Sustainability and Agriculture

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Orlando's Leadership Connection

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For more than 100 years, the Orlando Regional Chamber has helped Central Florida’s business community by preparing and empowering business leaders. Connecting our members through our strategic pillars:

Talent Development

Tools for Innovation

Business Opportunities

Join today. The Orlando Regional Chamber is a core component of the Orlando Economic Partnership.



Banking on Values


Sustainable Style


Miracle in the Green

Founder of Climate First Hopes Third Time Is a Charm




dasFlow Athleisure Apparel Tracks Trends While Protecting the Planet Business Blooms After Herb From Africa Helps Cancer Patient

Up Close with

SisterAnn Kendrick


16 Million Pounds of Fun

Cuhaci & Peterson’s FutureShop Leverages Technology to Forge a More Sustainable Future

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Sowing the Seeds of Innovation

I went and interviewed, and the president offered me a job right there on the spot, and I thought, ‘OK, well, I’ll take it and then I’ll find the job I really want, but it’ll buy beans and weenies in the interim.’ — Ken LaRoe

Thrift Shoppers Help Goodwill Keep Items Out of Landfills GOODWILL THRIFT SHOPPING





“When you drop off your donations of unwanted household goods or clothing, you are truly building a sustainable community.”

Orlando's Leadership Connection

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ON THE COVER Ken LaRoe Photography by Julie Fletcher

4BUSiNESS Orlando's Leadership Connection


Guest Expert Columns



Agritech Helps Track Food from Farm to Table Romaine Seguin | UPS Global Freight Forwarding


“The traceability of products is 36 becoming increasingly important to consumers, who want to know exactly what is in the food they eat.”


Changes Likely to Stick Around Even After COVID-19 Meaghan Branham | i4 Business



Helping Business Decarbonize and Transition to a Circular Economy Ana Maria Leal | AMLY Sustainability



Phishing: The Easiest Way to Let a Hacker into Your Business Davia Moss | Next Horizon



Employee Engagement Is the Lifeblood of Your Company’s Culture


i4 Business Advisory Board


From the Editor and Publisher


Business Briefs



Signs of the Times

Whitney Lett | Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services


Business Seen





Bill “Roto” Reuter | R-Squared Solutions





Organizations Look at Impact on People, Planet and Profit Andrea Ruiz Hays | Eco Strategies Group

48 50

Introducing Florida’s Food Producers to the World


City Venues Find Business Opportunities Despite Pandemic Jason Siegel | Greater Orlando Sports Commission



Creating and Consuming Culture in a Pandemic Meaghan Branham | i4 Business

Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway

Unique Experiences for Your Day Off

Stuff You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know | APRIL 2021



Orlando's Leadership Connection


4BUSiNESS Orlando's Leadership Connection


Construction and Real Estate professionals are creating the Central Florida we are proud to call home. In our May/June issue, i4 Business will spotlight your stories:

WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU DO, AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS. Build your relationship with our audience and yours with this special section spotlight Each profile will be: • Published in our print and digital editions of i4 Business • Published on • Shared on our social media channels • Spotlighted in our Special Sections newsletter

Coming May/June 2021! Tel: 407.730.2961


APRIL 2021 |

CONTRIBUTORS Meaghan Branham, Terry Godbey, Andrea Ruiz Hays, Key Howard, Ana Maria Leal, Whitney Lett, Davia Moss, Bill “Roto” Reuter, Diane Sears, Romaine Seguin, Jason Siegel DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Keith Landry i4 Business is a participating member of:

i4 Business Advisory Board This Month's Featured Advisory Board Members

Thank You We’d like to thank our Advisory Board members for keeping their fingers on the pulse of our community and helping us bring you the best stories from around Central Florida.

Judi Awsumb, Awsumb Enterprises Jim Bowie, Consultant Jackie Brito, HR Asset Partners Cari Coats, Accendo Leadership Advisory Group Andrew Cole, East Orlando Chamber of Commerce Laura Dorsey, Florida Black Chamber and National Cultural Heritage Society Stina D'Uva, West Orange Chamber of Commerce Carol Ann Dykes Logue, University of Central Florida Business Incubator Program Susan Fernandez, Dignitas Technologies Lena Graham-Morris, HORUS Construction Mark Allen Hayes, Stockworth Realty Group Gwen Thompson Hewitt, United Negro College Fund Vicki Jaramillo, Orlando International Airport Chris Leggett, Central Florida International Trade Office Yolanda Londono, Harvard Group International Catherine Losey, Losey PLLC law firm Laureen Martinez, Orlando Economic Partnership Yog Melwani, Align Commercial Real Estate and Indian American Chamber of Commerce Davia Moss, Next Horizon Hope Edwards Newsome, Virtus LLP Rob Panepinto, Florentine Strategies Bill Reidy, LotLinx Inc. Jerry Ross, National Entrepreneur Center Romaine Seguin, UPS Global Freight Forwarding Jason Siegel, Greater Orlando Sports Commission Mary Shanklin, Fifth Estate Media Marni Spence, CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen) Robert Utsey, Gilbane Building Company

Romaine Seguin Romaine Seguin is president of Global Freight Forwarding at UPS, where she oversees air, ocean and rail freight forwarding as well as brokerage and supplier management throughout the global UPS network. She previously served as president of the UPS Americas Region, where she oversaw operations in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Seguin has held a variety of operational and managerial roles with UPS since joining the company as a part-time hub supervisor in 1983.

Vicki Jaramillo Vicki Jaramillo is the senior director of marketing and air service development for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA). Responsible for much of the development of domestic and international air service at Orlando International Airport, she facilitates relationships with airlines and regions that have been instrumental in Central Florida’s growth. In her 25 years with GOAA, international destinations at the airport have grown from 15 to nearly 60. Prior to her current role, she was chief of aviation marketing at Miami International Airport and has served as a Walt Disney World Resort ambassador.

Chris Leggett

Chris Leggett is the program manager for the Central Florida International Trade Office. He works to bring awareness to the importance of trade and provides educational resources for leaders in the Central Florida area, connecting local businesses with the global marketplace. Prior to joining the trade office, Leggett worked for Canadian government department Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. He served abroad as counsel for agriculture for more than 10 years, first at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and then at the Mission of Canada to the European Union. | APRIL 2021



4BUSiNESS Orlando's Leadership Connection

Orlando's Leadership Connection


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Central Florida’s entrepreneurs inspire us all with their strength of vision and innovative ideas. In our May/June issue, i4 Business will spotlight your stories:


Build your relationship with our audience and yours with this special section spotlight Each profile will be: • Published in our print and digital editions of i4 Business • Published on • Shared on our social media channels • Spotlighted in our Special Sections newsletter

Coming July 2021! Tel: 407.730.2961


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From the Editor and Publisher

Yes, I’m Talking to You: We Can All Do Our Part You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. — Jane Goodall

Take a look at our i4 Business TV Channel

As I write this, I’m recovering from my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. By the time you read this, you may have received one or both of your shots. All the chatter lately has been about whether we experienced any symptoms. At this time last year, everyone was buzzing about the COVID-19 test. Where did you find it? Was it painful? What was the result? Do you think it was accurate? Today we have many of the same kinds of questions about the vaccination. I’m curious to see what we will be talking about at this time in 2022. Will the chatter still be COVID-related? Or will we be fully recovered? If I go by the results of my family members, friends and peers who have had the vaccination, it will take maybe 24 hours to recover from the dull aches throughout my body. It’s the least I can do to play my part in ending the pandemic. I’ll be back to normal soon. I wonder when our economy will be able to say the same. During this pandemic, we’ve typically looked to Europe to gauge what will be happening here in the U.S. within the next three weeks. But at this point, we can’t do that anymore. Some parts of Europe are locked down again in a third wave of COVID-19 and its variants. Meanwhile, Florida is open for business and trying to handle unruly spring break crowds. Two different worlds. Like one friend of mine who had a headache after her first vaccination, and another who experienced an enlarged lymph node, and another who swears his vivid dreams were from the vaccination, all of our economies are responding to the pandemic in different ways. That means our recoveries will be varied as well. But we will get through this as individuals, states and nations. We will recover. Can our planet say the same thing? Our world is suffering from another kind of pandemic: apathy about sustainability. I remember as a

child watching a TV commercial about litter. A man dressed as a Native American canoes through a dirty waterway against a backdrop of a city skyline spewing industrial waste into the air. He emerges on a littered beach along a busy roadside, where someone in a moving car tosses out a bag of fast-food trash that lands at his feet. The camera pans in on his face and shows a single tear, and the narrator says, “People start pollution. People can stop it.” That commercial from nonprofit Keep America Beautiful made a big impression on me back then, and I wonder how many of you watched it and felt the same way. Today, instead of litter, we are challenged to find solutions to different kinds of social and environmental injustices: carbon emissions, poverty, hunger, inequality, depletion of land and natural resources. The United Nations has addressed these and others in its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In this issue, we hear from business leaders who are fully engaged in this battle. Our cover story on Page 14 is about Ken LaRoe, a Eustis native determined to change the world through a values-based bank. He is well known locally for his bold banking endeavors, and now he’s becoming recognized on the international stage, too. Our Up Close on Page 30 is about Sister Ann Kendrick, a nun who has won the hearts of Central Floridians for her decades-long dedication, along with three of her peers, to helping lift local farmworkers and others out of poverty. We share their stories and many others this month as we celebrate Earth Day on April 22. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I did. Have a great month!

Editor and Publisher | APRIL 2021



New UCF Hospital Opens in Lake Nona’s Medical City UCF Lake Nona Medical Center, situated next to the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine in Medical City, is now providing health care to Lake Nona and surrounding communities in southeast Orlando and Osceola County. The hospital expects to serve more than 17,000 patients in its first year. A joint venture between UCF Academic Health and the HCA Healthcare hospital system’s North Florida Division, the Orlando facility opened March 1 with 64 inpatient beds, a 20-bed emergency department, four operating rooms, a cardiac catheterization lab,

comprehensive imaging and laboratory services, and six private birthing suites. The hospital has room to expand to 80 beds and is designed for eventual growth of up to 500 beds. It has invested in the latest technology to provide enhanced security and communications as well as innovative care and treatment. “With the rapid growth in Lake Nona, this community needed a hospital close to home,” CEO Wendy Brandon said. “Our team looks forward to becoming more engaged in the region’s wellness and supporting Lake Nona’s commitment to health and well-being.”

Parramore Community Garden Gets Upgrade, Thanks to Realtors The Parramore Community Garden has been transformed into a vital source of nutritious food with a $50,000 donation from the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Foundation, the charitable arm of the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association. The money beautified the garden and paid for a new greenhouse, shed and irrigation system. It also allowed Parramore community masonry artisans to replace old, wooden plot borders with new, concrete paver borders. Realtors, volunteers and garden members logged more than 180 hours, trimming trees, pulling weeds and repurposing 19 garden plots. The garden is volunteer-run and provides fresh, organic vegetables and herbs to the community. Residents started it more than 10 years ago in a vacant lot on West Robinson Street, turning it into a neighborhood asset. “We have an obligation to maintain and improve the quality of life for our fellow neighbors throughout Central Florida,” said Candy Cole, executive director of the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Foundation. “The Parramore Community Garden helps to provide healthy options to people struggling with food insecurity. According to the Second Harvest Food Bank, one in six Central Floridians is food insecure.”



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Lynn Nicholson, president of Parramore Community Garden; and Candy Cole, executive director of Orlando Regional REALTOR® Foundation




Full Sail University Pairs With Orlando Health in Video Gaming Arena

Full Sail University in Winter Park has upped its game around esports, or competitive video gaming, in a partnership with Orlando Health. As part of the alliance, Full Sail’s 11,200-square-foot esports arena, formerly known as The Fortress, has been renamed the Full Sail University Orlando Health Fortress. Orlando Health and Full Sail University will collaborate on joint research projects focused on improving and understanding performance factors for gamers. Orlando Health will be the

official medical team at the video gaming arena, allowing physicians to be onsite during esports events to focus on physical and mental health and overall best practices including healthful eating, hand-eye coordination, exercise and getting appropriate rest to perform at peak capacity. “The technical prowess of the facility and the innovative ability of our students, staff and faculty, partnered with the medical expertise of Orlando Health, will help to propel both of our institutions into the future while further solidifying

our region’s impact across the esports, research and health care industries,” Full Sail University President Garry Jones said. Dr. Brett Lewellyn, an orthopedic surgeon with Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute, agreed. “With a growing understanding of the health benefits associated with esports and gaming, it was only natural for us to seek out a partner whose commitment to advancing research, as well as a deeprooted belief in positively advancing the future of individuals, matched our own.”

Full Sail Graduates Show Their Stuff at Grammys A Full Sail University graduate in recording arts, Andrew Coleman, took home a 2021 Grammy Award in March for his work as an engineer on Beck’s Hyperspace in the category of Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. In addition, 17 Full Sail graduates were credited on 16 Grammy-winning artist releases across 17 categories. They included work on Song of the


Year “I Can’t Breathe” by H.E.R., Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album American Standard by James Taylor, and Best Pop Vocal Album Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa. In all, 59 graduates were credited on 60 Grammy-nominated projects across 39 categories this year, with six Full Sail graduates nominated for awards of their own.


Inspiration | APRIL 2021



Orlando International Airport Says Aloha Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Hawaiian Airlines launched direct flights to Honolulu in March with island music and dance to celebrate the first scheduled commercial flight connecting Florida and Hawaii. Dignitaries also got in on the fun, including (top row, from left), Tanya Wilder, transportation director for the City of Orlando; Jeff Helfrick, vice president of airport operations for Hawaiian Airlines; Phil Brown, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority; Roseann Harrington, chief of staff for Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings; and Vicki Jaramillo, senior director of marketing and air service development at the airport. The twice-weekly nonstop flights, which will increase to three a week in the summer, will be aboard the airline’s Airbus A330 aircraft, which have 278 seats, including 18 lieflat first-class seats. Guests on the nine-hour flights will enjoy complimentary island-inspired meals by Hawaii’s top chefs.

