News Section: Business and Financial
SCF and Partners Announce The Deal Regional Venture
BRADENTON--The DEAL, a major regional collaboration initiative, was announced today by three of Southwest Florida’s biggest players: Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. (SMR), developer of the award-winning master-planned community of Lakewood Ranch; State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), the area’s oldest and largest higher education institution; and Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Florida’s largest community foundation.
The partners’ joint concept for The DEAL (Design & Economic Acceleration Laboratory) was presented at a news conference held in the broad median on east University Parkway. The location marking the symbolic border of Manatee and Sarasota counties was selected to underscore bi-county enthusiasm for the expansive regional initiative and give guests a close-up view of a vast parcel of undeveloped land near the county border where property has been designated for the initial phase of the venture.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll joined local, state and national officials and business leaders in stepping forward to show support for the project. Carroll spoke about a shared vision with Gov. Rick Scott that prioritizes jobs creation for Florida.
“This regional partnership makes good business sense to me, both as a businessman and as an elected official whose top priority is jobs and the economy,” said U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in a statement read by SCF President Dr. Lars A. Hafner. “I foresee The DEAL’s tremendous impact on bolstering our region’s competitive position in the state and country.”
Regional focus, collaboration and jobs creation were dominant themes by speakers including state Sen. Mike Bennett, Senate President Pro Tem: “County lines cannot be competitive fences when our region’s economic prosperity depends on our joining forces to compete against other regions instead of competing against each other. We have great regional attributes and it’s time to do a better job of packaging them. It’s time to be entrepreneurial. It’s time to be bold. It’s time to make the best DEAL for our region’s economic growth and job creation.”
State Sen. Nancy Detert said, “Regional collaboration on this scale puts our best face forward and says we are open for business, we want you to come to our community, and we will bring to bear all of our collective resources to help you succeed. As chair of the Senate’s Commerce and Tourism Committee, I am excited about the economic boost this promises for our region, and I look forward to seeing The DEAL unfold.”
SCF President Dr. Lars A. Hafner said, “The DEAL is a major advancement for SCF as we continue to create a new model of education expansive enough to include a charter middle and high school to associate and baccalaureate workforce degrees. Through this collaboration center, SCF will have even more community impact with added focus on regional prosperity and needed workforce education and training, and with the 300-plus acres that have been discussed to provide for the vision’s fulfillment, we have boundless opportunity to continue developing to stay ahead of changing economic needs and emerging ideas.”
Strong bi-county endorsement of The DEAL was demonstrated by Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker and Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley. Economic development presidents David Sessions, Sarasota County, and Manatee County’s Beth Bender appeared together at the podium to voice their support.
Phase One of the project is projected to include a 72,000 sq. ft. building with a primary feature the design laboratory, described as a business design, planning and acceleration center. Other space in the building will be reserved for economic development offices from the two counties. Project completion is projected within 18 months with a firmer timeline to be determined as plans progress.
Click here to view the aerial site plan.
Click here to view the architectural site plan.
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