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More than a Skatepark After years of planning, fundraising and conceptualizing, Jon Shell is one step closer to making the underutilized greenway beneath the interstate overpass into something the entire community can enjoy—The Blake Doyle Community Park.

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Keeping your Ticker Ticking: Baptist Completes its 100th TAVR Procedure Baptist Health & Vascular Institute, or BHVI, performed their 100th successful Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement in October of last year.

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We take a look at what it means for Pensacola to be one of 20 new White House TechHire communities, especially in regards to expanding our technology industry and creating more job opportunities for tech-minded students.

Find out what is happening in business, government and cultural news in the greater Pensacola area and northwest Florida.

A High Tech Pensacola

Around the Region

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Advancements

Keeping Your Ticker Ticking: Baptist Completes Its 100th TAVR Procedure By Tanner Yea

TAVR & cath lab team at Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute

F

or many people, a blocked heart valve can spell disaster. Although a variety of procedures exist, some are dangerous to certain patients who are just not strong enough to survive the operation—but need the procedure to live. Baptist Health & Vascular Institute, or BHVI, is offering a solution for those patients. They are paving the way forward, performing their 100th successful Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement in October of last year.

“Reaching this milestone is a testament to the teamwork and dedication of our team at Baptist Hospital,” said Luther I. Carter, M.D., FACC, FSCAI, interventional cardiologist. The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR for short, is a procedure designed for high-risk patients – those in their 70s or 80s who would struggle to become strong enough to endure more traditional heart surgery. The TAVR procedure is fairly simple at its base – an artificial valve is inserted through a catheter, either through the femoral artery in the groin or a minimally-invasive direction through the heart’s left ventricle. Once inside, the new valve is pushed onto the blocked artery and opened, pushing the old

valve out of the way and letting the new one function. Baptist has been performing the procedure since 2014 and its 100th patient was a 90-year-old who was up and walking within six hours. Dr. Carter said that the patient was discharged in great spirits and without any shortness of breath. BHVI also went on to complete two other successful TAVR procedures that same day. “This leading edge technology and service is something we are all proud of, and I appreciate every team member involved in developing our successful structural heart program,” Dr. Carter said. Prior to the TAVR procedure, a few common options for replacing a valve were availnwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 51


Advancements

Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) able. Mechanical and tissue valves replaced the damaged valve outright, either with an artificial mechanism or mammal donor tissue. The other option is the Ross Procedure, which uses a patient’s existing healthy valve as a replacement. Both options are generally more invasive, often requiring full open heart surgery, which can place a strain on a weak patient. “TAVR is an option for people who are so fragile, they really have no other options,” said Marilyn Smith, public relations specialist at Baptist Health Care. “Through this less invasive procedure, recovery time and pain may be reduced.” According to the American Heart Association, TAVR procedures lower the risk of infection, cause less surgical trauma to chest and heart tissue, and only require a hospital stay from three to five days. BHVI’s 100th patient was in fact discharged the day after the procedure, and the overall recovery time was shorter. Baptist was the first to introduce TAVR without general anesthesia to the region, said Saurabh Sanon, M.D. FACC, interventional cardiologist. “This high level of care places us on the map with other select elite cardiac institutes in the U.S., and allows our patients to receive worldclass heart valve care right here at home in Pensacola,” said Sanon. “Having successfully completed more than one hundred TAVRs, our team is the area’s most experienced in providing this procedure.” The TAVR procedure is often recommended to patients suffering from severe aortic stenosis. This is a thickening of the aortic valve, which can lead to shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain and fatigue. If left alone the disease can be fatal. Studies have shown that 50 percent of patients diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis will not survive more than two years on average after diagnosis. Severe aortic stenosis becomes more common with age. According to the American Heart Association, heart valves slowly degrade as we get older, and they may become too fragile or weak to operate. Other causes include calcium buildup, injury, or even as a side effect of radiation therapy focused on the chest. “TAVR is approved for moderate risk, high risk, inoperable patients, and for those who have a 52 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com

preexisting surgical valve who warrant replacement,” said F. James Fleischhauer, M.D., FACC, interventional cardiologist. “In experienced hands, TAVR has been shown to be lower risk than surgical replacement in elderly patients.” According to The Heart Foundation, a charity focused on preventing and healing cardiovascular illness, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with their most recent report showing 787,000 people dying from it in 2011. Heart disease takes a financial toll as well, with direct and indirect costs totaling more than 320 billion dollars. BHVI is giving a chance to patients who might not have had any future while suffering from severe aortic stenosis.

“Baptist Heart & Vascular Institute physicians are committed to being at the forefront of innovative care and will continue bringing breakthrough procedures to our area, ensuring our community has access to the best heart health care possible,” said Marilyn Smith. “Changes in procedures and technology never cease.” For more information on TAVR, other heart procedures, and BHVI in general, visit eBaptistHealthCare.org.