AdventHealth Opens Addiction Recovery Center in Sanford The AdventHealth Hope & Healing Center, formed through a private-public partnership, opened March 8 and began accepting people for its 30-day inpatient recovery program. It also offers outpatient addiction recovery services and therapy for people struggling with addiction. The opioid crisis has worsened dramatically in Seminole County and the rest of the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the sheriff’s office, overdoses in Seminole County increased by more than 50% from 2019 to 2020. “We are transforming how we view and treat people with substance-use disorders,” said Tim Cook, CEO of AdventHealth Altamonte Springs. “We need to see the whole person, not just the addiction. By providing a comprehensive network of services and support, our goal is to break the cycle of addiction and set our patients on the path to recovery and long-term success.” The Hope & Healing Center is the centerpiece of a partnership between AdventHealth, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Seminole County Emergency Medical Services and the Board of County Commissioners. Launched in 2019, the partnership is intended to transform the way people struggling with opioid addiction are treated by the health care and criminal justice systems. In addition to funding from the state of Florida and the nonprofit Florida Cares, Walmart contributed $750,000 in grants to fund the center over a three-year period.



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Stockworth’s $5.4 Million Land Sale Breaks Winter Park Record An empty 2.25-acre lot along Lake Osceola that went for the staggering price of $5.4 million in January was the largest-ever sale of residential land in Winter Park. Julie Bettosini of Stockworth Realty Group sold the land on Seminole Drive to Norma Desmond Properties LLC for an undisclosed buyer who plans to build a custom home there.


Jones Clayton Construction will be the builder. The company is currently building some of the most luxurious homes in Central Florida, including spearheading the community of Carmel on the Butler Chain of Lakes, formerly the Hubbard Estate. That sale, also made by Bettosini, still holds the record for the largest residential sale in Central Florida at $18 million.



Daryl Tol to Lead at Mental Health Nonprofit in California Daryl Tol, the former president and CEO of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Region, has become executive vice president at the mental health and brain research nonprofit One Mind, based in Rutherford, California. Tol resigned from AdventHealth in January after a 20-year tenure with the health system, and Randy Haffner assumed his role in February. In his new role, Tol will lead One Mind at Work, a global coalition of employers and partners transforming the approach to mental health and

wellness in the workplace. His responsibilities will include building and resourcing a robust strategy to capitalize and multiply the global success of One Mind at Work, which reaches more than 7 million people and helps employers support their workers. Tol will also seek to expand partnerships with other mental health science and advocacy organizations and work closely with One Mind All Media productions to reduce the stigma of mental illness through storytelling.

Orange County to Spend $1.95 Million to Perk Up Local Economy Orange County commissioners pledged in February to spend $1.95 million to help revive and diversify the economy, which typically has relied on tourism and hospitality. The funding included awards of $1.15 million to the University of Central Florida (UCF) Research Foundation for programs including jobs diversification, the National Entrepreneur Center, and a Venture Lab program for tech start-ups; $310,000 to Black Orlando Tech to provide education and training for minority business owners; $150,000 to Starter Studio’s programs for tech and tech-enabled startups; $145,000 to the Veteran Entrepreneurship Initiative

to support veteran-owned businesses; and $95,000 to Rollins College’s Crummer Graduate School of Business to support entrepreneurship and women in business. “We look to our community partners who are our new grantees to serve the under-represented groups of entrepreneurs and residents they themselves come from,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in an Orlando Sentinel article. “Furthermore, our new investments in social entrepreneurship, which tend to be driven by minority and women founders, will bring equitable innovations to our community.”

Ron Jon Surf Shop Names New President Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, the largest surf shop in the world, will have a new president and chief operating officer May 1. Michele Goodwin, currently vice president of retail operations and human resources, has been selected to replace the current leader, Debbie Harvey, who has been in the role since 2008. Harvey plans to retire but will remain on the board of directors. “Michele has played an integral role in the daily


operations and the growth of the Ron Jon brand,” Harvey said. “She has over three decades at Ron Jon Surf Shop with extensive experience in operations, human resources, new store development and management oversight.” Goodwin will oversee operations of the Ron Jon stores, facilities and licensees, as well as planning for future stores and brand expansion. Ron Jon has several other Florida stores including one in Disney Springs.

Michele Goodwin


Debbie Harvey

Health | APRIL 2021



Liquified Natural Gas Barge Makes Port Canaveral History Port Canaveral marked a milestone in the safe, reliable transportation and delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in North America with the arrival of a cutting-edge ship-to-ship articulated tug and bunker barge in March. Port Canaveral is the first LNG cruise port in the country. The barge, a Q-LNG 4000 nicknamed the Q4K, has been designed, engineered and certified to provide safe and reliable ship-to-ship transfers of the cleanerburning LNG. The Q4K will operate in Port Canaveral providing LNG fuel to cruise vessels, notably to Carnival Cruise Line’s LNG-powered Mardi Gras, which will homeport at Port Canaveral beginning this year. “This project has been four years from concept to reality, and we are excited to welcome the Q-LNG 4000 to fuel the next generation of cruise ships,” said Port CEO Capt. John Murray. “We have been working closely with our cruise partners, all the federal and state regulatory agencies, and industry leaders to promote this industry initiative.” The barge was docked at Port Canaveral’s new Cruise Terminal 3, which was completed in June 2020 but has not yet welcomed passengers. The cruise industry has been shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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APRIL 2021 |








Thank You Wishing a BIG Thank You to our sponsors for the i4 Business Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards held via Zoom on March 11, 2021



APRIL 2021 |




Founder of Climate First Hopes Third Time Is a Charm BY DIANE SEARS

Photography by Julie Fletcher


en LaRoe grew up thinking he might become a rock star or a race car driver but certainly not a banker. The self-professed “gearhead” started working as an auto mechanic in high school and loved to fix and race Nissan vehicles, which were called Datsuns back then.

So today, as the Lake County resident launches his third banking venture, he still marvels every time he finds himself sitting at a table in a place like Amsterdam or Nepal with leaders of a small but growing group of financial institutions that have pledged to help change the world. LaRoe is a founding member of the North American chapter of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, an independent network of banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development. His latest venture, Climate First Bank, is being founded as the first financial institution in the United States focused on fighting the global climate crisis. It will open in June with a single branch in downtown St. Petersburg — well outside the 15-county radius of LaRoe’s noncompete agreement from the sale of his second banking venture, First Green Bank, which grew to more than $825 million in assets before Seacoast Bank purchased it in June 2018. The first bank he founded, Florida Choice, grew to more than $400 million in assets before being sold to Alabama National Bancorp in 2006. He says his experience with First Green set him up perfectly for this new endeavor: “When we opened in 1999, I didn’t know what a values-based bank was. I had always been an environmentalist, but I didn’t really know what that was either — other than, ‘Why would we destroy the stuff we cherish most dearly?’ I hate to admit it, but I was pretty uninformed.” Climate First explains its mission’s relevance on its website: “The status quo of sustainability is no longer an option. The future demands we work together now to reverse the damage done by our carbon addiction. Climate First Bank will be a full-service community bank offering personal and commercial banking services with a | APRIL 2021


COVER STORY triple bottom line of people, planet and prosperity. We will support customers, communities and our planet by operating as a vehicle for positive change.” While the home pages of other banks tout traditional customer service options like mortgages, retirement plans, auto loans and business accounts, Climate First’s has an infographic explaining the concept of “drawdown.” Taken from a Paul Hawken book by that name, it refers to a time in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change. This is not a normal bank. And that’s just the way LaRoe wants it. This time, he is determined to create a company that will grow beyond its community bank structure into a standalone national financial institution focused on the environment and sustainability.

“I would like to build the biggest, most impactful valuesbased financial institution in the country,” LaRoe says. “And then, if we’re doing substantial financial performance, it’ll throw off great returns. And we’ve proved with First Green that you can do both: You can be deep-impact and have a tremendous financial return.”


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A Budding Career

To see the vision of where LaRoe is going with this new venture, it’s important to understand how he got where he is today. LaRoe was born and raised in Eustis. His great-grandfather, a railroad blacksmith from Texas, had built a machine shop in the Lake County city in 1926. LaRoe’s great-uncles, grandfather and father worked there, too, and built a much larger building in 1947. LaRoe bought the building in 2006, restored it and got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. LaRoe married his high school sweetheart, Cindy, who was born eight days before him at the same hospital where both of their fathers had been born, too. He started working as an auto mechanic while he was still in high school, racing sports cars in his spare time, and was eventually promoted to service manager at a Nissan dealership. Then one day, as he took a bolt off an alternator, a piece of steel flew into his eye. The injury made him think twice about his career choice, and he enrolled in a class at the local community college. He earned an A. “I didn’t know I was capable of going to college,” he says. “I didn’t think I was smart enough.” He finished community college and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He dismissed job offers from

out of state, not wanting to move that far from home. Then he saw a job posting for a bank in Tavares, where he had attended high school.

“I went and interviewed, and the president offered me a job right there on the spot,” he says. “And I thought, ‘OK, well, I’ll take it and then I’ll find the job I really want, but it’ll buy beans and weenies in the interim.’” The job surprised him. “I got in there, and I realized, ‘This is amazing. This is like business school case studies, one after another.’ I really liked dealing with all the different businesspeople.” After a while, he realized he wanted to control his own destiny. “Once I was in banking and I was really enjoying it, I decided it would be interesting to own my own bank, and I started going down that path and figuring out how to do it.” Despite operating a business for decades, LaRoe’s family wasn’t what he would describe as entrepreneurial. His predecessors were great mechanics, but they weren’t focused on building wealth. “I was interested in business because I wanted to make money,” he says. But life dealt his family a big twist. His wife gave birth to their first child, a son severely developmentally disabled with a rare chromosomal abnormality.

COVER STORY She wanted to understand why. She came home one day from work as a civil drafter and announced she was going to become a doctor. She started attending community college and was accepted to the University of Florida for pre-med. LaRoe decided to go with her, but to attend law school, gearing his studies at UF toward business law. They had their second child, a daughter. After earning his law degree, his plan was to practice law and eventually establish a bank. “But I was starving to death as a first-year associate,” he says, “and Cindy at that point had gotten accepted to medical school at the University of Miami. So we were living apart, and I was trying to raise two kids by myself, and she’s in med school making hardly any money and with no health insurance. I thought, ‘Yeah, this is nuts.’” His former boss offered him a chance to come back to the bank in a position where he’d earn twice his lawyer pay. He said yes.

Entrepreneurial Banker

Eight years later, LaRoe started forming his first bank, Florida Choice. It followed the usual path of a traditional community bank, growing until it was acquired and making money for investors. When it sold in 2006, everyone made money. “But after we sold, I was really pretty despondent. It’s terrible, it’s like selling your baby,” LaRoe says. “My wife and I bought a mini motor home and we circumnavigated the country during my noncompete agreement.” Before they left, LaRoe’s brother gave him a copy of the book Let My People Go Surfing, the autobiography of Yvon Chouinard, a rock climber and environmentalist who founded the Patagonia brand of outdoor clothing and gear. LaRoe started reading it and a lightbulb went off in his head. If Chouinard could use a clothing and gear company to bring attention to environmental issues, maybe LaRoe could do the same with a bank. He searched

the internet for “green” banks, and two popped up: one in San Francisco and another in the Netherlands. He reached out to both CEOs and spoke with them about how they had made the idea work.

“That was the start of my journey,” he says. “My best friend came up with the name First Green Bank, my wife came up with the logo and that was it.” But it was 2007, the start of the Great Recession, and new banks were not being approved. LaRoe persevered, and finally, in December 2008, First Green Bank was issued a charter — the last one granted in Florida for nine years.

Going Green LaRoe wasn’t sure how the bank would make money for investors and make the world a better place. He started with solar power, offering discounted interest rates for borrowers who were handling projects focused on


Ken LaRoe at Global Alliance for Banking on Values sustainability. There weren’t many takers because people weren’t interested in saving the planet if it was going to cost them more money.

“We kept tweaking it and tweaking it until at the end, I think it was the best solar loan program for the consumer in the country,” LaRoe says. “We finally got traction, and we were doing a lot of that.” In 2012, LaRoe was invited to attend the inaugural annual meeting of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), founded by Peter Blom, CEO of Triodos Bank in the Netherlands. LaRoe became one of the first 15 members of the group, which has expanded to more than 60 banks worldwide. “That was the turning point for me in the enlightenment of what it means to be a values-based financial institution,” he says. “I was sitting at a breakout table with CEOs from around the world, talking to them about the issues they were supporting, and I just went away feeling like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not worthy to even be here.’ I’ve got this dinky little bank in Florida and I’m sitting at a table with the CEO from BRAC Bank in Bangladesh that does 8,000 microloans a month. They have 8,000 employees, and their loan officers literally ride bicycles into villages to make new loans and collect payments. They own 400 schools, and they own dairies, egg farms. This one organization is singlehandedly


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bringing that country out of abject poverty. It opened my eyes that there are more than just environmental issues. We’re sitting here with all these First World problems, and they don’t even compare to what’s going on in the world.” The GABV asked him to serve on the board in 2014. “That was a bucket list dream come true that I didn’t even know I had in my bucket, being able to serve on a board with people from around the world who are incredibly smart, gifted and talented and are making a difference. I just had to pinch myself all the time. How did this redneck boy from Eustis, Florida, get here?”

Making a Difference First Green Bank was dedicated to green practices, offering members of its team scholarships and annual raises for attaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credentials. The bank built its branches to meet or exceed LEED standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council for energy efficiency and environmental sensitivity. It set up a foundation to help with community farms and other initiatives that addressed water resources, hunger and renewable energy.

“We were on the cutting edge, and we tried to use the platform to influence and educate people to do the right thing. But at the end of the day, it just wasn’t enough to make a difference in the climate crisis.”

