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SRQ DAILY Apr 13, 2024

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Detractors have speculated about a purported exodus of faculty across the state, yet such conjecture finds no footing here."

- Richard Corcoran, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  Abridged Timeline For Important Office
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

It takes a certain level of confidence and intuition to put your name on the ballot. An expected opening in the state House has accelerated the period of time hopefuls in Manatee have to consider a run.

Since state Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch, was selected as the new president of State College of Florida, two candidates have already emerged to succeed him in House District 72: Manatee County School Board member Rich Tatem and Kimley-Horn shareholder Bill Conerly.

But a number of other candidates are in the mix as well, including former Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, former State Attorney candidate Lisa Chittaro and AG Creative Marketing consultant Alyssa Gay.

It’s no easy task finding the gumption to file, yet that is the easy part. There’s already every sign this race could turn nasty. Many campaign consultants Brett Doster and Anthony Pedicini have already signed on with Tatem and Conerly respectively.

When this seat was last open six years ago, the race between Gregory and then-promising candidate Melissa Howard blew up in an embarrassing fashion as Howard’s academic credentials were called into question, and then she was caught doctoring a fake college degree. The greatest lesson there, it would seem, is don’t exaggerate any part of your resume that matters so little in whether you get the job.

But while there’s risk in putting ones reputation on the line for public office, there’s plenty of good that can be done from a seat in the Florida Legislature.

The real calculus everyone must go through in an abridged time frame — candidates have until noon on June 14 to qualify — likely has to do with their chance at victory. The August 20 primary isn’t that longer afterward, and in a seat as red as this, that’s the contest that will effectively choose the next House representative for east Manatee.

The irony there is the more candidates who run, the less votes it will take to come out on top of a winner-takes all primary. This is a Republican seat, so expect the winner of the primary to move on to the House of Representatives.

Early in the campaign, Tatem has staked out a socially conservative platform as a champion of parental rights, That’s after the same message effectively won him his Manatee School Board seat in 2022, in close alignment with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education platform as he secured re-election.

Conerly, meanwhile, has promised an “America First” approach, words familiar to anyone following former President Donald Trump’s messaging for the last eight years.

It will be interesting to see how this race develops, but it has quickly became top-tier in what had seemed like a sleepy election season in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. We’ll see if it gets more exciting as more candidates enter the fray.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor of SRQ Media Group. 

Image courtesy Pixabay

[Higher Education]  A Vital Diagnosis of New College's Progress
Richard Corcoran, rcorcoran@ncf.edu

The discourse surrounding New College of Florida frequently fixates on the trajectory of declining student enrollment over the past decade, culminating in the abrupt transition of the board of trustees and the appointment of a new president in 2023. However, the reality paints a different picture: New College stands as a resilient institution, burgeoning with vitality with each passing day.

In an era where institutions are closing their doors at an alarming rate, we have not only weathered the storm but we are emerging stronger than ever before. The visionary support from Florida’s Legislature and the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis have been pivotal, sparking significant progress, regenerating and rejuvenating our campus.

This transformative journey commenced with an unprecedented injection of resources from the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis. The fruits of this collective effort have manifested in tangible progress, fortifying our campus infrastructure and priming it for an era of expansion. We stand poised to ascend to greater heights in the forthcoming academic year of 2024-2025.

Enrollment figures tell an amazing turnaround story. After achieving record enrollment in our 2023 class, the 2024 class is up almost 200% from this time a year ago, foretelling the prospect of having another breakthrough year for student recruitment.

Detractors have speculated about a purported exodus of faculty across the state, yet such conjecture finds no footing here. New College has conducted rigorous searches for tenure-track positions, visiting professors, and scholar-in-residence positions this spring. Look for an announcement soon introducing over 40 esteemed educators and scholars from diverse corners of the nation. 

Similarly, concerns regarding the obsolescence of our academic accolades, notably our distinction as a top producer of Fulbright Awards and the proportion of graduates pursuing doctoral studies, are unfounded. We anticipate the conferment of at least two new Fulbright Awards this year, with continued robust aspirations for doctoral pursuits among our students and alumni.

As an institution of honors, we embrace the imperative of offering graduate programs. Our esteemed faculty in the field of biology have expediently laid the groundwork for the launch of a pioneering Masters in Marine Mammal Science program this fall, with additional graduate-level offerings under development.

The integration of intercollegiate athletics has been pivotal in revitalizing New College, aligning us with the venerable tradition of esteemed liberal arts institutions. Our varsity sports program will witness exponential growth this fall, with the addition of men’s and women’s golf, lacrosse, and volleyball—setting us apart as the sole member of the State University System of Florida to field a varsity men’s lacrosse team.