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Education

A High Tech Pensacola We take a look at what it means for Pensacola to be one of 20 new White House TechHire communities, especially in regards to expanding our technology industry and creating more job opportunities for tech-minded students. By now, we all know the major role that technology plays in any economy. But, how do we meet a rise in demand not only for high-tech equipment but for technology-based services and the professionals who deliver them? The answer is simple: we meet the demand as a TechHire community. Already, Pensacola State College (PSC), the City of Pensacola and several community partners including Innovation Coast, Inc., have paved the way for PSC students seeking degrees in technology by ensuring students leave college ready to enter the workforce and by making sure there are employment opportunities after graduation, as part of the requirements of being a community who is part of the White House TechHire Initiative. But, what is the TechHire Initiative and how will it benefit Pensacola’s growing technology sector? We’ll start with some background on the initiative, which began in March of 2015, after President Obama announced his TechHire campaign set on expanding local technology sectors by building tech talent pipelines in communities across our 54 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com

country. The announcement included three major components: over 20 communities with over 300 employer partners signed on to pilot accelerated training strategies, large private-sector companies and national organizations committed to providing tools to support the TechHire communities, and the President himself pledged $100 million in federal grant funding. Essentially, TechHire is a nation-wide, community-based movement that helps underrepresented job seekers—from overlooked youth and veterans to the long-term unemployed—start careers in the technology industry. Thanks to Opportunity@ Work, TechHire is able to partner with education providers from across the tech community to teach in-demand skills to people who want to take part in the modern economy by helping them find jobs through connecting them with a network of employers looking for tech talent. Today, the national network includes as many as 71 TechHire communities, all of which receive support to spearhead their efforts in helping overlooked and underrepresented Americans start technology careers. In Pensacola, this support

by Dawn Gresko comes from local and national organizations and companies, and on the national level one such organization includes Opportunity@Work, who helps to provide the tools to support our city’s TechHire Initiative. Opportunity@Work is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to expand access to career opportunities so that all Americans can work, learn and earn to their fullest potential in a dynamic economy. By 2025, Opportunity@Work aims to empower over 1 million tech-minded Americans, creating over $20 billion per year of additional earnings for Americans across the country. “We are very pleased to welcome Pensacola to the White House TechHire Community Initiative,” said Tess Posner, managing director of TechHire at Opportunity@Work, in a press release. “Pensacola has demonstrated a true commitment to making opportunities in tech more inclusive in your community, and we at Opportunity@Work look forward to working with you to help implement, grow, and amplify your efforts.” The TechHire designation shows that Pensacola has community partners, employers, training providers, and the civil leadership support needed to implement and scale tech job opportunities for everyone. On the local level, PSC will work as the training provider for technology degree seeking students. In addition, the college will work with employment or business partners to provide internship


opportunities, interview and hire eligible program graduates, and serve on program advisory boards. These partners include Global Business Solutions, Inc., Technical Software Services, Gulf Power Company, AppRiver, as well as the Institute of Human & Machine Cognition, who will all help to place 200 technology workers in our community by 2020. On the other hand, local economic development partners will help keep the college aware of training needs for prospective employers and market the programs as appropriate. These partners include the likes of Florida West Economic Development Alliance, Santa Rosa Economic Development, Career Source Escarosa (who will help identify students who qualify for support and provide individual employment data tracking), and civil leadership from Mayor Hayward’s office. PSC President Edward Meadows says advanced technology programs are a stronghold of the college. There are as many as 12 technology-geared programs offering degrees from Associate in Science (AS), Associate in Arts (AA), and Bachelor in Applied Science (BAS), as well as certificates (CT) in areas such as wireless and network communications as well as computer programming and web development. The BAS in cybersecurity is the most recent addition to the curriculum. “We at Pensacola State are proud of our many technology programs that prepare students for exciting, productive careers,” said President Meadows in a press release. “We look forward to working with these business and industry partners to provide a highly skilled and educated workforce for Northwest Florida.” Although grant funding through the TechHire Initiative was initially set to be $100 million, the amount was increased to more than $150 million. TechHire grants focus on providing workers the skills for a pathway to the middle class while providing employers with the skilled technology workers need to grow and expand. The Department of Labor estimates that more than 18,000 participants will receive services through the TechHire grant program. Over $125 million of the grants will go to partnerships that specifically target, train, and support young people ages 17 to 29. In addition, $24 million will go to partnerships that help other disadvantaged groups with barriers to employment, including veterans, people with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, and people with criminal records. Grant winners and TechHire community partnerships focus on the following: data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring, models for training that prepare students in months instead of years, and active local leadership to connect people to jobs with hiring on ramp programs. PSC became a grant winner thanks to the hard work of the college faculty and staff, including Dr. Debbie Douma who was the lead grant writer behind the proposal for Pensacola to become a TechHire community. “I believe that being chosen for the White