With the opening of Climate First in St. Petersburg, LaRoe is developing a robust digital platform that allows customers to conduct transactions from anywhere in the country. He looks forward to selecting sites for a limited number of other branches. “My theory on brick and mortar is the location has to be essentially a standalone billboard,” he says. “It’s got to be so visible, iconic and identifiable — you know, where somebody sees it and it’s just obvious there’s something special going on there with solar power and stormwater collection and all that.” Out of 100 initiatives described in Drawdown that can be done today to reduce carbon emissions into Earth’s atmosphere, LaRoe identified 12 that can be applied by a community bank. “The beauty of it is they are completely measurable,” he says. For instance, if the bank loans a company money for a building retrofit that ends up reducing the structure’s carbon footprint, the bank can count that toward its own metrics. “It will be much easier to quantify and we can know we’re making a difference.” Some of his advisers tried to talk him out of putting the word “climate” in the name of the bank, saying it might be politically polarizing. He stood his ground. He wants the world to understand the bank’s mission loud and clear. Most of all, LaRoe wants to build the bank to last and even grow through acquisitions. He has no plans to follow the typical model of growing until it’s time to sell to a larger financial institution. Selling his second bank was emotionally draining. After that sale, he and his wife bought another motor home and traveled cross-country again, soul searching about whether he should start a third bank. “Finally, Cindy said, ‘You know you can do it, you know you want to do it, you know you need to do it. You’re uniquely situated to pull this off. Just do it — and do it like you know it needs to be done.’

“It was just the inspiration I needed to bite the bullet,” LaRoe says. “It feels so right and so compelling, and I’m so pleased to be doing it.” b


Sustainable Style dasFlow Athleisure Apparel

Tracks Trends While Protecting the Planet BY MEAGHAN BRANHAM


on’t buy what you don’t need. For Nicolas Krauss, founder and CEO of dasFlow Athleisure Apparel, those words from a provocative advertising campaign by outdoor clothing and supply company Patagonia didn’t present a problem. That’s because Krauss already had a product people needed: “clothing that was comfortable, stylish, sustainable and that would provide both storage and safety,” he explained of his vision.

The Central Florida entrepreneur was inspired by predecessors in his industry like Patagonia, which placed a controversial ad in The New York Times on Black Friday in 2011. The ad read “Don’t buy this jacket” and urged consumers to think before making purchases because the manufacture of every item affects the planet. This new approach to the business of fashion shocked many. After all, in the past, trends and seasons worked together to create an industry that seemed to rely on the ephemeral and was almost disposable, sometimes called fast fashion. But Krauss got it. He created dasFlow with a mission of giving back through its line of ecologically and socially conscientious clothing that is carbon neutral. F | APRIL 2021



Getting Started

People who call Florida home know the blessing of living in a state where outside and inside don’t know any definite divide. Year-round, people can bike to a business meeting, hike on their lunch break and surf at sunrise before a work commute. Krauss, a lifelong adventurer and outdoorsman, was all too familiar with maybe the only downside of this lifestyle. “I’m constantly hiking or biking, doing something outside,” he said. “I do triathlons and I ride a road bike a lot, and you have those nice big pockets on the back of your bike jerseys. But I didn’t want to go meet my friends downtown or show up on Park Avenue dressed like a cyclist. I wanted to have something a little bit more stylish. “I wanted to have a tank top or a shirt that had those extra pockets, so that stuff isn’t clanking around in my shorts pockets when I’m riding my bicycle, or even when I’m at the gym.” That need for practicality even while playing in the great outdoors


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was an Aha! moment for Krauss, one that was solidified even further on one of his trips to South America, where he realized that a shirt like the one he envisioned would also provide an extra level of protection for his possessions on the beach. With all this in mind, he set to work creating the very first in the dasFlow line. Krauss has an extensive history in both the real estate and business realms, including seven years as a business consultant with ERA Europe and a year as director of business and franchise development with EXIT Realty Florida. Creating clothing, however, was a new venture for him. So he did what he does best: He went exploring. He started in Berlin, known throughout Europe as a startup hub, where he began crafting his business plan and recruited a designer. “We made a bunch of samples, and I bought around 30 of them before I flew back home. Then I started selling them to my friends, getting feedback and critiques.”

As the company continued to grow, the prototypes evolved to become the “smart” wear it is known for now, complete with UV protection, quickdrying and moisture-wicking fabrics, and four-way stretch. Soon after, companies began to reach out for corporate apparel and private label services to use in their own branding. By 2019, the ever-evolving brand consisted of menswear and womenswear tank tops, T-shirts, sports bras, leggings and more.

Stylizing Sustainability

In 2020, Krauss’s participation in the Rollins College Annual Rethinking Fashion show was the catalyst for the thoughtful entrepreneur to pursue a new way of creating a product that didn’t just look and feel good, but that did good. “That was my first entry point into having eco-friendly fabrics,” Krauss said of the designs he created for that show, now known as the Rollins Collection. “It’s called PET (polyethylene terephthalate) fabric. It’s made from


I’m constantly hiking or biking, doing something outside. I do triathlons and I ride a road bike a lot, and you have those nice big pockets on the back of your bike jerseys, but I didn’t want to go meet my friends downtown or show up on Park Avenue dressed like a cyclist. — Nicolas Krauss recycled plastic bottles, so it leads to fewer of these plastics floating in oceans or ending up in landfills. It’s CO2 neutral, so its emissions are reduced by 70%. Compared to fast fashion, the fabric production requires a much smaller amount of petroleum and has the ability to be recycled endlessly without a loss of quality in the fabric.” Sustainability has always been a priority for the company. Since the beginning, Krauss has worked with One Tree Planted to plant trees locally in an effort to become completely carbon neutral — a goal many companies and even countries have set for themselves in the last few years. “Every quarter, we do 100 trees with them, right here in Florida,” he said. When dasFlow was first starting, Krauss looked to Medellin, Colombia, which he considers a second home because his mother is Colombian. Each year, the Colombiatex textile show introduces eco-friendly fabrics. “They had a lot of recycled plastic bottle fabrics, but you have to buy large rolls of fabric from Spain,” he said.

“That was going to be super pricey, and it unfortunately wasn’t feasible when I was starting my business. But that was always top of mind.” Even dasFlow’s printing process keeps it green, using dye sublimation. The design is printed on a high-transfer release paper, which is then placed on top of the fabric. “It goes through a heat press, and then the ink changes from a solid to gas, and then enters into the polyester fibers. It’s called the sublimation heat transfer. And then all the colors or the images that you’re printing out become infused in the fabric.” The process creates more high-quality results on the products themselves and prevents any liquid runoff from entering the water supply.

Designing for the Future

As research and investigations into the impact of fast fashion on the environment continue, the need for companies like Krauss’s to take their place at the forefront becomes more and more apparent. A 2018 report by the United Nations Environment

Programme revealed that if nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. The same report revealed this revelation:

“Textile dyeing is the secondlargest polluter of water globally, and it takes about 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.” Those numbers are a call to action to Krauss and his customers. “I know that one of the biggest hindrances in environmental protection is fast fashion, due to the use of non-recyclable products and unregulated production practices,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference as much as I could.” Starting with the new dasFlow Rush collection, scheduled to launch on April 22 — which also happens to be Earth Day — all of dasFlow’s products moving forward will be made with eco-friendly fabrics and production practices, Krauss said. “Every company can do its part to make a difference in the environment.” b | APRIL 2021



MIRACLE in the GREEN Business Blooms After Herb from Africa Helps Cancer Patient BY TERRY GODBEY

Photography by Julie Fletcher


fy Nwobi always finishes what she starts. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, she was in her final year of law school in New York City. She and her husband, who was completing a hospital fellowship, were raising a son, then 3, and a daughter, who was 2. They had their hands full.

Only 33, she was shocked to be facing cancer. After she began chemotherapy, her energy levels took such a dive that she considered postponing her education. “But I was really determined to finish law school,” she said. Then she received a care package from her parents in Nigeria that changed the trajectory of her life. It contained an herb with the scientific name Moringa oleifera that was grown by her mother and made into a powder to be added to smoothies, soup or juice, or mixed with cold or warm water for tea. Nwobi had never heard of moringa, even though she had spent her first 19 years in Africa, where it is widely grown and known as the “miracle tree.” Nwobi, whose full name is pronounced eee-FAY WOE-bee, didn’t try the moringa right away. “I wasn’t really into herbs,” she


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said. But when she finally gave it a whirl, she felt an immediate boost of energy. “I started researching it and learned that moringa is one of the most nutritious plants on the planet.”

Nutritional Powerhouse

Native to India but cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, the superfood is prized for its high concentration of antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals. The plant’s leaves provide seven times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, nine times more protein than yogurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas and 25 times more iron than spinach. Its protein concentration is unusual because generally plant leaves provide mostly carbohydrates. For that reason, moringa has become an important food source to fight malnutrition in Africa and India. Its seeds kill bacteria and serve as water purifiers. The plant’s antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation, are significant because chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases such as cancer, heart and respiratory disorders, diabetes, obesity and arthritis. Moringa also


may help lower blood sugar and improve heart function. Nwobi has no doubt that moringa helped her regain her health and strength. She finished law school and moved to Lakeland, Florida, with her husband, vascular surgeon Obinna Nwobi, in late 2010. “My doctors kept telling me there was a good chance the cancer could come back,” she said, but she chose to stop her post-surgery hormone therapy early because it was weakening her bones. “I wanted to focus on raising my children. I didn’t have time to be sick.”

New Business

The family moved to Oviedo and she began to share the powder with other women who were suffering from breast cancer.

“I had found something that worked, and I decided I would dedicate my life to helping other people by providing them with high-quality, affordable, reliable moringa powder,” she said. Her sideline grew as fast as the moringa she was sourcing from her

mother in Nigeria, and in 2014, she founded Miracle in the Green, her Africainspired health food and skin-care brand (www. She outgrew her retired mother’s garden and now sources her pure moringa from others in Africa and Asia. She has named and trademarked it Oringaa for “original moringa.” Her moringa powder is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, made to her exacting standards and put through rigorous quality controls including microbial analysis to ensure the highest quality.

Family Culture

Nwobi’s family, which now includes four children, enjoys moringa once a day. “It became part of our whole family’s culture, from my parents to my children and husband to my in-laws and my friends,” she said. “To everybody who knows me, my name is synonymous with moringa because of how much it helped me throughout my cancer battle up until today.” She said she has never felt or looked better. She prefers to mix a halfteaspoon of moringa, which

Ify Nwobi | APRIL 2021


FEATURE she describes as mild-tasting but not especially pleasant, with warm water, fresh lemon juice and a dab of honey. Moringa has been used in herbal medicine by Indians and others for thousands of years, including by breastfeeding mothers to increase their milk supply. In the United States, it is just catching on and there is a lack of scientific studies — doctors consider it generally safe but say it should not be ingested by lactating and pregnant women, children under 2 and people taking medication for diabetes, high blood pressure or hypothyroidism. As with any supplement, checking with a doctor is a good idea.

Skin and Baby Care

Nwobi has expanded Miracle in the Green to include beauty skin-care products and Mummy’s Miracle, skin care products for babies. These lotions, shampoos and bath products are made with pure oil from moringa seeds. The oil, which contains omega fatty acids and antioxidants, is used in numerous cosmetics because of its moisturizing and cleansing properties. The oil also stars in her skin-care line for women, which includes hydrating face and body butter, facial cleanser and an anti-aging oil. Moringa seed oil was used in cosmetics in ancient Egypt and during the Roman Empire. From 2017 to 2020, Miracle in the Green was part of the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program, which was helpful, Nwobi said. “One of the biggest things they did was give me access to other small businesses who could serve as mentors.” She is proud to be the CEO of a woman-owned business certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

Paying It Forward

Supporting women entrepreneurs is important to Nwobi. Through Project Little Miracles, a not-for-profit organization she formed in 2017, she pays forward some of her Miracle in the Green profits in the form of business grants for women in Africa. “I want to empower women, which is really what I want to do with all of this, to use my business as a force for good,” she said. “People who buy from my company are helping us lift up women to develop a livelihood of their own so they can feed themselves and their families.” She cited an old African proverb: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” Eleven years ago, when Nwobi was sick and didn’t know if she would survive, she made a list of things she wanted to do. One of those dreams was to have two more children, which she did although many women can’t have children after cancer. Another was to record an album of her original songs, and she did that, too, to celebrate her 40th birthday four years ago. Its title says it all: Gratitude. b


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“I want to empower women, which is really what I want to do with all of this, to use my business as a force for good.” — Ify Nwobi


Don’t Do It Without This Book! Author Nancy G. Allen

With over 20 years experience coaching leaders on business growth, Nancy G. Allen is your go-to resource. – Diane Sears

The Decision to Scale is a resource for all business leaders.

The book focuses on three key areas: personal, business, and company development. AMONG THE TOPICS COVERED: • Understanding what makes a successful president • Using mind mapping to generate new ideas • Identifying new business trends • Creating an excellent capabilities statement

• Forging strategic alliances • Embracing the power of delegating • Crafting a strategic plan • Using action plans for success

Nancy G. Allen is the President & CEO of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council of Florida and is an international speaker, coach, and consultant.






Photography by Julie Fletcher


he COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people live. It rapidly increased the need for virtual solutions to real-world problems. The sudden surge of digital dependency left many businesses wilting in the shadow of big-box retailers, unable to keep up with the manual labor supply that e-commerce fulfillment demands.

“With the onset of the pandemic in March, grocers and retailers were just trying to survive those first few months,” said Steven Duffy, senior vice president of design at Cuhaci & Peterson, a firm of architects, engineers and planners. “Most were completely unprepared for the tsunami of ‘buy online, pick up in store’ orders they received. The automation of manual labor was not in place to handle the wave that flooded their operations.”


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Duffy, a 30-year engineering and retail industry leader, sees new challenges for grocers and business owners. He thinks integrating technology into retail fulfillment can solve many of those pain points while also contributing to a more streamlined and sustainable future — and that’s exactly what Cuhaci & Peterson team members, along with the firm’s partners, have been re-imagining over the past five years.

