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Innovation Boca New Innovation Strategist

Posted on 15 August 2019 by LeslieM

Pedro Moras networking at a Brazilian Business Group event.

By Karen Lustgarten

Just three months into the newly-created position of Innovation Strategist for the newly-created Boca Raton Innovation Office, Pedro Moras is in a whirlwind of meetings with city officials, heads of different departments, representatives of organizations, citizens, the start-up community, the business community and leaders of Smart cities in other states and countries. He’s in the information gathering stage, researching to determine where Boca Raton lies as a technology hub on the Smart city spectrum.

His input into Boca’s existing technology and innovation ecosystem is coming from various sectors to identify gaps, strengths, where the city needs to improve and where residents want it to be. At this stage, he’s determining what the city needs to do and the period of time to get there in order to champion Boca Raton as a Smart city and an innovative ecosystem attracting talent.

“The time it will take, the investment it will take, the impact it will have in the community and how do all these things interconnect” is part of the goal setting said Moras. “I didn’t want to come into this position as Innovation Strategist with an arrogant approach saying this is what the city should be doing. I’d rather take a step back, learn, get feedback and we start building a strategy for everyone.”

Boca Raton

Smart City goals

The Smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT) and various physical devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) network to make city operations and services more efficient, and to connect to citizens. Surveillance, automated transportation, smarter energy management systems, water distribution, urban security and environmental monitoring are examples of IoT applications for Smart cities.A Smart city would thus be a city government that not only possesses ICT technology, but has also implemented this technology in a manner that positively impacts the quality of life to make a community more livable.

Smart cities that Moras admires include San Diego, Seoul, Singapore and New York City, “…which is evolving in an interesting way by how they are merging Smart city and the start-up ecosystem,” he noted.

In cities like Hong Kong, technology applications, such as sensors and analytics around air quality, is a major priority because of their high air pollution issue. In Boca Raton, air pollution is important, but he said we don’t have a compelling issue about air quality.

“As we continue our research, one of the goals is to understand and prioritize the unique needs of our city so that we can begin mapping out which Smart city applications and technology make the most sense for Boca,” he said, saying that one major goal is creating a holistic Smart city strategy. Based on early assessments, Moras sees mobility (transportation and traffic) and green technology as important areas of focus here.

He noted that Boca is using quite a bit of technology — sensors in traffic lights, gathering data points.

“Of all the technology we have in the city, how do we bring in that data in a holistic manner and create an intelligent system that allows us to make sense of all that data in order to make better decisions?” he asked.

He said there are many systems in the city being used effectively“…but they are pretty much like silos [isolated from other systems]. So how do we make all these technologies talk to each other?” Some of the integration is already happening he said.

“When we talk about Smart city, we are specifically asking what are the gaps in the city, where do we want to be and what are the projects that are going to get us there? Then, we bring in the right players who we met with across the city and externally. We want to take the mission and vision created and manifest them into something visual where we can see what Boca Raton will look like over the next 10 to 15 years and start building a clear path to getting there. We’re at that stage right now,” he said.

For Boca Raton to be a technology hub, there needs to be an interconnection of things.

“We started talking about the concept of creating a stronger entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. A big piece of that is engaging the start-up community, and how do we make the start-up community stronger? How do we give the right resources and funding for the start-up community and define what types of start-ups we want to attract into our environment? So there’s a lot of strategic work that needs to happen,” he said.

Entrepreneurial emphasis

Pedro Moras is familiar with entrepreneurial start-ups. Born in Brazil and raised in South Florida, he will be tapping into his experience to help further grow the city’s start-up and innovation culture, and promote Boca Raton as a Smart city — an innovation and technology hub.

Prior to his new position, Moras co-founded a successful pet food technology start-up (PetMio) that utilizes advanced artificial intelligence technology to create customized pet nutrition products. He was managing partner at the Konnected Minds Group, a Miami-based innovation consultancy, and was a founding member of the Transformational Innovation Group at Jarden Consumer Solutions (now Newel Brands), a corporate new ventures group focused on new product and business opportunities.

In leading the development of Boca Raton’s Smart City and innovation ecosystem strategy, Moras says he has a lot to unpack beginning with researching Boca’s existing situation. Innovations are happening here he said; he is seeking details about them and areas for improvement.

“Understanding this will allow us to create a detailed Smart city vision and strategy,” said Moras.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com.

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Planned mobility in Boca Raton

Posted on 02 May 2019 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

The Separation model

The suburbs were for residential; the urban core for commercial/industrial. Historically, urban planning was based on this separation of functions model. It became a great model for commuter traffic. As the suburbs grew, so did clogging main roads and highways, and the rise of “rush hour” that increased in time by number of vehicles on the road.

