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SRQ DAILY Jan 19, 2019

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"Integrating efforts that promote diversity and inclusion with the highest standards for excellence and achievement serves everyone. We are better together."

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Higher Education]  Collaboration leads to SCF grant for tech center
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

The new year is off to a great start at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. We are very proud to be selected by Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity to receive a $3.6-million Florida Jobs Growth Fund Grant to establish the SCF Center for Advanced Technology & Innovation. To be selected is a sound endorsement of SCF and our outstanding track record of fulfilling our mission, keeping our promises to our students and community, and generating a strong return on investment to taxpayers.

This initiative reflects a partnership between our institution, local employers and the Bradenton and Sarasota Economic Development Corporations to meet the changing educational needs of our students and the workforce development needs of employers.

The Center will be a multipurpose building that includes a:

·      Coding Technology Academy,

·      Technology Incubator & Accelerator,

·      Video and Sound Production Studio, and

·      University Partnership Center.

With our partners, this Center will allow us to develop market-responsive academic and training programs that meet the needs of our community and industry. It will create experiential teaching and learning opportunities for our faculty and students and provide opportunities to diversify the college’s programmatic offerings.

The Center will be in Building 8 at our Bradenton Campus, which served as our library for many years. Long before we opened the new Library (& Learning Center), we began to discuss how we could best take advantage of a structure in need of renovation but with “good bones” and ample space. I asked every stakeholder group I spoke with how they thought we should use the building.  In more than two years of conversations, I received a range of answers, everything from a fitness facility to student housing to a petting zoo. SCF business and technology professors Bill Culver and Jason Reed planted the seed in my mind of a technology center that could teach coding and provide training and testing for technology certifications.

One of the earliest and most important conversations I had was with Sharon Hillstrom, CEO and President of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation. I was serving as the group’s chair at the time and we lined up our respective strategic plans and saw a regional need for technology skill development and entrepreneurship. That discovery led to conversations with subject matter experts, visits to other incubators/accelerators in Florida and research as we honed the vision. Our search ultimately led to a meeting with SCF alumnus Tom Frascone and his partners at BOLD and Vit●ture. 

As the idea evolved and new partners emerged, the opportunity for the DEO grant came into focus. Mark Huey and Destin Wells of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County brought the idea of expanding the coding academy component to multiple sites. SCF Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Todd G. Fritch combined our vision with the right partners to formulate the final plan.

This is a unique collaboration representing both our counties and will create long-term benefits for our students, faculty and employers. Our grant application grew stronger and impactful as each partner came on board, added their talents and joined the community-wide advocacy effort. The incredible level of support for this effort did not go unnoticed in Tallahassee.

The guiding vision of SCF is to be the region’s first choice for innovative, responsive, quality education, workforce training and community partnership. Without any doubt, this Center exemplifies our vision. I look forward to the work ahead and know that with our partners we will make the SCF Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation a huge success.

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

[Argus]  Ringling Bridge a Reminder Progress is Good
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Progress is hard but good. We have a great example of that progress and how hard it is here in Sarasota, our very own Ringling Bridge. 

Many who fight against progress and change today use that very bridge for walking, biking and for vehicular transportation. It has become an icon of Sarasota. When residents and visitors see a picture of the bridge, you automatically think about Sarasota and its beauty.

The bridge has been there in some form for 93 years and has seen three different constructions. The first by John Ringling himself, the second saw completion in 1958 and the version we have today was built with much controversy and rancor and completed in 2003 after 13 years of debate and opposition.

Along the way, citizen and environmental groups wanted a low bridge and also wanted it to be another drawbridge, opposing the tall fixed-span bridge. 

I moved here while the debate over the columns of the bridge was happening, just before construction began. Yes, for those of you who were not here, the debate at that point was the shape of the columns of the bridge. 

Having grown up in a community that was dying the entire 22 years I lived there in western New York, I remember thinking if this was the biggest problem this community had, we were very blessed to live here. 

I grew up in an area that had headlines of factories closing and industry moving out, little construction growth and hard winters. Taxes and regulation were killing small businesses and my Dad worked a second job to keep the family masonry contracting small business afloat. The headlines here, in Sarasota, back in 2001, dealt with the appearance of a bridge.