House TechHire Community is validation for what the college and community partners would be doing whether we had an initiative title like ‘TechHire community’ or not,” said Dr. Debbie Douma. “We’re all working collaboratively to meet the need of community members desiring the education and training leading to economically selfsufficient employment; existing businesses in need of a skilled workforce; and new businesses looking to start-up or relocate to the Greater Pensacola area.” All TechHire communities go through an intensive and competitive application process to demonstrate their level of commitment and readiness in expanding their technology sector—a process that requires a proposal, which was spearheaded by Dr. Douma. Of course, we can’t overlook who brought the TechHire Initiative to the attention of the college, which was none other than Michelle Horton from the board of Innovation Coast, who came across a small announcement on the American Association of Community Colleges’ website and alerted Dr. Douma. After receiving approval from President Meadows to proceed with the application process, Dr. Douma continued to work with Michelle Horton of Innovation Coast to compile information. They brought Dr. Kirk Bradley into the fold as well, as the contact for the application process, since he was not only the new dean of Baccalaureate Studies and Academic Support but he had previously held the title of department head for Mathematics and Computer Science. Together the trio provided information to the policy adviser to the National Economic Counsel at the White House, including but not limited to information on: technology programs and supportive services the college already had in place, project numbers of enrollments and completions, community data from employment and earnings to demographics, and information on proposed

employer partners. They were also asked to provide data on PSC’s proposed target populations, such as military veterans and disadvantaged populations including minority students, and were asked to provide some five-year number projections for interns and full-time hires, as well as to confirm support from the Mayor’s office for the initiative. However, PSC already had a number of the pieces in place to become a TechHire community. The college has five different US Department of Education TRIO grant-funded programs, specifically designed to provide academic and student support to military veterans and disadvantaged populations in our community. “I think what impressed them most was the fact that PSC and Pensacola are already doing things to provide opportunities to tech students and employers,” said Dr. Douma. “The White House contacts seemed to understand that the college recognizes that technology employers have a need for a skilled workforce and we are responding to that need. We had all of the pieces in place already.” Finally, on December 2, 2016, thanks to the combined efforts of PSC, Innovation Coast, and the City of Pensacola, our city became TechHire official as one of 20 new TechHire communities. Since the announcement, PSC has been assigned a community manager who has shared a number of resources, and the college has touched base with other newly named TechHire communities, all in effort to learn the best practices in methods of delivering education and training to targeted populations and shortening the time it takes to get students into the workforce.

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Community Development

More Than a Skatepark

Upward Intuition Envisions a Community Space Written by Hana Frenette

A

fter years of planning, fundraising and conceptualizing, Jon Shell is one step closer to making the underutilized greenway beneath the 110 interstate overpass into something the entire community can enjoy—The Blake Doyle Community Park.

Shell, 28, now a realtor with Levin Rinke Reality, grew up skateboarding at a park called Deep South. When he was 12, the skate park closed and he and his friends were at a loss of what to do or where to go. They wanted to keep skating, but the public spaces permitting skating were very limited.

“We were skating on private property downtown, and were getting hassled by police officers and business owners,” Shell said. Although Shell still had the passion for skateboarding, he put it on the backburner while he was in high school, doing it on and off instead of daily like he had as a child.

After graduating from college in Orlando and returning home, Shell noticed that despite the recent surge of development downtown, there was a lack of public space available for skateboarders to practice in Pensacola.

He moved to Orlando to attend college at the University of Central Florida and after just a day or so of driving around town, he realized an important public facet that was missing from Pensacola. “There are public skate parks everywhere—even regionally there are several in Mobile, Milton, and all through central Florida,” Shell said. “Why not here?” Shell said the skate parks served as safe and positive places for kids and teenagers to ride bikes, skate, rollerblade, and interact with other kids. “I really got back into skating when I was in college,” he said. “And then I returned home and saw all the new development, the revitalization going on with downtown and Palafox Street, and I remembered we didn’t have a public skate park– but I really wanted to keep skating.” Shell started a blog in January

of 2015, and wrote his first article about what he refers to as “Pensacola’s forgotten youth,”— the kids who love to rollerblade and skateboard, but don’t have the access to a public place to practice. “The post was basically about how far Pensacola had come, all the great things going on here, but how there’s this overlooked demographic of kids that are really passionate about skating, biking, rollerblading—but they don’t have anywhere to go to just do it, or to just be themselves.” Shell received a ton of positive feedback from the blog post– from people who used to skate or remembered going to the same skate parks and were now wishing for the same experience for future generations, as well as themselves, and just from people who thought Pensacola should have more recreational opportunities for the public. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 57