FutureShop FutureShop is a network of forward-thinking design concepts that delivers solutions to increasingly insufficient retail models by re-imagining them as “click and mortar” stores of the future.

While the retail industry as a whole has reached an inflection point amplified by the pandemic, the grocery industry is at the crux of the impasse. Consumers expect an unlimited supply of goods and immediate fulfillment, yet they also want to pay less. FutureShop provides a cutting-edge solution to this modern-day problem: the omni store — a technology-driven retail environment that refines the shopping experience for both the consumer and the grocer. Taken from the growing push for omnichannel retail, which integrates online and offline marketing channels to offer a unified customer experience, the omni store will integrate artificial intelligence, or AI, robotics, blockchain technology and other innovative systems to provide a seamless customer experience regardless of whether the client is shopping online or in a store.


Steven Duffy

“The omni store best expresses the notion of what we’re doing — taking transformative technologies and bringing them under one roof,” Duffy said. He believes that with a hybrid physicalto-digital shopping experience, many of today’s manual operations for both grocer and shopper can be automated. “A lot of technologies can pick the majority of your grocery basket, pull it together, and either deliver it or prepare it for curbside pickup.”

The modern markets would also contribute to a reduced carbon footprint and an uptick in locally sourced food. “These technologies enable retailers and grocers to build smaller stores, which have a positive impact on the environment,” Duffy said. “As a society, more people are seeing the true value of buying local products and supporting their community.” The omni store will do more than

create a streamlined and eco-friendly shopping experience. Keisha McDaniel, the firm’s director of marketing and communications, thinks this vision could bring business back to local retail establishments. “The state of the world determines market trends and buyer behavior, and there is a need for this,” said McDaniel, who has a Ph.D. in applied management. “This model could empower local retailers to adopt a more costeffective way of doing business that still lets people shop safely.”

Sustainable Innovation

While the omni store is heralding the high-tech reinvention of grocery stores, FutureShop is also laying the foundation for the rise of micro-fulfillment dark stores, ghost kitchens and hydroponic growing centers, which all contribute to a more sustainable evolution of retail. From kitchen to consumer, ghost kitchens address the growing demand for delivery-only food preparation, while cutting back on the cost of

traditional restaurant spaces. Another retail innovation led by FutureShop is the micro-fulfillment dark store, which automates the order fulfillment process by leveraging robotic technology via an online ordering platform. McDaniel explained that the bricksand-mortar omni store will house micro-fulfillment centers that are not considered “dark stores,” or places that function only as storage and distribution centers for online commerce.

“The difference is that while you browse local produce or grab a latte while you wait, you can look into the omni store fulfillment center and watch the robots find, pick and package your order for you.” Omni stores can additionally choose to have a hydroponics section built into the market. In hydroponics, plants are grown without soil and can be featured as a standalone growing center or within an omni store. In-store hydroponics reduces transportation costs and helps to localize the farm-to-table proposition. “We’re working with myriad tech partners to expand the FutureShop ecosystem,” McDaniel said. “These concepts are all so timely given the world we live in right now, and these technologies extend beyond the grocery store.” b | APRIL 2021


16 Million Pounds of Fun


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Thrift Shoppers Help

Goodwill Keep Items Out of Landfills



here are a lot of reasons people go thrift shopping at secondhand stores. They’re looking for bargains or sticking to a budget. They’re hoping to find unique gifts. They’re seeking vintage items that aren’t on the market anymore. They enjoy the thrill of the hunt. But there’s another benefit people don’t always think about. By shopping at the stores operated by Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, they’re helping keep 16 million pounds of items a year out of local landfills. “We take in, on a daily basis, 13 tons of textiles,” said Kim Praniewicz, vice president of marketing and mission advancement. That equals 26,000 pounds a day of mostly clothing but also bed linens, towels and other items from six counties the nonprofit serves: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Volusia and Seminole. “If they bring it to us, a lot of good things happen,” Praniewicz said. “One, it stays out of the landfill. Two, it provides some creativity to someone who wants to upcycle a piece, create their own fashion and become a trendsetter. Most importantly, it is the fuel that runs our social enterprise.

“When you drop off your donations of unwanted household goods or clothing, you are truly building a sustainable community. Plus you are providing revenue. Those items are sold in our stores, and those revenues go right to job placement and job skills training here in our community.” In Central Florida, Goodwill employs more than 1,200 people to operate its 30 stores, 20 donation express locations, central warehouse, trucks, job placement services and administrative offices. The operation takes in donations, sorts the goods, transports the items to stores, stocks and displays items, and handles sales transactions. It also trains workers for its own operations and other employers. “We’re very happy to say we have more employees now than we did right as the pandemic hit,” Praniewicz said. “Unfortunately, when the pandemic happened and everyone had to close, we were closed about six weeks. We had to lay off a tremendous number of people. And we were able to bring the same number of jobs back if not more.” Goodwill typically receives about 4,000 donations a day in Central Florida. Collectively, the stores record about 10,000 transactions daily. But at the beginning of the pandemic, when a lot of people were stuck at home, many used the time to clean out their houses and garages. That meant an uptick in donations. “We were very lucky people were generous

during that time,” Praniewicz said. The organization noticed another trend when it reopened during the pandemic, when not everyone was comfortable venturing out yet: “Even though the transaction numbers had gone down a little bit, the amount folks were spending in our stores had gone up. Part of that was because we are affordable. We sell low-cost, quality goods, and during a very uncertain time, people could count on us to have what they needed at an affordable price.” Praniewicz herself has become a secondhand shopping aficionado over the years. One of her favorite sources is the Goodwill Central Florida online boutique,, where shoppers can find handbags, jewelry and other accessories.

“Our generous donors donate high-end luxury items to us,” Praniewicz said. “Some are gently used and some are brand-new with the tags still on them. If you have a desire for a Michael Kors or Coach bag, I would tell you to look there first. “There are great bargains,” she said, “and again, all of this goes back to job placement, which is so important right now, as well as job skills training. Many people are trying to make the leap from hospitality to other businesses right now, and our job skills training is key to helping them.” Sports fans and people looking for collectibles should try Goodwill’s auction site, or the local version if they want their purchase dollars to stay in Central Florida. Collectibles include musical instruments, vinyl albums, Star Wars items, Legos kits, baseball cards, autographed items, fine art, movie memorabilia and theme park items.

“We create jobs that build lives that work,” Praniewicz said. “That’s our mission. As a social enterprise, 90% of everything that comes in as revenue goes to job skills and job placement services.” Leaders in Central Florida can help. “Think of us as you are downsizing your office and need a place for the furniture or equipment to go,” Praniewicz said. “If you would like to conduct a drive for household items and clothing to be donated, think of us. You can do it with your company, your church or your neighborhood. Also think of us in your personal life. As you have unwanted items, know that someone may want them, and you can truly impact the life of someone here in your hometown by helping them get a job or helping them receive the skills to find better employment.” b | APRIL 2021



SisterAnn Kendrick By Terry Godbey

Sister Ann Kendrick has been fighting for migrant farmworkers in Apopka for 50 years. She and three fellow nuns began the Office for Farmworker Ministry in 1971 to meet the many needs of impoverished farmworkers and immigrant families. In 2007, the Catholic nuns changed the name of the organization to Hope CommUnity Center, and it became independent from the Catholic Diocese. Along with a heaping helping of hope, they offer assistance with academic support; college and career access; youth and family programs; immigration services; advocacy and community organizing; and social services including access to food, health care, housing and financial assistance. An activist who doesn’t think twice about filing a lawsuit or marching on City Hall, Kendrick says the immigrant community is made up of noble, responsible people who value family, hospitality and the dignity of a good day’s work. In addition, agriculture workers have been deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We believe that the struggle for real social change, for the creation of the beloved CommUnity, involves all of us because our own liberation, our own freedom, is tied up in the freedom and liberation of all people,” Kendrick said. How did you happen to take up the mantle of impoverished migrant farmworkers in Apopka five decades ago?

I came to Florida from the Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., area after the Catholic Diocese of Orlando invited me along with my fellow Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to reach out to the migrant and seasonal farmworkers in Central Florida. I had been teaching Spanish at the high school and college levels, trying to foster an understanding that language is part of culture, that culture is a bigger, deeper thing, and that there are people in the world whose vision and way of being is a little different. I hoped others would be curious and want to learn from them. I was supportive of farm labor leader Cesar Chavez in California, and I was urging my students to boycott grapes, wine and other products to bring attention to the plight of migrant workers and their need for collective bargaining protection. In the Catholic Church, the Vatican Council was calling on nuns to return to the roots of our religious congregations. The Sisters of Notre

Dame de Namur was founded to teach people “what they need for life,” to show the goodness of God and to serve in the “most abandoned places” where people are suffering. So I left the formal classroom and moved to the classroom of the orange groves, vegetable fields and horticultural nurseries, working among the African American farmworkers who came to Florida from Alabama and Georgia. It was also the beginning of the influx of Latinx workers from the valley of Texas and Mexico itself. We were pretty sure we did not want to establish churches. Lots of people are involved in their churches, temples and mosques of choice, but does that bring any real change to the poverty, injustice, exploitation and rejection that people of color who are living in poverty are experiencing? We needed to work in a different way. Central Florida was and is a very racially divided society, and there was not one place where people of different racial identities lived together. So we moved into the Black community in South Apopka to begin our work out of the garage of our house and the trunk of our car. We

did not begin any projects or set any direction other than listening and learning. We built relationships with people, gained their trust, and heard about their hopes and dreams as well as the suffering and oppression they had experienced. I had planned to stay for a year or two, but I fell in love with the community and with the possibility of making a difference, of shifting power and of confronting issues that held the people hostage.

After you spent time listening and gaining the community’s trust, how did you begin to help the people?

Planning is important, but I have learned that in this work, surprising moments sometimes emerge that offer the best opportunities for making real change. And so it was with health care. There was no adequate health care for people of color. Black and brown people had to travel to Orlando to seek help, and even that was pretty inadequate. Farmworkers were dying from tuberculosis as well as exposure to chemicals in the workplace. We were invited to a community meeting, which resulted in the | APRIL 2021


UP CLOSE formation of a core group of leaders from the Black and Latinx communities. We sought and received a federal grant to provide health care to the migrant farmworkers and opened a health care clinic in Apopka in 1972. It was in a trailer under a tree with one doctor, a nurse and one other “do it all” employee, but it has grown to become Community Health Centers, which provides affordable care to 70,000 patients, with more than 540 employees in 15 Central Florida locations. “What’s next?” became the clarion call. Housing! People had terribly inadequate housing, but we didn’t want to build rental units that we would have to manage. Who could help us? The Quaker Church has practice in building “self-help housing”— where prospective homeowners participate in some aspects of construction — so we asked the Quakers for help, training and guidance, and we incorporated Homes in Partnership. It has built thousands of homes for low- to moderate-income families. Financial services emerged next. Low-income people, families and farm laborers, who can be targeted and exploited by predatory lenders, often distrust financial institutions and hide their money under their mattresses. Fair loans at competitive rates are not available, and immigration status is a barrier. So once again we sought out resources to explore a possible solution. Since credit unions are democratic, cooperatively owned financial institutions, we joined the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and learned the trade, founding the Community Trust Federal Credit Union. We operated at a basic level for more than 30 years, with a mission of putting wealth into the hands of lowincome families of color, with the help of volunteers. Three years ago, we merged with the Self-Help Credit Union family and built a branch in Apopka.

As your organization has grown over decades, how has it stayed faithful to its original mission of empowering migrant and seasonal farmworkers? With all these projects spawned from the grassroots energy of our community leadership, sometimes it can be difficult to stay true to our founding vision — empowerment of the local community


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— and to remain responsive to people’s needs. We felt there was a need for a membership organization of farmworkers who were dedicated and involved in their communities, and in 1983, the Farmworker Association of Florida was founded in Apopka. We work directly with the organization, which now has more than 10,000 members and five locations in Florida. They help keep the rest of us engaged and on task. In the early days, besides working with the United Farmworkers Union of Cesar Chavez to help win a collective bargaining agreement between CocaCola Co. and the orange harvesters working for Minute Maid, owned by Coca-Cola, we engaged with the Black community leaders of South Apopka to address inequities in public services and infrastructure. Several Black residents sued the City of Apopka, alleging that adequate municipal services were not provided in South Apopka. That resulted in the city being required to develop access to water and sewer services, paved roads and sidewalks as well as recreational facilities in the African American side of town before any more federal revenue-sharing dollars could be spent developing high-end subdivisions in the white areas of the city. The longevity and success of Hope CommUnity Center has been and continues to be the agile ability to read the signs of the times, tune into the suffering and dreams of the community, and pivot to see how we can respond, always with the leadership and involvement of the local community.

What services does Hope CommUnity Center provide in its attempts to move farmworkers and immigrant families toward social and economic justice?

Hope CommUnity Center is dedicated to the empowerment of Central Florida’s working poor and immigrant communities through education, advocacy and spiritual growth. Programs developed under its umbrella include academic support, which includes tutoring; college and career access; youth and family programs; immigration services, which includes helping people apply for citizenship; advocacy and community organizing

to help immigrants and people of color; and social services including access to food, health care, housing and financial assistance. We changed our name from the Office for Farmworker Ministry to Hope CommUnity Center because not everyone we served was considered a farmworker. Some worked in agriculture but not on a farm. Also, many have moved on to construction, landscaping and cleaning homes and offices, but they are still in need because of low wages and discrimination. We took “ministry” out of our name because for many people that word indicated that we were trying to proselytize or recruit people for our church. That is NOT who we are. We are an organization born of our faith and belief that the God of our many different understandings calls us to “sacred transformative work in the world.” We believe that the struggle for real social change, for the creation of the beloved CommUnity, involves all of us because our own liberation, our own freedom, is tied up in the freedom and liberation of all people. As the spoken word poet Micah Bournes says, “You never stop fighting for your own.”

