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SRQ DAILY Mar 16, 2020

Monday Business Edition

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Monday Business Edition

"It seems as though we are facing challenges of some kind every year."

- Virginia Haley, Visit Sarasota County

[Tourism]  Hospitality Braces For Coronavirus Event Cancelations
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

The Sarasota tourism industry braced for a world pandemic to deliver an economic blow.

It seems as though we are facing challenges of some kind every year,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County.

Haley said all major hotels in the area have seen a minumum of 10% cancellations, and cultural institutions have all effectively gone dark. She will meet with the Arts Alliance of Sarasota County this week.

Events like the Sarasota Film Festival and the Sarasota World Dance Festival, both expected to kick off in the next few weeks, were indefinitely postponed. Some of that was driven by public facility decisions; for example Sarasota County cancelled all events in county-run facilities with attendance of more than 250 people for a 30-day that started Friday.

That move came a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis urged immediate cancellations of any events in Florida with 250 people or more. Subsequently, Florida tourism drivers like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida and Busch Gardens all announced they would close through the end of March.

The Centers for Disease Control on Sunday night amended its recommendations to cancel gatherings of 50 or more.

Mark Famiglio, Sarasota Film Festival President, said the safety of all attendees for events had to come first. “We are very appreciative of all the support we have received from the industry and local community and as always the health and safety of our audiences remains a top priority,” he said, “and we look forward to determining a new vision for this festival at the appropriate time and supporting our filmmakers in the months to come.”

Katmandu, producer for the Sarasota World Dance Festival, said in a statement that postponing was a difficult decision, but one organizers hoped all understood.

“We understand the months of work so many of you have put into rehearsals, vending, and that many people were traveling long distances to be here. We appreciate all of your efforts and look forward to seeing your hard work pay off in the near future,” the statement read.We can issue refunds for tickets, and fees. However, we hope that everyone who was planning to attend and participate will remain with us, and if so we can simply defer your payments and hold your places in the event.”

Haley, also chair of Visit Florida, said the de facto state tourism bureau will work with destinations around Florida to deal with economic fallout for the industry, and most major events anticipate rescheduling at a later date.

The bureau will not encourage travel right now. "That would be irresponsible," she said.

Of course, beaches are notably not affected the same as cultural events. When asked, she said she's found plenty of crowds at Lido Beach. "But there's still room for people to keep a safe distance," she said. 

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan: Actor/director Eric Stoltz signs an autograph on Opening Night outside of the Sarasota Opera House in 2018.

[ShopTalk]  Ticket to the Underwater World
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

Right off Cortez Road, Dive Florida scuba shop lures locals and vacationers alike—seeking to fulfill their fascination of what lies beneath. Aside from providing high-end scuba gear and equipment from brands not found anywhere else in Florida, owner Troy Sorensen partners with many local and exotic dive destinations to offer dive instruction. From primary Open Water certification, all the way through NAUI's (National Association of Underwater Instructors) Leadership courses, Sorenson certifies new students from all over the world for recreational scuba and even offers exclusive diving tours for those more seasoned.

And with Dive Florida ranking as a NAUI Pro Platinum Training Facility, Sorenson, a licensed mixed Gas Blender/O2 Service Technician and Technical Diver,  is also able to offer specialty courses in mixed gas diving, night diving, buoyancy control, technical diving, free diving and advanced rescue. Looking to broaden your bluescape abilities even further, take in-depth lessons in underwater video/photography, or even spearfishing if you’re looking to stake your own dinner. And if you have your sights on one day becoming a recovery diver, Sorenson, as the head of Florida Ring Finders Association, integrated a metal detecting club at Dive Florida. He and his students have been responsible for finding customers’ lost jewelry and unearthing family heirlooms, both on land and underwater. If nothing else, the color-coded array of primo snorkels, masks and flippers hanging in the shop marks your ticket to the beguiling world of what lies beneath these Gulf Coast waters. 

Photo taken by Wyatt Kostygan.

Dive Florida LLC, 8803 Cortez Rd. W Bradenton, divefloridallc@gmail.com, 941 727 3483

[Economic Assessment]  Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Encourages Businesses to Complete Business Damage Assessment Survey

Governor Ron DeSantis announced the activation of the Business Damage Assessment survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. “Gathering information about the impact COVID-19 has on Florida businesses and industries will be invaluable to the state’s efforts in coordinating our response,” said Governor DeSantis. “It is important that we understand the total impact COVID-19 has on businesses to ensure that we access the resources that may be available.”

