Central Florida Roundup
Daytona State College reaches out to homeless students
Two years ago, when Tom LoBasso, president of Daytona State College, unveiled a plan to help homeless students at the school, many outside the school were surprised to learn that such a problem even existed. “We’d get that look that said, ‘Oh, you have homeless students?’ ” LoBasso recalls. “It’s not something people typically think of with college students.”
Prompting LoBasso’s action was the fact that the school’s homeless population had grown from fewer than 30 students just before the 2008-09 recession to about 80.
DSC’s approach is to provide students with the basics – food, clothing and shelter – as well as tuition waivers, free bus passes, mentoring, job counseling, health services and money for books, test fees and workplace certifications. Last year, DSC received $1.7 million in state funds to create a homeless resource center on campus. LoBasso sees the initiative partly as a way to improve the school’s student retention and graduation rates.
Despite the economic recovery, DSC still registers about 80 homeless students each semester. LoBasso attributes the stubbornly high number to turmoil from recent hurricanes and a tendency among homeless people to gravitate toward places where help is available.
“I think we’re getting a larger percentage of the population because of the support network we’ve created,” he says. “The word has gotten out.”
LoBasso notes that DSC is an open-access school with student demographics that reflect the larger community’s demographics. “These are our community citizens,” he says. “We’re doing this so that they can get employed and begin to put themselves in a position where they’re not homeless.”
Business Briefs for Central Florida:
- The county will get more than $35 million from the federal government to repair beach erosion caused by Hurricane Irma and protect the shore against future storms.
- Aramis Ayala, state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, announced that her offi ce will no longer seek bail for defendants accused of minor crimes such as driving without a license, possession of drug paraphernalia or less than 20 grams of marijuana, panhandling and disorderly intoxication.
- Philanthropist L. Gale Lemerand donated $2 million to Daytona State College. The school’s new student center will bear his name when it opens in 2019.
LAKE BUENA VISTA
- Walt Disney World says a Star Warsthemed land under construction in its Disney Hollywood Studios theme park will open in late fall 2019.
- Know 2 Solutions, a Lutz-based aviation engineering firm, will move into a 28,000-sq.-ft. complex at Kissimmee Gateway Airport, tapping a new city aviation-related incentive program.
- In response to lobbying by business owners, the city adopted an “aggressive panhandling” ordinance that, among other things, prohibits people from walking in traffic to beg, impeding pedestrians or lying on sidewalks.
- David Siegel’s Westgate Resorts bought the 23-floor, 300-room Hilton New York Grand Central hotel in Manhattan and rebranded it Westgate New York City. Westgate paid a reported $50 million for the property. Westgate, primarily a timeshare company, will continue to operate the property as a hotel.
- Wyndham Destinations, the Orlando-based timeshare company created when Wyndham Worldwide split its hotel and timeshare businesses into two companies, moved 200 corporate jobs to the area.
- Misterb&b, a home-sharing website marketed to gay travelers, agreed to begin paying hotel taxes, the second home-sharing company to strike such a deal with the county after industry giant Airbnb.
- The Orange County cities of Maitland and Eatonville will begin outfitting police officers with body cameras.
- Mexican airline Interjet began daily service between Orlando International Airport and Mexico City.
- The National Science Foundation awarded the University of Central Florida $2 million to finance repairs to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which a UCF-led consortium now manages.
- Hotel occupancy across metro Orlando suffered its first monthly drop in more than a year and its sharpest year-over-year monthly decline in four years.
- The city has pledged $65,000 toward a pilot program that will award grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for technology-focused events and programs.
- County commissioners agreed to spend $1 million to incentivize the construction of affordable housing.
- The Osceola County city is the fastest-growing city in the region, according to new Census estimates.
- The city paid $1.6 million to buy three residential properties on Lake Apopka, with plans to combine them into a public park.
- Ruth’s Hospitality Group, the Winter Park-based parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, promoted Cheryl Henry from president and COO to president and CEO. She succeeded Michael O’Donnell, who is now executive chairman. \
- Abraham Pizam, founding dean of the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, retired in August after 17 years leading the tourism school. His successor is Youcheng Wang, who had been the college’s associate dean of academic affairs and research.
- SeaWorld Entertainment hired Walter Bogumil to fill a newly created position of chief strategy officer. Bogumil had been interim CEO at Affinity Gaming, a Nevada-based gaming operator.
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