The City of Boca Raton was no exception to the separate functions planning model. For example, the once forward-looking Arvida Park of Commerce built in the 1970s was based on an industrial and business park model, no residential. One-third is office space and two-thirds warehouses. The model was to provide minimal impact of traffic on surrounding roadways.

“If you’re warehousing a lot, you don’t have many employees,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Robert Weinroth.

The original IBM/T-Rex campus (now Boca Raton Innovation Campus), also fits the old model.

The Planned Mobility model

With the additional pressures on commuting and land development, Boca Raton approved the model for urban planning called “planned mobility” in 2010. It is based on the premise of rather than two separate areas — one developed for a business district (industry and retail) and the other for residential — they are merged into a single area zoned for mixed-use.

“The Boca Raton City Council made the decision several years ago to infill the all-business Arvida Park of Commerce with residential units now under construction,” said Commissioner Weinroth.

It is being developed and re-branded by the Crocker Group as The Park at Broken Sound, a 700-acre planned mobility commercial/residential hub optimized to fulfill the popular work/live/play concept.

“Planned mobility has been in place for 10-15 years but hadn’t been implemented until 2012 because of the financial downturn,” the commissioner explained. “Housing values dropped dramatically so the tax base went down and the influx of dollars dropped. It was a painful time for the city. When the CRA originally planned out the downtown, they envisioned it as mostly businesses. With the financial downturn in the early 2000s, all that stopped.”

Downtown Redevelopment

The redevelopment of downtown Boca Raton was originally contemplated as a business concentric urban core.

“But government officials decided they needed to change that dynamic,” said Weinroth. “Our downtown is a redevelopment area now. When the CRA was created, they set up a matrix with so many square feet of office and they had equivalents — hotels, condos, apartments — based on impact on the area such as traffic, sewage, miles of lanes.”

By the time the economy picked up, the move was toward residential and mixed-use development.

“That’s why now we are seeing Tower 155 and Alina luxury condos, and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Residences,” said the commissioner. “So it has evolved into a more residential downtown verses a business downtown.”

This is good for traffic, he said, explaining, “When we look at traffic, we look at not only how many trips per day; we look at peak trips — how many in the a.m. and p.m. commute — because that’s where you get the most pressure.”

Peak trips tend to be reduced when an area includes residential properties.

At the time Weinroth became a county commissioner, projects that had been moth balled were finally being constructed.

“The Hyatt Place downtown, developed by the Kolter Group, went back and forth about being commercial or residential before making the hotel decision. The same indecision was about the property on Military and Spanish River, which became apartments. So you see a lot of movement toward residential and much-needed hotel space,” he said. “With the Hyatt and Mandarin Oriental, they are going to have enough of a synergy to attract bigger groups and give West Palm Beach a run for its money.”

The residential development under planned mobility had a cap of 2500 units, which has now been met. Zoning attorney Bonnie Miskel secured city approval of approximately 65 percent of those residential units, either free standing or added into office parks.

“When the City of Boca Raton approved the planned mobility land use in 2010, the intention was to bring employment and housing closer in order to change the direction and type of traffic on the roads,” she said. “And it has worked.”

In addition, residential infill has revitalized dormant parts of the city.

“You see a lot of foot traffic, biking and life in corporate parks that were once dead when people left each night and weekends,” she said.

Another advantage, notes Miskel, is the interest in businesses wanting to open near the revitalized office parks, such as Fresh Market that opened next to the Park at Broken Sound.

“Planned mobility encourages commercial building as well,” she notes.


“At the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, you see some residential on the periphery right now, and you’ll see more as they develop that property recently purchased by the Crocker Partners,” said the commissioner. The developer will be going before the City Council seeking permission for additional residential rights.

Planned mobility is something people are demanding, as well as demanding smaller units says Commissioner Weinroth. The 88-acre University Park was the last large parcel of undeveloped land in Boca Raton. The developer, Penn-Florida, will be creating a self-contained city of sorts, similar to Mizner Park only bigger, he added. “The hope is that traffic will be alleviated. People will stay close to home and live/work/play in the community rather than commute on Spanish River Boulevard and other major arterials.”

The plan is to have smaller residential units for people not looking for 3,000 sq. ft.

“They may be satisfied with 1,000 sq. ft. with the idea that they will go to a Starbucks, or to a business environment with an open workspace where they can meet and work on computers,” he said.

“You’re not going to live in your house anymore,” he continued. “They’ll live downstairs in the city. That’s the new model — walkable. We want walkable cities. If you can walk somewhere rather than getting into a car, that’s the way to go. Walkability is a companion to this concept. Urban planning and transportation planning are going in the same direction.”

“There’s still an interest and demand for added mixed-use and residential units, but the city needs to re-allocate them,” said Miskel. Ultimately, the Boca Raton City Council will have to make a decision whether the planned mobility model is successful, to continue it by adding in more residential areas which were heretofore only commercial.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com.

