Monthly Archives: November 2014

SB2: What We Learned About International Tourism and Business

SRQ Magazine hosted the November SB2: International Travel & Business monthly seminar on Thursday, November 20th at The Francis Hotel. This month’s turnout nodded to the heightened importance of the topic on our community. The morning kicked off with an impressive breakfast spread (including the often duplicated, never replicated bacon) and a presentation by Jeff Mayers, General Manager of The Resort at Longboat Key Club. Mayers set the tone for the panel discussion by turning the focus on the critical mission of maintaining a healthy tourism and economic climate for businesses within our region.

Panelists of the November 20 SB2 Symposium. From Left to Right: Max Stewart, Joan McGill, SRQ Executive Publisher Wes Roberts, Jeff Mayers, Virginia Haley, Elliott Falcione.

Panelists of the November 20 SB2 Symposium. From Left to Right: Max Stewart, Joan McGill, SRQ Executive Publisher Wes Roberts, Jeff Mayers, Virginia Haley, Elliott Falcione. Photo Credit: Shane Donglasan.

Participants in the panel discussion provided their insights on the best way to keep the Sarasota and Bradenton area on the map when it comes to international tourists and recruiting international businesses to the area. Joan McGill of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County noted that one of the biggest driving factors for companies to relocate or open operations in Sarasota is that, “the CEOs have a connection to Sarasota and want to live here.” With a friendly tax climate to businesses as the second motivator, the real value of the area is that people who have visited Sarasota have a strong desire to relocate here. Max Stewart of Enterprise Florida in Tampa joined the panel emphasized the geographic location of Sarasota and Bradenton as a motivator to international business. With close proximity to Central America, maintaining relationships with businesses looking to expand globally is critical to the future business climate to the region.

While attracting new businesses to the area, maintaining a healthy tourism industry is equally important. Knowing the habits of international travelers plays a role in how Visit Sarasota County allocates their efforts to attract tourists. Virginia Haley of Visit Sarasota County made a compelling case for targeting international travelers, “international visitors to Sarasota spend twice as much and stay two times longer than domestic tourists.” She also noted that the drive market to the area during the summer months is made up of domestic tourists with one goal in mind: beach time. International tourists that visit the area during other seasons have a heavier focus on the cultural institutions and the arts.


SRQ Magazine Executive Publisher Wes Roberts moderates the panel discussion. Photo Credit: Shane Donglasan.

Attracting tourists and having them among us are two different things. Jeff Mayers of The Resort at Longboat Key Club reminded those in attendance that tourism doesn’t stop with brining people to hotels, but accommodating them throughout their stay. “Our infrastructure needs to be able to sustain the influx of people to the area.” Ensuring that our roads are adequate and that there are enough accommodations is just as important as branding the area as a prime destination for travelers. Once we get tourists here (and especially during peak season), the transition to an increase of traffic and people can be frustrating. However, Elliott Falcione of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau reminded us that the dollars spent by tourists while visiting improves the quality of life for residents of the area.

All in all, we learned a great deal. And on top of that, we are grateful for our panelists that work hard to put our region on the map in the tourism and international business sector. In doing so, they fight for jobs in our region and ensure that when expansion does happen, it is done property to maintain the elements that make our community unique and inviting.

Thank you to our sponsors who made this great event happen: CS&L CPAs, IMG Academy, and event sponsor The Resort at Longboat Key Club. Photos from the event are posted online and can be viewed here. A transcript from SB2 will be posted soon on under Dig Data.

The December SB2 is closer than you think! We will be meeting for lunch at the IMG Academy Golf Club to discuss “The Business of Philanthropy” on December 8, 2014 at 11:30 am. Don’t miss your chance to hear from the best and brightest our region has to offer when it comes to philanthropic insights. Purchase your tickets today at See you soon!

Adrian Grenier of Entourage Fame Interviews with SRQ Magazine

We have to admit – even we get star-struck sometimes. This week was one of those “sometimes.” Adrian Grenier of HBO’s Entourage visited Ringling College of Art and Design as part of their Studio Lab series. SRQ had the honor of participating in an interview with Grenier about his upcoming project, 52: The Loneliest Whale. SRQ Magazine Staff Writer Phil Lederer joined the conversation to gain insight on his passion for this project.