As we near the conclusion of the academic year and prepare to usher a new cohort of graduates into the world, New College stands as a beacon of vitality, steadfast in its commitment to excellence. We assert with conviction that New College is poised to emerge as the preeminent liberal arts college in America.

Richard Corcoran is president of New College of Florida. 

Photo courtesy New College of Florida.

[Tourism]  Global Meetings Close to Home
Erin Duggan, Eduggan@VisitSarasota.com

April not only brings Spring and April Fool’s Day but also marks a lesser-known yet significant occasion: Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), celebrated on April 11. This international day of advocacy highlights the invaluable contributions of business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences, and conventions to people, businesses and communities worldwide.

The impact of the meetings and events industry extends far beyond mere gatherings. Many of us have personally experienced the benefits, from acquiring valuable knowledge and forging important connections to sparking new ideasand innovations at conferences. Moreover, these events serve as crucial economic drivers, boosting hotel bookings, filling restaurants and occupying venues while creating job opportunities.

At Visit Sarasota County (VSC), we deeply understand the significance of these events, which is why we've prioritized attracting them to Sarasota County. While we have had tactics to market to this audience for years, in 2023, our VSC team actively further engaged by attending key trade shows, hosting meeting planners, and launching innovative programs to entice groups to choose our region for their events.

Our efforts have yielded tangible results: 574 opportunities shared with hotel partners, 45 meetings booked, and over $11 million directly injected into Sarasota County's economy. Sarasota County offers many advantages for hosting such events, blending big-city amenities with the coastal charm of Florida’s Gulf Coast. With exceptional venues, top-notch services, delectable cuisine, and rich cultural offerings, Sarasota provides an ideal setting for small groups.

To further enhance our appeal, we've introduced industry-leading programs. Our meeting incentive program offers various benefits, including transportation credits, financial support for offsite dining/events, wellness initiatives, or room night cash rebates of up to $4,000. In the past year, we've also launched a concierge service specifically tailored for meeting planners selecting Sarasota County as their destination. This complimentary service offers personalized recommendations based on the group's interests and needs, catering to groups of any size.

Our commitment to excellence is further underscored by the recent appointment of Suzanne Hackman as the new Director of Sales and Industry Relations for VSC. With her extensive industry experience and regional knowledge, Suzanne will undoubtedly drive further growth in meetings business for Sarasota.

This April, as we enjoy the beautiful weather, let's also take a moment to express gratitude to those who make these meetings and events possible. Whether it's extending a simple "thank you" or sharing a favorite local tip with conference attendees, let's recognize their contribution to our community's prosperity and well-being. Many look at a tourism bureau like ours and think of us for only attracting the leisure market. By diversifying the type of visitor we market to, we ensure our economy stays strong year-round and throughout the weekdays and weekends.

We are excited to share Visit Sarasota County is a nominee in the annual Stella Awards from Northstar Meetings Group for Best CVB/DMO in the Southeast. The voting window is open through May 3 and you can cast your vote here.

Erin Duggan is President and CEO of Visit Sarasota County.  

Photo courtesy Pixabay.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Harvest Farmers Market at Wellen Park , June 25 – December 29, 9 am to 1 pm

Visit Fresh Harvest, the newly launched weekly farmers market in Downtown Wellen. Fresh Harvest offers a selection of local goods from nearly 40 local vendors. Fresh Harvest takes place every Sunday in Downtown Wellen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can peruse different vendor booths and stock up on a variety of goods. Vendors will offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced food, including herbs, spices, cut flowers, teas, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, syrups, baked goods, pickled foods, fresh seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, milk and prepared food and beverages. A limited selection of craft vendors also participate in the farmers market. For a listing of participating vendors and more information on Fresh Harvest Farmers Market, visit wellenpark.com/events/fresh-harvest-farmers-market. Downtown Wellen, 19745 Wellen Park Blvd., Venice.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place , July 28 – May 31, 6 to 9 p.m.

Head out to Waterside Place for a rocking evening as part of the Lakewood Ranch Sights and Sounds Program. Enjoy a live concert in partnership with Easterseals and EveryoneRocks, featuring artists who are rocking their spectrum. This event is free and open to the public; there is limited seating at the Plaza, but attendees are welcome to bring their own seats. Food and beverages will be available from numerous Waterside Place merchants. For more information on shows, dates, and times, visit lakewoodranch.com/sights-sounds/. Waterside Place, 1560 Lakefront Dr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Business Networking and Cowork Session , August 22 – June 25, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Attention all business professionals. Join us for a productive and inspiring coworking event every Tuesday at Out and About Coffee in downtown Sarasota. Take advantage of this opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow professionals in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Limited spots available, so register now on Eventbrite. O and A Coffee Supply, 1316 Main St., Sarasota.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Lets Connect at Oscura in Old Manatee , August 31 – December 26, 8:30-10am

Connect with local business owners at every Thursday at Oscura. Lets Connect is a community of collaborative business professionals from the Manatee and Sarasota County areas. RSVP on Eventbrite to attend, admission is free.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Collaborative Coworking Meetup at UTC , September 1 – December 27, 11am-4pm

Attention all business professionals, join us for a productive and inspiring coworking event at Panera Bread at the UTC Mall every Friday. Take advantage of this opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow professionals in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Limited spots available, so register now on Eventbrite. Panera Bread, 215 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota.