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Posted on 12 February 2019 by JLusk

A Conversation with Deerfield Beach Mayor Bill Ganz

By Karen Lustgarten

Mayor Bill Ganz has been an enthusiastic Deerfield Beach resident in the same neighborhood for 20 years. For nearly half that time, he’s served as city commissioner and now mayor for the past two years. “I know where we’ve been and how hard it was to get to where we are,” he says about the city. He elaborated during our conversation this month.   


Repave, repair, remodel 

End of life structures, crumbling roads, antiquated utility technology, a shuttered water supply plant, old storm drains — Deerfield Beach has aging infrastructure going back to the 1960s. The capital improvements bond that passed a few years ago allows for upgrading and modernizing facilities and utilities as they reach maturity to meet the needs of the city’s growing population. Repaving Deerfield Beach is one of the aging priorities.      

Working with FDOT, along with repaving comes aesthetics such as beautifying gateways into the city, entrance ways into neighborhoods, improving curb appeal. MLK Boulevard from 10 Street to Hillsboro Boulevard is slated for improvements next year. The stretch from Federal Highway to Dixie Highway is part of the Complete Street project. These are streets designed for mixed use — pedestrian crossings, walking paths, bike lanes, vehicles — rather than traditional streets designed for vehicles. 

“Residents want to be able to cross the street safely. They want to see improvements to roadways, safety on foot, by bike or in a vehicle,” said Mayor Ganz.  

For example, pedestrian crossings and LED lights were added along the S-curve at the beach and decorative fencing will be added around the FEC railroad track for safe crossing.

Mayor Ganz and city officials recently completed a walking audit along Dixie Highway with a planning organization, taking note of sidewalks, trees, landscaping, old crosswalk boxes, bus benches. The audit walk was to find opportunities and ideas to make some simple functional and aesthetic improvements along the route. There’s no overall beautification plan along that corridor he says. They are taking these walking audits in other areas of the city as well to feel them up close and get ideas on how aging infrastructure, antiquated technology and decades-old designs can be improved.

“As those are improved, neighborhoods start to pick up,” he said. 

Other capital improvement bond projects are The Center for Active Aging, remodeling the Johnnie Tigner Community Center and City Hall renovations.   

The Center for Active Aging provides supportive services and activities to seniors to help improve their quality of life, promote independence and encourage involvement with the community.

“Looking to the future, you have an active aging population and, if we build a more state-of-the-art facility, people will want to use it,” said Mayor Ganz. 

“The Tigner Community Center is in desperate need of remodeling, not just as a community center but for all types of programming that can be hosted there. We do not have enough community facilities to meet the needs of our growing population,” said the Mayor. “It will be a huge boost to the city and our residents to have a nice facility.” 

The capital improvements bond will make that possible. It will also give Deerfield Beach City Hall a remodeling boost with structural improvements, such as repairing the leaky roof (e.g. buckets come out when it rains to prevent indoor puddles). 

Pioneer Grove: developing downtown

Future redevelopment is in the Pioneer Grove area where City Hall resides. 

“We are trying to get more focus back to the central area of our city,” said the Mayor.  The goal with Pioneer Grove and for the improvements in the central area is to bring back downtown Deerfield Beach.”

“We want to inject energy into the central area of the city that includes the Dixie Highway corridor and create a more vibrant downtown. It’s been a long time since that’s been a focus in the city.  It’s perfect timing now to improve facilities in need with the ability to make those changes for the long term, decades ahead,” he said.

New development in the downtown zone is encouraged and nurtured but within certain guidelines that add value to the city overall. 

“There’s a great deal of undeveloped land in the central area of the city so there’s a great opportunity to have an overall vision rather than a hodge-podge of fitting in different projects that don’t come under an overall master plan or vision for what we want to see here,” said the Mayor.

The city’s award-winning Sullivan Park is an example of creative redevelopment without overdoing it.  

“We have a lot of people very interested in the downtown area and new projects coming forward,” he said. “When you work with developers with projects that don’t dissolve a neighborhood but enhance and improve it, and it becomes an anchor in the area, then you get a few anchors in the area and you build on that energy. Then people are going to start coming.”

Slow and steady growth

A recent study found that 20 percent of the privately-owned undeveloped land in Broward County is located in Deerfield.  

“That gives us some opportunity to grow but we don’t want to overbuild… we want to grow responsibly,” said Mayor Ganz.

It’s been a slow and steady growth that has picked up over the past several years.  

“We’re no longer in the position that we’re desperate for development,” he said.  “We can be selective about what we want to do in the city — what works for us and the residents as opposed to more exploitive projects offered.”