The Business Damage Assessment Survey can be taken online at https://floridadisaster.biz/. Results from this survey will be shared with state agencies and local partners. Surveys submitted by small businesses can be used to access the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan, made available for COVID-19 through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. For inquiries or assistance with the survey, businesses can contact Emergency Support Function 18 at ESF18@em.myflorida.com.

For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 in Florida, please visit the Florida Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the state’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling (866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov. 

[Higher Education]  Rotary Futures College Resource Center Attracts Hundreds During College Night

Rotary Futures College Resource Center, a community-based nonprofit resource center that provides free post-secondary planning services to students, recently attracted more than 350 attendees at its 18th annual College Night on Tuesday, March 3. Participants heard from the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida and University of Central Florida at 5:30 p.m. in Venice High School’s gym for a 30-minute presentation on specific admissions information. From 6 - 7:30 p.m., area students and their families had the opportunity to talk with representatives from more than 65 colleges, universities and technical and vocational schools throughout Florida and around the country inside Venice High School’s cafeteria. Higher education institutions in attendance included Auburn University, U.S. Military Academy – West Point, Brown University, Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, Penn State University, and Wellesley College, among others. 

John Williams with his daughter Jenna Williams, a VHS eleventh grader, talking with Benet Bondi, a regional recruiter for The University of Alabama, at College Night

To learn more about The Rotary Future College Resource Center

[Community Development ]  Neal Communities Announces Grand Opening of Cielo in North Venice

Neal Communities, Southwest Florida’s premier, private homebuilder, announces the grand opening of Cielo, its newest community in North Venice. Neal Communities will celebrate the Cielo grand opening on March 14 from 11 am to 1 pm at 220 Corsano Drive in Nokomis. Cielo is located on Jacaranda Boulevard just off of Laurel Road and is adjacent to Neal Signature Homes’ Aria community. There will be the opportunity to tour a decorated model home and preview the amenities offered at Cielo, including a neighborhood playground and dog park, shade shelters, picnic tables, grills, and bike racks. Guests can enjoy food trucks and drinks while supplies last, along with activities for children such as face painting, balloon twisting and a bounce house. Inspired by the clear blue skies of Venice, Neal Communities chose the name Cielo, Italian for “Sky” and fitting the northern Italian architectural theme of the community. Cielo is a single-family home community that offers lower fees and family-friendly amenities. The community will consist of 71 home sites with prices starting at $309,990. This price point focuses on working families ready to buy a home in the Venice area. Featuring six different single-family floor plans ranging from three to four bedrooms, 2,014 to 2,936 square feet and one- and two-stories, Cielo offers the comforts and conveniences of a new home with plenty of room for growing families. “We are excited to open Cielo among the communities of single-family residential developments in Venice,” said Mike Storey, President of Neal Communities. “With a variety of floor plans at more affordable prices and with lower fees, Cielo is a great option for growing families.”


To learn more about Neal communities or this special project

[Community Development ]  Halfacre Construction Company Awarded Harvest House Project

Halfacre Construction Company, a Lakewood Ranch-based commercial construction company, has been awarded the contract to construct a new 11,000-square-foot building for Harvest House, one of the few nonprofit organizations in Sarasota to work towards the development, preservation, and management of affordable, service-enriched housing. The nonprofit’s new Life Enrichment building will house four classrooms, one large multipurpose space with a stage, a catering kitchen, adequate childcare space for varying ages, restroom facilities and community accessible administrative and development offices. Its existing building will be converted into office space with church worship services. Halfacre Construction Company will perform site development and new construction of the new pre-engineered metal structure. Zoller Autrey Architects is the architect on the project. “Harvest House provides life enrichment activities to more than 200 clients weekly,” said Erin E. Minor, executive director of Harvest House. “Of those clients, 120 attend classes five nights per week, yet we currently have no classroom infrastructure. The new building will also facilitate more community walk-ins and agency partner meetings. We have raised $1.4 million so far, but our goal for this capital campaign is $1.75 million with the community’s continued support.” The $2.3 million is projected to start in summer 2020. Located at 3650 17th Street in Sarasota on a 5-acre parcel, the project is slated for completion in spring 2021. Harvest House serves homeless families, veterans, youth ages 16 to 24 and adults with a history of incarceration and substance abuse. The organization offers family services, youth services, addiction services, veteran services and its Harvest Food Pantry. Today, Harvest House has nine supportive housing campuses and 30 affordable rentals encompassing more than 400 beds and serves more than 900 individuals annually. 

