JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER | DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
When Syd Kitson set out to create Babcock Ranch, he wanted to prove that growth and sustainability could go hand in hand.
Thirteen years later, his vision is a reality. And Kitson, the chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners, said the Southwest Florida community is a model for what smart development can look like going forward.
“All these things that we’re talking about are what create community,” said Kitson. “Babcock Ranch doesn’t have gates. This is truly a town.”
Kitson talked about his vision for creating Babcock Ranch during the August 14 Wake Up Naples at Hilton Naples. In his 45-minute conversation with Naples City Manager Charles Chapman, Kitson discussed the process of building a town from the ground up, the importance of preservation and how to create community.
“One of the things we wanted Babcock Ranch to be was multi-generational,” he said. “We didn’t want it to be a bunch of old people like me. We wanted to have that great mix of people.”
The best way to attract young people: Build a school. That was one of the first things Kitson did, at the urging of former Gov. Jeb Bush, a member of the Babcock Ranch board. It proved to be a smart decision. The school quickly had a waiting list and has since moved to a larger location.
Kitson said Babcock Ranch has incorporated a variety of other features, including community gardens and free Wi-Fi outside, to make the town attractive to all types of residents. His team is focused heavily on solar power, becoming the first all solar community in nation, and autonomous vehicles.
These measures have helped achieve the goal of attracting a wide variety of residents. Kitson said more than half the buyers are young families, and a fair share of them work in the community.
Kitson encouraged landowners, developers and governments to “work in partnership” to ensure sustainable communities can flourish in the future.
“I think what Babcock Ranch is proving … is that people what that kind of living,” he said.
To register for future Wake Up Naples breakfast events visit www.napleschamber.org/wakeupnaples
JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
Southwest Florida’s business community racked up several big wins – from money for water quality improvements to legislation aimed at strengthening workforce training – during Florida’s 2019 legislative session.
But for those successes to continue, lawmakers said business and community leaders need to make sure their voices are heard on important issues.
“Collier County is near and dear to our hearts,” said Rep. Byron Donalds. “We want to hear from the people that are doing the work every single day in Collier County. We want to hear issues, especially before we go back to Tallahassee and … we want to be able to hear these things from you, so we can act on them.”
Donalds was joined by Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo and Rep. Bob Rommel at Wake Up Naples on June 12 to discuss the 2019 legislative session. The trio highlighted several pieces of legislation of importance to the business community and discussed a variety of issues ranging from home rule to the state of bipartisanship in Tallahassee.
“We’re different than Washington,” said Passidomo. “We don’t have rancor, and I hope that never happens. When I help my colleagues, it’s helping everybody. You will see us working together and it’s really marvelous, I think.”
Passidomo said her role as Senate majority leader meant she served in a different capacity this year, filing fewer bills and working to make sure bills important to Floridians made it across the finish line.
One of those proposals is a bill that creates pathways for career and technical education in Florida. Lawmakers said it was something the business community has asked for and will help create a talent pipeline for employers across the state.
“For a long time in education we got in this mode of you have to go to college to be successful,” said Donalds. “What we’ve realized is we got it wrong. You can be successful without going to a four-year college or university.”
The legislation provides a pathway for students to graduate from high school, while being in an apprenticeship program. It also establishes a “college and career decision day,” allows a computer science credit to act as a substitute for a math or science credit and requires school districts to offer a half-credit financial literacy course as an elective.
Creating a talent pipeline is a top priority for the Chamber, which works with hundreds of students each year to better prepare them to enter the workforce. Lawmakers highlighted several industries they thought could be areas of growth in the future, including telecommunications, autonomous vehicles and the medical industry.
“We have to be smart,” said Rommel. “One thousand people a day move to Florida.”
Passidomo and Rommel also said they believed the state’s legacy industries will continue to be big economic drivers in Southwest Florida and throughout the state.
“In Florida, no matter what (construction) and hospitality are going to be No. 1 and No. 2,” Rommel said.
Lawmakers also lauded the passage of assignment of benefits (AOB) reform, something which has been attempted in years past, and significant funding for water quality and Everglades restoration. They also encouraged attendees to contact them – and their local counterparts – to tell them about the issues that are important to them.
“Everybody in this room has an interest in something we’re doing,” said Passidomo. “When your group does a call to action, don’t ignore it. Call us. Let us know your thoughts, how you feel and let’s work through it together. I would rather listen to somebody from my community than someone from Jacksonville.”
Want to tell Collier lawmakers how they’re doing? Visit the Chamber’s action center today to easily find your representatives and send them an email.
Though Leadership Collier Class of ’19 is probably best known for their surprise 4-hoofed guest at this year’s 30Th Anniversary graduation, they hope to be remembered as the Greatest Of All Time for their work in the community.
Following their last session, the Leadership Collier Class of 2019 decided on a project in the key areas of healthcare, law enforcement/government and human services. The group was stunned to find out that bystander CPR recommendations had changed so dramatically in the last ten years. Hands-Only CPR (Call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast to the chest until help arrives) is now the recommended approach in a witnessed cardiac arrest event. CPR Awareness week is June 1-7, so the class mobilized quickly to plan an event that they are calling Hands for Hearts Collier.
Using the superhuman powers of Leadership Collier connections, the team secured two amazing venues to host and has galvanized an amazing list of community partners, including the American Heart Association, Collier County Emergency Medical Services, Naples Fire and many more. The event will take place at Sugden Theatre and Golden Gate Community Center on June 1 from 9am-noon.
