Southwest Florida Roundup
School of Fish
School of Fish
Fort Lauderdale-based Guy Harvey Foundation has opened the Guy Harvey Academy of Arts & Science within Anna Maria Elementary School near Bradenton.
The academy’s curriculum, developed in collaboration with the Manatee County School District, includes lessons in art, math and science with the aim of teaching students about marine life, the ocean environment and conservation.
Supplementing the marine education curriculum, the academy plans to provide Anna Maria students with field trips — to Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium in nearby Sarasota, for example — as well as access to scientific equipment, including water quality test kits, refractometers, dissection tools and other lesson-specific materials.
The foundation is in talks with other schools around the state to potentially open additional academies. Harvey, a marine wildlife artist who has degrees in marine biology and fisheries management, says the overall goal of the effort is helping Florida students better understand the ocean’s environment, as well as helping the students learn how to help preserve Florida’s marine environment and wildlife.
“It is so important that we continue to inform, educate and engage our students so they, along with their teachers and families, can enjoy and benefit from a properly balanced ocean ecosystem,” Harvey says.
- ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced a 20-year, $125-million plan that would expand the zoo’s African and Asian habitats and add a South American habitat. Also included is an interactive stingray exhibit, scheduled to open this year, and an expanded manatee rehabilitation and care center to open by 2026.
- The Polk County Board of County Commissioners has targeted $400,000 to address the county’s rising number of opioid fatalities. The money, which will go to Polk’s Opioid Abatement Program, comes from court settlements paid by national drug distribution companies. “Polk County had a 39% jump in overdose deaths in 2020,” says Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey. “We have an obligation to help people claim their lives back from opioids,” he says.
- A Lennar-proposed 400-unit apartment complex in eastern Collier County won approval from the Collier County Planning Commission. If built, 40 of the apartments would be set aside for families earning from 80% to 100% of the county's median income, which is $96,800 for a family of four.
- Ed Hill is the new vice president of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. Hill, who was most recently director of community outreach for sales-tool company Lightspeed Voice, is also a former executive director of the Englewood Chamber of Commerce.
- A federal study is underway to determine if 51 miles of the Little Manatee River in Hillsborough County should be deemed a “scenic waterway,” a determination that would protect the river from development, while still allowing for activities such as kayaking, boating and fishing. The study could take three years.
- Two Pinellas County accounting firms — Spoor Bunch Franz in St. Petersburg and Westbay CPAs in Clearwater — have merged. The combined firm will have more than 100 employees and three locations.
- Miami developers Global City Development and Gilu Development started work on a 17-acre, 255-unit apartment complex in Fort Myers. The $90-million project should be complete by the second quarter of 2024.
- Lakewood Ranch Medical Center is planning a 60-bed addition. The $120-million, 170,000-sq.- ft. project will add to the medical center’s existing 120 beds. After a 40-year career in health care, Rafael J. Sciullo has retired as CEO of Empath Health based in Clearwater. His replacement is Jonathan D. Fleece who takes on the title of president and CEO. Fleece had been Empath Health’s president, as well as president and CEO of Tidewell Hospice, a member of Empath Health.
- Florida Polytechnic University and the Fulbright Finland Foundation have reached a deal, enabling collaboration between the Lakeland university and researchers in Finland. Florida Poly also reached similar agreements last year with Fulbright Italy and Fulbright Spain.
- The National Science Foundation has awarded $65,000 to archaeologists at Gainesville’s Florida Museum of Natural History, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Georgia to survey areas damaged by Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida. The area where the storm came ashore includes the one-time cultural hub of the Calusa people, who lived in Florida for more than 1,000 years.
- Norwalt, a New Jersey automation machinery maker, is expanding to Hillsborough County, where it says it will hire 30 over the next two years and lease a 10,000-sq.-ft. facility in Tampa. Planned production jobs include electromechanical and assembly technicians.
- Tampa-based iGas USA, a national supplier of refrigerant gas, has opened two production facilities in Abu Dhabi.
- MarineMax, a Clearwater-based boat retailer and marina owner, has purchased Boatzon, an online boat-buying platform that allows boat buyers to also shop online for financing and boat insurance. Coca-Cola Florida has opened a $10.2-million, 22,000-sq.-ft. sales and distribution center in St. Petersburg.