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SRQ Daily Dec 4, 2017

Monday Business Edition

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Monday Business Edition

"It's going to be a tremendous asset to Sarasota Bradenton. We do believe they love coming down here for Spring Training and the holiday breaks and we think it's a great time to start this service."

- John Pearsall, Elite Airways

[Flight]  Elite Airways to Connect Pirates Fans to Gulf Coast
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Pittsburgh Pirates fans now once again can fly direct from the home field in Pennsylvania to the spring training ground in Bradenton. Elite Airways on Friday announced that it would begin twice weekly flights between Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport starting in February.

“We’ve been working on this for six months, trying to get this destination,” says Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of SRQ Airport. He says direct flights between the cities existed in the past, from 1989 to 1997, but those flying between the cities for the past two decades were forced on connecting flights. Since then, PIT has risen to be one of the top 15 desired destinations for direct flights to SRQ.

Starting on Feb. 23, flights will begin between the cities on Mondays and Fridays, with a Bombardier CRJ flying out of SRQ at 9:30am to land in PIT at 12:15pm, and then leaving PIT at 1pm before landing back here at 3:45pm.

The destination proves important in growing Sarasota’s sports economy, largely thanks to the location of Pirates spring training and the presence of the Bradenton Marauders minor league team. Piccolo predicts that as Marauders players and staff get flown up to Pittsburgh even in summer months, the direct flights will prove valuable for the sports organization. And Pennsylvania officials also expect the route to prove useful in flying people from Pennsylvania to Florida. “I’m sure many Pittsburgh Pirates fans headed to spring training next year and people headed to the beach will be thrilled with a convenient nonstop flight right to the heart of their destination,” says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Piccolo notes that flights begin one day after the first flights between the destinations. But he also sees other potential for connecting the sports communities in Pittsburgh and here, noting he’s also talked with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Steelers about promotions and partnership.

Elliott Falcione, Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director and a former salesperson for the Pirates, notes growing connections between the sister cities of Bradenton and Pittsburgh. “This new flight will no doubt be embraced with open arms by both cities and we applaud the efforts of Elite Airways expanding flights at SRQ to provide nonstop jet service to Pittsburgh, making it more convenient for people to enjoy all that our area offers, including world-renowned beaches and old Florida charm.”

Spring training impacts other parts of SRQ’s destination wish list as well, and Piccolo says success here may encourage an airline to offer service between Sarasota and Baltimore; Sarasota hosts the Orioles spring training. A number of existing flights between Atlanta and SRQ helped attract the Braves to move its spring training to Baltimore starting in 2019. 

[Flight]  Pearsall Flies from Pilot to President
Wes Roberts

Elite Airways President John Pearsall was in town to present news of nonstop jet service between Pittsburgh International Airport and Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, beginning on Feb. 23. Not coincidentally, this is one day before the first home game of the 2018 spring training season at LECOM Park in Bradenton. Pearsall, always smiling and ready with a broad laugh, shared with us his humble beginnings in the airline industry, and how the job he has now grew out of a teen-age fancy.

At what point did you know that travel was your calling?  I think early on, when I took my first flight at 15 years old. I started in this business as a pilot and still am an active pilot. The challenge of getting into the airline industry is different. There are different paths to get in. [As a pilot] I took the corporate VIP path. And that worked out very well. I was overseas for many years flying, and then back here in the United States. That's led to one opportunity after another, flying and working for other major airlines. It's a tremendous opportunity to now be the president with Elite Airways.

Did you stay with corporate VIP service during your time as a pilot?  I've done it all. I've done private, I’ve done corporate, I've done commercial. I've have not done cargo, [laughs] but all of those venues have been absolutely tremendous in the education and how I got to this point.

What is the hardest thing about the transition from pilot to president?  I spend a lot of time on email, a lot of time in the office. I find that having the expertise as a pilot really helps in running the company. It's been a tremendous asset for me, as opposed to coming from the financial industry for example.

What keeps you in the CEO driver's seat at Elite?  I keep my job because I run the day-to-day operations. We have talented folks in different compartments of the organization: sales, maintenance, reservations, and customer service. Having that background in running flights in the past has been a perfect segue.