 “We have a wonderful village-type atmosphere that we love about Deerfield. With that comes its challenges that are a lot different than other cities,” he says.  “It’s difficult to maintain that atmosphere and not overdevelop and kill the surfside community with a village feeling. That’s why we’re unique in the approach we’ve taken.  No skyscrapers. We’ve been able to hold back overdevelopment and irresponsible development in the beach areas.”

Deerfield’s S-curved beach is ranked No. 13 by Fodor (travel and tourism guides) as “coolest beach in Florida with a hip vibe.”

 “Our residents deserve to have the city invest and reinvest in itself, in these improvement projects each with a dire need, as a way of showing our residents that their tax dollars are going to something they use. And when other businesses and developers see that we’re willing to invest in ourselves, then they’re willing to come and invest in us as well,” he said.

With a growing tax base, Deerfield Beach is experiencing a resurgence focused on enhancements.

“We’re looked at as a city on the rise,” says the Mayor. “New projects are improving our tax base as people are deciding there’s a great opportunity in Deerfield Beach. Other cities and investors are approaching me asking how we do this, we want to create the feel that you have. It’s been slowly building up.  I can’t tell you what is the one single thing that created the spark but we can certainly feel it.”

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author.  www.multi-mediaworks.com


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BUSINESS BEAT: Boca means business

Posted on 12 December 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Which of the 38 cities in Palm Beach County attracts the highest number of corporate relocations? More than half selected the city of Boca Raton to establish headquarters. According to Andy Thomson, newly-elected member of the Boca Raton City Council, that amounts to more than 30 international corporations that have moved into or expanded in Boca Raton.

The council member cites several reasons for Boca’s big-business boom. With the establishment in 2014 of the Office of Economic Development being funded by the city, attracting corporations became a priority.

The marketing strategy and message is ‘Boca is open for business; we are serious about helping corporations thrive here,’” said Thomson.

Technology and health are among the top sectors relocating to Boca, such as Modernizing Medicine and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Mr. Thomson is quick to add that marketing a “unique quality of life” is an easy sell. The obvious attributes include warm weather, beaches, sunshine and leisure lifestyle throughout Florida, along with no state income tax and corporate tax incentives. Among Boca Raton’s unique qualities attracting employees and businesses, he cites an executive airport for corporate jets with a new U.S. Customs facility, quality public and private schools, good housing, low crime and 46 parks.

We are a city within a park,” he says, “and we take our green spaces seriously.”

The two local colleges — Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University — funnel a tech-ready workforce into job openings at area corporations.

This helps transition graduates to nearby jobs so there is less of a brain drain,” he said.

One marketing challenge is overcoming the perception of a growing aging population.

The fear companies have in considering relocation is the mistaken perception that Boca is the retirement community depicted in the hit TV series Seinfeld. But the age demographic is actually trending younger,” he says.

Jessica Del Vecchio, manager of the city’s Office of Economic Development, concurs that the population is growing younger, from migrating retirees to a median age of 47 according to Forbes magazine.

When corporations relocate to Boca Raton, they have an economic impact on our overall economy by adding property tax income and creating jobs. More above average salary jobs become available to the talent pool of our local college graduates. They stay, find gainful employment and the quality of life improves,” she says.

The quality livability claim is backed up by online studies Del Vecchio references that rank Boca Raton high on their lists:

Best Beach Towns to Live In: Boca Raton is No. 7 of 205 cities nationwide (WalletHub.com)

Best Suburbs to Live in Florida: No. 13 of 351 (Niche.com)

Top 100 Places to Live: No. 45 of 2,300 cities surveyed (Livability.com)

“A” rating in a satisfaction survey of 45,000 renters (Apartment List)

The Office of Economic Development serves Boca Raton’s corporate community. Some corporations recently headquartered in the city are Shoes for Crews, Miami Grill, El-Ad National Properties and Gift of Life Marrow Registry (2019). Companies expanding (moving to new and larger space) include Modernizing Medicine, Cosmetic Solutions, Hair Club and TherapeuticsMD.

The Boca Raton Resort and Club is a popular destination for corporate conferences during the year, especially in winter.

Del Vecchio sums up a typical scenario: “Executives come in from all over the country [and world] and they experience a beautiful lifestyle, a luxury resort, warm weather, lower taxes. At the end of the conference, they’re thinking, ‘Why are we getting on a plane heading back to terrible weather in a higher tax state when we can be productive in paradise?’ That’s when relocation thoughts kick in.”

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com

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BUSINESS BEAT: Made in Deerfield Beach

Posted on 07 November 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

The City of Deerfield Beach is in resurgence” according to October’s State of the City report. It is home to some 388 companies within the Advanced Industries Sector, manufacturing one of them — a robust sector with more than 200 companies here. Meet two of them, very different members of the South Florida Manufacturing Association that located in Deerfield Beach for the same reasons.