Hands for Hearts Collier could use some good volunteers, so if you are interested, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. The GOATs hope to save some lives and build awareness of CPR on June 1.
More details can be found on the event’s Facebook page here.
Dave Weston, the chief operating officer at Naples Lumber & Supply, is the 2019 recipient of the Naples Chamber Chairman’s Award. Weston is being honored for his dedication to community betterment and continued support of the Chamber. He will be recognized at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 16 at The Ritz Carlton Golf Resort, Naples.
The Chairman’s Award is a chance for the Chamber’s chairman to recognize an individual who has helped the organization reach its goal and fulfill the mission of making Collier County the best place in America to live, work and visit. The recipient is selected by the chairman of the Naples Chamber Board of Directors, in consultation with the president and CEO.
Weston has a long and distinguished career in Collier County. He has served as the chief operating officer at Naples Lumber & Supply since 2007, where he oversees a variety of day-to-day activities and coordinates long-range planning. Prior to joining Naples Lumber, Weston spent more than two decades with Coastal Engineering Consultants.
“I was surprised and humbled by this recognition,” said Weston. “There are so many people working so hard on so many important initiatives through the Chamber that are equally, if not more, deserving.”
Weston, a 1990 graduate of Leadership Collier, served as the chairman of the Naples Chamber Board of Directors from 2001 to 2002. He served on the board from 1997 until 2004, and currently serves as an honorary director.
Weston was chosen because of his continued dedication to community betterment. He played a pivotal role in the Chamber’s involvement in Collier County’s 2018 infrastructure sales surtax campaign, serving as treasurer of the One Collier political committee. In that role, Weston spearheaded the fundraising efforts and served as a key campaign advisor. Collier County voters approved the seven-year, one-cent infrastructure sales tax 51 percent to 49 percent.
“We are honored to present this award to Dave Weston. His commitment to the Chamber and service to the community has had an everlasting impact,” said Bill Barker, president of Naples Daily News and The News Press and Southeast regional president for the USA Today Network and LocalIQ. “His humble leadership over the past several decades is an example for current and future Collier County leaders. We can’t thank Dave enough for his support.”
In addition to his work with the Chamber, Weston has served as the chairman of the Neighborhood Health Clinic Board of Directors; chairman of the Florida Building Materials Association; the vice president of the Collier Building Industry Association; and a member of the International College (Hodges University) President’s Council.
The Chamber’s Annual meeting celebrates the organization’s accomplishments with recognitions, honors and a keynote address. To learn more about the 2019 Annual Meeting visit www.NaplesChamber.org/annualmeeting
Though this definition of a sponsor is accurate, it is not complete. Sponsors also serve as partners. It is not only for the financial support of a fundraising event, but the building blocks of a relationship between individuals and organizations.
Time and time again, we see the joy that’s shared among sponsors when they are able to help move a mission forward for an organization. Not only do businesses find pride in supporting an initiative for the betterment of a community, they are able to expand their brand reach and recognition.
"As the only bank headquartered in Collier County, we feel passionate about our commitment to local charitable and community organizations," said Heather Tice, vice president-director of marketing at First Florida Integrity Bank. "Sponsoring events gives us a unique opportunity to not only support these organizations but also to build partnerships with the people and groups that make a difference in Collier County. Whether it is sponsorship, event attendance or volunteer work, we feel it is imperative to assist the great work of our community organizations both as a company and as individuals."
In Naples, or what we all call "paradise," it requires everyone working together to help maintain our quality of life. When businesses invest in the Naples Chamber, they are not only supporting our work for the betterment of Collier County, but also making a difference in their own company and among the larger business community. When minds come together, we work to build solutions addressing important local issues that affect our economy, our environment and our world-class community.
"Gallagher Lutgert has always taken pride in supporting our community both financially and physically through the efforts of our staff," said Buddy Hornbeck, area vice president for Gallagher Lutgert. "Our community is what has enabled us to operate a successful business and everything we give to our community is paid back to us many times over. Helping organizations to help others that need our support is not only personally satisfying but also corporately satisfying knowing we are doing the right thing."
Sponsorship is an excellent and targeted method for any company to consider. You can make an impact in your community and having your company logo seen in print advertising, social media, event displays and announced by the emcee – it’s a double-win for both the nonprofit and visibility for the business.
We are thankful and inspired by the tremendous support of our largest community events, the Chamber Classic and Annual Meeting. Both the continued and new partnerships help us make Collier County the best place to live, work and visit. Become a sponsor today!
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce will host its annual fund-raising golf tournament, the Naples Chamber Classic, on Friday, May 3 at The Club at The Strand.
The annual golf tournament is a long-standing tradition that Chamber members and non-members alike have enjoyed for several years. The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at noon. The tournament allows players the opportunity to network with other business professionals and community members. In addition, the event will feature great prizes, one-of-a-kind experience holes as well as course exclusivity during the half-day tournament.
Organized by the Naples Chamber Golf Committee, the golf tournament is part of the annual campaign to raise funds to support all business and community growth initiatives of the Chamber. Sponsors include Naples Daily News, Gallagher Lutgert Insurance, Waste Management, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and Inspira.
Registration is now open at www.NaplesChamber.org/chamberclassic. ‘Early Bird’ rates are available to all registrants through April 1, 2019. Registration is $150 per person and includes green and cart fees, bag handling, professional scoring, lunch and reception.
For more information and sponsorship opportunities contact Nikkie Dvorchak, vice president of events & development, at (239) 403-2909 or by email at email@example.com