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SRQ DAILY Mar 4, 2017

"A bold approach is needed to balance the diverse needs of families with community resources, and we will lead this effort by continuing to measure outcomes."

- Roxie Jerde, Community Foundation of Sarasota County

[GCBX]  Big League Development
Mary Dougherty-Slapp

We all know the words to that famous song, “Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd.” And I can almost smell the peanuts and Cracker Jacks as Sarasota’s spring training season swings into high gear. As a New Yorker at heart, my loyalty lies with the Mets, but I must admit, it’s the Braves that have me becoming a raving fan these days.

More recently, I have lived in South Sarasota County—since 1979 to be exact. Our area has seen steady growth since then and promises more to come. In fact, in 2008, North Port became the city with the largest population within Sarasota County. Some of the lowest impact fees and utility and land costs in Southwest Florida have undoubtedly contributed to this economic development.

Even with the positive growth we’ve seen over the years in South County, the proposed project for the Atlanta Braves Spring Training and Academy Facilities may be one of the biggest game-changers our region has ever experienced. In 2019, we will hopefully see 70 acres of pastureland in the West Villages, an emerging master-planned community in South County, transformed into a multimillion-dollar facility.

There are a number of players involved here. The Atlanta Braves, the primary lessee, are expected to contribute an estimated $7.5 million initial investment and another $5.6 million toward facility maintenance for the Major League baseball club's proposed project. The Braves would sign a 30-year initial lease with two 5-year options, with annual lease payments estimated between $2 million and $2.5 million. On top of that, the Atlanta Braves Academy is proposing a year-round sports rehabilitation and player development facility at around $8 million to $10 million and a Community Public Park and Plaza for entertainment, farmers market and events. A multi-purpose sports facility for community use is also being planned with the benefit of overflow parking for the stadium.

Other partners on this project include Sarasota County, the ultimate facility owner and lessor; City of North Port, the local community funding partner and host city; West Villages Improvement District, the local funding conduit; and Manasota Beach Ranchlands, the private sector funding and development partner.

Through this plan, the Tourism Bed Tax funds would be utilized, and the county’s contribution would equal around $22 million. The state, City of North Port and the West Villages also intend to provide funds to support the plan. Locally, Visit Sarasota County has endorsed the proposed budget model along with the county's Tourist Development Council.

The West Villages, a Keystone member of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, has already committed to utilize local contractors whenever and wherever possible during this process. This is great news for the local economy and means more construction jobs for local contractors.

This is a significant and an advantageous development for our region, one that could further bolster South County and set it on the path for future success. I applaud the elected officials for coming together on this exciting project, and I encourage them to stay the course through its successful completion. The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange endorses this economic development plan that we see as a home run for the region.

Mary Doughtery-Slapp is executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. 

[Community]  Addressing the Family Unit as a Whole
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Together with our donors and nonprofit partners, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has been making substantial strides in what we call our Two Generation (or 2Gen) approach, inspired by Ascend at the Aspen Institute. This approach creates opportunities for and addresses the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents simultaneously to elevate the socio-economic status of a family unit as a whole.

Early on in this work, we recognized that we couldn’t tackle all these issues alone. We strategized how we could bring the 2Gen ideology to organizations that were working in similar spheres as well as convene these organizations together along with national thought leaders and practitioners who are making significant strides in 2Gen efforts.

Last spring, we were proud to host a 2Gen Summit that we brought to Sarasota, which saw hundreds of local nonprofit, private and public professional leaders becoming engaged in learning more about the two-generation approach. The summit focused on three of the four main components of the 2Gen strategy: economic supports, educational opportunities and social capital.

Recently, we saw an opportunity to build off the momentum of the summit while also addressing the vital remaining topic of the 2Gen approach, health and well-being.  Two weeks ago we held a follow-up forum with three nationally-recognized leaders in early childhood development. The panel, who were also all Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows included: Dr. Sarah Enos Watamura, associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver; Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; and Dr. Darius Tandon, associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.  Additionally, we are so proud of our very own John Annis, senior vice president of Community Investment, who is an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow.

During their time in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the Fellows discussed with a number of community leaders, social workers, teachers and program managers their research in early childhood brain development, maternal depression and early literacy through a series of speaking events and a well-attended Hot Topics forum presented by the Herald-Tribune Media Group. We were delighted Ascend at the Aspen Institute live-streamed the Hot Topics to over 1,000 people across the country.  The Fellows also made a number of site visits to various programs at local elementary schools and nonprofit organizations that are working in addressing issues that children from low-income households encounter.

Each stressed the importance of focusing on the family unit as a whole and providing early intervention when parents are struggling with issues that affect their child’s learning. Their research also emphasized the importance of starting literacy work as early as possible. This message was an important reminder and source of guidance for us as we continue our own work—it is never too early to promote literacy and provide new parents with the resources they need.