You and Sisters Gail Grimes, Teresa McElwee and Cathy Gorman spoke up for the poor for decades, and sadly, McElwee passed away in January at 91, 10 years after Gorman’s death. How are you and Grimes adapting? Do either of you plan to retire?

With an eye to the future, we are growing young leaders from the community who are already running programs and will carry on. A year ago, Hope hired its first executive director, Laura Pichardo-Cruz, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed us down a bit. We are adapting and working differently, but Gail and I do not plan to go away anytime soon. In fact, right now we are thinking deeply about the future and the work we are called to do in this next chapter of our lives. For example, how can we respond to what COVID-19, systemic racism and white supremacy have taught us as we move forward? I am 76 and Gail is 81. We have a good board of directors and a staff of 30,

most of them younger than the two of us. Hope CommUnity Center will carry on with energy because the organization is connected to the community and listens to the suffering and dreams of the people. Hope is agile and versatile in adapting to new challenges and opportunities.

Why have you devoted your yourtolife tocause? this cause? life this

I fell in love with the people, the community and the possibility of making a significant difference by becoming an ally for social change with them. I love that the little bit we put into the work makes such a big, long-term change in people’s lives. They come alive. They grow in confidence and ownership of their power as human beings to create new and better conditions for life. It is a blessing for me to be able to do this work in this noble, hospitable and generous community where I receive so much more than I give.

How many people have you helped through the decades? How can people reading this right now help you help even more families?

We help more than 6,500 people in Central Florida each year. During the pandemic, we also delivered over 18,000 meals. With this food, we deliver love and connection as well. As an Indigenous Australian activist once said, “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” And so we do. I am proud that we have stayed the course and have continued to adapt and pivot, but mostly I am proud that we held onto our beliefs in the goodness of people, the power of community and the love of God. If anyone wants to work with a grassroots organization and movement for social change, not just provide services, Hope CommUnity Center welcomes them. Ninety cents of every dollar we receive goes directly to our programs, and we need volunteers as well as financial assistance. We need everything! b

The longevity and success of Hope CommUnity Center has been and continues to be the agile ability to read the signs of the times, tune into the suffering and dreams of the community, and pivot to see how we can respond, always with the leadership and involvement of the local community. | APRIL 2021


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Romaine Seguin

is president of UPS Global Freight Forwarding, where she oversees air, ocean and rail freight forwarding, as well as brokerage and supplier management, for the 220 countries and territories UPS serves around the world. She can be reached at


The traceability of products is becoming increasingly important to consumers, who want to know exactly what is in the food they eat. — Romaine Seguin


APRIL 2021 |


an you imagine a day when everything our bodies consume is completely traceable from its original source and we have visibility into the agricultural supply chain? Traceability is the ability to track all processes from procurement of raw materials to production, consumption and disposal in order to clarify when and where the product was produced, who produced it and how it was handled along the way. Coming out of this pandemic, there will be more pressure and scrutiny on food security and the traceability of products delivered from the marketplace to the consumer. For this month’s theme of Sustainability and Agriculture, I want to share what I’m seeing in the market from my perspective in the supply chain and how things are changing. We all have seen food products recalled, and sometimes we may have even purchased food that had to be destroyed. It is critical to know where your food comes from, especially when recalls occur. For food products, traceability is a must. Properly managed, it allows suppliers and consumers to locate the

source of the product and track how it got from Point A to Point B. And soon, food traceability in the U.S. might become even more transparent to the consumer. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has proposed additional traceability record-keeping requirements for anyone who manufactures, processes, packs or holds foods on its Food Traceability List. The list includes certain cheeses, eggs, nut butters, fruits, vegetables, herbs, fish, shellfish and ready-to-eat deli salads.

Tracking Your Supply Chain

As I understand it, there are six elements involved in adding transparency to the food supply chain for agricultural products. No matter what industry you’re in, you might think about adding these types of tracking into your organization’s supply chain: PRODUCT TRACEABILITY. The location of the product throughout the production process. PROCESS ACCOUNTABILITY. How the product was made, including how


it was transformed from raw materials into the final product and what was used for that process. INPUT TRACEABILITY. Which materials were added to the product or used to produce it. In agriculture, this could be fertilizer or feed. GENETIC MAKEUP. The origin of the product and where its manufacture began. In agriculture, this would be the plant or protein source. EXTERNAL FACTORS. Anything outside your organization’s normal scope of control. In agriculture, this would include diseases and pests. MEASUREMENT STANDARDS. Quality tests and other kinds of methods used to monitor the product along the supply chain.

Tech Innovations

It takes a lot of work and documentation to track each product, but food producers are adapting. The traceability of products is becoming increasingly important to consumers, who want to know exactly what is in the food they eat. The situation has created a need for the emerging and expanding field of agricultural technology. Let me tell you about a company that is using agritech to create transparency between farm and table. I was introduced to HerdX in December 2018 in San Antonio to discuss using blockchain digital ledger technology to track cattle. I met Ron Hicks, its founder and CEO, who told me about how his company has been working with cattle ranchers to use technology that provides total traceability. HerdX installs equipment at the ranch that allows ranchers to monitor the movement of each calf, which is tagged at birth. The application, which can be loaded onto a cell phone, uses blockchain to determine when a calf is sick, when it needs water and what it is consuming. Hicks was the keynote speaker at the Gulfood 2021 conference in February in the United Arab Emirates. Of the 18,000 attendees from 28 countries, nearly eight in 10 indicated in a poll that sustainability is important to them when choosing a food product. Agritech like that used by HerdX was among the top four food trends recognized at the conference. In his keynote speech, Hicks said, “Chefs have started to say, ‘I want my ingredients to be raised a certain way. I want to know that the animal was treated in a humane way.’” Working with HerdX, UPS has been able to provide ranchers with visibility into the temperature of meats they are transporting to overseas markets, ensuring quality in the handling. Through the HerdX blockchain technology, buyers in Japan are able to track the exact location of where beef was raised and whether it was free of antibiotics, which provides restaurants with added selling strategies when they offer steaks to customers. Working with HerdX has been a wonderful journey to see how technology works with food producers to make their products more sustainable. It also has shown me there are a lot of new possibilities when it comes to technological innovations in the supply chain. Once we get through this pandemic, and more transparency is demanded of our food supply chain, technology will no doubt provide many more innovative solutions. Visit, and I promise it will get you thinking. b




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Meaghan Branham

is the managing editor for i4 Business, where she oversees the company’s digital media strategy, handles client relationship marketing for the print and digital magazines, and serves as one of the publication’s lead writers. A native of Brevard County, she splits her time between Central Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.



T Mobile interfaces also are especially important: A PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Consumer Insights Survey revealed that 45% of global consumers are shopping more on their smartphones since the pandemic began. — Meaghan Branham


APRIL 2021 |

he way we shop, the way we eat, the way we work — the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed those behaviors over the course of the last year. And while some of those changes will get a hearty “good riddance” on the pandemic’s way out, even if it’s still a bit far off, other adaptations are likely to stick around for a long time. In a global crisis, people have created silver linings in everything from curbside pickup to remote team building to a shift in mindset that encompasses both sustainability and accountability. Marketing, as it always has, is adjusting to these adaptations. As the way we live and work changes, our behaviors as consumers do as well. Here are a few trends that have emerged in the past year and what they mean for marketing teams.

1 Digital Presence

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, spending online with U.S. retailers in the second quarter of 2020 was 44.4% higher than it was in the same period in 2019. And we have seen that apply to more than just traditional online shopping. We can order our groceries for delivery, place our food and retail orders online for curbside pickup, and more. Consumers are more active digitally than ever before. This means they are putting more emphasis on how easy a website is to use, online ordering technology, options for curbside pickup, and virtual consultation sessions. Mobile interfaces also are especially important: A PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Consumer Insights Survey revealed that 45% of global consumers are shopping more on their smartphones since the pandemic began. Look for ways to upgrade the user experience online, stay engaged on social media and listen to the feedback your audience is sharing.

2 Sustainability

In the early days of the pandemic, people around the world found themselves confronted with a scarcity of resources in eye-opening ways. At the same time that grocery store shelves emptied and medical equipment became harder to secure, reduced activity throughout the world saw levels of air and sea pollution decrease. Suddenly, people had hard-to-ignore proof that our day-to-day activities have a real and lasting impact on the world around us.

These events have led to a more urgent emphasis on sustainability and continued access to resources. A Nielsen report recently revealed that 73% of consumers would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce environmental impact. Making the shift to more sustainable practices is likely to increase brand loyalty and consumer trust from here on out.

3 Customer Experience

In a year full of uncertainty, brand trust has become more important than ever. According to, a study by marketing platform Mention Me showed that 65% of consumers now cite the trustworthiness of a brand as the top reason for recommending it to a friend or relative. This mindset is not likely to change anytime soon, as people are likely to remember the brands that went above and beyond in such a turbulent time. As a result, storytelling and transparency are likely to garner more of a response from consumers than ever. Examples, testimonials and case studies on your website and in your social media can help educate your audience about how your products and services are helping customers.



Empathy and Community

The past year has been one of distance and difficulty, but also one of creativity when it comes to connection. People are looking to be more engaged with their community after months of being apart from it, which has led to an increase in the number of people shopping locally. At the same time and in a similar way, people seem more ready to empathize and connect with one another. Find ways to make a personal connection with your audience to enhance a feeling of community.

Global Reach

According to, 46% of media, marketing and advertising freelancers say they are no longer constrained by the location of their clients, thanks to recent advances in remote working. The figures are from research by Worksome published in December 2020. COVID-19 has forced many workers to adapt to working remotely. This has empowered organizations to extend their reach beyond their local area, allowing them to host trainings, webinars and consultations with people in entirely different parts of the country, and sometimes the world. Taking the bigger picture into account is a challenge, but one that holds exciting possibilities for many organizations. Look for ways to extend your audience beyond its traditional boundaries by picking up potential clients or customers you wouldn’t have reached with your previous marketing efforts.


2020 was an immensely difficult year, and because of that 2021 will look a lot different from the years that have come before. As long as we lean into the silver linings in our own lives and work, however, the future is full of possibilities. b

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Ana Maria Leal

Ana Maria Leal is the founder of AMLY Sustainability, which provides solutions for improving the sustainability of products, operations, and the supply chain. She can be reached at, or visit her website at



T Best practices require assessment of impacts, identification of the hot spots, and continuous improvement across operations, products and the entire supply chain. — Ana Maria Leal


APRIL 2021 |

he burning of fossil fuels to produce energy, the deforestation of land, and the use of harmful industrial processes are some of the human activities responsible for the buildup of gases that has changed the Earth’s climate. There is no doubt that human activities have had a significant impact on our health and safety, but by making choices that reduce greenhouse gases, we can reduce the effects of climate change. Today, an increasing number of private organizations have committed to take climate action, leading others to follow suit. They have been implementing best practices in sustainability, using science that measures environmental impacts to optimize operations, products and supply chains. Companies incorporating these best practices have experienced other benefits while reducing emissions: They have deepened the connection between the brand and the consumer and demonstrated the positive impact of responsible sourcing, according to Sustainable Brands, a global

community of brand innovators working to shape the future of commerce. In the past year, there has been a growing commitment to sustainable products, operations and value chain, Sustainable Brands reported. The impact is especially high for organizations that deal with consumers, who are increasingly using their purchase power to hold brands accountable. This commitment is moving the business world from a linear economy of “take, make, waste” to a circular economy that focuses on designing products that allow for materials to be recirculated. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK-based philanthropy that partners with socially responsible companies, defines a circular economy as one designed to eliminate waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems.

Becoming Sustainable

Best practices require assessment of impacts, identification of the hot spots, and continuous improvement across operations, products and the entire supply chain. At the operational level, industry can measure direct emissions from three sources: 1) owned or controlled sources like vehicle fleets, office buildings and manufacturing

facilities; 2) indirect emissions generated from purchased electricity; and 3) indirect emissions that occur in a company value chain. Where should an organization start? Here are some suggestions: Ɇ Determine short- and long-term goals, designate responsible stakeholders and define actions. The actions can be a change in energy source or in fleet driving patterns. They can include instituting environmentally preferred purchasing policies and committing to do business with socially responsible vendors and suppliers. Ɇ Implement a comprehensive “systems approach.” Decisions can’t be made in isolation. Every action will have a consequence somewhere along the line. A systems approach will address emissions at all three operational levels. Ɇ Decarbonize the supply chain. For many companies, this will reduce pollution the most because the majority of their greenhouse gas emissions and cost reduction opportunities lie outside their own operations. Ɇ Get everyone involved. Over time, the mission of sustainability has shifted from being the work of a specialist to involve every business function and even suppliers. Ɇ Celebrate cost savings. In the past, increased cost was cited as an excuse not to implement sustainable measures. But today, according to the Centre for Climate Action, about 40% of the emissions across the eight major supply chains can be eliminated with measures that bring cost savings or are at costs of less than 10 euros (approximately $12) per ton of CO2 equivalent. If this trend continues, tracking down supply chain, tracing sourcing origin and measuring associated carbon footprint will be the new norm for becoming socially responsible enterprises. Ɇ Make changes to the product. Designing products for sustainability involves more than just swapping materials. It requires assessment of a product under industry standards, which are important because they help the business world harmonize the assessment of products under the same rules and units of measurement. There are many ways to design a sustainable product. Decision-makers can select materials with lower energy and carbon content and higher recycling rates. They can then design for an intended end of life, reducing adhesives and enabling separation of materials for recovery. However, industry efforts for circularity can be hindered if materials are not detoxified before they are circulated back into the economy. Though circularity is necessary to reduce virgin material consumption and associated environmental impacts, we don’t want harmful chemicals coming back to production. Starting with safer ingredients can accelerate the circularity of materials and increase the decarbonizing of products, operations and the value chain. One change will lead to another as long as organizations and individuals have a systems perspective in place, facilitating enterprise-level actions and setting the path for socially responsible organizations. b

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Davia Moss

is vice president of operations and client services at Next Horizon, a Sanford-based IT and digital marketing agency that provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. She can be reached at:

Phishing scams account for 90% of security breaches in businesses. In particular, manufacturers, telecom and technology companies have been hit hard by this incessant tactic. However, none have been hit harder than the health care industry during the pandemic. — Davia Moss


APRIL 2021 |



et’s suppose you’re going through your inbox and you find an email from a reputable company you know. But there’s a catch. It’s asking you for personal information like a password or credit card numbers. Stop! Don’t fall for the common cybercrime called phishing. This cybercrime uses emails to gain valuable personal information about you or your company. Its namesake comes from fishing, where it’s like baiting a line to catch a fish. Many of these scams can be “baiting” you to get personal information that can be used to break into your online accounts or even your computer’s hard drive. According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing scams account for 90% of security breaches in businesses. In particular, manufacturers, telecom and technology companies have been hit hard by

this incessant tactic. However, none have been hit harder than the health care industry during the pandemic. Medical workers have received information seemingly from reputable companies about coronavirus vaccines and “updated” safety information. These scams used signatures that posed as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Electronic Frontier Foundation or even research teams at reputable universities.

