Published April 26, 2011
TWISler Update: The Economic Development Corporation chooses its Braveheart
Every time us TWIS folk think our humble hopes and desires are actually penetrating through the thick skulls of our local leaders, they go on to prove that everything we say really just goes in one ear and right out the other. In January, the TWISler made it crystal clear the caliber of warrior poet we wanted to see taking over Sarasota County’s economic development reins when retiring EDC President Kathy Baylis steps down in June. We called for a Braveheart who would deliver us from our hell-spawned infatuation with forming redundant, impotent, ineffective committees, and who would embrace our city’s burgeoning Creative Class and finally light a fire under the economic innovators that have been slowly simmering on the backburner for years.
As of mid-March, the EDC had narrowed an impressive field of 80 contenders down to their top ten, and we were ecstatic to see the name Paul Krutko on the short list. As the guy responsible for navigating Silicon Valley through the murky waters of the dot-com bust and into the tranquil aqua blue shallows of newfound prosperity, we were convinced that we had finally found a Commander-in-Chief to lead our army of Creatives into a new era of economic battle, and ultimately the sweet victory that comes with implementing leading edge economic development methods.
Alas, it appears our dreams of ushering in some much-needed California love have now been crushed with the EDC’s decision to hire Tampa’s current economic development administrator Mark Huey. Sure, Huey got high marks from recently departed Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, who brought him on to helm Tampa’s economic vessel in 2003. But his brightest shining accomplishments still revolve around the same ol’ tired Southwest Florida strategies of multi-million dollar developments for the accommodation old-world industries. Hey, IKEA may be the height of chic in the furniture world, but tables and chairs won’t be attracting the tech and bio entrepreneurs we were hoping to see pouring into town.
Of course, we can’t predict the news once Huey settles into his new role as el Presidente. And we certainly hope to have his eager ear regarding the limitless possibilities that come with a Creative Class-focused economic agenda. But we can’t say we aren’t a bit bummed out that Krutko won’t be around to show Sarasota’s finest how things are done in the land of Google, Apple and Microsoft. We just hope if Huey takes anything we have to say to heart, it’s that the fastest growing workforces in the future’s most sustainable industries aren’t interested in fancy high-rise offices. All they need is a laptop, a nice coffee shop with high-speed wi-fi, plenty of fun things to do at night, and a city that appreciates their economic contributions.