Sarasota historian Jeff LaHurd characterized the overall 13-year fight about the bridge in a 2014 column in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

“From today’s perspective, it is difficult to believe that few projects in Sarasota’s history have been more controversial and divisive than this now universally accepted means of transit to the keys. The city, backed by those who thought it was too high and an eyesore that would mar the skyline, reportedly spent $500,000 in an attempt to block its construction.”

The controversy that occurs now over progress and development also occurred 25 years ago. Despite lawsuits and numerous citizen committees protesting Sarasota would be ruined by the bridge, progress and forward-thinking luckily prevailed and we have the beautiful fixed-span bridge today.

Can you imagine traffic today if the low-level drawbridge was kept? Can we grasp what stopping change and progress would have done to this community and especially that of Lido and Longboat residents in terms of traffic?

We need to have more forward-thinking like the Ringling Bridge and create legacies in infrastructure and development that will be used and functional for tomorrow. Progress is hard, and can be debated, but it should not be stopped.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation 

[Gulf Coast]  Inclusive Excellence: We Are Better Together
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III is a name you might not know, but his personal story is one you should hear.

Hrabowski has been named one “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by TIME. Such accolades stem from a body of work that continues to be shaped by powerful experiences from his youth—experiences that continue to shape our country itself.

Today, Hrabowski is the long-serving president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Under his dynamic leadership, UMBC transformed from a commuter school to a premier research and teaching institution, one with a national reputation for getting more students, particularly minorities, to enter, stay and excel in science and engineering. Hrabowski is hailed for his scholarship on minority participation and performance in math and science; he advised President Obama on education.

He also walked in the 1963 Children’s Crusade organized by Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama. In fact, it was a talk by Dr. King at Hrabowski’s church, where the self-described “math nerd” sat in a back pew focused more on his homework than the evening service, that inspired Hrabowski to perk up and listen. He heard King say if the children marched, the entire country would recognize the injustices in Birmingham, and the result would be African-Americans could go to better schools. That led to the studious 12-year-old’s ultimate decision, with his parents’ reluctant approval, to march.

For participating in that nonviolent protest, young Freeman Hrabowski, along with many other youth, was jailed for five days! Before throwing him into a paddy wagon, notorious sheriff Bull Connor asked Hrabowski (“little Negro,” he called him) what he wanted. The terrified child responded that all he and his fellow marchers wanted to do was kneel and pray for their freedom. Connor spat in his face.

To hear Hrabowski tell that story is to shiver, squirm and seethe all at once. Look up an old 60 Minutes segment on Hrabowski to see for yourself. Better yet, come to Gulf Coast’s Better Together luncheon on March 8 to hear him share stories like this in person. Hrabowski will talk about indelible experiences from childhood that inspired his lauded work in education and informed his passionate perspectives on inclusion, determination and leadership. He’ll also discuss the potent combination of academic access, supportive community and innovative philanthropy that empowers UMBC students, from all backgrounds, to own their education and succeed in school and in life—whether they choose the sciences or liberal arts.

One UMBC hallmark espoused by Hrabowski is the university’s culture of “inclusive excellence.” To those outside of academic or organizational development circles, the term might sound jargon-y. But as Hrabowski describes it, it is natural and obvious and exciting. Lack of opportunity, not talent, traditionally shut out groups of students from careers in the sciences, he says. Meanwhile, to produce graduates in fields critical to creating jobs and working with others globally, we need more students from all backgrounds to pursue and earn advanced degrees. Integrating efforts that promote diversity and inclusion with the highest standards for excellence and achievement serves everyone.

Here in Sarasota County, we have a focused collaboration to increase college access and success, particularly for students from underrepresented backgrounds, in our community’s Local College Access Network. Gulf Coast Community Foundation just started an important conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion in nonprofit governance. In my next column, I’ll share some recent a-ha moments I’ve had witnessing the power of inclusive excellence in unexpected places.