Identifying a Scam

How can you train your employees to identify a phishing scam? Research. Train. Practice. Repeat. When we think of on-the-job training, we think of corny videos you watch once a year (or less) about workplace etiquette. Instead, phishing awareness training should be

The FBI reported a


increase in reported cybercrimes since the start of the pandemic ongoing. Every few months, cybercriminals find new ways to break into networks and prey on the uninformed. You might say, “I have pretty sophisticated network security in place. Why do I need to train my employees?” While sophisticated filters can weed out many unsavory emails and communications, hackers aren’t breaching your firewall directly. They are being “let in.” The strongest defense to phishing attacks is a trained, observant workforce.

Common Signs

Phishing campaigns are constantly evolving, but knowing some basic tricks to look out for will go a long way toward protecting your organization:

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Ɇ The email sounds too good to be true. Ɇ It creates a sense of urgency. Ɇ It contains misleading hyperlinks, such as a popular website misspelled or an unknown URL. Ɇ It contains an attachment it urges you to open — which often leads to ransomware or other viruses. Ɇ It’s from a sender you may not know, or from someone you do know who didn’t send it. Ɇ Its subject seems very important, but it’s an email that typically doesn’t go directly to you. For instance, it might be about an account someone else in your organization typically handles. Ɇ The hyperlinks start with https; instead of https: — using a semicolon instead of a colon.

Be Aware and Prepared

One of the best ways to train your employees to spot phishing scams is by running unannounced tests yourself. Get with your IT partner to set up some pretend phishing emails, send them to your employees and see how many people fall for them. This can not only help your organization identify the weak areas in training, but it can pose as a great teaching tool for employees. Phishing attacks cost businesses billions of dollars each year. These scams have gone from generic email blasts to more targeted, personal communications designed to give the receiver a sense of comfort. They use official brand logos and images, and the warning signs are getting more difficult to spot. If you don’t want your business becoming another statistic, it’s time to make phishing a key aspect of your network security strategy.

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Bill “Roto” Reuter

served for nearly 30 years in the U.S. Navy as a test pilot and as commander for its premier training and development organization. He is now the president of R-Squared Solutions, where he and his team facilitate dynamic workshops that empower organizations to reach greater success. He can be reached at


I When competition for top talent is fierce, and the cost of training new hires is steep, you can’t afford to not engage your employees. — Bill “Roto” Reuter

f you ask someone to define a good job, you’ll get a variety of answers, depending on the person. For some, a good job is about being paid well. For others, it’s about the prestige of working for a well-known company. For others still, it might be about having the freedom to avoid sitting behind a desk all day in an office. We also hear people say that so-and-so has a bad job, which can mean that person is underpaid, has to perform manual labor, or sits in an office without ventilation or natural light. It is almost entirely subjective. What is not subjective is the definition of a miserable job, because it’s largely the same whether you are an executive, a waiter, a teacher or a professional football player. People who are miserable in their jobs dread going to work and come home frustrated, defeated and weary.

The Impact of Misery

The cost of job misery is very real, both for individuals who are miserable and for the families and friends of the people who must live with them. Scores of people suffer every day as they trudge off from their families and friends to jobs that make them more cynical, unhappy and frustrated than they were when they left. Over time, this dull pain can erode the self-confidence


APRIL 2021 |

and passion of even the strongest people, which in turn affects their spouses, children and friends in subtle but profound ways. Organizations are not immune to the effects of misery either. Some studies show as many as 77% of workers are dissatisfied with their work, and that the primary driver of job dissatisfaction is not pay or benefits but rather the relationship an employee has with his or her supervisor. Such widespread dissatisfaction kills morale and productivity within companies, and it increases the cost of recruiting, hiring and retraining new employees, all of which takes a huge toll. Gallup estimates that the annual cost to the American economy due to lost productivity is about $350 billion. When competition for top talent is fierce, and the cost of training new hires is steep, you can’t afford to not engage your employees — especially when you consider the corollary benefits of innovation, higher profits and the sheer enjoyment of standing at the helm of a fully engaged workforce.

The Causes

The three causes of job misery are as simple as they are common. They are clearly defined in Patrick Lencioni’s bestselling book, The Truth About Employee Engagement:


ANONYMITY. People cannot be fulfilled or engaged in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing. Ask most employees whether their managers really understand them, whether they are genuinely interested in them as human beings, and most will say “no.” Ask their managers the question, “Why don’t you get to know and understand your employees more?” Assuming they will admit there’s a problem, they will often say they are uncomfortable with the appearance of being overly familiar or they are too busy getting “real work” done. So many managers seem to forget what it was like when they were more junior employees. They don’t remember the impact a manager can have on an employee’s sense of self-esteem, enthusiasm and job fulfillment just by taking an interest in someone’s life outside of work.


IRRELEVANCE. Everyone needs to know that their job matters to someone. Anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment. Even the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just the boss. When I was responsible for more than 1,200 people toward the end of my Navy career, I said three things every time I spoke before the workforce: “Leadership is a servant activity,” “Transparency breeds credibility and trust,” and “Seniority does not equate to superiority.” Not only was it an instrument of providing clarity, it was a call to action to engage others at a human level rather than as a commodity. As a leader, it is crucial that you overcommunicate a line of sight from their jobs to the results that matter for the company. Their understanding of their contribution to the whole is key to their investment in the overall outcomes.


IMMEASUREMENT. Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves. They cannot be fulfilled in their work if their success depends on the opinions or whims of another person, no matter how benevolent that person may be. Without tangible means of assessing success or failure, motivation eventually deteriorates as people see themselves as unable to control their own fate. Some companies do this by keeping score for team performance, which is useful, but it is a little trickier at the individual level. This requires managers and supervisors to work with each of their employees on goal setting and execution. Once those are in place, the supervisor and employee can clearly assess, and hopefully applaud, the individual’s contribution. The pandemic has forced us to think differently when it comes to work. With many working remotely, it can be more difficult to maintain the alignment, appreciation and clarity that breeds employee engagement. Without the “osmosis” effect of being in the same spaces, leaders must proactively address the potential pitfalls associated with these causes by over-communicating the value their team brings and how it contributes to the company’s success — and each individual’s success. This shared vision is critical to keeping the team “on the bus.” b | APRIL 2021



The Business of


Organizations Look at Impact on People, Planet and Profit


ustainability has become a new buzzword for many organizations, and thankfully it’s becoming common among individuals as well. We see large corporations committing to sustainability goals because their consumers, their brands and even the stock market demand it. While these large organizations have a global environmental impact, it can easily be stated that midsize and small organizations have an even more significant role to play in sustainability because they exist within their local communities. What does it mean to be sustainable? The United Nations (U.N.) World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability assumes that resources are finite and should be used in a manner of respect, conservation and harmony. Simply put, sustainability is about our people and the planet’s resiliency toward the future. In 2015, the U.N. adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), creating a road map for the future peace and prosperity of the people and our planet. Here are few examples of the SDGs: affordable and clean energy; responsible consumption and production; and industry, innovation and infrastructure. Each SDG includes priorities, impact and goals for the future. How is your organization looking at sustainability and preparing for the future? Is sustainability something your organization has recently talked about or started to look at recently? If you have, that’s great. Keep going by identifying


APRIL 2021 |

ANDREA RUIZ HAYS is founder and chief strategist for Eco Strategies Group in Orlando, which is committed to supporting the sustainability journey of all organizations. She can be reached for a complimentary consultation at

your next set of targets. If you haven’t, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. There’s certainly a lot to consider within an organization when it comes to which areas of sustainability your business should focus on first. Do you reach for the objective with the largest impact or start with the easier targets? I always encourage my clients to take a deep look into their organization and assess their “triple bottom line,” their impact on 1) customers, vendors and employees (people); 2) waste, energy, emissions, water and natural resources (planet); and 3) efficiencies that could be gained or realized (profit). Many organizations identify this through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. However, this is not limited to large entities such as corporations. All organizations have a social responsibility. I always say it shouldn’t be only Fortune 500 organizations that have these objectives and tools to help them reach their targets. All organizations (and people, too) have a social responsibility, and we will see our greatest achievements as a collective participating group of people. This is one of the reasons I left my 20year career at the Walt Disney World Resort, where I was helping lead the company’s environmental programs. I saw a profound change occur once people were given the right tools, training and resources to make significant positive changes in their business operations and achieve identified targets, and in many cases even


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations

exceed them. I knew I wanted to help other organizations set and achieve their sustainability targets. Here are a few ways your organization can start identifying your impact. Set the expectation and take the time to train your team members on the changes you’re making and be sure everyone is on board. Update operating guides and manuals to ensure consistency for the longevity of your program.

Utility Reduction (Energy and Water)

Ɇ Identify and create a baseline. Review your facility’s energy and water usage for the past one to three years. Create a plan to reduce your usage by a set percentage by a certain year. You can create annual plans to start and then progress to five-year and 10-year plans. Ɇ Identify infrastructure changes. Update appliances and equipment on a set cycle to a more energyefficient or conservative model. Ɇ Take advantage of rebate opportunities. These can be through your utility provider as well as manufacturers. Ɇ Support net zero emissions. Look at installing renewable energy solutions such as wind turbines or solar panels on your property to reduce your carbon footprint. Ɇ Become carbon neutral. Once

you’ve identified your opportunities and have a plan to reduce your utility consumption, you can implement a plan to become carbon neutral by supporting certified carbon neutral programs.

Waste Reduction (Solid Waste and Packaging)

Ɇ Identify and create a baseline. Review your current waste output by measuring the volume and frequency of waste you are producing. Your service provider should be supplying this information to you. How much material are you sending to the landfill or recycling? Identify this by volume and weight for the past one to three years. Ɇ Consider hiring an expert to quantify your waste diversion. This might be necessary if more detail is needed to create a baseline. Ɇ Review all inbound and outbound packaging. Determine where opportunities exist to reduce or eliminate dunnage, padding material used to protect goods during shipping. Look for identifying marks to determine whether the material is recyclable, and check with your hauler to ensure it will process the material. Plastics have a “resin number,”

usually located at or near the bottom of the container. Not all plastics are recyclable and not all haulers will take all plastics. Ɇ Create a plan to address the volume of waste produced. Initiate a recycling program that is aligned with your organization’s waste output. Identify your opportunity to increase your recycling rate. In some cases, businesses can implement recycling at a cost-neutral rate or even save money on hauling fees once the right recycling program has been initiated. Ɇ Work toward a goal of zero waste. Divert at least 90% of your waste (based on weight) from landfill or incineration to a recycling or composting facility. In most cases, you will need to hire an organization to quantify and validate these metrics before you publicly state them. Sustainability in business is achievable and, in many cases, much easier than you think. A business must embrace a diversity of people, thoughts, experiences and cultures. This will help your team consider all aspects of sustainability and prepare your organization for the positive change needed to become resilient and ready for the future. b | APRIL 2021



The Business of


Introducing Florida’s Food Producers to the World


he business of international trade is daunting to many food producers. It can be difficult enough to sell products in a domestic market, so exporting products may seem to be an impossible task. Thankfully, there are resources available through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to help food and beverage companies in the state grow their consumer base past the U.S. and into the global market. The FDACS Division of Marketing and Development is home to the Trade Development team, which focuses on growing agricultural trade locally and expanding products to the worldwide marketplace. Domestic consumers are familiar with the “Fresh From Florida” logo next to products in weekly ads from their local grocery store. Most don’t realize that same logo is popping up on restaurant menus in Canada, billboards in the Dominican Republic, product displays in Denmark and Sweden, and social media in Korea. The team’s partnerships with grocery retailers and distributors around the world offer the potential to match Florida growers and producers with unique opportunities in markets they might not have considered. Trade Development also participates in international trade events to give Florida agricultural companies a chance to exhibit internationally, as well as to make connections with new partners and new markets. Additionally, Trade Development offers


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WHITNEY LETT is a development representative with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Her role within the Division of Marketing and Development is to encourage international trade for Florida’s agriculture industry. She can be reached at


a resource website on exporting agricultural products (https://www. FDACS also has a proud partnership with the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA). SUSTA is a nonprofit funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that works to assist small and midsize businesses in their international marketing efforts. SUSTA’s staff is based in New Orleans and partners with representatives from the agriculture departments in Southern states to carry out their mission. SUSTA supports U.S. food and beverage companies based in the South in a variety of ways. Through global events, companies have the opportunity to connect with buyers at trade shows and trade missions around the world. Through inbound trade missions, buyers from an international market are brought into the U.S. to meet one on one with domestic companies. Outbound trade missions take U.S. companies to foreign markets, where they have pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with buyers and also get to see the retail market where their products would be sold. At trade shows, SUSTA offers exhibition space at a subsidized rate within a SUSTA-branded pavilion. This past year, as a result of the cancellation of events due to COVID-19, SUSTA began offering virtual trade missions that featured videoconferenced one-on-one meetings. Food producers can also take advantage of the 50% CostShare program, which offers 50% reimbursement on international marketing expenses. The program can be used for advertising, website translation, in-store sampling, participation in trade shows and missions, label changes for foreign markets, and more. SUSTA recognizes that marketing food and beverage products

internationally can be costly, and this program can help ease the budgetary strain of taking on new foreign markets. Through other SUSTA initiatives, companies looking to export can schedule virtual consultations with in-country consultants to discuss products and their potential in certain foreign markets. Individual states offer export seminars and webinars to companies interested in exporting, providing information on SUSTA and on topics such as financing and freight forwarding. SUSTA also offers educational webinars throughout the year on specific international markets, as well as topics of interest such as digital marketing. So how is SUSTA effective for Florida agricultural companies interested in exporting? In 2019, 40 Florida companies, including 15 new ones, participated in SUSTA programs. There were 38 companies that made export sales, with 11 doing it for the first time. In 2019, the return on investment was $17 for every $1 Florida companies invested into SUSTA. Over the past five years, Florida companies collectively made $275 million in export sales and 80 first-time sales to new markets.