Adrian Grenier and SRQ Staff Writer Phil Lederer pose for a photo after an interview. Photo Credit:  Rich Schineller

Adrian Grenier and SRQ Staff Writer Phil Lederer pose for a photo after an interview. Photo Credit: Rich Schineller

“The goosebump factor is what drew me to this project,” said Grenier when Lederer asked why this particular story caught his eye. And we have to admit, we got the goosebumps, too.

52: The Loneliest Whale is a (forgive the pun) whale-sized mystery. Discovered in the 1980s through sonar of whale calls, the 52-hertz call of a whale in Pacific Ocean has never been matched to the language or call of another whale. This particular whale is speaking an entirely different dialect and it seems that no other documented whale understands his calls. Grenier is partnering with this film project to track and find 52 in search for answers. The goal?  To answer the whale’s calls into the void of the deep blue.

For more on this project, follow the 52-hertz whale project team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Ringling Studio Lab series, visit To read more on Phil’s interview with Adrian, visit the SRQ Backlot blog.

Join the Sports Revolution: February Marketing Opportunity



SRQ | The Magazine is inspiring creative fitness in the area with a Roundtable dedicated to getting in shape and staying healthy. The Sports Revolution Roundtable showcases some of the region’s most intriguing sports and recreation both outdoors and indoors from paddle boarding and bicycling to soccer and triathlons, cutting-edge fitness facilities and the medical rehabilitation and wellness treatments supporting our drive to play. We want you on our team!

Join the Sports Revolution and encourage our audience to turn to your company to get fit this February. Use this opportunity to feature the way your company helps to keep bodies strong for the long haul.

Reserve your place in this special marketing feature – space closes December 11, 2014. 

Contact the SRQ Magazine Advertising team today at

See you in our pages soon!

SRQ “Where the Votes Are” Returns for November Election Findings Presentation, 11/19/2014


SRQ Magazine hosted a group of influential local political watchers at our studios on Wednesday to review recent November general election results. The morning was cold, but the group assembled enjoyed coffee and bagels along with their morning dose of political repartee to start off their day. “Where the Votes Are,” presented by Senior Editor and political guru Jacob Ogles, has become a mainstay in our community. As the voter demographic information becomes available, Jacob spends hours reviewing the voter statistics and prepares a presentation divulging the biggest upsets of the political scene.



This presentation included his findings on the more notable races in our area – particularly that of U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan, the gubernatorial race, Florida Right to Medicinal Marijuana Initiative, and the voter demographic relating to age, race and party breakdown.




A few of his key findings included:

  1. Democrats produced a higher turnout than most counties in the state but Republican turnout far outpaced that.
  2. Running with party ID is better than running with none, as NPAs only did well in absence of a Dem, and then only among Dem voters
  3. White voters were the only racial demographic to come out at greater than 50 percent turnout. Similarly, only voters over the age of 40 turned out at that rate.
  4. The vast bulk of turnout for Dems was in the City of Sarasota, where Dems won for Governor, Congress and County Commission. North Port was close, with Scott winning by 500 of 19,000 votes. Venice and Longboat Key trended Republican.
  5. Marsh did well in some Republican areas like LBK, but he trailed in much of South County, including North Port.
  6. Both parties now have solid GOTV mechanisms, but sheer mass keeps the county firmly in GOP control



Special thanks to those who joined us bright and early on Wednesday morning. To view Jacob’s presentation and key findings online, visit, Dig Data. Photos from Wednesday’s event can be viewed on CLICKSRQ.COM, click here.

SRQ’s Phil Lederer Judges Siesta Key Crystal Classic

Staff Writer Phil Lederer was invited to serve as a judge for the annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition from November 14-18. Phil has been covering the arts and culture and foodie beat since he began as an intern at SRQ Media and now continues his work as a full time staff writer.

SRQ Magazine Phil Lederer poses with "Siesta Selfie" sand sculpture in the 2014 Crystal Classic competition.

SRQ Magazine Phil Lederer poses with “Siesta Selfie” sand sculpture in the 2014 Crystal Classic competition.

