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SRQ DAILY Mar 2, 2020

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition

"We compared data for 400 metro areas across two metrics: number of mortgages for secondary residences and total number of mortgages approved in 2018."

- Nadia Ahmed, SmartAsset

[Real Estate]  Area Among Top 20 Markets For Buying Second Homes
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Retirees have long driven much of the growth in Greater Sarasota. A new study from SmartAsset may drive that further after identifying the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area as one of the top 20 markets in the country to buy a second home.

“To find the hottest secondary home markets in the U.S., we compared data for 400 metro areas across two metrics: number of mortgages for secondary residences and total number of mortgages approved in 2018,” writes Nadia Ahmed, who penned the report.

The report found Florida, Arizona and the Carolinas as hotbeds, though a few locations in the Northeast top the list. Ocean City, New Jersey, is No. 1.

In Florida, Naples, The Villages, Panama City, Punta Gorda, and Cape Coral-Fort Myers all appear in the top 20 ahead of this region, but the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area still fares well at No. 18 in the country.

The report notes that in 2018, 2,758 of the 16,199 new mortgages (17%) were for second homes.

But notably, in terms of just the raw number of second home mortgages, this region ranked much higher, at No. 3 in the nation and No. 2 in the state of Florida. Only the Salisbury, Delaware area with 3,086 and the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area with 2,774 had a higher number of second-home mortgages, at least out of the Top 25 markets spotlighted in the SmartAsset study. 

[Design]  Firmo Construction Introduces New Virtual Reality Design-Build Service

Firmo Construction, a Sarasota-based construction management firm, has introduced an innovative way to apply virtual reality (VR) technology that will provide a low cost, low risk service for clients with a high return on investment. In an industry where the atmosphere is populated by countless virtual reality trends and techniques for unique client experiences, Firmo is setting itself apart with a service that is internally focused and process driven, to not only bring their clients’ vision to life, but also create a synchronized construction team to save time and money. Firmo’s team saw a need in the industry for VR technology that functions beyond showcasing the final vision to the client, but instead can peel back layers behind the drywall to function as a troubleshooting tool before the construction phase begins. The new service features a full 3D build of a project in virtual reality software, with the addition of creating detailed layers of what’s behind the drywall. These additional layers create a 3D construction environment to which Firmo can bring construction teams and subcontractors, from architect to plumber, to troubleshoot any issues. Rather than catching these problems during the construction phase, Firmo’s team can now mitigate problems within the software before the build phase even starts. Firmo is currently conducting a live case study utilizing this VR service for a Hampton Inn and Suites in Northern Florida. Though the construction phase hasn’t started yet, the cost saved through the use of the VR process is already at more than $100,000.  

FIRMO Construction VR project

To learn more information about this new VR service and FIRMO construction

[Community Survey]  Sarasota/Manatee MPO Seeks Community Input to Help Drive The Future of the Region’s Transportation Plan

The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) recently unveiled the region’s transportation vision to elected officials and the general public at its “Drive The Future: Community TransForum” event. The “Drive The Future” campaign aims to finalize the community vision, increase awareness, and encourage positive support among stakeholders for the region’s long-term transportation needs. The Drive the Future: Community Vision survey is open to the public and may be taken now through March 20, 2020 at www.mympo.org/transformtomorrow. Community members are also invited to share transportation related items they would like to see addressed in their area, relating to roads, bicycles, sidewalks, trails, transit, parking, railroads and airports on MPO’s Facebook (@Transform2045), Instagram (@Transform.Tomorrow) and/or Twitter (@SaraManaMPO) pages using the hashtags #SolutionsAdvocate and #SaraManaMPO. Additionally, the public can post photos of themselves riding bikes, taking walks, scootering, rollerblading, taking the bus or other mobility options on MPO’s social media pages using the same hashtags. All community input will be considered as the region’s long-term plan takes shape throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties, and future transportation facilities are developed. 

TransForum session

To take the survey or for more information on events, materials, maps, and other LRTP related items,