By the way, if you’re a college hoops fan, UMBC might ring a bell. It was the bottom-seeded David that knocked off UVA’s Goliath in the first round of last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The first-ever No. 16 to topple a No. 1 in the tournament’s history. Hrabowski wrote about that monumental win days later for The Atlantic. As you might expect, he saw the audacious achievement not as a fluke, but a natural outgrowth of UMBC’s philosophy of high expectations, hard work, mutual support and active hope. For a university where the chess club is top dog, bringing the basketball team to the mountaintop is another shining example of executing on inclusive excellence.

I can’t wait for all that our community can learn from Dr. Hrabowski in March.

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

Gulf Coast Community Foundation will present Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III at its Better Together luncheon on March 8 at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Reservations will be available online at GulfCoastCF.org next week.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[The Detail]  Looking Good for Lido
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

It was standing room only at the City Commission’s public hearing to decide whether to approve or deny the proposed Major Conditional Use and Site Plan for Lido Pavilion. At the time of last Monday’s hearing, over 5,400 people had signed the petition to oppose the project. The signatories expressed concern that the proposed development, far more intense than the current use, would ruin the character of Lido Pavilion, Lido beach and neighborhood. The room was filled with residents wearing red garb, which signaled their opposition to the Commissioners. Those signed up to speak were prepared to present evidence against the proposed land use changes.

The hearing began with a surprise announcement that the applicants, Troy Syprett and Gavin Meshad, were proposing to withdraw their application. Attorney Bill Merrill, representing the applicants, acknowledged the overwhelming community sentiment against the project, and said the applicants were looking to terminate the lease and negotiate a settlement with the City for their costs.

Another surprised ensued. Attorney John Patterson, representing Logan Acquisitions, the owners of Lido Beach Resort, made an announcement as well. Contingent on the withdrawal of the application and termination of the lease, his client was willing to donate $175,000 toward the refurbishment of Lido Pavilion. Mr. Walsh, principal partner of Logan Acquisitions, indicated the donation would be toward a refurbishment that had the support of the community, one that maintained the family-friendly nature of Lido Pavilion. The room erupted in applause.

It has been a long and convoluted odyssey since 2007, when City residents voted to set aside $1.25 million toward updates for Lido Pavilion. Those dollars have remained in a designated account ever since, and cannot be used for any other purpose (the interest on those dollars is allocated elsewhere). In 2011 the County ended its maintenance of Lido Pavilion, and the financial responsibility became the City’s once again. In 2014, the City issued an Invitation To Negotiate (ITN) to solicit proposals for redeveloping Lido Pavilion. The applicants were the only respondents to the ITN—an early sign of a flawed process. Negotiations took place over three years, and during that time the applicants’ company was actually not a legal entity. Their LLC began incorporation in October 2017, one month before the City Commission hearings on the lease. The lease is for 10 years with two renewals - 30 years. But there is a provision in the lease which provided the opportunity for the applicants to conduct further improvements at year 24, and extend the lease to amortize those improvements (easily another 20 years). This lease could have tied Lido Pavilion up for more 50 years, essentially changing Lido for good.

While the applicants’ desire to be compensated for costs is troubling for many Lido advocates, it may well be worth it to ensure the issue is settled quickly. Then we can come together as a community and plan a Pavilion that truly serves the public interest. Let’s see this through to the end and get started on a new beginning for Lido Pavilion.

Cathy Antunes is the host of The Detail.  

[City]  Time to Walk the Talk
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

We welcomed acclaimed city planner Jeff Speck last week to downtown Sarasota, to well, just walk around. Speck is to America’s downtowns what Dr. Beach is to America’s beaches. While Dr. Beach rates sand quality, Speck rates communities on their walkability.

Following Mr. Speck’s walk, we had a talk.

Speck concluded Sarasota is doing pretty well and is more walkable compared to most places. Before leaving, Speck also shared his ideas on how to do even better as written in his excellent new book, Walkable City Rules.

Walking is something we take for granted, but why not embrace it, why not plan and build for it? Walking is very good for one’s health, it doesn’t pollute, and it’s free.

According to Speck, great walkable places have three basic tenets: they should be safe, comfortable and interesting.

But to be great walkable community, we have to slow cars down, buffer our sidewalks and bike lanes, and provide shade, rest areas and quality destinations within walking distance.

Is it worth it?