Community Development Around the same, in 2015, Shell’s close high school friend and fellow skateboarder, Blake Doyle was hit and killed by a train. “I was seeing how completely devastated my friends were, and what an impact Blake had on us, and what a charismatic person he was,” Shell said. “He left behind a pregnant wife, and she was just devastated. I’d been close with his twin brother Bart, and we made a blog post about the future skate park we were hoping for– we decided to push forward for this project in the memory of Blake and what he stood for.” Shell explained when Blake was in high school, he lost a leg in an accident, and even with the loss of his leg, he still got on a skateboard, and always had a smile on face. “That’s the spirit that we wanted to embody and live through this park. Just knowing what it means for Bart and his family, and also what it means for all the kids around here who love skating— that’s what has kept me going.” Shell dived in headfirst and realized he would need to begin fundraising for the project. “For the fundraising, we realized we’d either need to work with an existing non-profit or start our own,” he said. Thus Upward Intuition was born—a non-profit organization based on three words: Thoughts create reality. Their mission statement focuses heavily on youth-based programs and ways to enact positive change throughout the community. “We strive to lead by example in an effort to inspire and empower

Shell met with L.Abased designers Aaron Spohn and Vince Onel in February to discuss plans for the park

them to live with a sense of purpose, and to show the value of giving back the community. Through youthdriven programs we provide opportunities for young people to make good decisions. They are encouraged to be innovators by identifying problems and crafting solutions, and we support their goals by offering them ways to become involved in projects with lasting significance.” “Our idea was to get our youth—this particular demographic—involved in this project and have them feel like its their project and to take ownership of it as a way to bridge this gap between this demographic of young people who have great ideas for Pensacola and want to see it grow,” Shell said. “It can be a way to reach the politicians and business leaders, investors—people who can help enact change.”

The first part of the project will take up one city block—approximately 1/8 of the Hollice T. corridor 58 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com

Shell began working with the kids to create an Upward Intuition skate team in the summer of 2015. “We did the first event on April 24, 2015, and we filmed a documentary to highlight what we were doing and why we were doing it. We raised

Upward Intuition team realized they might have to look outside the small downtown box they’d originally had their eye on. During a meeting with the city of Pensacola, city officials proposed the Hollice T. Williams corridor as a prospective location—a

“That’s the spirit that we wanted to embody and live through this park. Just knowing what it means for Bart and his family, and also what it means for all the kids around here who love skating—that’s what has kept me going.” some money and then jumped in and started working with the city to find a location.” Originally, Shell envisioned the skate park location in the heart of downtown, possibly near Maritime Park or Main Street. He was hoping the park could feed off the growth and excitement happening on Palafox Street. Several months later, Shell and the

lengthy green space underneath the I-110 interstate ramp downtown. At first glance, Shell was against the location. “I thought, ‘There are 93 parks in the city, and you want us to be under this bridge?’” He said with a laugh. “After meeting with them a few times, they showed me the plans to make it into a greenway and I could see it was a really awesome


plan--almost kind of similar to the beltline in Atlanta, or the Highline in New York—taking this underutilized space and transforming it with public art, walkways, sculptures, murals, music, a café—and a skate park.” Shell noted the Hollice T. Corridor is one of the first things you see if you’re exiting or entering the interstate from downtown, and to revitalize that corridor would be beneficial to visitors taking in the city. The original plan to revitalize the corridor, which runs from Jackson Street down to Wright Street (adjacent to Hayne running north and south under I-110), was conceived half dozen years ago by the city and was in need of a jump start. Upward Intuition quickly got behind the city’s plan to revamp the prime location, which had languished for such a long time. Shell is hoping to start with one city block—approximately 1/8 of the corridor—as a catalyst for the revitalization of the entire corridor. “We realized pretty quickly that even though this started out as a skate park, in order to raise capital to fund it, we would need to have activities for all sorts of people—things parents can do, brothers and sisters, senior citizens, early learning components—and then it really morphed into something a lot bigger than a skate park,” he said. Shell and Upward Intuition met with the city again and the Department of Transportation (DOT)—the official owner of everything underneath the interstate. The city and

DOT agreed they’d like to see conceptual drawings of the space before moving forward, so Shell began looking for an architect. He found two men out of Los Angeles with experience building skate parks and reached out to them in hopes of securing their talent for the project. Shell will work with California designers Aaron Spohn and Vince Onel, who’ve built and designed skate parks used for the XGames and other professional skating events, as well as landscape architects, Jerry Pate Design. “One of our ideas from the beginning was to build this park to be a venue where we can have professional events and to really put Pensacola on the map as having an iconic skate park,” Shell said. “We are really psyched to be working with them.” Shell and Upward Intuition went through several conceptual drawings in order receive DOT approval over a 7-8 months process. “We were able to get the mayor to commit in writing to the plans, then we got approval from the city Parks and Recreation board,” Shell said. “And then one last thing—because I didn’t want Upward Intuition to be in the business of trash cleanup, removing graffiti, cleaning bathrooms—was the idea was that we handle the design and build this incredible park and then turn it over and the city will maintain it.” The cost of maintenance and trash removal is estimated to be $40,000 to $50,000 a year, and Shell was met with some resistance at first. After go-