What's going on behind the scenes that customers are not aware of?  Obviously to keep the flight on time, to take great care of the customers, and there is a lot behind the scenes folks that [passengers] never see. From the maintenance staff to the operations staff, and the dispatchers behind the scenes. There are a lot of people that make up an airline to get you from point "A" to point "B" that you never see. You see your gate person, you see your check-in person, and you maybe see the baggage people, but you never see the, you know, hundred people that are behind the scenes that help you get there safely.

During the press conference you said we could be looking at 30,000 passengers taking direct flights form Pittsburg to SRQ.  It's going to be a tremendous asset to Sarasota Bradenton. We do believe they love coming down here for Spring Training and the holiday breaks and we think it's a great time to start this service. 

[Exec Moves]  JMX Brands Promotes Miller

Alex Miller has been promoted to manager of the Customer Experience Team at JMX Brands, the largest online retailer of Amish furniture under the brand name DutchCrafters. Miller will oversee the sales, customer service and delivery processes for the company, ensuring the best possible customer experience throughout the sales cycle. Miller has worked in several roles at JMX Brands since 2009. Most recently, he has served as digital advertising specialist and assistant manager of the Customer Experience Team. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Eastern Mennonite University. In 2015, he was named one of the “20 Under 35 Young Professionals Changing the World” by the Mennonite Economic Development Associates. 

Dutch Crafters

[Exec Moves]  Manatee County CFO Roberts Resigns

Rebecca Roberts, the School District of Manatee County’s chief financial officer, is resigning her position effective January 5, 2018. Roberts joined the School District in April 2014, as director of finance. She was promoted to chief financial officer in October 2014. During her time, the School District has seen a steady improvement in its financial performance. During her first year, the 2013-2014 school year, the district submitted its first state-required fund balance in five years and ended that school year with a total fund balance of $14.4 million. The district has met its fund-balance requirement each of the last four years and finished the last school year, 2016-2017, with a total fund balance of $25.5 million. The district’s strengthening financial health has led to multiple upgrades by global credit ratings leader Fitch Ratings in the last three years. Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said Roberts will be missed. 

School District of Manatee County

[Tourism]  Santinis Featured on Adventure and Wildlife

Today, father and son Gene and Nick Santini of Punta Gorda continue a five-generation family fishing legacy by harvesting blue crabs from Charlotte Harbor. And the latest episode of Adventure & Wildlife – Hosted by the Shark Brothers highlights a morning of crabbing with the Santinis then follows the blue crabs to Peace River Seafood, where owner Kelly Beall and general manager Larry Corbin discuss more of the seafood industry. Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda is featured in the episode’s conservation spotlight segment. Dr. Robin Jenkins, who is the facility’s director of veterinary services, and Executive Director Callie Stahl share what the nonprofit facility does to rehabilitate and care for abandoned, injured or orphaned native wildlife. The 25-minute video is part of an original series hosted and produced by Sean Paxton and Brooks Paxton II, otherwise known as the Shark Brothers, and a component of the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau marketing program. Additional episodes of Adventure and Wildlife – Hosted by the Shark Brothers will be released at later dates featuring the abundant outdoor recreation opportunities the Punta Gorda area offers. 

Adventure and Wildlife Hosted by the Shark Brothers

[Best Of SRQ Local]  Cast Your Vote For Best Local Golf Course!

According to Sherrill Sokol, “My friends, who golf, love it and play practically every day.” University Park Country Club scored as the best 18 holes in our region last year. Who do you think has the Best Golf Course in town? Share your opinion now! 

Vote Here!

[TODAY]  GALA: Women's Day , December 4, 11am

Meet two-time gold medalist Aly Raisman at this luncheon. This annual event provides women with the opportunity to come together around a theme with which they all relate. Kate Alexander of Florida Studio Theatre will moderate discussion with Raisman. Tickets are $80, plus a $100 gift to the Federation's development efforts. 

Michael's on East, 1212 South East Ave., Sarasota

[SOON]  FOOD: iTN SunCoast Luncheon , December 5, 11:30am

Attend the 2nd annual luncheon this winter, featuring several notable guests. Learn how to mitigate social isolition among seniors with the help of social psychologist and author Dr. Richard Luker, and see Heidi Godman, the host of "Health Check with Heidi Godman." Tickets are $75 and available for sale online.

The Meadows Country Club, 3101 Longmeadow, Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sonata a Due , December 5, 6pm

La Musica opens its season with an intimate recital performance. Enjoy cocktails and a fine dinner with fellow chamber music enthusiasts while violist David Avshalomov and pianist Derek Han perform a recital.

