Business, government and economic development leaders gathered at Florida Polytechnic University for its first Economic Development Symposium in early March, to begin discussions on how to create long-term economic growth partnerships around the university campus.
ABB, Heacock Insurance and Saunders Ralston Dantzler Realty were among the businesses represented at the event, which was sponsored by the Central Florida Development Council, Inc. Government officials on hand included R. Todd Dantzler, chairman of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, as well as City of Lakeland Mayor William “Bill” Mutz.
The symposium included a presentation focused on NC State University’s Centennial Campus, which is more than just a research park. While it’s a thriving community with academics at its core, it also includes public-private partnerships with local, national and international companies. Additional features include townhomes, apartments, restaurants, a hotel and conference center as well as a public golf course.
It’s that model of Centennial Campus that Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent hopes to establish.
“That wide variety of community growth and industry involvement matches the type of environment we want to create at Florida Poly,” said Avent.
Dennis Kekas, who is the associate vice chancellor for the Office of Partnerships and Economic Development at NC State and oversees the Centennial Campus partnership, described the steps taken over the course of more than three decades to make Centennial what it is today. He noted the vision of the campus began with undeveloped farmland located just south of the university’s main campus in Raleigh, within earshot of a population of millions.
“I believe a university like Florida Poly is positioned extraordinarily well,” said Kekas, eluding to its location along the I-4 corridor as well as its proximity to major population areas.
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