Shell coaches the upward intuition youth skate team regularly. The team began in 2015, and each of the members serve as ambassadors for the proposed park. ing before City Council on October 16, 2016, with an incredibly strong number of people in support of the park, all council members voted in favor of the proposal to have the city maintain the park. “Once the city agreed to maintain and operate it, I felt comfortable to move forward and start fundraising,” Shell said. Phase one of the fundraising tops out at $125,000, with approximately 85 percent of the goal met as of February 2017. The fundraising will cover all of the project’s preliminary development costs-things like construction documents, which typically cost about $25,000, geotechnical consultations, surveying, Phase I assessm ent, design and development, civil engineering, marketing etc. “We’ve gotten funding from the Bear Family and the Kugleman Family—both of those family foundations want to be involved. Levin Rinke Realty and Robert Ranke made a really generous donation as did, Pensacola Sports, the Hammond Family, Julian MacQueen from Innisfree Hotels, the Levin Papantonio Law Firm, Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill, city council president Brian Spencer, and city council members Larry Johnson, Andy Terhaar and Sherri Myers. Once the project has reached its

Phase one goal, Shell says they’ll be at the point where they can plan to break ground, which he hopes will be sometime in 2018. The park designers met with Shell on Feb. 21 to walk the site, attend several community input meetings, and begin to finalize the new designs for the park. Shell noted much of the original design will change to incorporate additional seating, a small amphitheater, a café, the existing community garden and additional walkways. Later in the year, Upward Intuition will host a gala to reveal their new park design accompanied by a short film and new renderings, which will officially kick off phase two of the fundraising process and put Shell and Upward Intuition one step closer to creating their long-awaited community park. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to make an impact in my hometown and for the way the community has embraced and supported our vision. This project is more than just a skate park,” Shell said. “It will provide a safe and positive environment for an under-served demographic and is the next step in creating a greenway corridor leading in to the heart of our downtown and waterfront. We’ve come a long way over the last couple years but still have a ways to go.” nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 59


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Around the Region Bud Light Charity Golf Challenge The Arc Gateway Foundation and Pensacola Sports are teaming up once again for the Bud Light Charity Golf Challenge. The four-man scramble will be held on Friday, April 21 at Marcus Pointe Golf Club at 12:30 p.m. The tournament features a putting contest, raffle prizes, food throughout the course, and more! Take a swing and sign up today to help support the future of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. All proceeds from the event support programs at The Arc Gateway and Pensacola Sports. The Arc Gateway provides services and support to more than 800 children and adults with developmental disabilities. Pensacola Sports enriches our community by creating and supporting sporting events for amateurs and professionals and by encouraging physical fitness and healthy, active lifestyles for all. For more information about The Arc Gateway, visit www.arc-gateway.org or call (850) 4342638.

UWF professor leads the f i ght against Alzheimer’s disease in Northwest Florida Dr. Daniel Durkin, assistant professor in the University of West Florida Department of Social Work, was recently named the Alzheimer’s Association Ambassador for the Florida Panhandle and was selected to the Board of Directors for Covenant Alzheimer’s Care. “We’re incredibly proud of Dan’s work with the Alzheimer’s Association and Covenant Alzheimer’s Care,” said Dr. Roy “Butch” Rodenhiser, professor and chair of the Department of Social Work. “He’s been very active as an advocate for senior citizens and I’m sure his work will continue in his recent appointments. He will carry the torch in support of advocating for people with and at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” The Alzheimer’s Ambassador Program is designed to enhance the Alzheimer’s Association’s federal government relations efforts. That is made possible through personal contact between targeted members of Congress and constituents, who are capable of building relationships with decision-makers and their staff and holding them accountable to their commitment to fighting Alzheimer’s. Ambassadors are grassroots volunteers selected to serve as the main point of in-district contact for a member of Congress for a one-year term. Ambassadors play a critical role in helping the Alzheimer’s Association meet its federal legislative goals and work directly with National and chapter

staff to implement federal advocacy activities at the community level. “As ambassador, I hope to build relationships with legislators and provide them with information and evidence that will help them make informed decisions about policies and programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease, their caregivers and older adults,” Durkin said. Durkin developed an interest in becoming an ambassador and helping inform decision makers about evidence on social work topics after working with the state Legislature to get Title IV-E passed for child welfare. He said the ambassador role and his appointment to the Board of Directors for Covenant Alzheimer’s Care provide him with the opportunity to open doors for the Department of Social Work and the University as a whole. “My involvement with these organizations helps the Department of Social Work present policy advocacy opportunities to further the mission of the department, the College of Education and Professional Studies and the University,” he added. “I am proud to represent the University of West Florida with these organizations.” For more information about the Alzheimer’s Association and Covenant Alzheimer’s Care, visit alz.org and choosecovenant.org, respectively. To learn more about the UWF Department of Social Work, visit uwf.edu/socialwork.

