CCA Center Enhances Regional Competitiveness

Guest Correspondence


The world is changing very rapidly around us. It is a whirlwind of technology, evolving consumer markets and uncertain employment futures. In higher education we maintain a balance between focusing on the skills of today’s job market and forecasting those of the future. That future is much closer than most realize.

Society has moved from the industrial age to the technological age and now to the creative age. Each age has radically changed the workforce. To remain competitive, creative and collaborative thinking must be emphasized in our educational system as we prepare our community members for the workforce. The Cross College Alliance embraces our region’s workforce needs of today and has a plan to help keep Manatee and Sarasota counties competitive in the future.

Our region has a unique collection of higher education institutions that prepare students for a wide range of occupations locally and around the world. The CCA consists of five local higher education institutions in Manatee and Sarasota counties—State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art and Design, the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, and Florida State University/Ringling Museum. Together, our institutions form a “multiversity” of more than 16,000 students.

The CCA’s plan is to create the Center for Creativity, Collaboration and Competitiveness to address workforce skill development, education and competitiveness for the future. The Center will help members of our business, education and government sectors learn—or rediscover—how to be innovative and creative to own a competitive edge in the new economy of the creative age. It will be an innovation center, a place to experiment, a collaboration space for people to work together, a think tank for workforce development and a place to help educators at all levels learn how to teach creative thinking to our children.

We envision the Center as an opportunity to enhance the logical, sequential left-brain skills that drive today’s job market while reengaging and developing the creative right-brain skills that bring out our creativity. It is through creativity that we will build and maintain a competitive environment for our community.

It is no longer enough to provide a quality product at the right price. Innovation and distinction are now valued and expected in the marketplace. Consumers want unique products or new designs on existing ones. We see this in the lines that form outside an Apple Store each time a new product line is launched. The people standing in line aren’t waiting to replace obsolete phones, they just want the newest, most unique technology available.

Creative, collaborative individuals develop new products that catch consumer’s eyes and drive demand. We see this in successful small businesses and the start-up/incubator culture. Creativity and collaboration allow small companies to enter the market and create a competitive niche or to develop a new market. They bring imagination and the customer’s perspective to product development.

At SCF, our mission is to prepare our community’s workforce. With our partners in the CCA, we want to see our region embrace creativity and collaboration to ensure we maintain a competitive edge in Florida’s growing economy. The Center for Creativity, Collaboration and Competitiveness will give us a platform to impact the educational culture of our area and contribute to its success.

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

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