Well, evidence abounds that walkable communities are not only safer, but they enhance property values, attract talent and help create more and better jobs.

But my favorite benefits of walkable communities are that they allow children more early independence and even better, walkable neighborhoods can give the elderly a new lease on life.

Sarasota is all in when it comes to building better places through building walkable, bikeable neighborhoods, including downtown.

As you begin to see the changes in the years ahead that’s what we are up to and why we’re doing it.

In the meantime, come on downtown and walk around. We would love to hear your ideas on how to become Florida’s most walkable community.

Please feel free to email me at Thomas.barwin@sarasotafl.gov

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. 

[SCOOP]  All Faiths Food Bank Mobilizes to Serve During Government Shutdown

All Faiths Food Bank food distributions will continue as it prepares to meet the challenges of an ongoing government shutdown. A long-term shutdown will have an impact on federal safety net food programs such as school breakfast and lunch, WIC, federal commodities and SNAP. The continued federal closure could result in a significantly increased demand for food. All Faiths Food Bank is preparing to respond and is confident the community will rally to support. Requested items of donation and mobile distribution information available online. 

All Faiths Food Bank

[SCOOP]  SRQ Ends 2018 on Sky-High Note

SRQ Airport ended the calendar year 2018 with a 16% increase in passenger traffic and with 9 straight months of increased passenger, the last 8 months incurred double-digit increases of 28%! Growth began in April 2018 with the addition of Allegiant Air, SRQ’s first ultra-low-cost carrier, and was followed by Frontier Airlines, a 2nd ultra-low-cost carrier, in December. The airport now hosts 8 airlines serving 26 nonstop destinations. SRQ is expected to continue the upward growth trend in 2019 with NINE new air service additions starting over the next few months. Locations and start dates available  

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport

[SCOOP]  New CEO selected at the Van Wezel Foundation

The Van Wezel Foundation announces Cheryl Mendleson as new CEO. The Chicago-based art and education executive is bringing over 25 years of business development, fundraising and strategic planning to the Foundation. Her experience includes growing the Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park. They will continue the effort to achieve the Van Wezel Foundation’s mission to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education, and inspires young minds. 

Van Wezel Foundation

[SCOOP]  Elite Airways Announces Sugarloaf Maine Ski Package from Florida

Maine’s largest airline, Elite Airways, today announced a partnership with Sugarloaf, located in the Carrabassett Valley, to offer winter ski packages for vacationers and Florida-based passengers. The Elite Maine Ski Package includes round-trip airfare on Elite Airways from either Orlando-Melbourne Airport in east central Florida or Sarasota-Bradenton Airport on the gulf coast of Florida to Maine, along with airport transfer, lift ticket, and lodging at the Sugarloaf Inn—starting at $699.00 per person for either a 3-night Thu-Sun stay or 4-night Sun-Thu stay, based on double occupancy. It also includes first checked bag or oversized ski/snowboard bag for free.  

Elite Airways

[SCOOP]  Local physician reducing opioid use with new pain management surgery

Through the use of a state-of-the-art minimally invasive indirect decompression surgery, pain management specialist Dr. Douglas Constant of Coastal Orthopedics is helping to reverse the effects and bring pain relief to patients suffering from spinal stenosis, a debilitating degenerative condition. Dr. Constant is one of only 250 of the 4,000 interventional pain management physicians nationwide who is trained on this type of therapy. “Eighty-five percent of the proportion of patients who were on opioids prior to treatment no longer were,” said spokesman for the company that created the Superion Interspinous Spacer. Those patients selected by Dr. Constant for the procedure, who were on low-dose or no-dose opioids initially, also saw a reduction in medication usage following the procedure.   

Coastal Orthopedics

[SCOOP]  Music Compound hosts Shred the Love event to benefit Every Child, Inc

Shred the Love is annual event presented by the  Music Compound and organized by area high school students. The event provides an educational opportunity for area youth with a focus on employability skills. Funds earned from Shred the Love will fund music programs for area youth with an interest in music.  Last year, the event raised $5,000 to be donated to Music Heals Us. Music Heals Us provides Ukuleles for children with cancer.   The event is scheduled for January 25th from 6-9 pm, at Music Compound.  

Music Compound

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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