The Field Club, 1400 Field Rd., Sarasota

[SOON]  FOOD: 2nd Annual Come Ride With Us! Luncheon , December 5, 11:30AM

Join iTN SunCoast for the2nd Annual Come Ride With Us! Community Awareness Luncheon on December 5 at The Meadows Country Club. This year’s theme is Ending Social Isolation & Loneliness Among Seniors. Guest speaker, Dr. Richard Luker, social psychologist and author of Simple Community, will examine the role of community in connecting people of all ages. Tickets are $75. 

The Meadows Country Club, 3101 Longmeadow Sarasota, FL 34235

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: SWAC Speaker Series , December 5, 6:30PM

Join the Sarasota World Affairs Council for a series of high–profile foreign affairs lectures covering current international issues ranging from foreign intelligence to peace negotiations to immigration and trade. This month, Dr. Peter Bartu, member of the UN’s stand-by mediation team and foreign policy advisor will discuss the Gulf States—particularly Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE and Qatar and their roles in the ongoing struggle for the heart and soul of this region. Each lecture is followed by a wine and cheese reception for members. 

Mildred Sainer Pavillion, 5313 Bay Shore Road Sarasota, FL 34243

[SOON]  SEMINAR: PINC Speaker Series , December 7

People, Ideas Nature Creativity (PINC), presented by Ringling College of Art + Design is a one–day conference which follows the same format as its Dutch counterpart. PINC Sarasota 2017 showcases exceptional international speakers, astounding artistic intermezzos and culinary delights at the Sarasota Opera House. The conference showcases accomplished international speakers in their widely varied fields who share a common passion for what they do and absolute faith in the power of innovation, inspiration and creativity. Whether on stage or in the seats, this conference aims to bring together leaders, innovators creative thinkers entrepreneurs specialists designers artists scientists and people looking to stimulate their mind, heart and brain. Conference begins at 8am. 

Sarasota Opera House, 61 N Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  THEATER: The 1940's Radio Hour , December 7 – December 23

Just in time for the holiday season, comes this marvelously theatrical show! This lively and big band sounding musical delivers a delicious slice of ‘a live radio broadcast from NYC’ in December of 1942.  Enjoy the spirit of that bygone era when the world was at war and pop music meant “Strike Up the Band” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

The Players Theatre, 838 N Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  BUSINESS: SRQ Media's 14th Annual Home of the Year Competition , December 8

Calling all builders, architects, designers and landscape companies —the 14th Annual SRQ Home of the Year Competition is officially open! From serene water features to breathtaking bay views and green buildings, SRQ MEDIA is thrilled to produce this prestigious annual architecture and home design program, recognizing truly stunning spaces from Venice all the way to Anna Maria Island. Our panel of qualified judges hail from regions outside the geographic area of the HOTY competition and represent excellence in the areas of architecture and interior design. They will review entries based on innovation, functionality and overall design aesthetic to bestow SRQ’s Home of the Year Platinum, Gold and Silver awards. Local professionals are invited to submit their best work in home design by the Call for Entries deadline of Friday, December 8, 2017. Winners in each category will be featured in the coveted SRQ Home of the Year awards supplement in the March 2018 issue of SRQ Magazine.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Symphonic Carnival , December 8 – December 10, 8pm Friday and Saturday; 2:30 Sunday

Along the exciting journey, audiences will visit American icon Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from his popular musical West Side Story, before being set ablaze by the powerful pyrotechnics of Barber’s Violin Concerto. Finally, listeners will be subdued by the emotional intensity of Stravinsky’s Firebird, the perfect close to an electrifying evening spearheaded by guest conductor Larry Rachleff and violin soloist Benjamin Beilman.

Van Wezel, 777 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  GALLERY: Sea Debris - Awareness Through Art , December 9 – June 15, 10am to 5pm

Artwork made of marine debris including Greta the Great White Shark and Natasha the Turtle will arrive to Mote Marine this winter. This exhibit will bring awareness to the 4.4 pounds on average of trash genereated by each American daily. These larger-than-life sculptures are entirely made from plastic and other debris gathered from the Oregon Coast.

Mote Marine, 600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: 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. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

Copyright © 2018 by SRQ Media Group, 331 South Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.
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