Render of Life Enrichment building at Harvest House

To learn more about this project or organiaztion

[Automotive]  Cruise Car Delivers Expanded Department of Homeland Security Contract

Sarasota-based Cruise Car has concluded a contract to supply the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with a fleet of 19 custom-fabricated van carts equipped with oversized motors and battery packs that allow 25 mph speeds with extra torque and extended driving ranges. The vehicles have been built and delivered to DHS distribution facilities in Georgia and New Mexico. “We are seeing great success providing our custom vehicles to the federal government to varying, specific needs,” said Adam Sulimirski, President of Cruise Car. “DHS, like our other customers around the world, choose us because of the incomparable value we offer in-vehicle variety and price.” The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for the Department of Homeland Security in Glynco, Ga. purchased three custom van box vehicles in 2019. They required electric, street legal, low-speed vehicles with a very custom cargo van box. Cruise Car fulfilled that order, and the Department ordered 19 more. Cruise Cars vehicles are engineered to endure aggressive use, challenging topography and the aluminum construction allows them to withstand rust producing moist air environments. They are custom-built to handle specific tasks. Cruise Cars are currently in use at more than 1,000 flagship properties worldwide, including brand names such as Disney, Universal Studios, the Tampa Bay Rays, Hilton Hotels, Ritz-Carlton, dozens of universities, every branch of the U.S. military, NASA, the National Park Service and major airports and municipalities. 

To learn more about Cruise Car

[Hermitage Artist Retreat]  Act Two

The Hermitage Artist Retreat finds Tony Award-Winning leadership in theater maven Andy Sandberg. 

Click here to read the full story in our March 2020 Home Edition of SRQ Magazine!

[SOON]  SEMINAR: SMARTGirl Mentorship Summit and Leadership Luncheon , October 12, 11 AM - 1:30 PM

The  2020 SMARTgirl Summit and Leadership Luncheon has been postponed to Monday, October 12, 2020. The Summit will no longer take place on March 13, 2020. As the SRQ Women Who Roar Initiative continues to grow, so does our responsibility to give back to the community. SRQ MEDIA believes that girls can do anything. Sometimes girls need an extra boost of encouragement and examples of how to make their dreams come true. Supported through SRQ Women Who Roar, this initiative is a collaborative effort to set local girls up for success. SMARTGirl fosters “curated networking” and engages local elementary and middle school young women in a program designed to educate them on career possibilities and the tools they need to succeed through mentorship, soft skills training and hands-on workshops. Let’s help her ROAR and engage girls throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: SRQ 2020 TGIF Best Of SRQ Local Party , November 30

Join us to experience an evening of award-winning bites and imbibes as voted on by the readers of SRQ Magazine in this annual TGIF Best of SRQ Local Party. 15+ Restaurants. Cocktail Samplings. Live DJ in the Courtyard. Celebrating the best locally owned establishments in the region, every year SRQ MEDIA asks our astute readers to vote for their favorite local eats, shopping, arts, luminaries and hotspots culminating in the buzzworthy special "Best of SRQ Local" awards feature published in the April edition. Celebrate your TGIF with the best our region has to offer—we will highlight local experiences from new restaurants to the memorable theatre productions, from our community's best achievements to seriously talented chefs. Tickets go fast, so reserve early!

Aloft Hotel Sarasota, 1401 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  MUSEUM: The Automotive Art of Ferdinand Porsche and Enzo Ferrari , February 1 – May 1, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Guests can “step back in time” to see an in-depth history of both Ferrari and Porsche, and the incredible cars that were released along the way, at Sarasota Classic Car Museum’s upcoming exhibit. The exhibit will showcase over 16 Porsche models, from 1951 to 2004, as well as six classic Ferraris ranging in years from 1965 to 2011. This exhibit is included in the price of admission to the museum. 

Sarasota Classic Car Museum, 5500 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

[SOON]  : New Topics Lecture Series | Common Ground: The Intersection of Biophilic Design and Urbanism , April 22, 5:30pm
A seminar with David Brain, professor of social sciences at New College, Bill Browning of Terrapin Bright Green, and Dan Slone of Vertical Vision. Who says cities have to be unnatural? A fresh breed of urban innovators suggests an eco-friendlier alternative. Brain will host a panel discussion on the new wave of urban design inspired by the patterns of nature. Tickets are $15. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made at ncf.edu/new-topics, or by calling the New College events hotline at 941-487-4888.

Mildred Sainer Auditorium, 5313 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

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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