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SRQ DAILY Sep 30, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster. And rise to the call our community did."

- Dr. Larry Thompson, Ringling College

[Education]  Teaming Up for Irma
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

We always look forward to fall here on the Gulf Coast. It’s a time for a change in weather, a time for a shift in routine and a time for many of us to celebrate and follow our favorite football teams (although at Ringling College it’s a Quidditch team). This fall, however, brought a different and definitely unexpected shift in weather and routine, and an ultimate redefinition of how I think of the word “team.”

It’s been nearly one month to the day since we first heard her name: Irma. This storm, the most intense Atlantic hurricane to hit the United States since Katrina in 2005, slowly gained momentum and reputation—and put our area on full alert.

With catastrophic consequences for our island neighbors to the south and our own hometowns across the state and beyond, Hurricane Irma was a force to be reckoned with. However, no less impressive were (and are) the team efforts of our local, state and national emergency response teams as hundreds of thousands of people evacuated their homes in search of a safe place, while others hunkered down to ride out the storm.

As Irma grew to a Category 5, we watched teams at the national level set up for relief, with FEMA setting up a Mobile Disaster Recovery Center. At the state level, Governor Scott declared a state of emergency and called up thousands of Florida National Guard Troops to assist in preparing for Irma and its aftermath. Locally, the Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief called for voluntary evacuations and established dozens of emergency shelters with food, water and other provisions. At the same time, Ringling College’s own Emergency Response Team met, and we decided to evacuate all students from campus.

Personally, I have never been a proponent of closing school and evacuating all our students on account of weather. Too often, the storm misses us and it turns out to be a beautiful day. Making a decision to close and evacuate students is not an easy one. Of our 1,460 students, 1,050 or so live on campus. And most of them (70 percent) are not from Florida. And, to complicate matters further, 20 percent of our students are from foreign countries. So evacuating and helping our students leave the campus to find somewhere safe to go is a monumental task.

But this time my team was adamant that Irma was different. They persuasively argued that we needed to evacuate early so the students could have time to leave before she roared through Sarasota. And this time, I agreed with my team. It was not that difficult to sell me on this because something in my gut told me that they were right and this one was in fact different. And as it turned out, my team was right. There was no time to hem and haw. It was time for a unified approach, solidarity and teamwork across all the institutions, agencies and communities in the hurricane’s path. As our local emergency managers were quick to remind us, it takes the “whole community” to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster. And rise to the call our community did.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and admiration for all the groups and individuals who came together in the face of such a frightening and challenging time—especially to the members of the campus ERT team. Your collective efforts were vital to everyone’s safety and well-being, and thanks to you, we were able to reopen our gates last week and welcome our wonderful students back to campus. You would be surprised how thankful the students were to be back. Indeed, they did not complain when we extended the semester by one week to make up for the lost instruction time. But that’s our students—committed, eager to learn and driven to succeed.

What I’ve learned in Irma’s aftermath is that the shared experience of the storm has changed us all a little and ultimately brought us closer. Whether on the macro or micro level, each and every team, no matter how seasoned or prepared, made a plan and executed each and every move to the best of their ability—play by play, full of heart, together.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art & Design. 

[Diversity]  Goodwill Celebrates Disability Inclusion in Workplace
Bob Rosinsky

Reflecting on the important role that diversity and inclusion play in workforce success, Goodwill Manasota is proud to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Observed annually in October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. The theme for this year’s NDEAM is "Inclusion Drives Innovation."

NDEAM’s origins date back to 1945 when Congress declared the first week of October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The name was changed in 1962 by omitting the word “physically” to acknowledge workers with all types of disabilities. The period of recognition was extended to a full month and the name changed to its current iteration in 1988.

Despite advocacy and awareness efforts across the country through the years, individuals with disabilities are at a significant disadvantage in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with disabilities have a much higher unemployment rate than the general population, are more likely to work part-time than full when compared to their counterparts, and are more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. 

Goodwill Industries has worked for 115 years to support job seekers with disabilities and barriers to employment through training, job placement, and employment. Locally, Goodwill Manasota offers the Supported JobsPlus program. Implemented in 2005, the SJP program targets sustainable employment for those with significant disabilities. Nearly 25 percent of our employees have some type of self-identified disability; while nearly 11 percent of our employees have significant disabilities and participate in our SJP program. All Goodwill employees, including SJP participants, are paid minimum wage or higher.

Numerous studies have shown that hiring qualified individuals with disabilities offers significant opportunities for employers to access new markets, increase retention, and improve productivity through finding innovative and effective ways of doing business. According to The Chicago Lighthouse, individuals with disabilities are reliable and have an overall higher job retention rate, are less likely to get into work-related accidents, and increase diversity in the workplace; additionally, businesses that hire people with disabilities may also receive tax credits or other incentives. 

We believe that by helping all workers achieve their full potential—through education, specialized skills training and the pride that is gained through employment—we are able to build stronger communities. We look forward to a day when all Americans with disabilities who have a desire to achieve self-sufficiency will have equal access to jobs and the opportunity to make important contributions to the workplace and their communities.

Bob Rosinsky is the president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. 

[Real Estate]  July Shows Continued Growth
Michael Moulton

The Sarasota Real Estate Market managed to continue its growth pattern. July data exhibited that demand remains strong for the region and it appears that the healthy conditions should allow for sustained growth in the months to come.

While many expect our summer selling season to be softer when compared to the peak tourist/part-time resident months, July closed sales are typically active, this year topping sales in the October 2016 thru February 2017 months. Properties that went under contract in July 2017 exceeded those of July 2016 by approximately 4 percent, so expectations are that the moderate sales growth over prior year will continue in the Sarasota Real Estate Market.