Starting in 2010, the Master Sand Sculpting Competition has quickly gained notoriety among locals, tourists and the sculptors participating in the weekend’s festivities. In order to qualify as a competing sculptor, artists must participate and win in amateur sand sculpting locations held across the country. This year’s competition featured artists from across the globe sculpting Siesta Key’s pure white sand.

“Craftsmanship of course plays a large role,” says Phil on what it takes to garner first prize. “Everyone competing at this level is undeniably skilled, making it difficult to judge based solely on those criteria, though we did take into account the difficulty of the design and aspects such as surface texture. For me, the make-it-or-break-it criteria was the artist’s concept. Each team did what it set out to do, so it became a question of the originality of the concept.”

When spectators walked through the sand to admire the sculptures the often questioned aloud, “how do they do that?!” Well, we wondered the same thing.  “What first struck me was the scale of the creations – they are massive” says Phil. “Prior to this, the world of professional sand-sculpting was a mystery to me, and still is to some extent. The way they work the sand and the tools they use is not something I can understand, outside of actually doing it. The sand I feel between my toes is not the sand they’re working with. In much the same way that a piano means something different to a master pianist. sand becomes something different in their hands, something I can’t really approximate. I’ll judge the finished product, but I’ll never be able to judge their process.”

It is undeniable that this yearly competition is a positive economic draw for the area. We look forward to many more years of this artistic competition – and the fantastic sculptures gracing the beach.

For information on the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition and to view photos of the winning sculptures, visit their website.

Joseph Barbetta Joins the Board of Directors for the Center For Architecture Sarasota

Recently retired and former Sarasota County City Commissioner Joe Barbetta joins the Board of Directors for the Center for Architecture Sarasota (CFAS).  The Center for Architecture Sarasota is proud to announce the Joseph A. Barbetta Scholarship to recognize his dedication and service to our community. The Joseph A. Barbetta Scholarship will provide financial assistance to the next generation of architects and designers of the built environment in the UF CityLab-Sarasota program. Part of CFAS’s many new programs, UF CityLab-Sarasota is a program in our community offered through the University of Florida School of Architecture, Master of Architecture Degree, scheduled to begin in August 2015.

“I’m honored to be asked to serve on the Board of the Center For Architecture Sarasota and I’m deeply humbled in hearing that a Scholarship has been set up in my name for future Architectural students,” says Barbetta. “My sincere thanks and appreciation to all those involved in helping to bring this about and for their generous contributions.”

Chair of the Board for CFAS, Cynthia Peterson says that the scholarship can a make a difference on whether a talented future visionary will have the resources to attend UF CityLab-Sarasota. “Barbetta values education and the future of our built environment and this scholarship will address both of these issues for many years to come by educating the next generation of architects and designers who will be steering the direction of Sarasota.” Peterson’s hope is that these students will choose to stay in the community upon their graduation from the program.

Architectural rendering of the Center for Architecture Sarasota, opening next year.

Architectural rendering of the Center for Architecture Sarasota, opening next year.

Barbetta was first elected to the Sarasota County Commission in 2006, and elected Chairman of the Commission for 2010. An attorney, he is admitted to the New York and Florida Bar and also admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Barbetta received a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University and earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) degree from Union University-Albany Law School in Albany, New York. He moved to Sarasota in 1983 and has since served the community in various roles, often focusing on planning and economic development.

Funds for the Barbetta Scholarship are being collecting through CFAS under the Joseph A. Barbetta/Center For Architecture Sarasota Scholarship Fund. Visit for more information.

The Center for Architecture Sarasota is a 2014-2015 Story Project Partner with SRQ Media Group.

JOIN US: Where the Votes Are – November 19, 2014

WTVA2014-11-GeneralElectionJoin us for a morning of political discussion and hot coffee! SRQ | The Magazine Senior Editor Jacob Ogles presents “Where the Votes Are” an in-depth analysis of the November 4, 2014 General Election. This enlightening presentation will focus on Sarasota County voting highlights and key findings.

Event Details:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 7:30-9am
SRQ Media Group in Downtown Sarasota (331 S. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota)
Open to the public. Seating limited

Complimentary bagels and coffee.

Jacob will discuss an array of issues, including the growing partisan divides between urban and rural voters in Sarasota County. Reserve your seat today!

See you there,
SRQ Media Group