SHL Pharma

Have you heard of auto-injectors? They look like oversized pens that people with chronic illnesses use to self-inject a dose of prescription medicine on a regular basis. For example, the EpiPen is for self-injecting the drug that counters life-threatening allergic reactions. Auto-injectors give patients a safe alternative to injections with a syringe or going to the doctor for regular shots.

Did you know that the largest manufacturer of auto-injectors in the world is a privately-owned company located in Deerfield Beach?

SHL Pharma, a division of the SHL Group, relocated from New Jersey to Deerfield Beach in 2010 with two employees. Today, 120 are employed at the sleek Deerfield Beach headquarters on Jim Moran Boulevard and 3,500 more work in Taiwan. Final assembly, labeling and packaging services of the drug-delivery devices are also done here for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Eight of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world are customers of SHL Pharma’s FDA-approved, prescription-based auto-injectors. Some 700,000 devices are manufactured each year just in Deerfield Beach. Here 39 custom-designed auto-injector formats are manufactured for different drugs developed and produced by pharmaceutical companies to control such diseases as multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, acute allergies and others.

We can barely keep up manufacturing with demand,” said Michael Hudak, director of Human Resources. About 55 percent of work at the Deerfield Beach headquarters is devoted to manufacturing the 39 auto-injectors on the market and 45 percent to design and development of 44 new types. “The next gen unit we are designing will be a smart injector,” he said. It will record each injection so the doctor will have an accurate readout.

Why Deerfield Beach? Several reasons: “Our customers from Asia, Europe and across the U.S. love coming here. They love staying at hotels with good accommodations and beach access, a big draw. And they are attracted to the warm weather, especially in winter,” said Hudak. “The city’s location between I-95, the Turnpike, Sawgrass Expressway and Tri-Rail provides transportation advantages for our customers and employees. It’s easy to get to three major airports within an hour’s drive that have many direct oversees flights.”

He also cited the city’s proximity to four universities with mechanical engineering programs. SHL Pharma recruited six engineers from local universities in the past four years.

We see Deerfield as a desirable place for our customers, employees, families and young millennials,” said Hudak.

Print Basics

Thirteen years ago, Craig Tanner was searching for the perfect spot to start a local printing company. Uppermost, he wanted a safe location because his type of business requires opening up early and closing late. So, he rejected the risky warehouse districts. He wanted a pleasant ambience for employees, one with a water view for enjoying lunch breaks. He sought a facility with enough space to grow and add large printing machinery that accommodates wide format posters and banners. He wanted proximity to major transportation hubs — I-95, the Turnpike, Sawgrass Expressway — to be accessible to clients and vendors. Mr. Tanner found that perfect spot on SW 30 Avenue in Deerfield Beach.

Since 2005, Print Basics has grown from two employees to 45 and from 1,400 to 15,000 sq. ft. It is ranked third largest commercial printer in South Florida by the South Florida Business Journal.

Unlike most print shops, clients can feel safe walking into the showroom in a beautiful office environment,” said Tanner, while the printing machines hum in the back filling orders.

When the economy took a dive and his competitors closed and left Deerfield Beach, Tanner rode it out.

If you are honest in business and perform well for your clients, they will stay with you,” he said.

Tanner says the company fills about 2,000 print jobs a month, everything from business cards and promotional items to 1500-page books. Among his clients are Whole Foods, Hard Rock Café, Broward Sherriff’s Office and Jet Blue.

Occasionally, a call comes in to fill emergency printing needs — 5,000 brochures in less than 24 hours — and it’s done, or calls following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School from clients requesting show-of-support banners. Print Basics designed, printed and hung them gratis and donated $20,000 worth of static cling decals that were sold to raise money for the family of Coach Feis, one of the victims.

After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Jet Blue marketing called requesting a quick turnaround of promotional support items: $100,000 worth of T-shirts, bracelets and 50,000 message buttons, an order that normally takes 10 days to fill. They were printed and delivered within 24 hours.

We make the impossible possible when our community and clients are in need,” said Tanner.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com

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Posted on 11 October 2018 by LeslieM

Periodic column on companies that grew up with our community

By Karen Lustgarten

When she was 13, Adolphine “Dodie” Keith remembers heading out on survey and mapping jobs with her father, William “Bill” Keith, along with his crew and watching how the work was done for construction projects.

Mr. Keith began making a mark on South Florida in 1956 when he joined the Broward County Engineering Department as a surveyor. Then, in 1972, he started the engineering firm Keith & Schnars. It would become synonymous with Broward’s growth.

His firm helped plan Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and bought the land and developed the route for the Sawgrass Expressway. It was responsible for planning Parkland and the redevelopment of Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach and Boca Raton. They surveyed 390 miles from Florida to Georgia and bought 4,000 parcels of land for a Florida Power & Light transmission line.

In 1998, Mr. Keith established Keith & Associates, his own Pompano Beach-based civil engineering, planning, surveying firm. Daughter Dodie grew up to become a professional surveyor and mapper working in that capacity for her father.

