounding some our most valuable resources and one so close to home in Sarasota. We should be looking at our water quality and sustainable ways to harvest our local marine resources.

We live in a community that thrives from our cultural and environmental assets, and discussions that link our collective prosperity together, are crucial for future collaboration and our region’s continued success.

As the Argus Foundation kicked off the New Year with the first of many interesting and thought-provoking speakers planned for 2017, I listened with pride as Commissioner Putnam implored our business community to keep up its important work of engaging in important discussions, solving problems and moving forward to ensure positive growth for our region. 

Commissioner Putnam also talked about the many other vital issues facing our community—issues that the Argus Foundation intends to embrace this year, as we work together to find collaborative solutions. These include issues like education and workforce development—two of the greatest potential ways, he said, to help Florida compete for new jobs and new industries. He struck a chord with parents and educators in the crowd when he mentioned putting more state money into the classrooms, rather than into tests, joking that his child had to endure a final exam in P.E. class last year. 

He also suggested that it’s imperative that we harness innovative S.T.E.M.-oriented talent and develop a non-college bound workforce to help position Florida positively in the future. Here in Sarasota, we are already taking the lead in this area, and we should strive for even more. The new Suncoast Technical College campus in North Port will certainly be an asset to be emulated around the state. The $23-million project broke ground late last year and will offer a variety of programs for students and adults—from culinary arts to carpentry. It will also be paired with a conference center and public library. Additionally, the selection of former Suncoast Technical College Executive Director Todd Bowden to Sarasota County School Superintendent promises to further this collaboration and development of a strong, talented workforce while helping local businesses attract and retain young talent. Education and workforce development are the greatest gaps we need to close to ensure a bright future, Commissioner Putnam said. And it needs to be a priority.

Also during the event, the Argus Foundation welcomed its new 2017 officers. I would like to extend a huge thank you to Rod Hershberger with PGT Innovations for his tireless dedication to the Argus Foundation during his time as the past president. Jeff Charlotte, president of J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp., has big shoes to fill as he assumes the helm. Jeff is well respected by his peers in the community, a dedicated community advocate and philanthropist, and I look forward to what 2017 has in store. 

This year, as we get ready to tackle the important issues, like the ones mentioned above, we will continue to focus on fostering important community conversations. We will also collaborate with community partners and work to be a part of solutions to improve the local community. Look for more events that will continue to educate the community on matters affecting us locally, statewide and nationally, and for the Argus Foundation to take center stage with ideas about tackling those matters together. 

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation 

[Gulf Coast]  Learning from History
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has found a spiritual partner of sorts in historian David McCullough. His prize-winning books tell the stories of great people who have changed our country and world. But McCullough insists that it’s the communities they came from—the places and the people who shaped them—that enabled these individuals to achieve greatness. That’s a guiding truth we hold to be self-evident as a community foundation.

I’ve thought a lot about McCullough’s wise take on American history and Americans’ potential as we prepare to welcome him for a luncheon in March. Here are a few reasons why his approaching visit excites me and lessons he might illuminate for our community.

McCullough addressed a national group of foundation leaders last spring on the themes of identity, purpose and place. That’s where I heard him say things like, “Pride in community generates purpose leading to action” and “No bird ever soared in a calm—you have to face the wind to rise to new heights.”

In the first quote, McCullough was referring to places like Independence, Missouri, where the subject of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Truman grew up, and Dayton, Ohio, the innovation hub that produced the dynamic duo of his best-seller The Wright Brothers. The latter line was McCullough’s take on a journal entry by Wilbur Wright. It can also serve as reminder and rejoinder for an ever-present question in our line of work: Is this the best thing for our community?

Besides such time-tested ideas as the unifying power of regional identity or the inspiring force of a sense of purpose, I expect Mr. McCullough will touch on some especially timely subjects for our region. While McCullough writes history, he stresses that no story he shares or event he recounts was preordained for his subjects. His work describes their present. And future. They were making decisions and taking actions that would determine history to come.

Here in our communities and region, we face pressing decisions that will shape our future history. How do we ensure adequate, affordable housing for our entire community? What will we make of our Sarasota Bayfront? Will we be a region that welcomes diverse populations of all ages? Deciding such answers and then forging the plans to realize them requires strong leadership and collaborative consensus.

And when it comes to leadership, collaboration and questions of policy, we can’t ignore the necessary means to positive progress: civil discourse and civic participation. McCullough’s work reminds us that the core values that ground communities are seeded in our neighborhoods and our homes. Moral sense, attitude and spirit, civility—these make us who we are. They are the foundation of community.