[SOON]  FOOD: Siesta Key Rum Distillery Tours , September 2 – September 30, Various times

Siesta Key Rum runs free year-round tours for guests to learn the story of the craft distillery, the awards they have won and the secret to how they make their rums taste so good. During our 30-45 minute tour we will discuss the following topics: history of Siesta Key Rum, an overview of the awards our small company has won, what makes our rums taste so good, the rum-making process from mashing and fermentation to distillation, barrel aging and bottling of our rums. After the tour, we welcome you to sample a freshly made Siesta Key Rum cocktail, stock up on your favorite rums and browse our gift shop. 2212 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  FOOD: Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch , September 3 – September 30, 10am-2pm

Experience some of the best food and flavors of the region with more than 100, and still growing, curated vendors. The Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch has fast become a favorite weekly tradition for people from all over the region seeking farm-fresh produce, delicious prepared foods, and specialty items and gifts. Aside from all the goodies you can shop at the Farmers Market, find your flow in a free yoga class or have the kiddos get creative during weekly-hosted workshops. 1561 Lakefront Dr., Lakewood Ranch.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Bradenton Market Returns , October 7 – May 25, 9am-2pm

Realize Bradenton is happy to announce the return of the Bradenton Market to its weekly schedule. This beloved community gathering will be held Saturdays through May 25, 2024 from 9:00 am - 2:00 pm on Old Main Street in Bradenton. Founded in 1979, the Market has expanded to include more than 90 local vendors. In addition to the weekly shopping and music, the Market hosts special event days throughout the season. Halloween at the Market will be held on Saturday, October 28. This family-friendly event includes trick or treating with vendors, face painting with Manatee School for the Arts Academic Team from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm, and a dance performance by Slick Motion Studios at 10:00 am. For more information, visit RealizeBradenton.com.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens , November 11 – August 31, N/a

Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens will be on view through August 31, 2024 at the Historic Spanish Point campus. Selby Gardens is excited to present the extraordinary imagery of photographer and conservationist Clyde Butcher throughout the grounds of the Historic Spanish Point campus. Large-scale prints on aluminum of Butcher’s beautiful photographs of plants, animals, and habitats of Florida will be exhibited amid the natural landscape of the 30-acre waterfront preserve, enabling the public to engage with the artist’s work like never before. In the tradition of earlier landscape photographers like Ansel Adams, Butcher captures the beauty and majesty of America’s natural treasures in dramatic black and white. The unique environments of Florida have been subjects of particular interest to Butcher since the 1980s, when he was first introduced to the magic and mystery of sites such as Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. Nature Through the Lens will include Butcher’s photographs of regional locales such as Myakka River State Park and Casey Key. This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Clyde Butcher Gallery & Studio in Venice, Florida. For more information, visit selby.org.

[SOON]  FOOD: Late Night Happy Hour at Geckos on Hillview Street , November 29 – May 31, 10pm-Midnight
Join your friends, after-work buddies and the team at Geckos for our new Late Night Happy Hours. Every Friday and Saturday from 10 pm to Midnight, we will offer food, wine, cocktails and beer specials sure to prolong your weekend fun. Join us and ask your friendly barkeep or server about our Late Night Happy Hours. ONLY at Geckos on Hillview Street in Southside Village. GeckosGrill.com.
[SOON]  MUSEUM: Shinique Smith, Parade , January 4 – January 5, Various times

Enjoy the extraordinary opportunity to experience the work of contemporary artist Shinique Smith in conversation with the collection of European art at The Ringling. Unfolding across six galleries of the Museum of Art, the exhibition creates a series of unique stories that together form an abstract narrative of the parade as a metaphor for life. Well known for her monumental sculptures created from an array of materials, including luxurious textiles, personal clothing, dyed fabrics, ribbon, and wood, and for her abstract paintings of calligraphy and collage, Smiths work in this exhibition speaks to various facets of the European artistic tradition, such as classical drapery and religious iconography, while foregrounding notions of Black femininity and the history of the circus. Learn more at ringling.org.

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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