While it may seem to be common sense, oftentimes, vulnerable families living in poverty either don't know the best practices when it comes to addressing their child's needs or they do not have the resources or accessibility to provide themselves and their children with the support they need. There are also often challenges that arise which impede a parent’s relationship with their child which is crucial to a young child’s learning, such as juggling multiple jobs, communication barriers and mental health issues like maternal depression. The truth is, there are dramatic developmental differences between children and these differences often fall squarely along socio-economic lines.

A bold approach is needed to balance the diverse needs of families with community resources, and we will lead this effort by continuing to measure outcomes. We’ve found it is essential that community leaders coalesce to forge innovative and collaborative partnerships that build sustainable solutions for our families around reading on grade level, parent engagement and education, as well as mental health and social support for families. The road ahead requires discipline and perseverance from all parties as we work across systems and agencies to foster effective 2Gen programs that can ultimately change the trajectory for our families and create cycles of opportunity. A bright future of hope and opportunity for our community and its families is finally within reach.

Roxie Jerde is president of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Education]  Exploring Careers: An Educational Adventure with Local Businesses
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

Today’s world is changing at an accelerated rate and it has never been more important to prepare students for life after high school graduation. Current research professes that providing interactive career exploration activities in high school may be too late, and that early engagement is a key to helping students transition into high school. According to an Education Week article, “Career Prep Moves into Middle Schools,” exposing middle school students to careers help them understand the relevance of what they are learning and increases the likelihood that they will be prepared for college. After all, as quoted by America’s Promise Alliance, how do we expect young people to dream if they don’t know what they can dream about? Those dreams can include a cross-section of careers from marine science and healthcare to manufacturing and the arts, but only if students are aware of their existence. Hence, Career Interactive Series as an extension of EdExploreSRQ was born.

EdExploreSRQ is managed by Sarasota County Schools and supported by a strong partnership among several local organizations, including the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation, the Arts & Cultural Alliance and the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. EdExploreSRQ provides experiential field trips that complement course curriculum to enhance and deepen the learning experience for students. With the recent expansion of the Career Interactive Series, middle school students can now gain exposure, experience and knowledge about potential careers from local area businesses.

The Education Foundation was excited to invest in this expansion and we quickly deployed two of our associates, Effa Beauette and Judy Meksraitis, to meet with local business leaders. While we anticipated these career explorations would be positively received by the business community, we were blown away at the level of enthusiasm it garnered. Working alongside businesses to create experiential lessons for our students that aligned with course curriculum exemplified the value of these Interactive Series. With creative titles such as “So, You Want to Explore Careers That Use Robots to Create Products,” these newly formed partnerships affirmed the shared commitment between employers and educators to improve career pathways for our students and serve as a testament to the strength of our community.

The Career Interactive Series, which now includes over 15 local businesses including Sarasota Memorial Healthcare, PGT, Sun Hydraulics, Osprey Biotechnics, Sunset Automotive Group and more, is just completing its first adventurous year of implementation. The Education Foundation of Sarasota County will continue to invest in the expansion of the Career Interactive Series of EdExploreSRQ and invites other local businesses to participate. The awareness of jobs in our local community has proven to not only expose students to jobs for which they may not have once considered or even known about, but it also exponentially benefits our community that is actively seeking to develop a homegrown workforce.

Leveraging our community’s business assets to create a college and career culture in Sarasota County Schools is a worthwhile investment indeed and we thank those businesses who share and support our vision to help every child reach his/her full potential. It’s a partnership that equates in success for us all.

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Letter from Vald Svekis]  We Need Young People

Being over 70 and quite familiar with the city after two terms on Planning Board, I totally agree with the gist of your column in SRQ. We need young people to run but they have to be charismatic and somehow overcome the aged neighborhood voters that control the City.

Vald Svekis, Sarasota, responding to column "Engaging the Young Professional" in the Feb. 25 edition of SRQ Daily. 

[Letter from Roger Barry]  Gannon Does His Homework
Roger J. Barry

Patrick Gannon is a city commission candidate who does his homework. He is an experienced engineer who reads and understands the science behind important city projects such as the proposed Fruitville redesign. Gannon understands that the proposal for a "road diet" for Fruitville Road is in the best interest of the citizens of Sarasota and those who drive from the barrier islands. This redesign would accommodate as many or more vehicles as it does today but in a better way as the inclusion of roundabouts would remove the idle-then-race process created by traffic lights. It would also accommodate all other travel modes in all directions (walking, bus, emergency, etc.) along with promoting economic development along that street.

Fruitville Road cannot be expanded to more lanes, there is not sufficient room for massive right-of-way/building acquisition that would worsen the character of Fruitville Road and divide downtown from the neighborhoods to the North.

The option to remove bike lanes and keep the stop lights is not a viable option. It does not change the character of the road, cars would continue to idle at stop lights and race to the next light. It would not improve pedestrian access across the Fruitville and would not improve vehicle movement. We might as well leave it as it is now rather than throw away our money for no access improvement.

