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USFSM Students Present Ideas For North Sarasota/Newtown Redevelopment

In an attempt to promote redevelopment for the North Sarasota/Newtown area, students from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) recently presented business plans to the City of Sarasota.

Developed specifically for the North Sarasota region, the students -- who were enrolled in the Community Entrepreneur Opportunity course at USFSM during the Fall semester -- put together five presentations, focusing on innovative ideas targeting economic revitalization of Sarasota's geographically defined Enterprise Zone.

According to lead instructor Jean Kabongo, assistant professor of management at USFSM, the redevelopment of the North Sarasota area is necessary in order to reduce unemployment and poverty, increase income, create additional employment, promote youth involvement, revitalize the community and create successful and sustainable business practices.

“The mission of the USFSM College of Business is to maintain a balanced emphasis on quality teaching, scholarly pursuits and service activities to benefit the community it serves. We prepare our students to be ethical decision-makers and business and community leaders,” says Kabongo. “The quality of education provided at USFSM creates a practical, workable learning experience for my students. The community projects presented by my students are an example of bringing total 'reality' into the classroom.”

Among the five ideas presented to the city was a business plan to provide the local community with entertainment and services, such as an outdoor paintball area, to accommodate Sarasota's growing high school and college community; a biodiesel production facility; a program geared toward high school students who wish to engage in entrepreneurial activities in the area; a drive-in theatre; and a company that provides local healthcare facilities with quality temporary and permanent employees that are in high demand.

“It is our expectation that all of the business ideas will be funded,” says Kabongo. “After the presentation, a potential investor approached one of the teams to discuss the needed financial support required as start-up capital, which is a good sign.”

The projected presents are a part of the collaboration and partnership between USFSM College of Business and the North Sarasota/Newtown Redevelopment Office; according to Kabongo, the partnership will continue beyond this semester's course.

“We really want to be a part of the efforts to help the area redevelop,” says Kabongo.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Jean Kabongo, USFSM
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