By the time Mr. Keith died in 2006, he had spent his life working towards the development and improvement of the south Florida community and giving back to it, helping improve the county’s infrastructure and way of life. Dodie Keith-Lazowick succeeded her father as company president and managing principal.

Under her leadership, KEITH, as the firm has been rebranded, has grown to include civil engineering, surveying and mapping, subsurface utility engineering (SUE), urban & comprehensive planning, landscaping, permitting, construction management and construction engineering inspection.

I work in the development field, so believe growth is good,” she said. “Dad always taught me respect for the community. I try to make projects better for both the residents and the city.”

The Ft. Lauderdale airport, a key KEITH client since her father’s early days, is a case in preservation. A huge African Baobab tree was set to be cut down when a new airport runway was being planned. Dodie proposed a slight redesign shift in the runway plans that preserved the historic tree.

Dodie helped draft the Pompano Beach 2020 business plan and Mayor Fisher’s stimulus task force. Her firm helped raise funds and advocated to pass the Pompano Beach bond referendum for capital improvement projects that will revitalize the city.

KEITH is at work on several major construction projects you are witnessing around Pompano Beach to revitalize the city. Successful advocates for permitting and approvals, staff has coordinated the site plan approval process through the city and provided civil engineering design, project management, permitting coordination, planning, surveying, construction management, infrastructure convergence and roadway improvements, assessments and recommendations.

Among the projects you notice are the following: the pedestrian-friendly Pompano Beach Blvd. streetscape, Old Pompano Area streetscape improvements, as part of the Downtown Connectivity Plan, MLK Jr. Blvd. streetscape improvements, MLK Blvd., the Pier Parking Garage, John Knox Village and in-kind site design services to preserve the Sample-McDougald historic House/Museum.

Coming up: The new Mullet Alley — turning an existing parking lot in the Old Pompano area into a lively plaza — awaiting the site plan design and development approval.

I enjoy Pompano Beach. It has a different feel than other cities and we want our own distinct city identity in South Florida,” says Dodie. “Pompano Beach is a community-based and family-oriented place. Our parks and roadway projects, for example, help give our city its own identity as a community.”

As a business community leader, Bill Keith was committed to causes he cared about such as the Broward Urban River Trails and homelessness. He was founding chair of Broward Partnership for the Homeless helping people stabilize their lives. Dodie is the 2018 board chair and a fundraiser.

Dodie’s son Alex and daughter Elizabeth serve as third generation professionals at KEITH. Alex Lazowick, a civil engineer, is executive vice president, and Elizabeth, with a marketing degree, is corporate manager, overseeing more than 100 employees in five state offices. They are committed to the company values established by their grandfather and mother. With young children of his own, Alex sits on the board of the Parks Foundation of Broward County, raising funds for Broward County parks.

The business transition plan has the 3rd generation taking over KEITH with Alex stepping into his mother’s role as president, “so, hopefully, I can sit on Pompano Beach watching the sunrise,” said Dodie.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a bestselling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com

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BUSINESS BEAT: Companies that care: Giving back locally

Posted on 13 September 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Hundreds of companies headquartered in our readership area generously give back to their communities, making them better places to live and work. Here’s a peek at three in different cities representing different industries with a commitment to different causes.

JM Family Enterprises, Deerfield Beach

For more than 30 years, children and families in Deerfield Beach have been the recipients of many corporate giving programs financed by JM Family Enterprises, the privately-owned diversified automotive company founded by Jim Moran. Seeing a need in the neighborhood, JM Family built and funds a Boys & Girls Club with staffed after school programs, along with a forthcoming teen center to provide activities and education addressing teen needs.

Down the street is the Youth Automotive Training Center that JM built to help young people learn everything about the automotive industry — business, selling, fixing and maintaining cars. Here school drop-outs can receive their GED, life skills, job skills training and job placement upon graduation. Several have been hired at JM Lexus.

Along with other community partners, last year JM Family helped build a KaBOOM! playground in a day at the Hillsboro Community Center. The company hosts an annual Teachers Tote Supplies Giveaway there. Teachers from local schools pick up tote bags filled with school supplies they need. JM also ships reams of paper to their schools. In addition, they give away supplies at a BSO event for Back to School.

Said Kim Bentley, assistant vice president of Corporate Philanthropy, “We are continuing Jim Moran’s philosophy about sharing time, talent and resources.”

Bluegreen Vacations Corporation, Boca Raton

A timeshare properties company headquartered in Boca Raton, Bluegreen is a division of parent company BBX Capital, which has supported Florida charities since 1994 with direct funding, in-kind donations and paid employee-volunteer hours.