Gannon, as a member of the city planning commission and president of the Downtown Sarasota Condominium Neighborhood Association has reviewed the engineering studies and plans to identify what would work best for all citizens. He has the in-depth background and experience about city issues to deal with development, walkability, tree replacement and other city issues. We need him on the city commission.

Roger J. Barry, of Sarasota, is a University of Cincinatti emeritus professor of Urban Planning 

[KUDOS ]  Ringling College Graduates Win Big at 2017 Oscars

Ringling College of Art and Design conveyed congratulations to Walt Disney Animation Studios and the 23 Ringling College graduates who worked on Zootopia on their Oscar win for best animated feature film at the 89th Academy Awards. Ringling also congratulated graduate Patrick Osborne for his Oscar nomination for best animated short for Pearl – the first virtual reality film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. Patrick won an Oscar in 2014 for his animated short Feast. “We want to thank the Academy for honoring the hard work and passion that each and every artist put into Zootopia–the film, and its message of unity in a complex world, has been recognized in ways we couldn’t have possibly imagined,” Zootopia directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer commented upon Zootopia’s nomination.


Ringling College of Art and Design

[SCOOP ]  HSSC's Spring Break Camp

The Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) is offering Spring Break Camp for children ages 6 to 11. The two-day camp will take place on March 16-17, from 1-5pm at HSSC. Campers will spend the afternoon at HSSC’s facility interacting with animals both domestic and exotic. They will play games, make crafts, read to shelter dogs and listen to an array of animal-themed presentations. Not only is Spring Break Camp fun for the campers, it also provides humane education, which is one of HSSC’s core programs that teaches compassion and respect as it relates to animal welfare. Spring Break Camp spots are limited. Registration is $80 per camper and includes an afternoon snack.  

Humane Society of Sarasota County

[SCOOP ]  Yoga For Vets Fundraiser

Join Pineapple Yoga Studio on March 11 to support the Veterans Services, From Deployment to Employment programs offered to returning Vets at Goodwill Manasota. Pineapple Yoga Studio will be hosting an optional Yoga Practice and Linda M. Watterworth will join for a brief presentation about the important work that this organization does for our Vets. Enjoy food and drink from Sponsors, Michael's on East, Morton's Catering, Sift Bakehouse who generously sponsored this event. Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program focuses on providing services to accommodate returning veterans facing heightened risks of unemployment, personal problems and homelessness.


Pineapple Yoga

[KUDOS ]  SMH is one of 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System is one of the best places to work in healthcare, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. The local health system was included in Becker's annual list of 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare, and it’s not the first time. SMH also made Becker’s list in 2016–an annual tribute to U.S. hospitals, health systems and healthcare companies that demonstrate the greatest commitment to fulfilling missions, creating outstanding cultures and offering competitive benefits to their employees. Founded in 1925, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System is among the top two employers in Sarasota County, with more than 5,000 employees, 900 physicians and 900,000 inpatient and outpatient visits a year.


Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System

[SCOOP ]  YMCA Caring Campaign

Since 1945, the Sarasota YMCA has been committed to strengthening the community through youth development by nurturing the potential of every child and teen; healthy living by improving the community’s health and well-being; and social responsibility by giving back and providing support. The YMCA believe that positive life changing experiences promote acceptance and build self-esteem for all. Through the generosity of donors, including members, employees, volunteers and board members, the Annual Caring Campaign provides membership scholarships and financial assistance to local individuals, children and families in need. When you make a charitable donation to the Annual Caring Campaign, you are part of a cause that ensures that no one is turned away due to an inability to pay and your support makes a real difference in the Sarasota community.


YMCA Caring Campaign

[SCOOP ]  Rowlett Academy's 1st Grade Circus

The Circus Arts Conservatory and 160 first grade students from Rowlett Academy for Arts and Communication presented Rowlett Academy for Arts and Communication 1st Grade Circus on February 28 at the Circus Sarasota Big Top. Since the beginning of January students have been working on circus-related activities in language arts, math and science as well as working with the Circus Arts Conservatory Teaching Artists to build a circus presented at the Big Top to family, friends and fellow students. This learning experience introduces the world of circus to students growing up in an environment built on the circus legacy. Programs such as this have proven to help reinforce concepts that teachers are already presenting to young students. This presentation supports The Circus Arts Conservatory’s mission to engage and educate students using unique and innovative learning programs.


Circus Arts Conservatory

[SCOOP ]  Tervis Retains the Eclipse Agency

The Eclipse Agency, an award-winning boutique Public Relations firm owned by Kim Livengood, has been retained by Tervis as their agency of record. Tervis is a third-generation family-owned and operated business that continues to craft insulated drinkware in America. The Eclipse Agency focuses on media relations and influencer engagement to increase a brand’s awareness on a local and national level. Her clients have been featured on ABC World News, Sports Illustrated Kids, People Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, major television and print markets including Boston, Chicago and New York, just to name a few.

Eclipse Agency

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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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