Pensacola Sports Announces 2017 Board of Directors Pensacola Sports begins a new year with the 2017 Board of Directors including thirty-four (34) incumbents and four (4) new members. Chairman of the Board this year is Jehan Clark (Swoop Consulting.) The 2017 Executive Committee is: Rick Johnson (ServisFirst Bank) Chairman-elect, Jackie Gheen (Santa Rosa County schools) past Chairman and Vice Chairs Ted Gund (Saltmarsh, Cleaveland and Gund), Phil Kraus (Greater Pensacola Aquatic Club), Robby Rushing (Carver, Darden, et al) Norm Ross (Escambia County School District), Katie Kehoe (Holiday Inn Resort) and Jim Beran (Gilmore Services). New board members beginning January 2017: Dr. Bryan Boerjan (Gulf Coast Pain Institute), Daniel Herman (Raymond James Financial), John Murray (Team MPI), and Aaron Runyon (Santa Rosa County Schools). Returning 2017 Board members: Doug Bates (Clark, Partington, Hart), Bobby Behr (B, B &

T Bank), Zach Brothers (Actigraph), Michael Burroughs (Gulf Power), Bruce Childers (Attorney at Law), Will Condon (Sacred Heart Health System), Brian Cooper (City of Pensacola), Bill Creedon (WEAR TV3), Charles Gheen (Santa Rosa Island Triathlon), Meghan Gilroy-Triolo (A Door Properties), Bill Hamilton (Pensacola State College), Cam Johnson (Cox Communications), Rhea Kessler (The Kessler Foundation), Mike Layton (FSi Group), Evan Malone (Executive Health Resources), Jared Martin (Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceutical), Janet Olliff (Nurse Spring), Jay Patel (LHS Companies), Ron Pulley (City of Gulf Breeze), D.C. Reeves (Studer Family of Companies), Michael Rhodes (Escambia County), Brent Scott (Medtronic Inc.), Dave Scott (University of West Florida), David Taylor (Beggs and Lane), Mark Taylor (Lewis Bear Company), Jason Weeks (Santa Rosa County School District). Special thanks go to those Board members who completed their service in 2016: Chip

Boes (Escambia County Schools), Mike Eddins (Hiles-McLeod Insurance), John Panyko (Attorney at Law) and Candy Carlisle. Ray Palmer, previously the Executive Director, has been named President and CEO of the organization, and is pleased to welcome two new staff members. Melissa Bruce will be working as an event manager and on membership and marketing efforts. Candy Carlisle will be working as Palmer’s executive assistant and managing the front desk and other special assignments. Bruce was formerly on the event staff with the Blue Wahoos and Carlisle retired as Director of Marketing for Cordova Mall in 2016. They join staff members Jason Libbert, Sally Garst, Mike Price and Miriam Yarbrough.

nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 61


Around the Region

Pensacola Runners Association Accepting Grant Applications $5,000 to Area Running Organizations / Clubs The Pensacola Runners Association (PRA) is pleased to announce it is beginning a grant program for area organization, clubs, and/or projects. In its January meeting, PRA board of directors voted to place up to $5,000 in the program to award to organizations which furthered the PRA mission: to promote, support and develop running and racing along the northern Gulf Coast. The PRA’s objective is to provide information, education, training, social and sporting events for competitive and noncompetitive runners and walkers of all ages, races, genders and abilities. A grant application must be filled out and submitted to the PRA. A grant committee will review each application and vote on its submission. There is no deadline on the application, only the $5,000 cap to be awarded. Once the cap has been reached, the grant application will be removed from the website. With the addition of the $5,000 in the grant program, the PRA will have contributed over $11,000 to area track and running organizations this past year. “We are excited to be able to provide this platform for local running organizations to apply to help further their cause and achieve its goal,” said Pensacola Runners Association President Jason Libbert. “Our events did well for us, which put us in this position to set aside some funds for the grant program. As our events succeed and grow, so will the health and success of Pensacola residents and similar organizations.” The PRA was formed in 1972. It is comprised of a volunteer board of directors and currently has over 600 members. The PRA owns and manages seven races: The Argonaut 5K, Pensacola Seafood Don McCloskey 5K, Christmas Dash 1 Miler, Pensacola Beach Run Half Marathon / 10K / 5K, Bay to Breakfast 8K Cross Country Challenge, Fiesta of Five Flags 10K / 5K, and the PRA Membership Run. Membership is another way to grow the PRA to help contribute to the grant program. Membership opportunities are available for individuals and families. Benefits include discounted race entries, two member-only socials, free training and tips, and free entry to the PRA Membership Run. Runners / walkers can join the PRA on its website at pensacolarunners.com. For more information and to print the grant application, visit pensacolarunners.com.

