Quint Studer is Helping Lead Pensacola’s Turnaround
Authored by: Quint Studer, Studer Family of Companies
The Cambridge Dictionary defines economic development as, “the process in which an economy grows or changes and becomes more advanced, especially when both economic and social conditions are improved.” This is what Quint Studer, Florida Chamber Board of Governors member and founder of the Studer Community Institute, is doing in Pensacola.
Prior to its recent revitalization, entrepreneur, investor and author Quint Studer described Pensacola’s state as a “death spiral.” Today, everything has changed.
Mr. Studer and community leaders engaged residents and business owners to help create a vibrant community. With the help of the Studer Community Institute, progress on important economic and social goals was tracked via the Dashboard. The community began a series of civic conversations, called “CivicCon,” which the Studer Community Institute also helped host.
The business community was instrumental in Pensacola’s success. They galvanized as a group and focused on economic development. They participated in leadership training, monthly round tables and mentored new entrepreneurs. They came together to learn (and teach) the skills businesses needed to thrive long term.
The result? Downtown Pensacola is thriving and new businesses are popping up everywhere. There is more downtown construction taking place in Pensacola than at any time in modern history. Many new stores, restaurants, and other businesses have opened up downtown. There’s a new baseball stadium on the waterfront, and since 2012 the Double-A team the Blue Wahoos (partially owned by Quint Studer) have drawn more than 300,000 fans per year to Pensacola.
Also, property values are soaring: In the past five years, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) went from an assessed property value of $675 million to $850 million, which equates to 25.9 percent growth. Finally, there are projects worth $100 million being built right now that don’t count toward this total.
Outsiders have taken notice, too. Pensacola was named the 2017 Great Places of Florida People’s Choice Winner, following a poll administered by the American Planning Association of Florida. And this year National Geographic Traveler magazine named Pensacola in a story celebrating urban renewal, great main streets, and smart development policies.
Quint Studer wants other communities to experience the success that has happened in Pensacola. That’s why he is sharing the story in his latest book: Building a Vibrant Community, which is set for an April 2018 release. Thanks to visionary leaders like Quint Studer, Pensacola’s future is bright.
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IHMC Founder Discusses Robots, Florida’s Innovation Economy
“This would have been science
fiction just a few years ago.”
Dr. Kenneth Ford, Founder & Director, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition
The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) located in Pensacola, is a non-profit research institute of the Florida University System, whose focus is to blend science and technology to extend human capabilities
“The systems that arise from the science and technology that we develop at IHMC is intended to fit the human and the machine components together in ways that exploit the relative strengths of each and mitigate the respective weaknesses of each,” explained Dr. Kenneth Ford, Founder and Director, Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.
The latest example of this work is the recent Defense Advances Research Projects Agency (DARPA) World Robotics Challenge, in which IHMC placed second in the world and first among all U.S. teams. The competition, which spanned two years and involved three competition, included a dozen teams from the United States as well as 11 foreign teams from Japan, Germany, Italy, Korea and Hong Kong. The final, which Dr. Ford says “would have been science fiction just a few years ago” was meant to simulate disaster areas that are too dangerous for humans to enter and involved the robot having to drive a car on its own, walk through rubble, use a handsaw, climb stairs and more.
“The motivation for this competition was in response to a humanitarian need that became glaringly clear at the nuclear disaster in Fukushima in 2011,” said Dr. Ford. “Japan…is a world leader in robots and yet the robots were not able to function in Fukushima. The tools were designed for humans- the stairways and the ladders were designed for humans. And this really drove home the point that we needed to develop a robotic capability that could function in human environments….The goal was to accelerate progress in robotics and hasten the day when you could say that robots had sufficient dexterity, intelligence and even robustness to enter areas too dangerous for humans and to mitigate the impacts of natural or even manmade disasters…IHMC finished second overall with the perfect score successfully completing all the tasks and first among teams using the Atlas robot, which is a walking robot without wheels, and first among all US teams.”
But more than a tech and science hub, the IHMC is helping to diversify Florida’s economy by fostering innovations through partnerships. For instance, their newest location in Ocala, Florida is within close proximity to several research universities providing ample opportunity for collaboration. By attracting and retaining world-class talent, IHMC is helping create jobs, strengthen communities and is contributing to growing sectors like R&D.
“We serve as a talent magnet, actively drawing some of the best and brightest innovators in science and technology from around the world to Florida,” said Dr. Ford. “Toward that end it’s very important to us that we foster a work environment that provides the scientists and engineers the necessary tools and flexibility to successfully innovate. In short, we try to provide our colleagues a habitat for innovation…We are proud of our contribution to the redevelopment of downtown Pensacola…and we are strongly engaged with the community in Ocala as well. On top of the direct impact, our R&D deliverables directly translate into opportunities for clever and innovative business people as well as equity investors, to work with us and enjoy the technology transfer and commercialization possibilities.”
Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise: Bentina Terry
Bentina Terry, Chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation and Vice President of Customer Service & Sales at Gulf Power Company, appeared on the latest edition Florida Chamber’s Series on Free Enterprise. Ms. Terry discusses the Six Pillars Community Plan and how Pensacola plans to embrace the framework for future planning.