On April 4, Main Street Winter Haven began their annual idea exchanging conference, CityWorks (X)po FL! Last year this event was held at Grove Roots Brewing Co., when it was getting ready for renovations to become the Packing House. Anita, Director of Main Street Winter Haven, felt that it was fitting for the 2018 conference to start in the very same place it did in 2017, now that the Packing House is completed. Throughout the three days, guests were exposed to street designers, artists, downtown revitalization specialists, authors, creative thinkers and so many others from all over the state of Florida.
The first day of Cityworks, we were able to see many familiar faces and some new faces. First up was Steve Bates, Founder of Black Oak Creative, who spoke about the importance of branding and how small companies can create a strong online presence with minimal resources. On a completely different note, Nicole Holderbaum spoke next, sharing her passion about the arts in schools. Nicole founded the Jax Kid’s Mural Project, which aims to not only provide a fun way for kids to involve themselves with art, but to give under privileged students an opportunity to explore different avenues of learning.
Endeavor Board Chair and Business Manager for All About Aging, Cari Herrington shared her ideas for creating more age-friendly environments in communities. Cari shared with us her passions about the elderly community, statistics about their economic impact and how they actually want many of the same community features that millennials do – walkability, safety, arts and culture, affordable health care etc.
Ty Maloney, Principal at Marsh Collective, talked about how Marsh Collective is revitalizing communities through real estate investment and investment in entrepreneurs. He came from Opelika, Alabama, a place where there downtown was non-existent, until the Marsh Collective came to revitalize and restore broken down and abandoned buildings. Today the downtown is thriving, but there is still work and investment to do through them, and other catalytic developers.
Andrew Hughes, Marketing Director of Chamber Member Wauchula State Bank, briefly shared his ideas about culture and branding. He emphasized how vital it is to realize that stories have much more power than themes. In order to create a successful culture, we have to create a story for people to connect to.
To complete the first day of CityWorks, City Manager Mike Herr came to welcome everyone to Winter Haven and also to thank Main Street Winter Haven, the Winter Haven Chamber and the Winter Haven EDC for fostering the collaborative spirit that encourages idea exchanging opportunities like CityWorks.
The second day of the three-day event started at Chamber Member, Heartland Church. To get everyone energized for the day, the Coastal Barefoot Acoustic Band came to play live music and actually shared a new song with us that was dedicated to the Derry Down and the music that fills our downtown!
After a welcome and city update from Mayor Brad Dantzler, we welcomed Josh McManus, who is the Chief Invention Officer for Little Things Labs. This is a problem-solving practice that specializes in working in post-industrial places. Josh was also an executive for Quicken Loans, primarily hired by their CEO from Detroit to help with the revitalization of the community he was from. Although Josh had plenty of knowledge to share on building better communities, he spoke about how to marry the corporate and business philosophy of profit with the purpose of leaving the world a better place.
Jamal Jones, the next speaker and founder of Lyricist Live, has a passion for leaving the world a better place, but is doing it with a new approach. Jamal shared his journey of using Hip Hop to bring kids together in Jacksonville! He looked at the elements of hip hop - emceeing (public speaking), deejay (technology), breakdancing (physical fitness, dance) and graffiti (art) and created an after-school curriculum that could get kids excited about learning. He is also recognized by the State of Florida Secretary of State as being a part of the Florida Folk festival, which was the first time hip hop was recognized as a piece of Florida's folk art history.
Joseph Viscuso, with Chamber Member Pennoni, spoke about the new technologies that Pennoni is using in order to increase the quality of service they provide. From 3D laser scans to drone footage, Penonni is using exceptional technology strategies to enhance how they do business with their customers and how communities can visualize smarter development.
Robert Chapman spoke about the 25 New Urbanist approaches and how they are effecting our communities. According to the Congress of New Urbanism, New Urbanism is a planning and development approach based on the principles of how cities and towns had been built for the last several centuries: walkable blocks and streets, housing and shopping in close proximity, and accessible public spaces. In other words: New Urbanism focuses on human-scaled urban design.
After guests visited our many downtown restaurants to have lunch, Randy Lopez, from Florida Polytechnic and Founder of Logentix, spoke with us about the new business that he has created. Logentix is a business that helps transportation businesses operate their fleet of vehicles with new and interactive technology. Randy is looking for companies who are moving freight or people to test his new platform. He is currently partnering with companies like Take Out Hero.
The next speaker, Roman Petra, is an attorney in the Orlando Office of Board and Cassel. He spoke specifically about a new designation created under Trump's tax package that allows for states to designate certain economically challenged areas as "opportunity zones" in order to give investors in those areas tax incentives to develop there.
Bud Strang, with Six/Ten LLC, introduced Victor Dover as our next speaker. Victor Dover had a captivating presentation on street design. In order to create great cities where people want to visit, we need to have great streets. “If you design a community for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you design for people and places, you get people and places.”
For the break in between speakers, Kerry Wilson, Owner of Inside Out Yoga, lead the audience in a quiet session of yoga in order to refocus everyone’s attention.
After everyone was refocused and relaxed, Josh “Bump” Galletta, took to the stage to share about his Makers Market and his artistic journey. After a tragic hit and run that he was involved in, he found that art was his avenue to escape from the PTSD he struggled with. Through his art he ended up creating Makers Market, which is now a place for artists of all kinds to gather, share ideas and make the world a better place.
Steve Elias, Division Manager at Pennoni, introduced Rick Baker who is the former Mayor of St. Petersburg. Rick spoke about Florida’s rich and diverse history and how that history can guide us forward as we plan and strategize for the future of our great state.
To end a great second day, after hours was held at Gram Parsons Derry Down for interactive music by Jamal Jones and networking.
The last day of Cityworks included Kim Delaney, Director of Strategic Development and Policy for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, Nikki Smith, with ASAP Prints, Meri Mass Executive Director of Polk Arts Alliance, Jacob Stanish , Trish Pfeiffer, Commissioner of the City of Bartow and Jeri Hammond, Adjunct Professor at Polk State College. A panel gathered to conclude the event with Teri Saunders, with Heartland for Children, Alicia Brown, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist intern, Doug Lockwood, President of the Polk Education Partnership, and Brad Beatty who is the Managing Director for Heart for Winter Haven.
These three days were full of engaging, innovative and endlessly interesting content that will ultimately make our cities, communities and businesses a better place. We would like to thank Anita Strang with Main Street Winter Haven for all of her hard work. Save the Date for CityWorks (X)po 2019 - April 3,4 and 5.