On November 4th Class XX participated in a multi-venue session, which provided a broad overview of growth and economic development in Collier County as well as the challenges, which face the community and Collier County’s plans to deal with them.
Ave Maria – chosen as an example of eastward development in Collier County was the first stop. Upon arrival at the Oasis Club, Blake Gable, President, Barron Collier Companies gave a keynote address on growth followed by a review of key regional economic indicators by Christopher Westley, PhD., Director, Regional Economic Research Institute and Professor of Economics, FGCU. A morning panel focusing on growth and development in Collier County followed. Moderated by Jeff Lytle, former Naples Daily News Editorial Page Editor focused on growth and development in Collier County, the panel also included: Nicole Johnson, Director of Government Relations, Conservancy of SW Florida; Nancy Payton, Southwest Field Representative, FL Wildlife Federation; Brian Goguen, COO, Barron Collier Enterprises; and, Pat Utter, VP of Commercial Real Estate, Collier Enterprises. The panel highlighted the collaboration between developers and environmentalists and the collective desire to foster “smart” growth. During lunch, Phong Ho, owner of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Ave Maria provided background on the start-up of his business in Ave Maria.
Following lunch, the class returned to North Naples by bus to Arthrex headquarters. The afternoon agenda included presentations by individual speakers, a panel and Q&A, again moderated by Jeff Lytle which focused on Economic Development in Collier County. Reinhold Schmieding, President and CEO, Arthrex, Inc. greeted Class XX and presented background on the founding of Arthrex and eventual location of the headquarters in Naples. In addition, Reinhold provided an overview of their medical products, 90% of which are manufactured in the US and highlighted the company’s mission statement of “Helping surgeons treat their patients better.” Ed Staros, VP and Managing Director for the Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples spoke on the impact of tourism in SW Florida. As one of the first five employees, he recounted the founding of the Ritz-Carlton Company and his role in the building of the flagship Ritz-Carlton hotel in Naples, which he oversees today along with the Ritz-Carlton golf resort in Naples at Tiburon Golf Club. Bruce Register, Director, Business & Economic Development for Collier County reviewed the overall climate of development in Collier County. Julie Schmelzle, SVP & Sr. Client Manager, Bank of America described their strategic planning effort, Opportunity Naples, sponsored of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. The closing speaker, Al Latimer, SVP, Strategic Partnerships, Enterprise Florida, Inc. provided a State of Florida perspective. He described the structure and make-up of the Enterprise Florida, Inc. Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for Florida. EFI’s mission is to expand and diversify the state’s economy through job creation.
Tom Lynch, GNL Class XVIII, described volunteer opportunities involving the Collier County Schools. There was an appeal for more mentors to spend one day per week supporting this program. (Website: incubatoredu@CCPS – Volunteer/Mentor Information) The afternoon session concluded with a guided tour of Arthrex headquarters.