Bluegreen extends its “share happiness” motto to local charities helping children and families, and education causes, says Lois Marino, director of Community Engagement for BBX Capital & Retail Brand. For example: How do students in grades K-12 learn about survival business skills and workforce readiness? Bluegreen is a major donor to the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Bell Education Foundation, a non-profit that administers educational programs promoting business skills and workforce readiness in the Boca Raton public schools.

Where can families dealing with a crisis or serious illness get a break? At a retreat. Bluegreen partners with the non-profit Deliver the Dream to provide three-day/two-night accommodations at its timeshare properties for families and volunteers participating in the non-profit’s retreat program.

Other community non-profits Bluegreen and BBX Capital have longtime commitments to include Junior Achievement, Boca Helping Hands, Cystic Fibrosis and JDRF. (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Share Happiness” is not just Bluegreen’s motto, says Marino, “It is in the DNA of our commitment to social responsibility and philanthropy, too.”

Danto Builders, Ft. Lauderdale

For Craig and Debbie Danto, their company giving program for people with special abilities is personal. Debbie’s grandfather founded an organization in Ohio to help his son with Down’s Syndrome partake in work, sports and social skills development.

I remember how much joy my uncle got out of it,” said Debbie. “He was so innocent and sweet, such a loving, beautiful person who enjoyed all the activities.”

Her parents continued the program as it grew and now Debbie and her husband, who’s nephew also has Down’s Syndrome, are carrying on the family tradition and legacy locally. The couple are honorary board members of Special Olympics, and board members of the Florida Design and Construction Professionals. Danto proposed to the professional organization that members approve a fundraiser for Special Olympics.

Oct. 2 will mark the 5th Annual Florida Design & Construction Professionals/Danto Builders Special Olympics Big Bad BBQ. The all-you-can-eat fundraiser with 600 attending, including Special Olympians, is held at the Danto Builder’s parking lot from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Everything is donated or sponsored by local businesses: food, wine, beverages, grills, music, door prizes, auction items. Last year, the event raised $35,000 for 6,100 Special Olympics athletes and 23 year-round sports programs. The goal this year is $50,000, says Danto. A local family’s legacy grows on.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She founded a newspaper in Washington, DC, was a syndicated columnist and a best-selling author. www.multimediaworks.com

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BUSINESS BEAT: Revitalizing Pompano Beach

Posted on 09 August 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Horacio Danovich sits in a conference room at the Pompano Beach City Hall surrounded by maps, master plans and diagrams pinned to the walls. The illustrations reveal the farsighted future of Pompano Beach. As manager of the city’s capital improvement programs, he holds the revitalization development vision of the city/CRA partnership putting Pompano Beach on the desirable destination map with innovations from “Smart City” concepts. In fact, revitalization of the 260-acre downtown area will feature one 70-acre section called the Innovation District. Here, most of the city/CRA-owned land parcels are ripe and poised for development right now.

Think designed navigable waterway systems and drainage between I-95 and Dixie Highway and MLK Jr. and W. Atlantic Boulevards. Inspired by Amsterdam’s canals, residents and visitors will be able to kayak, canoe and paddleboard along the waterways. These will be bordered by landscaped biking lanes and pedestrian walkways inspired by San Antonio’s The Riverwalk.

Picture a surrounding hub of mixed-use commercial office/retail buildings, restaurants, residential dwellings and cultural attractions. The goal of this urban design vision is to develop an enjoyable, livable urban area that’s functional and attractive to businesses and residents, and promote connections between people and places with surrounding communities.

This is a unique type of urban design that does not exist in the State of Florida today,” said Danovich. “As a result, agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will have a difficult time evaluating and permitting it for its intended mixed-use.”

He estimates two years for the design and permitting process before construction can begin in the Innovation District, then another two years to build it for a grand total of approximately $750 million (for the entire Innovation District.)

Thus we caught Danovich up to his elbows in federal grant applications to the U.S. Economic Development Administration: $2.5 million toward the first $5 million for the designs of the waterway systems, roadways, bridges, sidewalks, landscaping, lighting, underground utilities and permitting.

If he builds it, will they come? Indeed, the Innovation District Project could generate an estimated 4,000 jobs, he estimates.

The city is moving very fast in the right direction, ripe for redevelopment,” says Mr. Danovich.

Among the construction companies revitalizing the pier and the Atlantic Boulevard bridge are Burkhardt, West, Murray Logan and Whiting-Turner. Brandon Rhodes, Burkhardt Construction’s project manager, described the scope of work for the bridge and some challenges with the project. The bridge renovation will feature cantilever walkways underneath, a renovated tender house, decorative fish murals, decorative Wyoming rails, new lighting fixtures and the stunning showpiece — four 50-ft. high tensile sails at each corner of the bridge.

An initial challenge is creating the tensile structure sails on large posts and the construction of a foundation for each post,” he said.