While David McCullough seems to write a lot about individuals, he’s the first to assert that history tells us we’re better together. In that address I heard last spring, he insisted “there’s no such thing as a self-made man or woman” and “very little of consequence is accomplished alone.” I look forward to learning much more from this celebrated chronicler of the past about how, together, we might write a better future for our region.

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

Learn more about Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s March 2 Better Together luncheon with David McCullough at GulfCoastCF.org.

[SCOOP ]  Spring Break Camp Registration

Music Compound is offering a music camp for all ages this spring break to connect children with like–minded, experienced professionals and inspire their interest in a particular musical craft. Each day will incorporate a different craft associated with the instrument of the day. The camp runs March 13–17 from 9am–4pm at $25 per session with free before and after care available. Register today at musiccompound.com/holiday-camp and for questions please call 941-379-9100.  

Music Compound

[SCOOP]  Flo Rida - Welcome to My House

On April 1, Forty Carrots Family Center’s Firefly Gala, presented by the Dart Foundation at The Ritz- Carlton Members Golf Club will feature a full-scale private concert, gourmet dinner and auction. This year’s headline performer, Flo Rida, who was raised by a single mother in Miami’s rough neighborhood of Carol City, has become an international superstar uniting fans of pop, hip-hop and club music. Flo Rida has sold a remarkable 100 million singles sold worldwide with hits such as “Low” and “My House”. For more information about the 7th Annual Firefly Gala or to learn how to be involved, email Events@fortycarrots.com.  

Forty Carrots Family Center

[SCOOP]  12th Annual Mardi Gras Gala

Goodwill Manasota invites you to the 2017 Mardi Gras on “Fat Tuesday,” February 28 at Michael’s On East. This event features amazing authentic Cajun food, open bar, fabulous live auction items, New Orleans-style music and dancing. Guests dress in beads and masks and enjoy New Orleans style drinks and dinner offerings such as shrimp étouffée, crab cakes, jambalaya and much more. Tickets are $175 per person.  

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP]  Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge Returns

The Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge, launched last year in partnership with HealthFit–Powered by Sarasota Memorial and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), will return to Sarasota County middle schools on Monday, January 23, to teach students about the importance of physical fitness, healthy eating, and tobacco-free living.  This five-week challenge will be offered in 10 county schools for approximately 4,000 students in grades six through eight. Students will participate in a variety of health and fitness challenges, including exercises to build endurance, strength, flexibility, speed and balance. This year’s program also will include an expanded emphasis on healthy eating and avoiding tobacco. In addition, joining the program this year is Oak Park School, where faculty will adapt the curriculum for students with special needs. Sarasota County Physical Education teachers will present the program during regular school hours.  

The Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge

[KUDOS]  FST's Million Dollar Quartet Breaks Records
FST�s Million Dollar Quartet Breaks Records

Selling over a record-breaking 20,000 tickets, Million Dollar Quartet must close on January 20. This explosive and energetic production kicked off Florida Studio Theatre’s Mainstage Season with a roar. Producing their largest theatre season to date, FST opened all five of its theatre spaces to full capacity before January, running as many as 11 shows in just one day.

“Million Dollar Quartet has exceeded all of our expectations,” said Managing Director, Rebecca Hopkins. “We knew it would be a great show for the Sarasota audience when we selected it, but wow! We are really proud of this production. It has been one of those magical experiences when everything comes together. It’s rare that you have every single piece come together so smoothly. This is one of those shows.” 

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP]  Aging Advocacy Summit

Please join us The Friendship Centers in speaking up to save critical services for the elderly at their Regional Aging Advocacy Summit on January 25 from 3:30–5:00pm at the Friendship Centers. Home and community-based programs such as Community Care for the Elderly, Alzheimer's Disease Initiative, Home Care for the Elderly and Local Services Programs help vulnerable senior citizens and save taxpayers money. With support from the Florida Council on Aging, Florida Association of Aging Services Providers, WellMed Charitable Foundation, the Friendship Centers will discuss the impending cut back on funding for senior care.  

The Friendship Centers

[SCOOP]  Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist Joins SMH

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System welcomed Stephanie Hedstrom, MD, a new Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist to the health system’s First Physicians Group (FPG) network and community this month. Board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as maternal-fetal medicine, Dr. Hedstrom specializes and co-manages the care of women with complicated, high-risk pregnancies and their unborn babies. Approximately 15 percent of pregnant women have or develop medical problems that require maternal-fetal medicine specialists to care for them due to advanced age, genetic disorders or other health issues.   

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

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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