What types of events are Florida companies attending? The past year proved to be a unique and unprecedented year for the world. As a result, SUSTA and its participating companies had to change what they were doing to grow their export markets. At the beginning of the year, Florida companies were able to attend a horticulture trade show in Germany (IPM Essen), a produce trade show in Germany (Fruit Logistica), and the Gulfood trade show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For the rest of the year, Florida companies participated in virtual trade missions with the following markets: Canada, Central America, China/Hong Kong, Colombia, Europe, India, Mexico, the Middle East and Taiwan. If an agriculture company in Florida is interested in taking its products global, FDACS is ready to assist. Whether it is introducing a company to a foreign retailer or attending a trade show on the other side of the world, the department is a helping hand and a valuable tool. Let’s work together to take Florida’s exceptional food and beverage products to the world. b | APRIL 2021



The Business of

SPORTS By Jason Siegel

City Venues Find Business Opportunities Despite Pandemic

JASON SIEGEL is president and CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission. Longtime Orlando sportswriter George Diaz contributed to this article.


he business model for running Orlando’s venues underwent a seismic shift on March 11, 2020.

Allen Johnson, the chief venues officer for the City of Orlando, had just driven to St. Augustine to watch The Players Championship golf event at TPC Sawgrass. While having dinner with three friends, Johnson received a text saying a National Basketball Association game had been canceled. “Uh-oh, that’s not good,” he told his friends. Johnson watched the first round of the golf tournament the next day and then came home to a new world order taking shape. The COVID-19 pandemic was encroaching on everyone’s lives, and it was particularly challenging for someone whose job entails staging events and putting people in seats, usually thousands at a time. “Nobody knew exactly how long it was going to be,” Johnson said. “I remember them saying, ‘Three months, right?’ Shows what we were dealing with. What we were supposed to have that weekend, we just said, ‘We’ll move it three months down the road.’ So we started doing all that. We call it ‘moving the workload.’ And we just kept moving the workload.” The workload has kept moving and shifting for more than a year now, but Johnson is as busy as ever. Most of the traditional events Johnson stages at the Amway Center, Camping World Stadium, Tinker Field, Harry P. Leu Gardens and the Mennello Museum of American Art have been redesigned to meet COVID-19 mandates: Social distancing. Reduced attendance. Plenty of hand sanitizer stations. Of course, there have been cancellations for safety and logistical reasons. But challenges have also brought new opportunities:


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Allen Johnson and Mayor Buddy Dyer in the south end zone stands during 2014 renovations at Camping World Stadium

INDUSTRY INSIGHT Ɏ For 44 consecutive days during the pandemic, Johnson partnered with AdventHealth as the Amway Center became a distribution hub of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies for the state and beyond. The arena floor was stocked with all sorts of critical supplies, including face coverings and face shields, surgical gloves, hand sanitizers and ventilators. Ɏ World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) established a four-month residency at the Amway Center to produce and televise 35 live shows without fans. The first show aired August 21 and the last one wrapped up December 7.

Allen Johnson

Ɏ Camping World Stadium has been used as a site for COVID-19 drivethrough testing and for staging numerous food drives. Ɏ Leu Gardens converted to a cashless system and featured a number of outdoor events that drew strong numbers.

“We’ve been doing this for 40 years. But there’s no class for this,” Johnson said of the pandemic. “There’s no book. There are no professors. In our lifetime, there’s no example of how to deal with this. I mean, hurricanes disrupt you for a week or two. Other things that come are small disruptions, but not on the scale of this.” Like any effective business executive, Johnson is good at improvisation. And this pandemic certainly has challenged him to think outside the box in many ways. He also made sure to take care of his own, so to speak, when opportunities like the WWE partnership came along. Like everywhere else, people were concerned about losing jobs. Johnson had their backs. “You need to give our employees first crack at it,” he told WWE executives. “They used our audio guys and our ribbon boards. It was a godsend as far as revenue coming in because I can safely say I don’t know of another arena in the country that had commercial money coming in.” There was work to do at other venues, specifically Camping World Stadium. The stadium is in the midst of a $60 million

City of Orlando staff at COPA America Centenario 2016 at Camping World Stadium

Allen Johnson (center) and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (right) at 2015 Rolling Stones concert announcement at Camping World Stadium | APRIL 2021



International Association of Venue Managers Venue Excellence Awards in 2017 with IAVM President and CEO Brad Mayne (5th from left) at Amway Center

construction upgrade and enhancements funded by the Orange County tourist development tax. The City of Orlando and Florida Citrus Sports are running point on the renovations, designed to enhance the fan experience, keep the venue competitive with other top-tier stadiums, and attract more marquee events. If Orlando is selected as a host city, Camping World Stadium could be the main local venue for 2026 FIFA World Cup matches. The soccer competition held every four years by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association brings in fans from all over the world. “We started it almost right after the January 1st bowl game,” Johnson said. “We will be replacing the turf. We’re still going to be synthetic. And we’re also replacing our video boards and our ribbon boards.” The stadium is also upgrading its point-of-sale systems to speed up its processes for customers


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looking to pay for food, beverages and merchandise by credit card. All the while, Camping World Stadium has been open for business. The stadium recently hosted two American Motorcyclist Association Supercross weekend events, each with a strong COVID-19 capacity of 9,000, followed by three Monster Jam truck competitions over a third weekend. And then there is the magic of Leu Gardens, and innovative ways to take advantage of its beautiful 50-acre landscape. “Not all exhibition-driven, because it’s still a beautiful place without it, but adding more of those as we can,” Johnson said. Leu Gardens added Cole NeSmith’s “Dazzling Nights” from December through early January, featuring lights, music and interactive elements to transform the gardens into a stunning holiday wonderland. Standard features

like plant sales and movie nights are in the mix. A dinosaur exhibit runs through April 18. “We’re getting close to five, six months of the year having special exhibits, which drives foot traffic over there,” Johnson said. “It also drives memberships. Families join. So we’re looking at doing things there. We’re big on potential for Leu Gardens because of how big the place is.” The business model certainly has changed for people like Johnson. There are fewer events, so that nocturnal time clock of his has needed readjusting. But he is working as hard as ever. A lot of that time crunch is during the day, mostly on Zoom meetings. Johnson is telling business associates, colleagues and peers from other states what everyone wants to hear: Orlando remains open in the events business. And business is good. b

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The Business of

THE ARTS By Meaghan Branham

Creating and Consuming Culture in a Pandemic


n the 1400s, as Italy emerged from a time of uncertainty and fear brought on by the devastation of the plague, people found themselves seeking comfort in art, which allowed them to revel in celebrations and contemplations of life. That period became known as the Renaissance. Some predict a similar transformation in our own world in the coming years.

That prediction may not be too far off. In the past year, people found themselves dealing with anxiety, uncertainty and stress, and many had more time than usual on their hands. People dove into new hobbies, new ways to express themselves or new ways to keep busy in the midst of a global trauma. They turned to sewing, knitting, painting, interior decorating, music, photography and many other activities. There’s science to back up that urge to create: According to a 2016 study at Drexel University, just 45 minutes of making art can significantly lower levels of cortisol, a hormone made in response to danger — or to the stress of, say, a global pandemic. That we need the arts should never be called into question, especially after a year when so many of us found solace in them. The question should be, how have the arts been hit hardest, how can we help them, and what will they look like moving forward? Here, we’ll take a


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look at some of the hardest-hit sectors of the arts and what COVID-19 changed for them.


The world of art galleries, museums and art fairs faced an especially difficult challenge in the past year. Some estimates paint a grim picture of their future, predicting that roughly one-third of U.S. museums may have to permanently close their doors as a result of the pandemic. But it’s not all bad news, and most of our art sanctuaries aren’t going out without a fight. Even while closed, Central Florida’s museums and galleries pivoted quickly. Institutions like the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, all in Winter Park, began offering virtual tours or transferring their audio tours online. The Orlando Museum of Art started its #MuseumFromHome program, offering materials online like printables and virtual discussions with artists to allow patrons a new version of an immersive experience. Outdoor spaces with exhibits like Leu Gardens implemented social distancing and mask requirements. It proved effective, with many people more than willing to show up. From the comfort of their homes, they explored the halls of museums with the same

MEAGHAN BRANHAM is the managing editor for i4 Business, where she oversees the company’s digital media strategy, handles client relationship marketing for the print and digital magazines, and serves as one of the lead writers.


focus and reverence they would show in person. They engaged with the art in new ways, free to talk excitedly with friends and family next to them about the works, or to pull up a new tab and dive into an artist’s repertoire. The activity has spiked a desire for them to learn more and, when they can, to return to these places with a renewed gratitude for the chance to have an in-person interaction with the art. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed in a 2020 Artnet News survey say they plan to visit museums before any other art venue post-lockdown.

Film Industry

Can you remember the last movie you saw in a theater? It was most likely more than a year ago. And in the time since, the business of film has seen fundamental changes in every part of the industry. For almost the entirety of film’s history, a studio blockbuster was required to play in theaters for three months before its home entertainment launch, according to a Variety report. When temporary closures forced movie-goers away from theaters, home entertainment was suddenly the only option for film distributors that didn’t want to postpone releases. Today, many can’t imagine life without these streaming services, statistics show. According to Ofcom’s annual study into UK media habits reported in a article, “People watched streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, for one hour 11 minutes per day, and 12 million people joined a service they hadn’t used previously.” AARP and its membership of people age 50 and older began leaning into this new form of audience engagement, offering programs like “Movies for Grownups” screenings. These exclusive showings of movies selected to spotlight writers, actors and directors who are over 50 gained even more traction during the pandemic, when AARP was able to secure films like The Mauritanian starring Jodie Foster. Some tried to outrun the clock on COVID-19 restrictions, only to find that audience anticipation was dwindling. Would-be blockbusters like Disney’s Mulan and DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 still ended up on these platforms, circumventing the problem of multiperson households renting one film by charging the cost of

three to four traditional theater tickets. Mulan alone made a total of more than $35 million on its opening weekend. According to, all of that revenue went straight to The Walt Disney Company as net profit, without the hindrance of distribution fees. At the same time, the drive-in theater experienced a resurgence. While drive-ins weren’t immune to the disruptions in film supply chains, they could turn to showing classics, a strategy that worked perfectly with the dose of nostalgia these theaters offered. The Silver Moon Drive-In in Lakeland and the Ocala Drive-In were able to quickly adapt to the pandemic demand, while other venues improvised to use existing space to create a kind of pop-up drive-in: Old Town Kissimmee, SeaWorld Orlando, and even a Walmart in Winter Haven. Central Florida’s theaters, like others, are doing their best to adjust. Local venues like the Enzian, Orlando’s art house theater, have been working hard to keep their doors open. When the pandemic began, the Enzian shifted much of its content online, making it available for people to pay to stream the movies they would otherwise see in person. As some began to open their doors, the Enzian followed suit, with limited capacity enforced through socially distanced seating and safety guidelines like a contactless menu at each table. The theater even installed a new air-conditioning unit with UV filtration, designed to reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission even further. Film festivals were also forced to adapt, switching to an F

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum

#MuseumFromHome | APRIL 2021


INDUSTRY INSIGHT online streaming model that would allow for a live audience. Q&A’s typically held in person before or after a screening became Facebook Live events. These shifts, exhibitor relations analyst Jeff Bock predicted in Variety, aren’t just “a reboot.” Instead, “It’s a rebuild of the theatrical model.” Locally loved events like the Global Peace Film Festival, which is based in Orlando, took their lineups to the digital world. Sanford’s “Love Your Shorts” short film festival, which kicked off on February 12, 2021, offered audiences the chance to watch from home or attend in person, keeping in mind limited capacity in the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center. The Florida Film Festival, which started August 7, 2020, went ahead with screenings held at the Enzian, along with offering much of its content through its virtual festival. The event limited screenings online to a capacity of 100 viewers, mimicking the actual capacity of a physical theater. Still, many in the arts world find themselves struggling to adapt and in need of help from the community to ensure their preservation. As distributors push back release dates or offer the same content on streaming platforms, audiences are not turning out the way many had hoped. Foundations like United Arts of Central Florida, a fundraising agency for the arts, are helping as well. In December 2020, United Arts began matching 15% of any donation made to the Enzian through its organization.