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New Brand Identity for Arc Gateway The Arc Gateway is proud to unveil their new brand identity in the spirit of energy and a renewed commitment to providing opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families. This dynamic new logo is the new face of The Arc Gateway and it will be on their newsletter, Web site, signage, community events and more. The logo will unite the organization with other Arc affiliated chapters across the country under the banner “Achieve With Us,” a call to move forward and take the road leading to progress, inclusion and respect. “We are so excited to align our look with the national Arc logo,” said The Arc Gateway Chief Executive Officer Missy Rogers. “This new logo

will bring the work of a strong and energetic organization front and center and is a reminder to the community of the great work that we do for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” The logo design reflects the energy and determination of The Arc Gateway to support and embrace people with I/DD and their families across their lifetimes and across diagnoses, including Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and other I/DD. With the new look, The Arc Gateway will keep the same mission of providing the best possible life experiences for children and adults with I/DD. For more information about The Arc Gateway, visit www.arc-gateway.org or call (850) 434-2638.

Levin Papantonio Attorney Troy Rafferty Starts New Scholarship to Inspire Success Pensacola, FL – Troy Rafferty, a trial lawyer with the Levin Papantonio Law Firm, is donating $50,000 a year for a new college scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded annually to students in Escambia County, through the Southern Sports Youth Association (SYSA), a non-profit organization that supports local youth through sports, tutoring, mentoring, and social development. The goal is to inspire students to pursue success through higher education. “This is about hope,” said Rafferty. “Our children need to know that if they work hard and are committed to making our community better, that the money will be there for them to go to college.” The students will receive the scholarship funds after graduating high school and meeting other criteria, like maintaining a certain GPA and performing community service. There will also be oversight by the SYSA in how the scholarship money is spent. Many of the students who participate in the variety of activities offered by the SYSA are from lowincome homes and neighborhoods struggling with crime. As a result, they face additional challenges, and often need a guiding hand. The SYSA Director, Lumon May, says the organization’s programs are designed to help students become successful athletes, students, and citizens. “We have children in our community who just need to know somebody cares and we try to provide that for them, but it’s an uphill climb considering where they’re growing up,” said May. According to the Florida Department of Education, Escambia County’s overall high school graduation rate for 2015-16 is 76.1 percent, just behind the

statewide average of 80.7 percent. However, there’s a disparity among graduates based on race. Among white students, Escambia County’s graduation rate is 81.5 percent and among African-American students it’s 63.6 percent. May believes those numbers can improve and the community can help bridge the gap with more support for students. “We see great success stories, but some kids get discouraged no matter how much they want to succeed, because negative influences drag them down,” explained May. “When faced with tough choices, a scholarship like the one Mr. Rafferty is providing, could be the difference that helps a child overcome and build a better life.” Mr. Rafferty is a highly successful and award winning attorney who has been with the Levin Papantonio Law Firm for more than twenty years, litigating mass tort, pharmaceutical, and major personal injury cases throughout the country. Most recently, he received the 2016 Perry Nichols Award from the Florida Justice Association, the highest award given by the organization and presented to an attorney who has demonstrated an extended and distinguished commitment to the cause of justice in Florida and the nation. Mr. Rafferty is also an active community philanthropist. In January, he was honored for his contributions with the “Living the Dream Award,” an honor given to those who exemplify the ideals of the civil rights leader. In addition to the new scholarship, Mr. Rafferty funds two other local scholarships under his name (The Rafferty Scholarship/Award), and a high school athletic achievement award.


Around the Region

UWF Center for Entrepreneurship launches resource website to help Northwest Florida entrepreneurs The University of West Florida Center for Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with Gulf Power Company and FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance, has developed the Northwest Florida Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Assets Portal to assist entrepreneurs in Northwest Florida. “Developing this portal falls perfectly in line with the Center for Entrepreneurship’s mission to serve as a comprehensive resource for economic innovation and support the complete life cycle of the entrepreneur,” said Dr. Tim O’Keefe, dean of the UWF College of Business. “We are thankful for Gulf Power and FloridaWest EDA, our dedicated partners in enhancing the workforce landscape for entrepreneurs in Northwest Florida.” The Northwest Florida Entrepreneurial Support Coalition is designed to build a more cohesive, intentional and resourceful entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northwest Florida. The online portal acts as a one-stop shop for starting a business in the region, providing links to all of the organizations from Pensacola to Panama City that may be helpful to entrepreneurs. Resources are categorized into areas such as funding, advice, workspace, training, events and research. “Gulf Power is a proud partner with the Northwest Florida Entrepreneurial Support Coalition in our efforts to support job growth and capital investment in the region,” explained Jennifer Grove, community development manager at Gulf Power. “We greatly appreciate the University of West Florida taking the lead to develop the web portal which makes it easy for entrepreneurs to connect to