Inventory once again remained in the 4.5-month supply range, well enough below what economists view as a healthy balance of 6-month’s supply, so we are left with conditions that will continue to keep upward pressure on prices. Despite a steady flow of new listings in July, both single-family and condominium units for sale grew at their slowest pace for the year and just barely replaced sold inventory for the month.

Median price growth in the Sarasota Real Estate Market is considered “sustainable” by market experts. Though prices have fluctuated month-to-month, escalation year-over-year has been moderate and appears to be at a pace that reflects soundness in the housing market here.

The “affordable” tier of our regional market still shows few signs of easing inventory scarcity, making it difficult for our young families and workforce to achieve homeownership. With new homes coming to market generally priced more than 30 percent above existing homes, it doesn’t appear these conditions will improve in the short-term.

At the other end of the Sarasota Real Estate Market where most of my business is done, above $1 million, new listings fell just short of sales for the month, though still leaving us with a fair inventory of luxury properties for sale. I am aware of a number of prospective existing home and condominium owners contemplating bringing their luxury properties to market this fall. As a result, expect to see supply expand in the next few months, creating some competition for inventory that has been on the market for a while.

July sales of luxury properties in the Sarasota Real Estate Market grew considerably over 2016—well in excess of 80 percent, but it is also important to note that total number of $1 million and above units sold last month was only 50. There are currently 571 $1 million-plus properties for sale in the Sarasota Real Estate Market. The Sarasota media helps us celebrate when one of these prized properties changes hands by featuring them in their publications and broadcasts, but showing you this variance between inventory and number of sales highlights just how exceptional—and rare—each one of these transactions is.

Michael Moulton is a certified residential specialist broker-associate with Michael Saunders and Company 

[SCOOP]  Show Me the GOOD Money

SunTrust Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to Goodwill Manasota to promote and expand the reach of existing financial literacy training for low to moderate-income workers and adolescents in the community. The grant will fund the creation of a mobile app, called Show Me the GOOD Money, which focuses on developing the skills needed to successfully manage personal finances and transition from poverty to economic independence. Through the app, which is slated to launch by January of 2018, Goodwill will focus on education in areas including checkbook 101, wealth accumulation and managing savings. 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Ballet Family Package

New this season, the Sarasota Ballet will offer a 2 Ballet Family Package, where audiences can experience the magic of dance with two heartwarming, family friendly ballets - The Secret Garden and John Ringling’s Circus Nutcracker. Families can save 20% on tickets by subscribing. “Introducing the performing arts to the next generation is of vital importance to every art form and organization,” says Iain Webb, director of The Sarasota Ballet. Sarasota Ballet’s goal this holiday season is to provide families with phenomenal and affordable opportunities. 

Sarasota Ballet

[SCOOP]  Gecko's Grill and Pub Moves on Down the Road

Not even Hurricane Irma could impede the vision of Gecko’s Hospitality Group owners, Mike Gowan and Mike Quillen to open their newest Gecko’s Grill & Pub. The new location at Stickney Point (formerly Harry’s Sports Bar) features the same award-winning Gecko’s fare, fresh locally sourced seasonal produce, barrel fresh wines on tap, a full bar and exceptional hospitality in an upscale sports pub setting. The Stickney Point Gecko’s offers 8500 square feet of space, an outdoor patio and an interior which combines form and function-forward design elements with casual seating accommodations. In addition, Gecko’s owners created 60 new hospitality jobs, bringing the combined Gecko’s Hospitality Group workforce to over 600 people. 

Gecko's Grill and Pub

[SCOOP]  Parkinson's Power Hour

The Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s will be offering the Sarasota Parkinson’s Power Hour on the second Saturday of each month from 10:00am-11:30am at the Goodwill Manasota for people with Parkinson’s as well as a family member or care partner. Neuro Challenge is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers, while providing support and encouragement. “The Parkinson’s Power Hour is one of our most popular programs because in addition to learning concrete information and tools to live well with Parkinson’s, participants get to share their challenges and successes,” said NCF Care Advisor and group facilitator Karla Brody, MSSW. 

Neuro Challenge Foundation

[KUDOS]  EVO Helps with Hurricane Relief

The EVO Cheer and Gymnastics team raised $1,800 by providing a Hurricane Relief Day Camp to the affected families in Sarasota and Bradenton. By slashing prices, extending the normal hours and donating 25% of each camper’s tuition to Hurricane Irma relief, EVO provided parents with a safe place to send their kids during Irma cleanup. 180 happy campers later, EVO has raised and will be donating $2,000 to Hurricane Irma relief. The owner and CEO Kyle Lawton even donated his private plane and fuel to fly supplies down to the Florida Keys. 

EVO Athletics

[SCOOP]  Career Edge's Express Class Graduation

Workforce development non-profit CareerEdge Funders Collaborative announced the graduation of its first express program with 10 students completing Suncoast Technical College’s Automotive Lube Technician class this week. Given the high demand for skilled workers in our region, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is partnering with several educational institutions to provide cutting edge short-term express programs in order to quickly move individuals into apprenticeship-based occupations in the trades. CareerEdge is also partnering with Manatee Technical College on short-term programs for Plumbing and Electrician certifications and with the training company Learning Alliance for a short-term Broadband Technician program. 

Career Edge Funders Collaborative

[KUDOS]  Humane Society Sees the Love

The Humane Society of Sarasota County has donated $10,000 of medical care to the animals at Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services in an effort to help with Hurricane Irma relief. Animals have been transported to receive free treatment and care while their pet therapy team is staying busy bringing joy, comfort and smiles to patients at Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System. 

Humane Society of Sarasota County

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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