Live Music and Theater

Live performances like theater and music were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Performing arts centers and music venues small and large were the first to shut their doors, and many expected they would be the last to reopen. A BBC report estimated that musicians would lose two-thirds of their income as a result of COVID-19. In response to the alarming numbers, many venues and artists have turned to streaming their concerts or releasing footage of past performances,


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garnering an encouraging response from audiences. As early as April 2020, virtual concerts like the One World Together At Home event showcased performers including Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Kacey Musgraves. In October 2020, the fourth annual Tom Petty Birthday Bash went virtual, with musicians performing from wherever they were. In January and February 2021, Glasgow’s annual folk and world music festival Celtic Connections

went online, drawing audiences from more than 60 countries who bought more than 27,000 tickets and festival passes for a show that spanned 19 days. Meanwhile, musicians from the Foo Fighters to Billie Eilish to John Legend to Phoebe Bridgers to Miley Cyrus and every genre in between put on shows from their living rooms. Local acts followed suit, and soon venues and acts like Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts, Bok Tower Gardens and the Orlando Philharmonic were hosting their own watch-from-home performances. With time to regroup and prepare, larger shows were organized. Late in 2020, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts announced the Frontyard Festival: a six-month-long event where acts could perform on the front yard of the center for an audience of socially distanced fans in individual “pods” of up to four people. The festival began in December 2020

and has been going strong since. As public spaces reopen and we learn how to more safely navigate them, it looks like live performances are set to come back stronger than ever, and dates are beginning to be announced for 2022 shows. Acts like The Weeknd, Elton John and Gaelic Storm are set to grace Orlando again. Live theater was left in a similarly difficult situation. Half of the jobs in that industry were lost between April and July 2020, according to a 2020 study by the Brookings Institution. Quickly, theaters like Orlando Shakes and the Orlando Repertory Theatre pivoted to online learning tools and classes, adapting curriculum to sustain revenue through that channel until they could find a way to resume performances. It didn’t take long, and soon outdoor performances with safety protocols in place were in the works in spaces like the Lake Eola bandshell. The Shakespeare theater launched online plays starting in October with a one-man performance about the macabre world of poet Edgar Allan Poe. Thanks to their quick thinking, many local theaters like the Shakes, the Rep, and Mad Cow Theatre survived 2020 and are setting up for upcoming seasons or in the middle of producing their 2021 shows.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

As museum doors were shuttered, concert tickets were refunded, and movie premieres were postponed, people found themselves wondering: “Could the arts be a casualty of COVID-19?” The answer, to the relief of many, seems to be a resounding refusal to let our artists fade away. Instead, artists and their works have done what they’ve always done: Reflect our realities, guide us through hard truths and — paradoxically — help us escape from reality. Mediums and messages will continue to evolve, as they have throughout all of human history. The way we make, view and support the arts might look different post-COVID, but there seems to be a unanimous understanding that we will always need them. b



Times of the

Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway FBy Key HowardH


eading up to the turn of the 20th century, the year 1900 brought significant accomplishments in many areas: Helen Barbey was the first female to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games; a rigid airship designed by Ferdinand von Zeppelin made its first flight; and the first hamburger sandwich was created and served at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut.

But for a family in Kissimmee, Florida, probably the most momentous event was the birth of Irlo Overstreet Bronson, thereby creating an enviable fourth generation of Bronson cattlemen on a ranch established in the late 1860s. Bronson was an excellent student and entered a military academy in Georgia, which led to a brief service in the Army. Completing his service in 1921, he joined the family business, spending many hours “in the saddle,” sometimes herding anywhere from 600 to an astonishing 10,000 head of cattle. He graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, where he majored in business administration. He married Flora Belle Bass in 1924 and sired two children, Evelyn and Irlo Jr. (Bud). To say that Bronson was an overachiever during his 73-year tenure on this planet would be a classic understatement. He threw his cap into the political arena at an early age, and his accomplishments over the next five decades are legend. His sobriquet, “Mr. Florida Cattleman,” was unofficially bestowed after he established the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and then presided over it from 1946-1950. He served in the Florida

House of Representatives for 10 years and was elected to the Florida Senate in 1952, serving for 14 years, including a year as president pro tempore. His list of civic involvement goes on and on. His son would go on to serve in the Florida House from 1982 to 2000, switching from Democrat to Republican in his final year in office. The senior Bronson, following in the footsteps of his ranching peers, held vast holdings of land purchased midcentury at prices as low as $1 per acre. His father, the third-generation cattleman of the Bronson family, thought his son had “fallen out of the saddle” paying that enormous amount of money for dirt. That opinion changed some years later when he sold the majority of his holdings in the deal for which he is probably best known — selling land at $100 per acre to Walt Disney for what would become Walt Disney World. Following Bronson’s death, a major section of U.S. Highway 192 that passes through his former land and leads to the gateway to Walt Disney World was named Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in recognition of his many contributions to not only Florida’s cattle industry, but the creation of more diversified employment opportunities in the state. With his passing in 1973, Florida lost a great innovator, but memories and tales of his exploits will forever be emblazoned in the history books and the hearts of all Floridians who prosper today from his efforts on their behalf. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (U.S. Highway 192) runs from U.S. Highway 441 in Kissimmee west to U.S. Highway 27. The eastern portion of U.S. 192 continues east from U.S. 441 to State Road A1A in Melbourne and is known as Space Coast Parkway, indicating its final destination. b

A young Irlo Bronson | APRIL 2021



i4 BUSINESS 2021 WOMEN’S INSPIRED LEADERSHIP AWARDS Diane Sears, i4 Business editor and publisher, event emcee


Violinist Gary Lovini

Meaghan Branham, i4 Business managing editor, event co-emcee

Romaine Seguin, UPS and i4 Business

Donna Duda, i4 Business director of encouragement

Presenter Vicki Jaramillo, Orlando International Airport

Spirit of Progress recipient Pam Nabors, CareerSource Central Florida

Presenter Tanisha Nunn Gary, African American Chamber of Commerce

Spirit of Mentorship recipient Lena Graham-Morris, HORUS Construction

Presenter Maryann Barry, Girl Scouts of Citrus Council

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Community leaders gathered online on March 11 for the 2021 Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards hosted by i4 Business magazine. Seven women leaders were recognized for their outstanding work in Central Florida in seven categories: advocacy, collaboration, engagement, entrepreneurship, innovation, mentorship and progress. British violinist Gary Lovini ( welcomed the audience with contemporary dance tunes live from Orlando Production Studio. Leaders of Central Florida women’s business groups shared information about their organizations, and the virtual audience cheered on the honorees. Spirit of Innovation recipient, Kirstie McCool, GuideWell Innovation

Presenter Jo Newell, Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce

Spirit of Entrepreneurship recipient Verbelee Nielsen-Swanson, Oxford Eyes

Presenter Lourdes Mola, Lourdes Mola Solutions

Spirit of Engagement recipient Leticia Diaz, Barry University School of Law

Presenter Mayra Uribe, Orange County Commission, District 3

Spirit of Collaboration recipient Marcie Golgoski, WESH-TV Channel 2




Presenter Maritza Martinez-Guerrero, University of Central Florida

Spirit of Advocacy recipient Deborah Beidel, UCF RESTORES

Awards 2021 | APRIL 2021



GRAND OPENING OF BOYS & GIRLS CLUB IN WEST LAKES Photography: Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida


Leading donors Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis

West Lakes Boys & Girls Club Photo Credit: Ben Tanner

Gary Cain, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida

Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, District 5

Marcia Hope Goodwin and Mayor Buddy Dyer from the City of Orlando

Eddy Moratin, president of LIFT Orlando

Bryant Gipson, Margaret Hill, Tracy Anderson, Admiral David Brewer and Fannie Williams

Michelle Chandler, Tom Chandler, Kelli Addison and Kelli Griffith of SchenkelShultz Architecture

10-year-old twins Bella and Millie Donald-Stanley

Jennifer Ashton, Mack Reid and J.T. McWalters

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Community leaders and residents gathered in person and online March 12 to celebrate the grand opening of the Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis Family Branch Boys & Girls Club on the campus of Orange Center Elementary School in Orlando’s West Lakes community. The largest in Central Florida, the club will serve more than 250 children daily in a neighborhood with a rich African American history. Its name honors the couple who donated $4 million toward the $9 million facility. Otis is the former CEO of Darden Restaurants, and Bradley has served on the board of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida for more than 20 years. The state-of-the-art building features a contemporary design by Orlando-based firm SchenkelShultz Architecture, which contributed its services to the project. Other major donors included the Darden Foundation, Walt Disney Company, Kiwanis Club of Orlando Foundation, Harold and Rosy Mills, Tom and Jayne Sittema, and Kim and Cathy Lopdrup.

Dr. Steven and Suzanne Dukes

The Donald-Stanley family

Gary Cain (second from left) and Kiwanis Club of Orlando members Jeff Cox, Tom Porter and Steve Kirby

David Odahowski, president and CEO of Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation

Vicki Elaine Felder (at right), Orange County School Board member

Walt Disney World representatives Matt Kennedy and Tajiana Ancora-Brown with Gary Cain

Darden Restaurants representatives Susan Connelly, chief communications and public affairs officer, and Gene Lee, chairman and CEO

Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America

BGCCF board members Russ Salerno, Mike Ryan and Ric Cieslak

Barry Cotton with U.S. Senator Rick Scott’s office; and Maria Montano and Xely Martinez with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s office | APRIL 2021




MELBOURNE The Great Florida Air Show

for your day off

Since the 1940s, the Navy’s Blue Angels have been taking to the skies to entertain and delight people of all ages. This year they have stepped it up again: On May 15 and 16, the audience of the Great Florida Air Show will be among the first to see F-18 Super Hornet planes in flight. Hosted at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport and sponsored by Northrop Grumman, the show offers a chance for both longtime fans and first-time attendees to be inspired by the best in aviation. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be available on-site on the days of the show.


Winter Park Wine Walk

The best way to get to know a place is through its food and its people. Tours and Travel for Foodie Fans allows an opportunity to experience the best of both through its Winter Park Wine Walk. Both a daytime and a nighttime tour of Winter Park establishments will be offered each Monday starting at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and will explore hidden gems and old favorites, including Boca, the Ancient Olive, the Wine Room and more. Founded by a Navy veteran and his wife, the company donates $5 from every tour to the Shift Colors Project to help veterans and their families. Tickets start at $65.


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ORLANDO Nikki’s Place

In a building that dates back to 1949, near the Holden/ Parramore neighborhoods of Orlando, Nikki’s Place is serving up classic Southern food to locals and tourists looking for a taste of history and home. Since 1999, chef and owner Nick Aiken Jr. has built a familyowned and -operated staple of Central Florida — one that has thrived, even in a year tough on the industry. While the dining room is closed for the time being, Nikki’s Place is perfect for those looking to support a local business and enjoy a cozy night in with take-out or delivery. The menu is a hit list of the best comfort food around: fried catfish, pork rib tips, beef stew, smothered steak, and tilapia, with sides such as collard greens, okra and tomatoes, and macaroni and cheese.

WINTER PARK ‘Respect: A Musical Journey of Women’

Women in music have created a powerful legacy. They have also created songs and stories that have made indelible impressions on our own lives. From April 8 through 24, the Winter Park Playhouse is bringing those stories and songs to audiences with “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women.” The show is full of favorites like “My Man,” “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “I Will Survive,” “Respect” and so many more, using them and real women’s stories to illustrate how music reflected the lives of women in the 20th century.

To scan the QR Codes, point the camera app on your smartphone toward the page and follow the instructions on your smartphone screen.

ST. PETERSBURG Salvador Dali Museum

The Dali Museum is well-known for celebrating the work and life of the 20th century Spanish painter Salvador Dali with breathtaking works worth a visit themselves. But the “Van Gogh Alive” exhibit, running through April 11, has garnered recognition all its own in the past couple of months. The show uses high-definition projectors and a powerful musical score to make viewers feel as if they are walking right into some of the artist’s most famous works. If you miss Van Gogh, the museum’s upcoming exhibition of photographer Lee Miller, titled “The Woman Who Broke Boundaries,” opens May 1. Visitors can see the renowned photographer’s portraits of the artists and writers of the Surrealist movement in Paris, including Dali himself, as well as some of her famous self-portraits.

Lee Miller




Stuff you didn’t know you wanted to know


Influx of new residents to the Orlando area in 2020, ranking third nationwide after Phoenix and Dallas, and followed by Tampa and Austin. The migration from larger, more expensive cities is causing a housing crunch. Source: Source: Redfin Corp.

“To be the best, you have to play the best and you have to beat the best. Sometimes you have to play people on their terms if you want an opportunity for that.” — New University of Central Florida Athletics Director Terry Mohajir, on why UCF may stop rebuffing demands from more established football programs to get into their rotation by agreeing to play two games at the other school for one game at UCF.

“I’ll play out in the parking lot. … Terry can decide if we’re playing at home or on the road or a two-forwhatever. I just want to play them and I want to beat them.” — New UCF football coach Gus Malzahn


APRIL 2021 |


IF EVER THE WORLD NEEDED SOME PIXIE DUST AND A LITTLE EXTRA MAGIC FROM OUR CAST, THAT TIME IS NOW — Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World, speaking about the resort’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration

Oct. 1, 1971

The date Walt Disney World opened to the public with one theme park, Magic Kingdom, and two resort hotels, the Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Village

Number of beds as of the end of 2020 at AdventHealth Orlando, the second-largest hospital in Florida, after Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami


Number of beds at Orlando Health’s Orlando Regional Medical Center, the fifth-largest hospital in Florida. UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville and Tampa General Hospital ranked third and fourth. Source: Orlando Business Journal


Ranking among top 10 bestperforming large cities in the U.S. for the metropolitan statistical area that includes Palm Bay, Melbourne and Titusville — an improvement from the 2020 ranking of 10, and the only metro area included from Central Florida Source: Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities 2021




With Special Guest Andrew Ripp April 26 An Evening With


Enjoy dinner and drinks delivered to your own socially distant box for up to 5 people. F R O N T YA R D F E S T I VA L .O R G Mainstage at Senee Arts Plaza



FOREIGNER Ma y 1 9 & 2 0


“ YO U C A N ’ T G O O N VAC AT I O N BY V I D E O CO N F E R E N C E” Missing that feeling of freedom and exploration you can only access through air travel? As Your Florida Airport of Choice®, Orlando International Airport hears you loud and clear. Quite honestly, we are in the same boat as you. But we’d rather be on the same plane.




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