[Business Development ]  Ground-Breaking for New Office of The Eye Associates

The official ground-breaking ceremony for The Eye Associates' new office in Venice, Florida was held on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. The new location will be a 10,000 sq ft office that is expected to open in October 2020. This location was chosen because it will allow The Eye Associates to better serve Venice residents and the surrounding communities. Dr. David Rubin, with The Eye Associates, has had an optometric office and optical on Venice Island since 2016. Dr. Rubin will move to the new location once it opens, and  join other eyecare specialties including Cataract, Retinal, Glaucoma, and Dry Eye Treatments as well as Dermatology and Hearing. "This groundbreaking was a really exciting day for us. We are looking forward to expanding the quality of eyecare services in the Venice area and offering the latest vision care technologies," commented John Swencki, President of The Eye Associates. The groundbreaking photo was taken in front of The Eye Associates' SightMobile, a 25 foot bus that serves the community and offers FREE glaucoma and vision screenings. The Venice chamber was well represented along with Venice City officials, local press, and staff members at The Eye Associates. The Eye Associates has eight locations in Bradenton, Ellenton, Sarasota, Venice and Sun City Center. Eleven Board Certified Ophthalmologists covering the specialties of Cataracts, Cornea, Dry Eye, Glaucoma, Retina, LASIK, Clear Lens Replacement, Oculo-Plastics Surgery. Seven Board Certified Optometrists are on staff for routine primary eyecare, contact lenses and computer vision. A Board Certified Dermatologist and a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist will also provide their services as members of The Eye Associates team. New Patients are always cordially welcomed, 1-866-865-2020, or www.theeyeassociates.com.  

To learn more about The Eye Associates locations and services

[Staff Announcement ]  Fergeson Skipper, P.A. Names New President of the Firm

Fergeson Skipper, P.A. is pleased to announce it has named Michelle Lajoie Hermey president of the law firm. Hermey has been with Fergeson Skipper since 1994. “I, along with my colleagues, recognize and admire Michelle’s passion for our clients and commitment to our law firm,” said Fergeson Skipper, P.A. shareholder Richard Gans. “We are confident in her ability to lead this firm into the future.” Hermey was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2007 and is board certified as a specialist in real estate law. Her areas of practice include residential and commercial real estate law and banking and finance law. Hermey is a member of the Sarasota County Bar Association, Women’s Council of Realtors, and Sarasota Association of Realtors, where she served on the Realtor/Attorney Joint Committee and as chair. She is the recipient of the William F. Blews Pro Bono Service Award and AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Throughout her tenure, Hermey has also taken leadership roles in community organizations, serving as a past president and treasurer of the Sarasota High School Association of Dramatics Arts Boosters and vice president and treasurer for the Sarasota High School Chorus Boosters. For her dedication, Hermey received the “Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year” award from the school district.   

Michelle Lajoie Hermey, President of Fergeson Skipper, P.A.

To learn more about Fergeson Skipper, P.A.

[Van Wezel Foundation ]  The Future Is Now: A Vision For Sarasota Performing Arts Center

Our mission is to build a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds.

Fifty years ago, a city with a rich history of art, culture and philanthropy opened the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the center of civic and cultural vitality.

Since 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota to foster a connection between the city, the people, the bay, and the spirit of human creativity. Through this collaboration and the generosity of donors, the Foundation provides grants to ensure arts education training for more than 400 teachers and arts inspiration to more than 30,000 students in five counties each year.

Just as the founders of the Van Wezel Hall committed to an idea half a century ago, the City of Sarasota embraced a new vision, by adopting a transformative master plan for the Bayfront, with a new performing arts center at the heart of it. The Van Wezel Foundation is poised to lead this ambitious plan, guided by the needs of the community.

The Sarasota Performing Arts Center will enable the Foundation to deliver more significant programs and services while fulfilling its guiding priorities, including elevating Sarasota as a first-choice destination for the most celebrated and acclaimed performers, artists, dancers, musicians and ensembles; enhancing the patron experience through contemporary facilities, advanced technology and universal accessibility and design; expanding educational programming and engagement to serve more teachers and students, and provide access to the arts to underserved communities and raising our sights for creative exploration to reinforce Sarasota as the cultural mecca of the Gulf Coast.

As we embark on this once-in-a-lifetime endeavor, we want to hear from you. Please visit us online at www.vwfoundation.org/SPAC to take a survey, learn of our plans and experience how the new performing arts center will be a place for ideas, a place for the arts, a place for you.

Cheryl Mendelson currently serves as the CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation and is leading the strategic effort for the new performing arts center in Sarasota. 

Van Wezel

[SMARTGirl Event]  Meet SRQ SMARTGirl Speaker Adrienne "AJ" Lee: Businesswoman and Former Gymnast

On Friday, March 13th SRQ's Women in Business initiative will be hosting the highly anticipated SMARTGirl Mentorship Summit and Leadership Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency. Fostering a 'curated network,' the mentorship program aims to help create a collaborative open forum between local elementary and middle school aged girls and succesful, inspiring businesswomen from Sarasota. SRQ Media believes girls can do anything, and so does one of the newly announced event speakers for 2020, Adrienne "AJ" Lee.

A former NCAA Division 1 gymnast, Adrienne earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education Adminsitration from Auburn University. Specializing in research, she has spent the past four years utlizig her expertise to lead Game On's internal operations. Some of her recent clients include Verizon Media Group and Alabama Softball. SRQ Media is delighted to host Adrienna at this year's SMARTGirl Summit. 

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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