resources available in the region to support them in growing their business.” The idea for the portal originated with FloridaWest EDA, which initially maintained a spreadsheet of entrepreneurial support organizations in the Greater Pensacola Area. Gulf Power, which serves a broader footprint in the region, expanded upon the initial list of entities connecting similar organizations as far as Panama City. “We want to thank the Center for Entrepreneurship at UWF for offering to develop such a great resource for our entrepreneurs and existing business in the region,” said Scott Luth, CEO of FloridaWest EDA. “It is collaborative efforts such as these that make Escambia County and Greater Pensacola such a perfect place to grow new businesses and jobs.“ With shared objectives of diversifying and growing the region’s economy, FloridaWest EDA and Gulf Power sought the assistance of the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship to create a more visible database. The online portal went live in late 2016. Entrepreneurial support organizations – from chambers of commerce to venture capitalists – can now leverage resources, coordinate events and determine shared objectives to enhance support and navigation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem within Northwest Florida communities. Participating organizations will help to raise awareness of the portal by communicating its availability to entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. For more information about the Northwest Florida Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Assets Portal, visit the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship website.

Art Advisory Firm Invites Viewers to Collect and Connect Leader Art Consultants LLC (LAC), a Pensacola, FL based art advisory firm, will host a PopUp Gallery to benefit First City Art Center on March 17-25, 2017. The firm, established in Fall 2016, will feature a lineup of emerging and established Gulf Coast artists from its temporary downtown gallery location of 43 South Palafox Street inside the former Dollarhide’s Music Center.

The opening reception will be held on March 17th, 2017 from 5:30-9pm during the March Gallery Night Pensacola event. First City Art Center (FCAC), a working art center and nonprofit that engages the community through a broad range of workshops, classes, gallery shows, community events and outreach, will be on hand during the evening to demonstrate their mobile glass blowing unit. A portion of all PopUp Gallery proceeds will benefit FCAC programming. This event would not The exhibition, entitled “Collect.” provides a unique environment for collectors, art enthusiasts be possible without the generous support provided and patrons to collect innovative and exciting works by LAC March Gallery Sponsor, One Palafox Place. by regional artists. A curated group of paintings, photographs, prints, glass and sculpture, with “Collect.” will kick off with an opening reception on Friday, March 17 between 5:30 – 9pm. price points ranging from $200 - $15,000, will be on display. The list of featured artists includes: The PopUp Gallery will remain open to the Ursula Mahlar (Pensacola, FL), David Lumpkin public March 18-25, 10am – 6pm. For more (Madisonville, LA), Michael Boles (Pensacola, FL), information regarding times and location, visit Steve Wagner (Grayton Beach, FL) and others, with www.leaderfineart.com. For direct inquiries please a focus on contemporary art. Unlike a traditional contact the LAC office at 850-462-8448 or by email at info@leaderfineart.com. gallery setting, the work in this exhibition will be available for immediate purchase.

Save the Date for City’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt The City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department will host the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Roger Scott Athletic Complex on Saturday, April 8, 2017. The fun takes place 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. with free activities for children and egg hunts with thousands of candy and prize-filled eggs. The egg hunt times are as follows: 10:30 a.m. Stroller – 2 year olds 11:00 a.m. 3 – 4 year olds 11:30 a.m. 5 – 7 year olds 12:00 p.m. 8 – 10 year olds 12:20 p.m. 11 – 12 year olds Throughout the day kids can play carnival games, bounce on inflatables, have their photo taken with the Easter Bunny, enjoy a Bunny Hop (cake walk), and play at the bubble station. Admission to the event is free with a donation of a non-perishable food item for Manna Food Pantries. The City of Pensacola Parks and Recreation would like to thank these sponsors and supporting businesses and organizations: My Pensacola Credit Union, Pensacola News Journal, Jet 100.7 FM, Soft Rock 94.1 FM, Magic 106.1 FM, Cox Media, Cat Country 98.7 FM, News Radio 1620AM & 92.3FM, and Truth for Youth. For more information, please call 850-4365670 or visit PlayPensacola.com.

Healthcare Real Estate Firm Continues Growth Local health care real estate firm, Catalyst CRE, is continuing to grow their staff and their real estate holdings. The firm recently hired three new additions to their team. In addition to Catalyst’s new headquarters at the Rhodes Building, CEO Chad Henderson has partnered with local investors to also purchase the property at 2 North Palafox, on the corner of Garden Street and Palafox. This building, almost 20,000 square feet, houses the Pensacola News Journal offices, and is also home to Emerald Coast Tours and Bell Media. In addition to the purchase of the building, there are plans to renovate the vacant 2nd floor space for a new tenant, as well as updating the interior of the building while restoring the historical aesthetics of the exterior. Catalyst is also developing multiple new medical buildings, including Louisiana Medical Office Building and Baptist Medical Park Airport in Pensacola. For more information on Catalyst CRE, visit their website, or find them on Facebook and LinkedIn. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 63


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