The construction requires potholing existing utilities — hand digging along with machinery down to existing utilities in-ground, then evaluating if the existing utilities are in conflict with location changes needed.

West Construction has begun a yearlong project demolishing and rebuilding the outdated Fire Station 24 that borders Pompano Beach Airpark on NE 10th street. The new two-story fire station will service both the airport and surrounding community with updated equipment and alert systems.

This project has its site challenges, such as working in a fairly tight space with FAA regulations imposing height restrictions for cranes. Nonetheless, notes Michael Lilly, project manager, “It is in a key location that will help toward the revitalization of Pompano Beach. The community really needs it.”

Pompano Beach is positioned like Ft. Lauderdale and Delray Beach were 20 to 30 years ago,” says Danovich, “except we learned from their mistakes.”

For more information about the Pompano Beach revitalization projects visit www.pompanobeachfl.gov/pages/files.

Karen Lustgarten is President of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video, PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She won awards for writing/producing videos and for website content. Karen founded a newspaper in Washington, DC and was a syndicated columnist and best-selling author. www.multi-mediaworks.com.

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BUSINESS BEAT: Leadership North Broward explores North Broward’s economic engines

Posted on 08 July 2018 by LeslieM

By Karen Lustgarten

Ever wonder what the restricted areas in North Broward’s top industries are like? What makes big businesses and government entities in this region tick and how can you get private backstage tour tickets to them? Leadership North Broward (LNB), in conjunction with the Greater Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce, is the way. This executive local leadership program is designed to inform and empower participants to greater business success by connecting with government and business decision makers in the region.

One day a month for seven months, Leadership North Broward 2018 participants have been experiencing a full itinerary of seminars, field trips and restricted guided tours through the inner workings of eight different industry sectors that impact our region economically, including tourism, public service (police, S.W.A.T. team, fire-rescue tours), health services (inner workings of area hospitals), local and regional government day, big businesses (Whole Foods docking/deliveries) and education entities.

June’s industry field trip featured transportation sites: two executive airports and Port Everglades — not the popular cruise side, but the restricted cargo side.

Did you know that 60 percent of Pompano Beach Air Park, the executive airport for private aircraft, is devoted to flight training with helicopters and small planes? It also provides aircraft rentals and charters, scenic rides, aerial photography and mapping/surveying. Steve Rocco, Air Park manager, traced the 71-year history and importance of the facility to the local area, including air ambulance and search/rescue services.

The Air Park also is home to storage hangers, aircraft sales, maintenance and avionics repairs when planes break down. And, the next time you see the Goodyear Blimp in the sky, know that its hangar home is adjacent to the Air Park.

Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, in contrast, handles large private planes up to 737s. LNB participants were treated to an interactive presentation by the airport’s Assistant Manager Carlton Harrison and Karen Reese about the history and growth of this economic engine on June 21. Did you know that the executive airport has its own police substation, a U.S. Customs and Border protection facility, 24-hour airport security, a 24-hour FAA Air Traffic Control Tower, 24-hour aircraft rescue and firefighting services? It’s also Foreign Trade Zone 241, which means big duty-free benefits to companies here doing international business.

We were driven around this general aviation city within a city with 5,100 employees. Noteworthy was the discussion about excellent career opportunities in aviation, especially at the airport. Both executives emphasized the need for college graduates in airport-related fields and the partnerships forming with local colleges to ensure more graduates enter this field.

An escorted bus tour of Port Everglades’ highly restricted cargo area ended the day. This powerhouse port does more than $22 billion in trade with the world. We were treated to a backstage guided tour covering acres of cargo area where complex cranes and equipment were moving and stacking huge containers that come off ships.

A trip to the top of the Harbor Master Tower, the air traffic control tower of the sea, topped the day. The harbor master shared how he monitors, on multiple large computer screens, hundreds of ships coming, going and docked at the port, along with activity in and around it. The sophisticated operation in his perch with a 360-degree view was impressive.

Participant Johnathan Saluk, from American Credit Card Processing, found the experience worthwhile.

You get to see places and businesses you normally don’t see and it’s good networking with members in the group,” he said. “Every day we went out there was so much going on behind the scenes like at the docks, the satellite beacons, the new technology at the Broward Sherriff’s office.”

The next Leadership North Broward starts January 2019. Applications are accepted now. LNB costs $600 for members of the chamber and $1000 for non-members. But it is $350 for an annual Chamber membership, so you get both for the price of one and save $50! For more information/registration call the Greater Pompano Beach Chamber at 954-946-2940 or e-mail Cagnone@pompanobeachchamber.com.

Karen Lustgarten is president of Multi-Media Works, a multiple award-winning media company specializing in video PR, print and social media with offices in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She has won awards for writing/producing videos for businesses and nonprofits, and for website content. Karen founded a newspaper in Washington, DC and was a syndicated columnist. www.multi-mediaworks.com.

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